Police have warned of a “backlash” after it was revealed that Channel 4 will air a documentary about Britain’s Muslim gay scene.
It comes after well-known Pakistani-origin drag queen and activist Asif Quraishi – who goes by the stage name Asifa Lahore and who is featured in the documentary – said he was concerned about reaction to the show, which is titled ‘Muslim Drag Queens’.
Quraishi is one of the most prominent LGBT rights activists within the British Asian community and has previously received death threats for his work.
He said police have already put in place “measures” to ensure his safety once the show is broadcast next Monday.
‘Muslim Drag Queens’ is voiced by the legendary actor and gay rights activist Sir Ian McKellen who has praised Ms Lahore and other members of the “Gaysian” community for their bravery in telling their stories.
Sir Ian said the film was surprised by the scale of the prejudice against gay Asians that exists in Britain today.
“I’m ashamed how little I know about drag and trans and areas of being gay that I’ve not been part of,” he said. “It makes me begin to understand what it was like 20 or 30 years ago about simply being gay.”
Quraishi – who spoke about his struggles and triumphs in an interview with the UKAsian last year – has sparked outrage within Britain’s Muslim community for his outspoken views.
He has been particularly vocal against those who insist that homosexuality is against Islam.
‘Muslim Drag Queens’ is part of Channel 4’s award-winning First Cut strand.
The film delves into the largely secretive gay Asian community in the UK through the eyes of three gay drag queens.
32-year-old Asif Quraishi is Britain’s first out and proud Muslim drag queen. Performing as his glamourous alter ego Asifa Lahore he has established himself as a leading figure within the Gaysian community, and as an activist for gay rights. Born to conservative British Pakistani parents, his choice to perform and out himself so publically has strained relations within his own family and triggered death threats against both himself and his parents. Unbowed, he uses his very visibility to campaign and challenge perceptions: “Up until now, people in my community have chosen to be invisible,” he explains. The epitome of glamour, Asifa appears on stage in sequins, ruffles, saris and cocktail dresses and in a calculated move to provoke reaction and debate – a burqa.
28-year-old British Pakistani Imran has been using drag for six years, creating a female alter ego Zareena Khan. Single and searching for love, he has profiles on a number of dating apps and social media sites, but has discovered he attracts more interest as Zareena. Men in both Britain and Pakistan respond to his online profiles – often married men who he believes find it more acceptable to sleep with him because he dresses as a woman.
Ibrahim, a 22 year-old Mauritian, is studying for a degree in the UK. He recently came out to his family who surprised him with their unconditional support. Since arriving in the UK he has immersed himself in the Gaysian scene and wants to start performing drag. Having discovered Asifa Lahore online he seeks out Asif for advice and support. Despite his passion to perform, Ibrahim sometimes struggles to reconcile drag with his devout religion.
‘Muslim Drag Queens’ is said to have been partly inspired by a Guardian documentary about the Muslim gay community by Kieren Yates.