I was born into a liberal, yet somewhat traditional, Pakistani-Muslim family. Although my parents had been in Canada for nearly 50 years, homosexuality was still relatively unheard of…until I decided I had enough of their oppressive dictatorship. I didn’t just come out of the closet, I sashayed out of it, smoldering, in the tightest skinny jeans–and I didn’t care what anyone thought.
Since we lived in Scarborough, I was only 45 minutes from Toronto’s Gay Village, a place that still remains close to my heart. In 2001, I was 14 and the Village was incredible. It was completely alien to me, but I quickly made friends, and felt like I belonged somewhere for the first time in my life. The friends I made were just as precocious as me. We found our way into the circuit bars and clubs, like 5ive, Fly, It, and Boa, and always had a blast. Over time, only a few of these friendships have lasted, but the memories are still alive, and always will be.
Now, at 28, the Village has lost its appeal; it is no longer the glamourous, glitzy place of my past. There are no flashing lights, there is no more glamour. Today, it feels like it has no sense of community; there are many cliques, and hardly any clubs left. It is a ghost town compared to the inclusive and welcoming Village that I found my sense of self and identity in, long ago.
Fortunately, I did not have a difficult experience coming out. My family learned to accept it and I am thankful that today they are very supportive.