I hate labels so much.
Born and bred in a small kampung in a rural northern state in Malaysia, I have a mixed heritage and an inborn conflicting pride. Hailing from the southern Thai coastal city of Hat Yai, my Buddhist Thai-Chinese grandpa fell in love one day and, after marrying my Malay-Javanese grandma, decided to ditch everything and became a muallaf (a Muslim convert). Because of this, rigorous Islamic teachings have been a huge part of my earlier days and have indirectly groomed me to be a better person. My parents got divorced when I was 5 though. Under the local Shariah law, I was given custody to my pious mother for being the only boy out of my five siblings.
I knew I was into other boys when I was around 8. I threatened an innocent friend of mine with spilling to his crush that he was into her so that in return, I could see his wiener in the men’s toilet. All that just to see another dick without getting too sexual about it. I hid the truth of my identity throughout secondary school and put on a good Muslim boy façade by wearing songkok to class every day and joining all the Islamic society affairs. Back then, I believed that I couldn’t be both queer and a practicing Muslim. It was truly the bane of my existence—this awful love-hate relationship between my faith and my sexuality. I was born attracted to feminine things and I found myself superbly creative.
I had truly shed my veneer to embrace my truth back when I went to pursue my studies in Éire for 5 long and wondrous years, where I had come to know that my faith and my sexuality could co-exist. You should be at peace with your own inner demons, not the ones depicted in the Scriptures. You should be free to love and free to express. I am meant to stand out with my faith, not simply blend in with the rest of the queer folk.