I had no idea what ‘Gold Start Lesbian’ meant, but luckily for me the woman whose story I’m about to tell informed me that it meant she was one as she’d never dated a guy!
Sam’s story made me sad, angry and eventually happy, the words are her own and speak of her experiences of growing up in Kenya and moving to the UK at a young age, whilst dealing with being Muslim and Gay.
- Moving to England
I was 12 when I knew I liked girls. My last year before high school, I shared the same parking spot of another school and on the balcony, I became infatuated with a girl whose grandfather used to pick her up from the car park. I admired her and at that age did wonder why.
As we were from opposite schools we would compete against each other in football, I was completely besotted but she didn’t seem to like me very much, maybe because I was a little mean to her at the matches!
When I moved to high school the next year, I bunked the first week, but when I started this same girl was in my class at this point I froze not knowing how to approach her and talk. Over the course of the year, we became friends. She was my first crush.
At around 13, 14 I became interested in Bollywood, whilst normal teenage girls would talk about the ‘heros’ the SRK’s and Salman’s, my biggest crush was Raveena Tandon, Rani Mukerjee and Kajol. I wanted to be in the movies as the leading man, so these Bollywood beauties would look at me the way they looked at the male stars in their movies.
I came to England from Kenya when I was 15, the girl I was crushing on had sort of become my girlfriend but at the time I moved she had also gone abroad and we lost contact.
In Kenya, I didn’t know what ‘being gay’ was I just knew that I liked girls. In England it was different, not only did I like girls but I was also Muslim and Asian. I didn’t fit in and on top of that I wore baggy jeans, had a skateboard and rucksack, where the other girls walked around with handbags.
It was also my first experience of racism. I think I confused people because I wasn’t Indian, Pakistani or Bangladeshi.
- Coming out & family drama
At university, during my second year, I decided to come out to my sisters. It was an emotional time, we were in our room and I was crying I said ‘I think there is something wrong with me, I’m attracted to girls, I think I’m gay’. They both started to cry and tried to deny what I had said, one of them turned round to tell me we shouldn’t talk more about it and just go to sleep. They told me I wasn’t gay and everything would be fine in the morning.
One of my sisters the next day discouraged me from going back to university, they thought this is what had made me ‘gay’. So I quit and started work, at the same place where my sisters did. It was here a male colleague of mine started liking me and eventually fell in love with me.
There was a point when I asked my mum if I could go back to university for a week to collect my things, during this time the guy I worked with went behind my back with the help of my sister to tell my mum he wanted to marry me and become their son in law. (If you know anything about Asian culture son in laws are revered!).
So by the time I got back my mum had an announcement and told me of the situation, I was fuming! My eldest sister, who wouldn’t accept me being gay emotionally blackmailed me, basically an ultimatum saying if you don’t make it work I’m going to out you to the rest of the family.
I was in my early 20s and scared so I said yes. At the time where I worked I was in charge of the rotas so was able to ensure me and the guy I was now going to marry would work separate shifts and never see each other.
At this time a friend of mine who I had made at university took me to a gay Asian night. This is when I started to get into dj’ing. At this night out in the gay club I had a phone call from the ‘finance’ at 3am questioning me about where I was and that he had a gay friend who had seen me dancing ‘close’ another girl.
He was blackmailing me, telling me he knew all along I was gay and that he was marrying me to put me on the ‘right path’. I was fucking fuming! I turned around and said ‘why are you wasting my time you bastard!’
After this incident, he told my sisters about what had happened. Luckily they hadn’t told my parents what was happening, there was tension but things were calm.
I carried on going to this club, I spoke to them about working there as a DJ, as I could do a better job than the one they had and they agreed to let me play. So one of my first gigs I was leaving the house with my brother to go out, my eldest sister blocked the car and dragged me back inside to the living room. She announced to my parents ‘your daughter is a lesbian’ my own sister had outed me!
My mum slapped me and said you are going against Allah, you can’t be a lesbian.
I locked myself in my room for a few days after this, I refused to see anyone. My dad was going to the Mosque daily to pray for me and constantly crying. I asked my boss at the time if I could be transferred to another branch to get out of the area and away from my family.
Luckily I had a week booked off so was able to go stay with some friends in Manchester, because of the crossover with getting a transfer to Scotland my boss picked me up and took me. My mum didn’t object because it was to do with work.
I stayed in Scotland for 3 months, but I decided to come back as things had got calmer. When I came home my mum took me inside and made me put my hand on the Qur’an and swear that I wasn’t gay. I said I couldn’t do that and eventually calmed her down. She was broken because I was her daughter.
When I went back to work at the same place my sisters were, my colleagues started to tell me that the guy who had caused such a fuss in my family and my eldest sister were falling for each other and wanted to marry! I didn’t want this man in my family he had tried to fuck up my life! His family were already against it because of me and didn’t want their son being married to a family with a gay person in it.
It was a small wedding at the mosque and my brother convinced me to attend because of my mum. I left the nikah went home to change and went out and got smashed. I also decided to leave home as I didn’t want to be around my new brother in law.
So with all my clothes in bin bags I left. I received a lot of hate messages from my sister’s husband threatening me or saying things like ‘I have a natural dick’ my response being ‘but you don’’ know how to use it’.
In person and under his breath he would call me fat or fucking lesbian c**t. At one point I snapped and stood up to him, he was 6ft and towered over me grabbed my neck and tried to strangle me at my parents’ house. I could see my sister sat on the sofa laughing, whilst my other sister and mum tried to stop him.
After this incident I called the police, my brother said I shouldn’t have provoked him and that I should be slapped about. I was crying, upset and asked my mother to choose between me and my brother in law. I left and he told the police I started it.
All this was happening whilst I was alone, upset and fighting for residency in the UK, with the help of my friends and my lawyer I was able to achieve this but it was an emotionally traumatic time.
- Finding love
I decided at this point I needed to secure my future. I only had myself to depend on. The person I had been with for 6 years broke up with me and we decided to stay friends. At this point, I started getting decent jobs so I was becoming financially secure. I also didn’t want a new relationship as I’d been through enough.
It was then I met a girl, she was asking for directions to Digbeth from New Street station so I directed her. We got to talking and I’d always been adamant I would never date an Asian girl due to the stigma attached to it and especially not one who had yet to come out to anyone.
I brushed it off but we became friends and started spending time together. I made it clear from the beginning that I didn’t do relationships and that she wasn’t to fall in love with me and she was cool with it. Ironically I took a trip to Mexico and realised I had fallen for her and had to ring to let her know immediately. Her response to my FaceTime ‘I love you’ was ‘elephant juice’ … as that’s what I love you looks like back.
She’s a complete nutter, I’ve never felt this strong about another girl before and she gives me butterflies, a movie kind of love.
Have a good day xo