- November 24, 2014
The decision to come out to family and friends is one of the most difficult, but courageous, steps an LGBT person can take. For Sabrina, living an authentic life meant that she had to come out to her parents. In a video released by Moral Courage, Sabrina’s father, Sayed, a Pakistani Muslim, did what he knew a father should do: he treated his lesbian daughter with love and support, and became her biggest inspiration.
“It was a sudden shock,” Sayed admits in the video. “But are you going to ignore that fact of life, be tied to your belief and lose a relationship during that process or are you going to think beyond?”
Both Sabrina and Sayed thought beyond, and with her father’s blessing, Sabrina married her longtime partner, Shawna, fulfilling a lifetime commitment. Like all newlyweds, Sabrina wanted to share the joyous occasion and that love with those in her extended family whom she thought equally loved her. But “they wrote really, really heartbreaking emails […] basically saying ‘we cannot accept her.’”
“It’s a pathetic response,” says Sayed. “If you don’t want a relationship with my daughter, you’re not going to have a relationship with me.”
It must have been hard for Sayed to make that decision given that family is an extended and valued social institution in Muslim culture. But Sayed’s profound moral courage is a great act of love that will surely inspire other Muslim parents of LGBT children to do the right thing: to be more compassionate as Islam teaches, and be accepting of their children for who they are.
“I’ve always known that my dad was an amazing man. But going through this, and witnessing the way he stood by me, knowing too that it was difficult for him when I first came out to him. But seeing him now basically in the position of being a gay rights advocate for this extended Muslim family, it was amazing,” says Sabrina.
Here at HRC Foundation’s Religion and Faith Program, we work with faith communities, including the Muslim community, to create a world where nobody is forced to choose between who they are, whom they love and what they believe. Learn more about our work here.