By now you may have heard about Azman Ismail, the Muslim man in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, who came out on YouTube and saw his clip rocket to hundreds of thousands of views since it went live Dec. 15; in six days, it had clocked 140,000 views and attracted thousands of comments. Also on the rise: threats against his life.
The video, which the 32-year-old engineer has since pulled offline, called on other gay Malaysians to be confident in their sexuality. Apparently it was also a call for anti-gay crazies to demand his death (though that’s to be expected in a country where anal sex is illegal, and gays are rounded up by police).
“My intention was not to insult Islam,” Azwan has told reporters. “I just wanted to represent gay Malays in this project. I hope these videos will help to create a more open society and more discussion.” Azwan’s video was part of an It Gets Better Project-esque effort in Malaysia; he was the first Muslim to record a video. And what was originally a proud moment for Malay gays has, for some, become a curse, relays IPS.
Originally LGBT people and others were exhilarated by Azman’s statement – seeing it as a daring attempt to lift the covers off a forbidden subject and encourage discussion and discourse and put LGBT concerns on the national agenda. However, Azman’s action also sparked condemnation in the government- controlled media; and the subject was also taken up on the Internet and on blogs, Facebook and in chat groups where Azman was condemned as a deviant and an animal.
“We thought this is the turning point, the one event that would break the shroud and open LGBT issue for public discussion,” a playwright who asked for anonymity for fear of censure told IPS. “The confession was so daring and so open. We felt exhilarated. But now I feel fear, I want to hide,” she said. “We all had to take down his confession from our sites.”