Know Your AIQA – Arif Sheikh

19, Queer, Introvert nerd, bibliophile, Swiftie, potterhead

Just another regular wide-eyed queer guy trying to exist freely in this world.
I don’t have a story, neither have done anything huge yet, but will do, one day, for sure.

 I knew I was *different* since I was 10-11. Never knew what it was but the attraction towards men was always there. However I didn’t know about my orientation and the community until very late, I was in 9th grade. I know I’m all okay and not mental for having male and female romantic preferences. 

It hasn’t been a great life, but I’m kind of satisfied with it. Good in academics, popular with students and teachers always loved me; been in the student council for 4 years straight and that’s really a lot. But I’ve always feared what’ll happen if these people will know about the real me? Will they still love me the way they do now? These questions have haunted me for many years and were one of the reasons why I’ve been closeted my entire life. But in January, shortly after the formation, AIQA helped me come out and I’m really grateful to them. Even though my parents are still unaware (and I’d like to keep it that way for a few years more), but a lot of my peers now know and some are very supportive. 

The reason I joined AIQA was that no other kid in his/her preteen/teenage should go through what I’ve been through. The confusion, frustration, thinking that it’s abnormal, even when it’s not. It’s perfectly fine and trust me God has better things to judge than our sexuality. 

I’ve also had suicidal thoughts many times. But then, seeing the struggle of my parents, their love and hard work to provide me the best of everything stopped me and I cried myself to sleep. Crying, to me, is absolutely healthy and keeps you empowered! And Taylor Swift has been always there for me. Her music, her stories have always made me feel good. 

Well, I dont know whether my parents will ever understand me or support me, but I can only hope and pray for the better good. I’ve been so tired of hiding myself that I’ve been trying to find myself. But I’m utterly grateful to AIQA family for providing me this safe space, this platform, where I can voice myself. Thank you Rishi, for you have been a true inspiration to me and now for this AIQA family, who are ever supportive and amazing. 

Lastly, I’m hoping that this homophobic country, which is gradually changing, will become a better place to live in for us queers….

Arif Sheikh