Hello New York

1994 was coming to an end in about a month. After an all-night red-eye train journey, I woke up at the first stroke of sunlight. No, I am not an early riser, but the rays were in direct sight and I couldn’t shut them out.

After a long disembarking session, we changed over to the local train platform. With many relatives and oversized bags, we were aliens amidst the weary fast-paced don’t-care crowd starting their day. And after another long train ride, followed by a longer walk of dragging the luggage, we made it to the high-rise apartment building with elevators. We went to check out the city. A walk to the station, hopping two connecting trains later, we were there.

We walked out of the Churchgate Station.

My eyes lit up trying to catch the end of the high rising concrete structures, trying to capture the faces of the fast walkers, trying to figure out if anyone was even remotely interested in watching us, trying to take in all the flavours of the street side food stalls, trying to snapshot as many sights into memory…

That was my first, and still the only memorable, visit to the City of Seven Islands – Bombay.

My love of a metropolitan city had begun. A place where I could be myself. I knew I was gay (not the term but the truth) and, in 1994, Bombay was the only place in India, I had been to, that made me feel welcome, safe, happy, content, elated, and most importantly, understood.

A city with no interfering eyes. No one asked me to not laugh. No one stopped me from looking in awe. No one made me feel like a weirdo.

Probably because no one in Bombay was even slightly interested in us.

It was a city of dreamers immersed in their own dreams, not worrying about others. They were their own worlds, surrounded by the worlds of millions. Together they were a unit, synchronised to enter and exit the stations in chaotic harmony; yet individually they just cared about one single thing – live and let live.

It was love at first sight. A concrete jungle with inhuman beings. No need of hiding in the closet. Not having to wear an invisible mask. That was my kind of a city.

Once we went back to our suburban abode, I had only one and only one plan – save enough money to afford the long train ride back to the city. I decided, I would rather be a happy valet in Bombay than a sad car owner elsewhere.

* * *

Time passed by. Bombay became Mumbai. We moved from a smaller suburb to a larger suburb. With no pocket allowance and no summer jobs, my savings were nil. But my dream was still on.

Over many years it dawned on me that there are horizons beyond the Worli seaside.

* * *

2007 was already halfway through. I woke up early at the stroke of sunlight. This time the blame was on the alarm clock. A SEPTA train ride ensued. Followed by changing over to the NJ Transit platform.

We walked out of the Penn Station.

My eyes lit up trying to catch the end of the high rising concrete structures, trying to capture the faces of the fast walkers, trying to figure out if anyone was even remotely interested in watching us, trying to take in all the flavours of the street side food stalls, trying to snapshot as many sights into memory…

That was my first real visit to the Big Apple – New York.

Every year since, I stole time off my life to be part of this city that never sleeps. Each visit I found out how much I do not yet know. This city never stops amazing me.

2015 was another memorable visit. It was with my closest friends over the Memorial Day weekend. They all left to their hotels and I found a small bench at Times Square. It was 2 hours after midnight. Yet the square was full of life. People everywhere. On their own little journeys. Not hiding in the closets. Not wearing masks. This was my kind of a city.

That was my epiphany. The moment I knew, I wanted to be here. I needed to be here.

The ordeal began. Rest of 2015 I want to forget. 2016 was spent in recovery. 2017 was the start of my trials to move to this city. The dating game for jobs commenced. Sometimes they didn’t like me. Sometimes I didn’t like them. I took a break from the disappointing meetings. 2018 was a pleasurable year with film festivals. Finally, 2019 came to an end, and life changed.

Today, the dream of that ten-year-old boy – not-knowing how to live in a hostile world while trying to find his way – has come true.

He is living his dream.

Mohammed Shaik Hussain Ali


Evening Shadows – Premiere Time

Life has been moving in the fast lane. And now that one of the paths is clear, it is time to share the joy with the world and invite one and all to be a part of the ongoing journey.

My first film as a producer – Evening Shadows – is now on its way to premiere time.

Evening Shadows is a journey of a gay son’s mother, the only person who can convert even the setting sun into a rising one… as much as it draws from my own life, it is more of a hope for the future.

Here are the premiere dates:

Come watch the movie and witness the unfolding life on the big screen!

To stay up to date, like it on Facebook or follow it on Twitter.

Mohammed Shaik Hussain Ali


E Pluribus Unum

I woke up late. Much later than I expected to. And when I did, I had a hope against hope that I dreamt it all up.

That’s the speciality of time. Doesn’t matter whether I want to turn it around, it just keeps marching ahead.

As the day progressed, I witnessed that the emotions were remarkably divisive. Some were celebrating by lighting up the skies with fireworks. Some were mourning under the fire shower of those skies. Some just were a seated audience to the fires. None of it better or worse, until history determines what’s what.

Pain is a very powerful sense amongst human beings. It replaced kingdoms with republics; tyranny with peace; oppression with sensibility; and hatred with love.

Pain was what created the third force. And it was pain that defeated it so.

Time is a remarkable teacher, healer and soother. Every wound gets healed. Of course some leave a scar, but with each scar, time teaches us how to avoid more. Though, sometimes, multiple scars are needed to make sure the original pain is reminded.

As we embark upon the new journey, with no crystal ball in hand; let’s be aware that no matter what, time cannot be held onto.

Patience, perseverance and preservation were, are and will be the foundations to surge ahead.

Probably the triumphant trumpets were not of our choice. Maybe the incoming tempest is not of our making. Perhaps the thumping steps are not those of our conscience.

At the end, the only thing that matters is that we are each other’s keepers – E Pluribus Unumout of many, one.

The clouds may try their best, but the sun always shines.

* * *

A king once assembled his advisors and asked them to come up with an inscription for his ring. His conditions were simple. In sadness, those words must uplift him. In happiness, those words must humble him.

His ring was inscribed with the words – this too shall pass.

Mohammed Shaik Hussain Ali


I am Muslim and Gay

As I was finishing off my sehri and looking forward to the day of fasting on a supposedly serene Sunday early morning, my television was playing the aftermath of yet another mass shooting in a town of the corner state. I waited for the press conference only to listen that details were to be revealed later in the day. After saying a small prayer for the departed souls and praying for speedy recovery of the injured, I took a nap.

When I woke up, my phone was abuzz with news feeds.

During those hours, the incident had become the most violent mass shooting in the United States of America requiring a visibly resigned and saddened President giving a speech describing a hate crime.

I was not sure what I was supposed to feel.

Senseless gun violence.

Yet another crime scene where a supposedly mentally unstable person gets hold of weapons of mass destruction and goes on a rampage at his will.

A gay nightclub isn’t just a place to party, it’s a congregation for those shunned, those enlightened, those opened, those closeted, and those elated souls finding their solace amongst fellow humans. It is supposed to be a safe place amongst those who know and understand.

Mindless homophobia.

Yet another moment when supposedly one cannot stand fellow humans expressing their love for each other.

Not even a year has passed by that love was finally legalised in this country. Where all that mattered was love, not the ‘who’.

Hostile islamophobia.

Yet another time of bigoted detestation towards the faith.

As if the current wave of misinformation wasn’t enough, the social media and the public media were filled with messages which confused, convoluted, concealed and contrived conflicting verses and versions.

I am not sure what I am supposed to feel.

I was born a proud gay person willingly following the tenets of Islam.

For me, the conjunction was always an ‘and’. I never had any doubts of myself, my abilities and my reconciliation with my religion and my orientation.

This has been the third consecutive year when I had been proudly fasting while religiously marching at the San Francisco Pride Parade. For me, it was a blessing to have the months of Pride and Ramadan overlap. This was the time when I get to be proud of the accomplishments of my LGBTQ community and be humbled by the fasting tenet amongst my Muslim community. A time where I get to be both of my identities with pride and humility.

I wish I knew what to feel.

It’s the year 2016. Artificial Intelligence is omnipresent. Virtual Reality is the market. And Driverless Cars are making headways.

It’s the year 2016. Guns are easily accessible. Homophobia is richly prevalent. And Islamophobia is sailing high.

As I ended my fast with my iftar, I couldn’t but wonder as to why humans are at the top of the food chain. There wasn’t a need of creating an enemy to the human race. They are self-reliant.

Mohammed Shaik Hussain Ali


Intolerance of Indian Majority

The mention of Silicon Valley brings the images of the glass buildings nestled in the midst of large open spaces filled with highly-skilled ‘educated’ professionals.

Silicon Valley also portrays the overwhelming presence of the Indian community. A community that I belong to. At least, legally, I still belong to.

Today, I witnessed a shattering. A demise of my expectations from the Indian community I was born into.

Trikone, the oldest South Asian LGBTQ organisation with its roots in Silicon Valley, was peacefully taking a stand to bring forth the attention to the missing LGBTQ rights.

All I, being the chairperson of Trikone, did was to peacefully take a stand on the public grounds of the city of San Jose holding the sign – “377” The old British law still haunts Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, Maldives, Myanmar and more… #LGBTQ Rights.

I was attacked. My fellow comrades holding equally neutral messages were attacked.

My sign was snatched, broken and thrown. I was dragged, pulled out by my collar, held on my neck and was yelled at – you don’t belong here.

The attackers were my fellow Indians. The attackers asserted their Indian majority status.

Being a minority is not new for me. I was born in India. I was raised in India. I grew up in towns where I was taught not to mention my name out loud. I was told not to ask for what’s my worth. I was instructed not to question what’s been told. To add to the mix, I am homosexual. In addition to all of the above ‘not’s I had to add a whole lot of silence clouts.

Setting foot in the United States of America, I assumed that I was away from all of Indian hypocrisy.

The Indian majority set it right for me today. I was, am and will be a minority.

Collecting myself off today’s moments, I am left with a haunting question – If the Indian majority, the ‘educated’ lot, standing on non-Indian grounds, can resort to such means to drive their point across; what is the plight of the minorities on the Indian soil?

Mohammed Shaik Hussain Ali


Special Day for U.S.A.

A day when the rolling tears get to hold & the flowing smiles get to ride…

There shan’t be any more labels, it shall be just marriage…

United States of America legalised same-sex marriage throughout the country today. From today every marriage gets the same dignity, honour and justice. One more win for love…

Here’s the beautiful paragraph written by Justice Kennedy of the Supreme Court of the United States.

No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.

The judgement of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is reversed.

It is so ordered.

A new era begins in the history of gay rights.