"My Pride, My Skin" - Ayman Syed
I came out before the age of social media, and as a South Asian Queer Muslim, there wasn’t anyone out there who I could have followed or a community that I could have reached out to. So I had to make my own path and figure it out all on my own by learning from my mistakes and experiences.
I was disowned by my parents at the age of twenty one and lost almost everything I had. I had to drop out of college, because I couldn’t afford it all on my own. Being homeless for months was rough, but it taught me so much about myself and made me really strong. I am grateful for all the experiences, the good and the bad, as they make me the person I am today.
As an empath who once lived to please others, I always struggled to put myself and my needs first. However, I quickly learned that I needed to have my own back before anything. These experiences taught me how to be independent; emotionally and financially. I have learned to not let anything or anyone get between me and my dreams. At the end of the day, all you have is yourself, the beautiful life you were given and the decisions you make throughout it.
We as humans are constantly evolving but I am in love with the person I am now and the person I am becoming. As I grow more, and explore my gender, I realized how big of a void there is in media for a person like myself. Especially when it comes to the South Asian and Muslim community. I soon realized that my purpose in this life was to be the person I never had growing up. To be the representation, and blueprint for my community to follow so they don’t have to make the same mistakes that I did. To have someone to reach out to, and to build an online community that we can all call a family.
I’m at a point in my life where I realize representing the queer community is a privilege. We’re deserving of more than just tolerance; we deserve celebration, respect, pride, and love. That’s why I strive to be the representation I wish I had growing up. I want to be visible for all the people who are unable to do so. And show them you can still be celebrated, loved, and successful no matter how you chose to live your life.
I am so grateful that social media has connected us all, and we have become a strong force. People ask me how do I find courage to be authentically me, because I get a lot of resistance and hate. It’s simple. It’s the support and love I get from the youth that look up to me in so many ways. They are the ones that make me so brave. I am not an activist, but simply existing and being visible in our most authentic self is our activism. It’s a pleasure to be a part of Callyssee’s My Pride, My Skin campaign and I hope whoever is reading this can find peace in knowing that you are never alone. I hope my story will continue to inspire you to be your true self.