South Asian Heritage Month: The history-maker who led Birmingham's Pride Parade

In the third part of our series celebrating South Asian Heritage Month, we turn to the LGBTQ+ community.

ITV News Central has spoken to one trailblazing British Pakistani lesbian, Saima Razzaq, whose momentous march through Birmingham meant, for the first time ever, the city's South Asian queer community was able to celebrate from the very front of the pride parade.

Saima and her mum

Having been raised by her mother, in Small Heath in Birmingham, Saima says she wasn't ready to tell her mum about her sexuality until she was nearly 30. 

But now, out and proud - and an owner of a canal boat which she often uses for her LGBTQ+ activism work - she proudly sticks up her rainbow flag for all to see.

With sexuality often being seen as a taboo topic in South Asian households, Indian doctor and television presenter Dr Ranj has been attempting to break down long held stigma. 

Going so far as to take a HIV test live on TV.

He told ITV News while honest discussions are now commonplace, the South Asian community has historically shied away from talking openly about sexuality.

  • Dr Ranj Singh, Doctor and TV presenter

But, one academic from the University of Birmingham told ITV Central, despite progress being made, traditional South Asian households which shun queer family members out of they fear of what the community might think - still have work to do.

  • Dr Maryyum Mehmood, University of Birmingham

Across the East Midlands pride has always been a place for South Asians to celebrate their sexuality.

But last year the pandemic meant celebrations weren't able to take place.

In Nottingham, the parade went virtual, with acts from across the region taking part without an audience - for this year, organisers say they're still in talks to make it happen safely so that people from all walks of life can come and celebrate.

  • Craig Martin, Notts Pride

Saima continues to work everyday...challenging stereotypes, breaking down barriers and flying the flag, in the hopes that one day - she says - for all members of the South Asian community, love will simply be seen as love. 

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