Gay Pakistani Poet Ifti Nasim Dies at 64

Hundreds packed a Chicago mosque to pay their respects to gay Pakistani Muslim poet Ifti Nasim over the weekend, the AP reports:

Nasim Nasim died at a Chicago hospital late Friday following a heart attack, his sister Ajaz Nasreen told The Associated Press. He was 64.


Nasim said he always knew he was gay, but living openly in his native Pakistan wasn't an option. He remembered first reading magazine articles about being gay in America and developing his love of fashion by flipping through Vogue.

"In Islamic society, gays have no place," he told WBEZ-FM in Chicago. "America sold the gay culture to me back home. They're living happily ever after in America. That's my place, I've got to go to America. I was sold. Completely sold."

Nasim came out to his family after immigrating to the U.S. and was cut off by many of them after doing so, the AP adds:

Nasim wrote numerous books of poetry, including one titled "Narman" — a word for hermaphrodite — which was believed to be the first book of gay themed poetry to be published in the Urdu language. He also founded SANGAT/Chicago, a South Asian lesbian, gay and transgender organization.

In 1996, Nasim was inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame for "his courage as an international ambassador of tolerance" and his leadership in the city.

Posted July 25, 2011 at 1:51pm ETC by Andy Towle
in Chicago, Deaths, News