Mohsin Zaidi: A Role Model for the LGBTQ+ Community

In a recent phone interview, Mohsin Zaidi discusses his experiences being part of the LGBT+ community whilst growing up in a Muslim household.

British-Pakistani writer and barrister, Mohsin Zaidi during a recent interview, spoke about the racism he faced for being part of the LGBT+ community. The extent of the discrimination made him wish to be a heterosexual.

The conversation was part of an interview that took place after the writer published his memoir, A Dutiful Boy. The account narrates Zaidi’s childhood experiences growing up in East London in a Shia household. In the memoir, he recalls the struggles he faced with coming to terms with his sexuality.

Mohsin Zaidi elaborated on how he had to cope with the weighty expectations and battle the homophobic Pakistani culture and his religion. These added to him feeling out of place as he even had to face remarks from people of the LGBTQ+ community such as “I don’t date Asian guys”. These added to the issues he faced and had him wishing that he was heterosexual instead.

The 35-year-old writer in the moving memoir, recounted his parents immigrating to the United Kingdom from Pakistan and how he longed for a sense of belonging to a community since he did not do so at home. Over the phone interview with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, he stated, “For gays, I was too Muslim. For Muslims, I was too gay. For whites, I was too brown, and for my family, I was too white.”

A Dutiful Boy entails details of the problems he faced when coming out to his parents in a heteronormative community. “For such a long time I hoped there was a button that I could press that would make myself straight,” he said, in light of the aforementioned internalized homophobia in Pakistani culture.

Mohsin Zaidi went to the Oxford University to study Law after which he became a barrister. He connected the sense of not belonging with people confusing him as being a clerk or defendant when they see him in his official attire. This resonation led to him forging his motto, “the outsider pushing through”.

He intends to pursue his career as a full-time writer that has a lot to do with the success of his memoir. It is heartwarming to see such positive energy and support directed towards the writer considering his cultural and religious background. As one reviewer put it, the book “will save lives” of those undergoing through similar struggles.

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