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Like Harry and Meghan I quit my family and I'm happier for it

Mufseen Miah Image copyright Mufseen Miah

"Last week I quit my family and I'm happier for it."

That's what Mufseen Miah tweeted just a few hours before news broke that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were stepping back as senior members of the UK Royal Family.

Mufseen left his family in December and starts 2020 independent from his closest relatives.

"I walked out on Christmas Day and messaged my family saying, 'Please don't contact me unless it's an emergency. I need some space'," he tells Radio 1 Newsbeat.

Mufseen is gay and from a religious, Muslim family in Brighton. On the surface you might not think a 28-year-old British-Bengali man has much in common with the royals.

But Mufseen believes there are more similarities between their lives right now than it might seem.

'Parents have an idea of what happiness is for you'

"You're born into a family and they have all these expectations of you, about the proper way to live your life. Your parents and family have an idea of what happiness is for you," he says.

"That gets thrown out the window when you tell them what actually makes you happy and what you want to do.

"It's really difficult to be that child who goes to your parents and says, 'This is not what I want'."

Mufseen came out to his family three years ago and says his relationship with his parents and siblings since then has been "strained" and "strange".

Mufseen lives in London, works in finance and is an LGBT activist, but feels forced to act differently around his parents in Brighton than he does his friends.

He has been financially independent from his family since moving to London.

"Every time I go to my family it feels like I'm reduced to being a closeted kid again for a few days," he says.

"That's a really damaging thing for me because it really affects my self-confidence."

Mufseen's friends have helped him since coming out, and he compares their support with what Meghan Markle may have offered Prince Harry in making their recent decision.

"Sometimes you need a partner - like Meghan Markle I guess - to show you where those healthy boundaries are with your family."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Meghan and Harry will step back as senior members of the Royal Family and work to become financially independent

At first, Mufseen was happy to have contact with his family after he came out, because when he was younger he thought he might lose contact with them altogether.

"It was very tough decision. It's something I've not wanted to do," he says.

"In the past few years I've just been grateful for having a relationship with my family because when I came out to them, I was expecting for everything just to be cut off and for me to be on my own.

"Over time, I realized actually having a toxic relationship is worse than having no relationship."

'Asian culture is all about family'

Mufseen gets messages now on social media from people of Asian and Muslim backgrounds congratulating him on being out and proud, but says the loss of a relationship with his family is the cost of that life.

"I don't think my family expected this. In Asian cultures it's all about family," says Mufseen.

"We live for the next family event, the next wedding. Family is so important it's like your primary social circle as well."

Image copyright Mufseen Miah
Image caption Mufseen is an LGBT activist and is involved in the annual Pride In London event

Like Harry and Meghan, Mufseen's split from his family is still fresh, but he says his door will always be open "if they want to reconnect".

"I've spent years compromising who I am in order to protect their feelings. And if they would like to establish a relationship future, then that's okay.

"But they will have to reconcile my life with their beliefs and their culture."

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