Our stories: Naznin

My name is Naznin, I am a Muslim woman originally from Bangladesh. Being a woman in my country brings it own challenges, but even the little freedom I had left was taken away and my respect and identity denied because of being a lesbian.

Growing up was very tough but I had managed to conceal my sexual identity, gained good grades at University, and even started my own business.

When my sexuality was discovered, my life turned upside down and it became extremely hard to find a safe place to leave.

I never thought I could ever leave my country but after realising that my life was in trouble, I fled and came to the UK in March 2014. Everything in the UK was very new to me and it took me years before I opened up to anyone about my troubles. I was lonely and struggled to make friends.

In December 2017, I heard about Say It Loud Club and I took the time to read about the services given to LGBTQ+ refugees.

I remember I saw pictures of a group of women, some of them Muslim, sitting in a small group talking.

I was encouraged by this and asked for an appointment. When I met Aloysius Ssali, the Director of Say It Loud Club, for the first time I felt comfortable and courageous to talk about my situation, and that was the time my life began to change positively.

Being a member of Say It Loud Club gave me a good platform to work on my confidence and self-esteem. After a few months, I had become a group volunteer and before long, I was helping other women who had suffered homophobia and telling them the importance of living openly and seeking help.

For the first time, I felt that I too was a Londoner and that there was a place for me here.

I attended various projects some of which were collaborations with Help Refugees and before long I was wearing a Choose Love t-shirt. I felt empowered and eventually I got the courage to seek for asylum in the UK on grounds of my sexuality.

I am incredibly grateful that the UK granted me protection in May 2020, and I am now free but there are still many women still suffering abuse because of their sexuality. Thank you Say It Loud Club – let’s all choose love and say no to homophobia!