My Lesbian Partner and I: Beyond Boundaries of Race, Religion, Nationality and Geography


Parveen speaks:

I am a human, a woman - a woman who is in love with a very kind very sweet woman.

I am also Asian, Bangladeshi and a Muslim.

My family consisted of my mother, father and a lot of siblings. My closet siblings were either 5 years older or 5 years younger. I was the odd child: I felt like a stranger at times, the one not in the group with the others. My relationship with my parents were good: my father was very doting and in a way, spoilt me. My mother - may God rest her soul - cared for my needs, fed me, clothed me and took care of me when I was ill. She had a big family to look after, but made time for me in my times of need. When I got injured, she cried for me, looked after me, stayed by me. Sometimes the other siblings would let me join them in games of football.

Over time, our family life got complicated. I was questioning more and more of society and the adults’ way of thinking. I kept asking: are there a sense to their actions? Are these actions just?

My experience of puberty would reveal much about the members of my family, and responsibility to me as child growing under their supervision. There was no sympathy, no care towards me from my siblings. I was once again the odd child who had to learn by herself. And that suited my just fine; confusion and self-learning became my companion.

Growing up, most of my friends were mostly boys. They were easier to talk to. In a sense, I didn’t care what they thought - their opinion never mattered. But girls were more delicate: I needed to play the game by their rules and tried to never hurt their feelings, though they had the opportunity to hurt mine. And hurt me they did. Yes, I fought against boys, but I couldn’t hurt a girl.

I got into fights with boys. I felt no attraction to any boy at school or towards any male movie star or singer. I may have considered their abilities to act or sing well but I never enjoyed their physique.

I remember now, from as early as 12, I that I admired women’s physiques, their curves, attributes and skills, their sensitivity, kindness and how they can be very sweet without wanting anything in return - their softness.

Yes, I liked a few girls in school. There was one who made me question my attraction to women. She made me start to think and question where my affection and attention were. I can still remember that day and moment. After her there was another girl that I tried to get close to and wanted to be her friend at least, but I didn’t know how to, so I interacted with her and admired her from afar.

During my teenage years I noticed how other girls were swooning over boys or actors. I couldn’t understand why. Men to me were rough, harsh, insensitive and disrespectful of women. I liked women - girls my age - who were sincere, kind, gentle and soft. I can still remember who they were.

A lot of times I wanted to impress the girls and my female teachers. I wanted them to like me.  I can still remember my favourite teacher. 

As I entered teenage-hood and then my early 20s, I started to question why I was not physically attracted by men and felt a repulsion towards them instead.

On the other hand, I loved, admired and adored woman’s natural figures, whether they were thin, average, or full-bodied. Their minds and hearts shone through. How could I not find that attractive? 

Being in a family of religious siblings, I questioned my attraction to women all the time. I could not ask anyone, be it schoolmates, friends or family. It was a time where I could not support myself and therefore could not risk anyone finding out. So I did what I knew best: I researched, learned and contemplated. I thought hard, the pros cons from my perspective, from my family’s perspective, from the view point of nature, the relationships of mammals, through the lens of history, about the point of view of other religions, and the biggest question of all: God

I thought: How can a creator that says peace, love and kindness are the most important virtues, leave out humans who just want to love freely? After all, He created all of us and there is no flaw in His creation. All has purpose.

I understood one thing that basically settled everything for me: LOVE. True, sincere, unconditional love is never wrong in any religion or life.

We love our parents, our neighbors, friends, our siblings and other family members. These are all forms of love. All unique forms of love.

We devote our entire being into for our love for our God, our Creator. It becomes the only thing we know, the only thing that matters to us.

Our love for the one that completes our soul, gives peace to our mind and hope to our hearts. 

It makes sense that love is love, very powerful, very sincere, very pure, and very precious when it finds us.

My belief in my faith and love got more defined: I knew I had to wait for that one woman I would fall in love with. 

Meanwhile, I looked after my family, supported and helped them, even when it was a disadvantage to myself. I knew that they would never accept me unconditionally and would never sincerely love me.

They wanted me to simply follow their way of life, but the child in me, the romantic in me would not do so. After all, I did not every feel any physical attraction to towards men. I hated the very idea of intimacy with them and wanted it with women instead – a woman that I would wait for.

Whenever I could, I reached out and looked for Asian LGBTQ support groups, dating sites and meet-ups. I joined many.  While I had some bad experiences with a few women, I still wanted to meet her who would accept me love as the human and the woman I am.

I joined a group called Imaan and that was where I experienced the good and the bad. I had become more independent, was able to move out of family home if needed and was planning actively on doing just that. I started to travel to meet more women.

I was at a point in my life where I had lost my sense of purpose and felt that my existence was meaningless. I wanted to love and be loved, but my dream and hope of meeting that one woman was nowhere in sight. I had tried dates, from dating sites and to joining groups. None were successful. From all the women I met and spoke to on Imaan and other LGBTQ forums and meets, I never felt even once a connection to the women there. All I felt was a sense of hollowness, perhaps because that love that I wanted did not exist in those groups.

I became resolute that all I could do was exist, work, have my own place and help my family when needed. I started to believe that if love is meant to find me, it would.   

Hiding my true self from my family, work and friends, only made me feel nothing but loneliness and a loss of love. I never thought I would find her.

But then I did.  She completes me and loves me. I love her beautiful, kind and compassionate mind and heart. At first, I was afraid to accept it. I thought she would not love me. I thought she was a dream I was having. But love had finally found me. SHE found me. I was and am complete and happy. I could not deny my love for her. She became my first and only best friend in the whole world. She is my soulmate, my equal.

Thank you for loving me as I am. I love you with all my existence. As long as you want me, I will forever be with you. My loyalty my fidelity, my devotion and my love are all for you, my heart.

I love you AS.

Radha speaks:

I am an Indian Australian-Hindu woman in love with a girl from another country and religion.  Her religion and our long distance have never occurred to me an obstacle. In a world where finding a gay person you can connect to is rare, it seemed to me finding  someone from  my part of the world  who could love me unconditionally was not  going to be easy.

I was born in India but came to Australia at the age of 3.  I was 14 when I felt I had same-sex attractions. I had read an “Ask Aunty” column where an Indian girl had asked about her same-sex attractions and whether it was ok. The response was gay-friendly and the writer of the “auntyji” column said to not pursue forced marriage, but that she should find true love instead.

I was conflicted at the time because same-sex love and relationships had never been mentioned by my family and in my community or religious gatherings. Was what I was thinking allowed? Was I going to cause ridicule to my family? Bollywood initially explored the topic of homosexuality in a ridiculing way. A movie called Girlfriend came out which mocked same-sex  female couples. I went to an all-girls school but I never felt anything for the girls there. This made me question whether I was asexual. Was my sexual side lying dormant? I never felt the need to have a partner at the various school proms we have in Australia.

In my first year of university I joined a few political groups on campus. One was the women’s collective. It was here that I met my first lesbian couple. I admired the love between them and it made me sad that people would want to deny them equal rights. I tried going online to make more Asian lesbian friends. I joined a few LGBT American sites where I came across some American South Asian lesbian/bi girls. We had regular skype sessions which were helpful for my budding sexual orientation. I got to know them, flirted a little but was not satisfied by my friendships with them. I joined Imaan, a British Muslim dominated by south Asians. Here I found my first few online relationships and eventually would find the love of my life.

 My parents first suspected when they saw a screen age of an LGBTQ advice page. I once again denied it.  My first relationship was with a British Pakistani hijabi girl who in the end decided a long-distance relationship was not for her.  It may have been her views on religion as well. On the British Muslim group I was on, many Muslims tended to want to date within themselves. And then I dated (online) a Pakistani American girl whom I thought wanted something long term yet once again she couldn’t face the distance and sadly cheated on me. The hard thing about being closeted it is it is hard to speak about these issues without facing homophobia.  These issues were routine issues that straight people can talk to their friends about without being judged.

I met a few other Muslim girls whom I tried to support but the relationships didn’t last. I was too far to be of use to them. I was also non-Muslim and some of their gay-friendly relatives asked them why they couldn’t find a Muslim person.  Meanwhile, my parents had come across some of the messages I had sent and were suspicious of my activity. The online world was the only place I had to find someone similar to me.

I hid my online life from my real life. At the same time I was finishing my medical studies and all of these online relationship struggles were affecting me mentally and socially.  I joined a number of LGBT groups online hoping to find friends who would understand and respect me.

My mother was an amazing doctor and was supportive of me. She never insisted I get married or settle down as my first priority but to focus on my studies and career instead. After I lost her, I lost hope in finding true and unconditional love.

One day, an angel from an LGBTQ Muslim group walked into my life. I was giving up on love and love stories but had decided to give love another chance and to post a thread about finding a soulmate. 

I found someone similar to me but from another culture and religion. I   got to understand her culture and religion. I had always been against generalising and stereotyping any group but she made me realise how unique she was. Unlike the past girls I had talked to, she did not restrict her search for a soulmate to geography or to race and religion. Rather, she saw these as aspects of my life to cherish and love: Extensions of me to love. 

I felt freed and uninhibited around her. The walls I had steadily been putting up melted in her company. Unlike the girls who would leave after a few months because of distance of culture or society restricting them, my girlfriend was not fazed by any of these obstacles.

I work a stressful, demanding job in healthcare.  I face tough decisions and issues daily. Having her there for me takes a load off my mind. I can easily vent and talk to her every day to work. I know she will listen to me and support me for hours on end, more than a friend would. I feel safe and secure in her arms and in her company. Before her, I felt like a traveller on an unknown and empty traveller in the middle of the desert. In her, I have found my destination and my oasis. Now my thirst has been quenched.

I used to feel sad about the past and worry for the future. I do not fear or worry now. I live in the present bathed in her love. We have short-term and long-term goals but we don’t dwell in the future or languish in the past. The past taught me to love, to learn from mistakes and to know sadness and loss so I can appreciate happiness, joy and true love. The future doesn’t make me worry because I have the rock-strong foundation of her love and together we will navigate life’s difficulties. I have waited 8 months to meet her and now I will wait another month before I have her in my arms. One moment will be a moment of eternity.

Thank you for loving me as I am. I love you with timeless passion, endless admiration and deep respect for your independent thought process.  As long as you want me, you will be part of my love and existence. Though we have never met the physical manifestation of our love will just be an extension of our emotional/mental connection. 

I love you RB.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Muslim World Today.

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