Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Right of a Gay Uncle



Last Sunday, on the streets of New York City, a little girl sitting in stroller near me asked if I was a daddy. “No, but I’m a proud uncle,” I responded. With the girl’s mother smiling at me, I looked over and said, “Why do you ask?” “Because you look like a nice daddy,” she said. I thanked the girl and started to tell her about my cute twin nieces (from my loving sister) but felt saddened and shed tears when I realized I had nothing to share about my brother’s children, a niece whom I haven’t seen in years and another born this past year whom I know nothing about. Since I came out to my family in December 2009, my brother and sister-in-law severed ties with me just as inhumane others have done due to their own issues of homophobia and low self-esteem.

My brother’s meaning of family values is a fa├žade while mine is real. I’ve always been there for my brother and supported him when he graduated with his PhD, got married and became a father. What kind of brother doesn’t congratulate you when you reach major milestones like graduating from Harvard and Columbia, shows no concern when you lose your job and become homeless and live on the streets and shelters and doesn’t bother to say farewell when you move back to Afghanistan?

After I returned to Kabul in March 2012, several months later, my brother also moved back and lived for a year in Afghanistan as I did. I contacted my brother to meet him but he ignored my requests. I found out from a local Afghan friend that my brother had the time to meet corrupt strangers but didn’t even bother to respond to his ethical family member. Since my pioneering coming out as the first prominent figure from the Islamic World and subsequent LGBT rights activism and receiving waves of persecution and numerous death threats, I haven’t received a single message of support from my brother. Not even a simple, “Are you alive and okay?”

The last time I saw my brother was after my eldest uncle, Mir Najibullah Sahou, was assassinated in La Jolla, California in September 2011. After my uncle’s burial and wake service, I broached my brother but he dismissed my overture and rejected my unconditional love. No one can determine who will go first but if die before my brother and he attends my funeral service someone should ask him, “Why are you here to mourn Nemat Sadat’s death when you were absent from the high and low moments in his life and refused your children from their right to know the most incredible uncle: the first one who stood up against all Islamists in defense of millions of voiceless gays and lesbians in Afghanistan and throughout the Muslim World who are denied the right to exist but will forever look up to your brother as a transnational hero whose courage, morality and resiliency will transcend time and serve as a source of inspiration to generations that come after him."

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