Homophobia and Suicide

Matt and Naz
On 30 July 2014, my (real life) friend Matt lost his partner of 13 years, Naz, to suicide. Two days earlier Naz had emotionally “admitted he was gay” to his family. Naz had felt unable to tell them before that because of their religious beliefs.

Matt was determined to make some good come of this tragedy, and has campaigned tirelessly since then to raise awareness of the devastating human impact caused by religion-based homophobia. He set up the Naz & Matt Foundation, now a registered charity, to provide free support to LGBTQI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Intersex) individuals, their friends and family, to help resolve challenges linked to sexuality or gender identity, particularly where a religion is directing the situation.

Matt is a peaceful campaigner, he is not looking to spread hate, just understanding, love, and acceptance. Matt has appeared on both BBC news and Sky news to talk about the Naz and Matt Foundation, and Naz and Matt’s story was published in The Guardian last Saturday. The least I could do was to give him a platform here to talk about their latest project.

Matt, over to you…

Thank you Vanessa. To highlight the issues to the wider public, and encourage them to take action, we are planning a 130 mile, 8 day sponsored journey from London to Birmingham in April this year. “The Journey to Find Acceptance”, will carry a message of love and acceptance as we travel through each town along the way. The majority of the journey will be walked. We will be filming the journey as we engage with religious communities in each town that we walk through – to gauge public opinion and explore individual attitudes towards acceptance if their own children were to come out as being gay.

Matt with camera strapped on head

Matt trying out his film equipment for the walk

Do you have a plan for the journey Matt?

We have a rough plan, it may change as we finalise the details:

Friday 17th April (evening) – London
Opening Party at Club Kali

Saturday 18th April (meet 10am, 11am start) – London
Start of walk – from West Hampstead Cemetery

Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, 19th-23nd April
The main journey, travelling through Hendon, Watford, Luton, Milton Keynes, Milton Manor (Northamptonshire), Rugby and Coventry

Friday 24th April (evening) – Birmingahm
Closing party at Saathi Night (@Nightingales)

Saturday 25th April (approx 10.30am) – Birmingham
Final walking leg of walk, from the Nightingale Club to Handsworth Cemetery

We will celebrate all the beautiful people who have struggled, and continue to struggle, to find acceptance from their families and the communities they live in. And to remember the life and soul of Naz (Dr Nazim Mahmood) who spent his whole life helping other people.

Matt and Naz on a sunny day

That sounds like quite a journey Matt. How can people help?

There are a few ways people can help:

1) They can join us for any part of the journey, particularly the start in London on 18th April. Please dress fabulous or in drag to make a statement! Like our Facebook page to keep updated on plans for the journey.

2) They can sponsor the journey through JustGiving – follow the ‘Donate’ link on the Naz & Matt Foundation site.

3) They can help spread the word in any way they choose.

Thank you for coming by to tell us about this Matt. I knew Naz to be an incredibly kind, generous, warm-hearted man, and it’s a truly wonderful thing you’re doing here in his memory. I wish you all the luck in the world.

Thank you Vanessa, and thank you for having us here.

Matt and Naz's initials in the sand

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56 responses to “Homophobia and Suicide

  1. i’m so sorry for your loss. thank you for bringing awareness to those who may not yet understand. beth

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Here’s hoping opinions will start to change, Vanessa.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Very sad and all to common 😦 Thanks for posting, it’s an important message.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So difficult to watch people struggle. People should be allowed to believe what they wish – but, people should also be kind and good and treat others as they wish to be treated despite conflicts in philosophy. Although the last is based in many religions, it seems to be forgotten or difficult.
    My cousin is over 80. He and his lifelong partner worried and fretted for years before “officially making the announcement” worried what family/people would think. They were a bit surprised no one cared and we all pretty much figured it out. It made no difference – they were still who they had always been: family. Why is it so hard for people to live and let live?
    Must be remembered that while faith and religion can be a good force and guide in life, men/people created churches and humans are flawed creatures.
    Change comes slow. Hang in there Matt

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Isn’t it a shame that so many religions preach the power of love but don’t really understand what love is? Of course the word “love” has many definitions, but in its most noble sense it means a deep and unshakeable caring for and commitment to another person, and to me that has nothing to do with gender or with statements written in a human document mistakedly considered to have a divine origin. Some of the nicest and most interesting people I’ve met on social media are gay and it’s an honor to know them. I can’t participate in your walk since I’m in the USA, but I can be with you in spirit!

    Liked by 1 person

    • There are so many conflicting things in religion aren’t there, not just between different religions but within the same one. I just can’t understand the lack of tolerance, I really can’t. Even if people can’t understand, or can’t relate, why do they have to judge so harshly?

      Liked by 1 person

      • The reason they judge so harshly is that god told them to, and they have to do whatever god said or their souls will burn in hell. Sorry – this should be a Neil/Lorinda conversation!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Matt is a better man than me, I would be ranting .. but he contains the hurt, and channels love and acceptance. A role model to us all. Thanks Matt, what a wonderful job you’re doing.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Please accept my condolences for your loss. What a heartbreaking end to a vital human being. Not fair.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. It’s amazing how someone can experience such a huge loss and decide not to despair. You have my deepest admiration, respect, and condolences. You will succeed. Best wishes on your journey!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I am so sorry to hear of this tragic loss. Very best wishes for success in the campaign. Every enlightened individual is a step closer to embracing all diversity.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. NotAPunkRocker

    I’m sorry for the loss of such a beautiful soul, but I am hopeful that Matt’s strength will continue to carry on and help others. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  11. This is so sad and so positive. Tnk you for sharing. Good luck to your friend matt.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I cannot believe that in this day and age people still have a problem with gays. The struggle should’ve ended decades ago. All good wishes to you, sir. Personally, I hope that both of my daughters are gay so that I don’t have to deal with creepy boyfriends.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. That’s so sad that that happened. Poor man. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Sorry to hear about this…

    Liked by 1 person

  15. What a beautiful and inspiring project. Good luck, Matt.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Such a tragic and senseless loss, especially in this day and age. Why should a person’s sexual orientation even matter? My gay niece “came out” to me. I listened respectfully and compassionately, then told her that I cherished her for who she is, not for her sexuality. Then I asked her a question: if she were heterosexual, would she have felt the need to “come out” to me? She was taken aback at first and then smiled. I smiled. She got it. I said, “Should I ‘come out’ to you?” She shook her head. We agreed that our sexual orientation was out own business and that sexual orientation wasn’t a factor in our mutual love and respect of one another. Wouldn’t the world be a lovelier place if we could all agree on that?

    Bless your heart, Vanessa, for supporting Matt in his endeavors to raise our collective conscious about these issues. And Matt, bless your heart for doing this and for having to do this. I am so sorry for your tragic loss.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. This broke my heart, Matt. My condolences.

    And I am so impressed with your recent efforts. Good luck on your journey.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Matt, what a beautiful thing to do to honor Naz. I am very interested in the results of your project to see REALLY how much the world has change…or perhaps, has not changed. Wishing you much success and a lot of revelation from those you interact with. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  19. So sorry to hear about your friend’s partner. Very sad. But what a wonderful thing Matt is doing to honor his friend this way. I wish him the best of luck with this journey aimed at acceptance. May the whole world get there someday–the sooner the better.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Sorry to hear about the loss, but big cheers to Matt for his efforts and to you for posting this!

    Liked by 1 person

  21. I am so sorry to hear about your loss. This is such an important issue, and I applaud you for taking action through peace and awareness. Best wishes on your journey!

    Liked by 1 person

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  23. My condolences to you and Matt, Vanessa. It makes me angry at religion but I know Matt wouldn’t want that. I hope everything goes well and some narrow-minded views are changed.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. I’m so terribly sorry for your friend’s loss. This is horribly tragic.

    I have a slightly different take on the subject. The consensus of most of society for thousands of years has been that certain BEHAVIORS are wrong. Believing that does not make someone either afraid or a hater. The problem comes about when people have a hateful reaction to the PERSON engaging in the behavior.

    Christianity says hate the sin, love the sinner. I assume Naz’s family is Muslim, but I think all religions have room for such a response. To me, the tragedy happens when there is intolerance – when people say I will not accept you because of what you believe, or I will not accept you because of what you are.

    The goal of this march is very noble, but I would suggest that the real evil to be fought here is suicide. This poor, poor man CHOSE to take his own life. We need to try to end the widespread cancer of thought that makes someone in pain consider that a viable option.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, it’s like with disciplining children isn’t it – separate the behaviour from the child; don’t tell a child that they are bad, tell them that they have done a bad thing. I agree certainly with the principle of that. Although I could never condone a view that said homosexuality was a “behaviour” that was bad, whether it is separated from the person or not.

      The notion of choice in suicide is a tricky one isn’t it, whilst yes it is a choice, I think many times when people get to that stage it’s because they feel they don’t have any choice. Fighting that is definitely important.

      Thanks for coming by to comment on this Peg.

      Like

  25. I am so so sad for Naz and for his friends and family. I didn’t know about Naz until I read your impressive post here. And yet I can tell by his photos and by his good friend Matt that I would have really really liked Naz. To openness and understanding, to allowing each of us to be who we are without remorse or misgivings, to opening up the hearts and minds of others, I cheer Matt’s endeavors.

    Liked by 1 person

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