Thursday, February 26, 2015

Chacha’s aunt: When will you get married to Faheem?

Below is our first ever #ChachaFanFic :D - honoured to have received an ‘interview with Chacha’ from journalist Ahmed Yusuf (@ASYusuf), who works with Pakistan’s leading English daily, Dawn.


Check out full Urdu translation here

Ahmed and his Chacha share many secrets.

Like the time when Ahmed ate all the chocolate that Uncle Faheem had gotten from Dubai. Ammi was livid, but Chacha came to the rescue. Then there was the time when Ahmed cut his elbow playing cricket and Chacha quickly put a plaster and let him play some more. Then there was the extra tub of chocolate ice-cream that Chacha smuggled into Ahmed's room after he had a tooth removed. There is a chamber of secrets between Ahmed and Chacha, but there is one thing there is no lying about: Chacha is gay.

“It is a strange world we live in; people ask questions about who you love and why you love them. Love is love yaar, that's what I want to teach Ahmed,” says Chacha.

Taken from Pakistani Children's book 'My Chacha is Gay' - see original post here

Like all young paternal uncles, Chacha is part Ahmed's best friend and part his guardian. I met him at their Karachi residence over tea one evening. Chacha, Ahmed and Uncle Faheem are global celebrities now. They are the stars of the children's book, My Chacha is Gay, and their story is being 
told in many languages by people all over the world. Except in Pakistan, where publishers are reluctant to place the book on the pretext of the country “not being ready” for such a book. Not that Chacha or Ahmed care about such things; they believe that the real bravado is in living an honest life. 

“Who are Ahmed's role models? His father, mother, and then family around him. Why should we lie to him or make excuses about who we are? Doing that will teach him to lie to those he loves and makes friends with,” says Chacha.

Ahmed's parents complain that Chacha spoils him too much. “You only get to be a kid once,” Chacha says in his defence. “I want to ensure that Ahmed and my niece Saima, who is too young to even speak yet, have an incredible childhood.”

Taken from Pakistani Children's book 'My Chacha is Gay' - see original post here

Chacha's desire to help his nephew and niece cherish their childhood stems from his own experiences while growing up. Much of Chacha’s childhood was spent in turmoil, trying to fit various moulds, and trying to hide who he was. He wants Ahmed and Saima to know that they will be loved no matter what, and that they should be proud of who they are and to stand up for themselves.

“I was bullied a lot in school. Over time, I learnt the most valuable lesson of my life: being any kind of different is okay.”

Today, life for Chacha is the same as it is for everyone else. He wakes up in the morning, occasionally drops Ahmed to school, goes to work, and returns home every evening. He enjoyed the serial Mera Sultan, but also loved the Masterchef Pakistan's debut season. Ahmed wants Chacha to compete in Masterchef Pakistan one day; Chacha’s Chicken Makhni (Butter Chicken) is divine, apparently. 

Photo from

And it was on one of the Chicken Makhni feasts that Chacha’s maternal aunt first popped the question, “Faheem is such a nice boy, when are you two getting married?”

Taken from Pakistani Children's book 'My Chacha is Gay' - see original post here

Chacha was immediately taken aback, he recalls, while Faheem started laughing. “I tried explaining it to Khala that we can’t get married in Pakistan, that it's just not allowed, sadly. She still insists on a private ceremony.”

I ask Chacha what's stopped them from getting married abroad, where local imams perform nikah ceremonies for gay and queer Muslims?

“What's the point of getting married anywhere other than Pakistan? This is our home, this is where our friends and family are.” retorts an exasperated Chacha. “Can you have a Karachi Mehndi in London? No. Can you invite friends? No, not as many as we would like. Yes, we might be signing nikah papers in a mosque, with an imam saheb, but why do it without loved ones, who mostly live in Pakistan?”

For a gay man in Pakistan, Chacha is unusually confident - homosexuality is legally punishable in Pakistan, although social evidence point to other realities. He attributes this confidence to his belief in always speaking the truth.

“Look, if there was a creator and he had to hate me, he wouldn't have created me,” he asserts. 

The mood threatens to turn sombre, before Chacha blurts: “Yes I am gay, I am Pakistani, and I am a Muslim. Nobody can take that away from me. And yes, I love my nephew and niece, and I'd give my life for them in a flash.”

Point noted. I steer the conversation to how he met Faheem.

“We used to play cricket every weekend near the Mister Burger outlet on Tariq Road. One time, Faheem was there too. Long story short: we bonded on Pakola (ice cream soda), and the rest is history.”

What makes their relationship tick?

“Honesty, I think... Faheem, as you know, is a pilot and really isn't in Pakistan most of the year. Whenever he is, I tell him he has arrived on a 'trip' to Pakistan,” cheers Chacha.

“We decided to treat our relationship as a long-distance one. I think that has allowed us to manage our expectations with each other. But when Faheem is back, we go to a bunch of places together. Lots of restaurants and cafes around Karachi to experiment with. Faheem loves karahi from Super Highway; he won't go to Do Darya but to the original outlets to eat that. We end up at movies together. Basically everything that a regular, healthy couple does.”

Since Chacha lives as part of Ahmed's family, I ask whether it was ever awkward to talk about homosexuality with his nephew.

Taken from Pakistani Children's book 'My Chacha is Gay' - see original post here

“Oho yaar, it’s all about honesty and respect,” Chacha says. “Treat the child as a young adult and talk to them. I could lie to Ahmed about Faheem, but I have to teach him about my reality. I want to be honest with him.”

But how do you expect a child to accept something when most of society seems to be against you, simply because of your sexual orientation? Isn't that too great a burden?

“Pyaar is pyaar, yaar - that's what you teach a child. Else they can become beasts,” asserts Chacha.“We are a cruel people, sometimes. At work, one of my senior colleagues is gay but he hides it. People make fun of him, they bully him. He retreats into a shell. Then I think of some of my uncles and aunts. They had boyfriends and girlfriends, but never wanted to get married. I feel for them, maybe if they lived in better times, they could have been with or married those who they loved. But they couldn't. They suffered in silence. I want Ahmed to learn to be humane to all people, not be an insensitive and uninformed brat.”

Is he ever scared of being openly and unapologetically gay in Pakistan?

“Sometimes. I’m afraid of the persecution you know,” Chacha says, with a knowing nod directed at me. I nod back.

And what does his mother say? Does she approve of Faheem?

“My mom loves Faheem. She didn't always, but now that she has warmed up to the idea, she is thrilled that he brings such happiness to me. Before Faheem, she would complain that I was becoming a little distant from her. But finding love has brought me out of my shell. Her acceptance, whenever it came, meant a lot too,” he says pensively.

Chacha's mother now admires Faheem to the extent that she laments their dining out whenever Faheem is in town. “She says to us, ghar ka khana (home cooking) is also good for health. But sometimes, couples need their space. I would always want to go crabbing with Faheem and eat the aloo crab cutlets they make on the boat.”

The one thing that Chacha loves most about Karachi is that he can walk around holding hands with Faheem in public and no one bats an eyelid. As he puts it, two men holding hands is not an uncommon sight, but two men asking for the right to be in love is what upsets people.

“Even today, many of my colleagues who have known me for long are okay with homosexuality, but many are not comfortable talking about it. Things always get a bit awkward when I mention Faheem in a large group setting. I really wish that could change... I want to be able to speak about the people in my life just as anyone would,” Chacha says matter-of-factly.

“Till then, I am just happy that Faheem and I can take a walk down Seaview or even to our local street food vendor and hold hands without drawing attention to ourselves. It’s pyaar (love), yaar.”

Taken from Chacha & Faheem's Valentine's Day Post

***This is a piece of creative writing. All characters have been developed in consultation with the writer of the book, My Chacha is Gay***

Feel free to submit your own #ChachaFanFic, photo or fan art to me at nicemangosDOTblogATgmailDOTcom - just remember that Chacha is a children's book character so it can't be sexual, political, religious. Meet those requirements, make it kick ass, and I'll share it on the blog! :D 

If you wish to support the project, you can do so by ordering your own copy of My Chacha is Gay at

-E xx 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

My Chacha is Gay : It's been a whole YEAR!!

My Chacha is Gay from Eiynah NM on Vimeo.

Wow. I cannot believe how quickly this past year with Chacha has flown by. Mostly because my life has been a whirlwind of interviews, articles and discussions. A lot of them focused on Chacha and LGBT issues in South Asian communities.

This time last year I put up what I thought to be an unpublishable children's book, because simply, one does not mix anything but married heterosexuality and Pakistan. The response I received from the world was overwhelming and hugely supportive. I began my journey to crowdfund  the publishing. It was a success! With the largest contributions coming from Pakistan. I thank you all for supporting the project and making it such a success.


We often write places like Pakistan off, and say they simply are not ready to accept things outside of the religious norm. But if this past year has proven anything, it's the fact that Pakistanis are just as ready as anywhere else to accept things like the modern notion of 'family'.... With a few roadblocks of course. But it is up to us to push the boundaries set in centuries past.

Below is an infographic I put together, documenting Chacha's eventful year!

And here are a few of the photos I received from lovely people all over the world, that purchased the book! 

Photo courtesy of Ali Sajid Imami

Photo courtesy of Louella Harley

Photo courtesy of Karina Schoene

Photo courtesy of Munr Saadt

So that's been our journey this past year! Hopefully there are more exciting things to come. 

I am also excited to announce that I have received my first ever Chacha Fan Fiction! Which I will be putting up shortly in the next day or two!

Feel free to submit your own #ChachaFanFic, photo or fan art to me at nicemangosDOTblogATgmailDOTcom - just remember that Chacha is a children's book character so it can't be sexual, political, religious. Meet those requirements, make it kick ass, and I'll share it on the blog! :D 

Anyhoo, thank you once again for all your love and support! It has meant a lot. 

-E xx 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Spicy Nihari & Fingerbanging. Not a good Mix.

Dear Eiynah, 

My wife and I enjoy your blog and we are glad that a Pakistani had the courage to tackle the messy, tangled, taboo web that is Pakistani Sexuality. Thank you for that, before your blog we really had no place to read about the sexcapades of fellow Pakistanis, its good to know that so many out there are human enough to have sex urges like the rest of us. Living amongst the "pious" and "pure" people of our country, one can easily begin to think that our people simply have no feeling left. Numbed by violence, tragedy and intolerance as well as a desire to repress sexuality, it isn't a stretch to think that all feeling is lost. But your blog reassures me that Pakistanis still have some left. 

So anyway, I come to you today with a rather um, awkward problem. I am a man in my thirties, happily married to a wonderful woman. We have a fantastic sex life, except a couple of times we've had an encounter with a specifically desi (South Asian) problem. Oh damn, I can't even believe I'm writing to you about this, but I bet this is something that has happened to more desis out there. I would love to hear that we are not alone. 

So basically the issue is this: after a large, delicious, spicy meal, typically something involving using your hands, like nihari, the smell and spice sort of lingers on your fingers. 

Even hours later, after multiple handwashings. Sometimes after nihari, later in the evening myself and the Mrs. get a little 'active' in the bedroom. My fingers travel down south and I am interrupted by a screech. Completely forgetting what we've had for lunch that day, I ask my wife whats wrong and she screams that my fingers have caused her genitals to burn and sting. I think back to what I ate, and fuck it's almost always nihari or some really spicy saalan (stew/curry). Completely ruins the mood, and she has to go run cold water over herself to ease the burning. And I'm left with my dick in my hand, cursing myself and my spicy lunch. 

I've actually remembered before when I've had spicy food to specifically scrub my hands before I get into bed and finger my wife. No luck. Same shit man. She still screams and complains that it burns. 

I don't know what to do - now this isn't with all desi meals, just with the extra gravyish and spicy ones. Do I have to choose between eating nihari and fingering my wife? Because goddamn it I love both those things so much. But the damn spiciness doesn't leave my fingers for hours. What do I do? 



Oh dear. I am so sorry for laughing. But talk about 'desi problems' eh?

[Paraphrased] "I ate too much spicy food with my hands today, so I can't fingerbang my wife."

Shit dude, this is a real issue. I mean I don't know what to tell you? Scrub harder before fingering your wife. If that doesn't work, remember to go straight to oral the days you've had nihari type food? Don't skip on the foreplay and just stick it in, because that's just shitty sex. If your fingers are unusable for some reason, use the others 'parts' you have at your disposal.

You could also get a vibrator so you don't have to use your hands, I hear they have bootleggers for sex toys in Pakistan now (though how much I'd trust a sex toy bought from a shady guy in an alley, I don't know...see if he has customer references at least? Even then be wary.)

Eating certain foods with our hands, is just the way its done in Pakistani culture. Being the  traditional, cultural woman that I am, I wouldn't dream of asking you to give that up or give up nihari in general (that would be sinful, that stuff is *so* good). So yeah, try alternative ways, get creative. Plan nihari on unsexy nights? Haha I dunno, I don't have a magical antidote for your problem. It is rather unique.

But hopefully this post can get you thinking on the track of alternative courses of action. Maybe you can invest in a box of disposable rubber gloves and role play doctor once in a while?

If anyone else has come across this issue, and has a fix for it - please do leave a comment!

Boy, you really add a new dimension to "spicing things up in the bedroom".  Tingly, burny genitals do not sound fun. :/

But nihari is goooooood. It's a pity it had to cross paths with genitals. Definitely not genital friendly.

Mmm...I want to dip my nan in that right now. 
Edit: I am being informed that some people have had this issue with oral too.... so proceed with caution - make sure several hours have passed. Mouthwash, rinse. Keep us posted ;) 


A huge thanks to my patrons: Lisa Fontaine, Ali Sajid Imami, Humanist Agressor, Jesus&Mo, Pastafarian Woman, Alexander, Know the Question and Yasmien - your support means a lot and will help me allocate more time towards writing and drawing!

You too can support here ! 

If you feel my voice needs to be heard - and you can add a dollar or two to help this project continue, I would greatly appreciate it!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day from Chacha & Faheem!

I'm not a huge fan of Valentine's Day myself... but I sure do love seeing Chacha and Faheem being in love! I received a letter and a photo from him today, that he wanted me to pass on to all the wonderful folks who have supported the immense struggle it is to be Pakistani and not fit the very narrow mould set out for us.

Yes you can be Pakistani and different, yes you can be Muslim and not fit the 'norm'. Love who you are and don't let this nasty world get you down! xx


Chacha and Faheem are characters from Pakistan's first anti-homophobia children's book which you can view here

You can support the project and buy a copy of the book here

All copies purchased on Valentine's day will be signed with a 'Happy Valentine's Day' note from the author! 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Menstruation Makes you Unholy

So this weekend we were helping my aunt move. And gosh I love her to pieces...she is one of my few relatives that defends my right to disbelief as an equal right to having belief. Why can't we have more awesome Muslims like this in the world?

Anyhoo, we were just about done with moving the big stuff, like furniture, and her daughter tried to hand her a pile of books - which she suddenly backed away from. Saying no no, "haat pak nahi hain" (literally translated that means: My hands are impure)... Ah religious books, I thought to myself...women are not allowed to touch the Quran while menstruating.

This has always bothered me a lot. Because the messy stuff is occurring in the crotchal region, how then does it make your hands unclean? Apparently it makes your whole existence 'impure'. God will not listen to your prayers during this time either... because you are not allowed to pray, according to some scholars.

(Yes I know some hipster Muslims will jump on this and say that's not true... you're not interpreting the Quran/Hadith right...women are regarded as equals, and all that jazz...but no)

My aunt is a very modern, progressive woman...but still abides by that, as do most muslim women I know. I remember when I was kid, my mom was never really religious, but at one time during my preteen years she got cornered into Quran lessons over the phone, by an older woman. When she got her period she probably thought,

"Score, I get a few days off from these phone-in Quran lessons"

Oh, but she was mistaken. The older lady said...

"Why should you miss any days at all? Get yourself some thin gloves you can wear during the lesson, so it creates a barrier between your hands and the holy pages."

I remember being irritated even then. I don't remember if this was before I got my period or after... but in any case, I was aware of what menstruation was... and found it awful that a woman should not be allowed to hold a book while bleeding in a completely different part of her body. I'd get it if our hands bled during menstruation... I mean that would be messy as hell... and the book would be ruined... but this idea of impurity associated with womanhood that we as Muslim women are forced to internalize is abhorrent.

And also, it can't be easy turning pages while wearing gloves.

Here we have a traditional Pakistani bride, photographed during her
menstrual cycle. And well, you can see what happens, women
turn into flesh eating zombies, and need to be kept away from the
holy books, understandably so. 

I'm not blaming my aunt, she grew up thinking this, as did my mom. It's more of a reflex now, than something that is actively thought about.

And even logically though, lets say there was some 'magical impurity' emanating from a woman's being during her cycle that could cause damage to the holy book.... how on earth does a pair of flimsy gloves protect it?

But back to the story about moving...I was taken aback and my aunt gestured to my cousin to hand the pile of books to me, I didn't want to offend anyone else in the room because my association with Satan is a well known fact (I kid, but some muslim people don't like non-believers touching their scriptures), so out of respect for everyone else in the room I hesitated to grab the books (in case I was blamed for being disrespectful later)...and said.. well if her hands are impure now, mine are probably in a constant state of impurity. My dad winced at the reminder, lol. Oh dad.

But everyone indicated it was ok for me to grab the pile of holy books. So I did...and I did not burst into flame. Yay!


But it got me thinking about what this is all based on...

Because surely now in the 21st century, people can conclude that if your hands are washed with soap, they are clean...right? So what's this impurity crap about? How petty of god to disallow prayer and worship during a menstrual cycle. (And yes, I know, Islam isn't the only religion with issues surrounding menstruation).

So here is what I found (see full website here):

“The menstruating woman and the one who is in a state of impurity (janaabah) (Janaabah = post-sex state of impurity) should not recite anything of the Qur’aan.” (Reported by al-Tirmidhi, 131; Ibn Maajah, 595; al-Daaraqutni (1/117); al-Bayhaqi, 1/89.

On the flipside there was this:

Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah said: “There is no clear, saheeh text to indicate that a menstruating woman is forbidden to recite Qur’aan… It is known that women used to menstruate at the time of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), and he did not forbid them to recite Qur’aan, or to remember Allaah (dhikr) and offer du’aa’.”

Preventing a menstruating woman from reciting Qur’aan deprives her of the chance to earn reward, and it may make her forget something of the Qur’aan, or she may need to recite it for the purposes of teaching or learning.

"God" forbid you deprive her the chance of that heavenly reward, and omfg what if she forgets something, that is .. you know, already written down...and readily available.

For this her impurity can be excused.

So basically it seems, there is no general consensus, and nobody is sure if god is really THAT petty or not... but:

"If a woman wants to err on the side of caution, she can limit her recitation to the passages which she is afraid of forgetting."

Gee thanks!

Oh wait....

"It is very important to note that what we have been discussing here is restricted to what a menstruating woman recites from memory. When it comes to reading from the Mus-haf (the Arabic text itself), a different rule applies. The correct view of the scholars is that it is forbidden to touch the mus-haf when one is in any kind of state of impurity, because Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):“… which none can touch except the purified.” [al-Waaqi’ah 56:79]. "

"In a letter to ‘Amr ibn Hazm, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) told the people of Yemen: “No one should touch the Qur’aan except one who is taahir (pure).”"

It summed up here by
"This is an issue on which the scholars of Islam have a difference of opinion.  The best and most accepted opinion is that a woman who is in her menstrual period should abstain from touching the Quran, until she has purified herself.
Most of the scholars are of the opinion that there is no harm for a woman, who is in her menstrual period, to recite the Quran from memory." 

So thanks, we have the privilege of uttering the words in our state of feminine impurity, but we cannot touch.

Gosh darn it's good to feel loved. :)

Thanks Islam!

(If you think this is bad, you should see what the Orthodox Jews have going on during and after menstruation).

Also, a huge thanks to my patrons: Lisa Fontaine, Ali Sajid Imami, Humanist Agressor, Jesus&Mo, Pastafarian Woman, Know the Question - your support means a lot, and will help me allocate more time towards writing and drawing!

If anyone else would like to support, please do so here ! If you feel my voice needs to be heard - and you can add a dollar or two to help this project continue, I would greatly appreciate it!