The city of Cardiff, where I live, has a large Somali population, almost all of whom are Muslim. I went to university with a Somali guy, whose name I won’t say for reasons that will become obvious, who I became friends with. He wasn’t the best at adhering to his doctrines, I would often see him eat or drink things that a good Muslim shouldn’t, but he was a good person. Without wanting to say too much about him, he is an actor and got a part in a BBC drama playing a gay character. The program never actually showed him doing anything gay, it was all just tastefully implied.
Some years have passed since the episodes aired, but I was reminded of them by a mutual friend of ours the other day. He works in a store, and said while chatting with a colleague, a Somali girl, figured out that she was a cousin of our actor friend, and so he enquired after him. The story he told me I found quite upsetting. The girl said that since that program was shown she and her family had been forbidden from seeing or talking to my friend, further, no one in her community had been in contact with him ever since. When my friend argued that acting is assuming a different persona and situation that doesn’t reflect attributes of the real person, she responded that, whether he knew it or not, it was his way of coming out (adding that there are no straight actors who play gay parts, it’s just their way of letting their gay sides out or some nonsense). She went on to say that if she ever saw him again she had the right to kill him.
Now, what this girl said is terrible, but according to my friend it was only half as disturbing as the way she said it. She didn’t relay this information with a tone of regret for losing a family member, there was no pity for the exiled actor, she didn’t even seem angry at him, she simply stated it all as if it were a matter of fact.
There are quite a few things I’ve omitted from this story to protect the identities of my two friends, but I think you get the gist. There are two things this has made me think about. Firstly, I had often assumed that the media had portrayed British Muslims unfairly, and that most were normal modern people getting a bad name from a minority of arseholes, but my friend was abandoned by his entire community for simply pretending to brake its laws. Secondly, why is okay for a Muslim girl to go around at work saying she has the right to kill homosexuals, while if my friend had said what he wanted to, which is, I quote, “Your beliefs are stuck in the dark ages and it’s doing nothing for you as a woman or a culture,” he would have been fired?
As with many old uni friends I’ve lost contact with the friend who is the subject of this unhappy blog, but I hope he’s okay.