Irfan: Full Interview
Interview by Ray Larman
26th March 2019
INTERVIEWER: So, this is Ray Larman for West Yorkshire Queer Stories. It’s the 26th of March 2019, and I’m here with Irfan, who’s going to introduce himself.
I: Hi, thank you for having you and my name is Irfan, and I’m from Pakistan.
INTERVIEWER: What’s your date of birth?
I: My date of birth is 18th of April 1988.
INTERVIEWER: And how do you identify?
I: I identify – when I was in, when I was back home, I was a, feel like I’m a different person. And then I was not, I’m gonna be, can’t show this to my community and my place. If I was do anything in this situation I would be killed, and I were gonna be like persecution cos I know I was a, belonged to very strict and religious family. And my village is really, really bad, and this thing is anyone just like doubt about this things, so there were like punishment for that as well. And I have like, basically, I just keep quiet myself, focus on my study and my business and then always thinking I’m gonna be brought some good country where allowed this situation, where’s open country it’s not allowed and no one like persecution, no one kill. So that was my plan, and when I was coming to England in 2011 and then after, I don’t know about this things what to do. I was just think, I’m coming to safe country, but I were just like happy but still I was around community, when I see the people, so I still a bit scared, so they say, ‘oh he’s still alien people in the own community’. So, I was still shy and still not come out. For long I was like safe, I was doing something like hiding, anything like I was doing, but I like I was not scaring behind, like back home. Like, that scaring is gone, when I was come here.
But after that, when I was into to the UK I don’t know what’s the process was to do. And I would just keep quiet myself and just cos I was just enjoying it, I was – and I don’t know about, know information about LGBT. And just, happen it’s come, I was caught to the Home Office, like catch and I was in work and I was just, my friend’s job, I was helping him, and I was catching the home of his, and then I was doing it under asylum, because I was scared and I have – I was shy. I didn’t explain that to this, and then I don’t know what to say about that cos I was just that was the reason I give it to have a problem with Taliban and I can’t go back home. So, that was my first asylum, that’s why I was –
INTERVIEWER: That’s why you claimed asylum?
I: Claimed asylum. And then after I was not inside that as well I’m gonna be – I’m this problem as well, but I can’t explain that what’s the process and I was shy as well, to the officer, I can’t say that or I’m this, this, and that’s why it was excuse for me to tell about, because I have a two case: I have a really problem with Taliban, a CD problem as well, I got a CD shop, and then I have this, my real problem, which is I have now that was the second problem, but I didn’t tell that at the moment cos I was shy; I don’t know what’s the process for that. Then I release, after three hours, then I –
INTERVIEWER: So this was a three hour interview?
I: That was three after interview I released from Home Office and then I was like hiding cos because I was scared as well and I don’t know, I don’t go to sign anything like that, cos I’m normally silent cos I know that this system is different from Pakistan. They’re not really due to that, if I say I’m Taliban, Taliban is gone now, my back home is okay, Taliban is gone –
INTERVIEWER: So, it was the Taliban who were a threat to you?
I: It was the Taliban, but when I was thinking I know that could be sometime ‘til happen, will be okay after that; Pakistan Taliban will be clear. When I was thinking, I’m not like that person, I can’t stay in Pakistan, cos I’m a different person, and when I apply – and then the second time – catched by Home Office again, the shame, my friend’s shop, and that was because I don’t have no to do do, to supply myself and my friend being five years with me and he said, why me, and he look after me all the time. So he just give me the money for the food to survive myself. And then, after the second time, when the Home Office catched me then I was in the Morton Hall, like a detention –
INTERVIEWER: Where was that?
I: That is Morton Hall [in Lincoln]. Then I was for three months, four months, then first solicitor I have, from Pakistan, and I was still scared cos that guy, the solicitor from Pakistan, when I was message him, when I was ring him, he don’t answer the phone, he don’t ring me, and he not reply on time. But he just like mess about with me and I don’t get a really good solicitor that I can explain my real matter. And then after, when I was getting that solicitor for two, three weeks, when I entered to the detention, then he just like I say he just, ‘oh we don’t do this and that’, and he’d say, ‘I’m busy, and when I’m free I’ll give you a message and I’ll give you this, this’. Then I was look around around, asking the people inside the Morton Hall, somebody told me this solicitor is really good, and is really help you and just contact with him. When I was ring him and he was really nice guy and he just tell me nicely and slowly: ‘Irfan, tell me about yourself, everything, what’s your problem? Anythings, don’t be shy, don’t be scared; I’m here with you, don’t worry’. So, I say the first thing, I have a problem with Taliban; that was the first matter. The second matter I have now I identify sexuality, so this is my problem now, cos this is the last stage, I’m here now, and I’m gonna send back if I go I can’t hide my life there. I want to be open; so I want to be enjoy my life, myself. If anywhere, my family would find out, they will straight away kill me; Pakistan, the security, the police, everything is not safe. They can kill, police by self. They not involve you in like a, say that, ‘oh why you killed your son, this is allowed, cos you’re not allowed to…’
INTERVIEWER: To be gay? Is that not allowed?
I: To be gay, yes, you’re not allowed. But I was thinking how there was one option and then I just tell my solicitor I’m gay as well, and then he says, ‘okay, Irfan, don’t worry, and I’ll apply your asylum, for a gay’ and the first one I was – cos the first asylum they withdraw.
INTERVIEWER: They withdraw?
I: Withdraw, because I was scared, I didn’t go for the sign, I didn’t go for the interview because I know that is my [method?] that I will be go ‘til not permanent, that will be go ‘til the process going, they will dis-, they will check back home, Pakistan, there’s Taliban now I know, this is Pakistan much, much better than before, when I was apply the case, but I was thinking that I know that is the problem for me as well, but now is the real problem is me: I’m a homosexual, so I can’t live my life there now, that is like more dangerous than my Taliban case, cos I have two problems: the one I have my Taliban, I come from that, I mention that this, and the second I can’t mention because I don’t know the process, I was shy. So, I apply that inside, and Home Office, from Morton Hall, from that second solicitor, it’s behalf of him, confidence and everything, slowly, slowly, I’ve been there for three or four months, and slowly, slowly I come out from detention – because of him, he really, really helped me; because of his confidence, and slowly, slowly I get out from Morton Hall, and then I slowly, slowly come back to home, and I realised that I was really happy, so he told me that ‘you safe in England now; you open now. Whatever you want to do, you just do, just have freedom. Search organisation, anything like that, whatever’s the people, go, talk to him, explain your problem they will help you; you don’t scared, you don’t worry about this now – you’re open now’.
INTERVIEWER: So, is that why you came to African Rainbow Family? [charity that supports LGBTIQ BAME refugees]
I: Yes, the first time I was – joined, so I think I joined Manchester LGBT Foundation, because my one friend from Manchester, and he was the same problem with me as well, and he messaged me saying, ‘we have a meeting, group, and this is the meeting we do every month. So, I come here, you come here as well’. And then I started the LGBT Foundation in Manchester. The second I start Rochdale, and cos these was – I was been living up in Leeds like eight years but I didn’t know about anything about in Leeds, cos where’s the place [unclear] around my village, people y’know like here living as well and around my friends and family, are still scared but if I go to this place. And I didn’t know, where is the gay Bridge. When I come out, then I slowly, slowly know, this cos and when I see the colours and everythings, I was excited, I said, ‘aw’, I was excited and said, ‘aw this is the colour, maybe that kinda means something in’, so I just come in and look around and the gay Bridge that was, and I slowly, slowly start to go in the club.
INTERVIEWER: Are you going to the clubs round here?
I: Yeah, yeah, when I was open and when I was apply that [case?] from Morton Hall. And then after I’m open and then slowly, slowly I excited and I making more happiness and slowly, slowly like, like I was very depression, stress, from inside, and then – I just enjoy my life and I just then after, how my family know, then cos y’know this Penny clubs, the Fibres, there’s a taxi y’know there’s a council taxi, the one person is working there but he’s from my village. And he saw me first time, he say, ‘what you doing here?’, cos he know that is a gay village and gay club innit. So, I just said to him, ‘oh I’ve just come to visit my friend, he’s inside this’, I say, ‘okay’. Then the second time, when I went again, that was after one week again, and again he saw me, cos his job is there every day, so then I was shocked –
INTERVIEWER: So, he’s not gay, but his job is in that –
I: He’s like a taxi driver.
INTERVIEWER: Oh, yeah!
I: Taxi driver basically, he pick up people from there. So he’d tell me, he’d say ‘what’re you doing?’ Second time, and you say your friend friend’, but third time, Sam, he and I saw him as well but I just ignored him, just walked. I said, ‘I’m open, but who is this, he can’t do anything to me, who’s this? I just want to escape from my family’. Then he tell my family, then he say to my family, ‘oh I know your son, what he’s doing, your son, in here, cos I’ve been here for nine years, that’s what your son not coming’ – if you have like people come here then he’s go like three, four time and back home, come back as well. I been here for eight, nine years; that’s why I don’t wanna go home cos I got problem.
INTERVIEWER: So, you can’t go back?
I: I can’t go back, that’s why my apply asylum and I got interview and I apply, and I been waiting for my asylum interview. So, I joined loads of groups, loads of friends, and I used share on Facebook with my friends, I’m making loads of friends now, every time I talk to friends I use a different organisation, like African Rainbow, and I’m a volunteer with MESMAC [sexual health organisation] as well, I do two shift in MESMAC every time, every month like y’know when I was, have time free, so I just come for my section like a volunteer for HIV tests, booking for the people. And the rest, I’m just, I’m happy now and safe, and I’m just enjoying my life in the UK now. And I’m really excited – so, that’s the problem I have.
INTERVIEWER: So, you – it sounds like you’re involved in lots of things. And do you go out with your friends around Leeds?
INTERVIEWER: So, where would you go with your friends?
I: Sometime I go like – we just have like friends, like you know, he’s living on his own, sometime I go with him, his house. And sometime we go for a food, like you know, Akbar’s, and it’s like a Asians like Asian food, so I go like a weekend sometime. Sometime we go like around, like you know breakfast, like you know my area have some breakfast places. We go in town and Queen’s Court and we go into sometime the public parks as well. So whenever we just going out and going for chill, like a food, have fun – I’m not drinking, he not drinking, but we just have a fun and go inside whatever we like it, and just enjoying in. If he’s free then I go to his house and, cos I’m living still with my family but he okay with me, my cousin family basically.
INTERVIEWER: Oh, you live with your cousin’s family?
I: My cousin family, here, yeah, yeah. Cos he know now and then so – cos he’s, from here, the girls, and he don’t mind, cos he know now, he know that everything’s, he’s like, she opened basically like, said, ‘this is your life, I don’t wanna be involved in your life’.
INTERVIEWER: So, your family here are okay?
I: They’re okay with me, like, they just say, ‘I don’t care’, because my family backtreading here, say if they know kick you out from your house, we not let them to you guys from Pakistan, but he showed that in the message and everything, my bed, everything say you’re not living with me now. He said, ‘I’ll kick you out’. So he’s saying that to my family, but I’m still hiding, living with my cousin now. She’s just hide me, she say when you have like your proper documents, then I’ll say I know you need to move, cos she got kids and thingy. I say, when I have like documents I can apply for my jobs, anything, I can look after myself – cos I know it’s hard to living with somebody and they have kids, they have a family, so that’s what I say, I don’t wanna leave, so I’m just waiting for my documents, when I get them I can apply for my jobs and I can survive myself. That’s what I want and wanna do with my life.
INTERVIEWER: Thank you, do you want to say anything else?
I: No, thank you very much. Thank you for having me, for taking my interview; I’m really, really excited, and I just want to be like sitting down and just want to be – I have a little bit of worry about interview I give you and still like headache, so I don’t know what we gonna do and what’s gonna happen; still depression and stress all the time, thinking, ‘what’s gonna be happen?’ What’s gonna be happen?’ And I don’t know what to do a bit, so, d’you know what I mean? But I’m still keeping y’know, like y’know hope, yeah, I will be getting the way I saw in the process and the way I related to the family and the system and their interview rules so how I get, this is my one problem, so…
INTERVIEWER: Thank you very much.