By Arubiyyah Qadir Balouch
Could you tell us the difference between Humza Ali Mian & Manghoe Lassi?
At this point, there isn’t much difference between Humza and Manghoe. Manghoe has helped Humza embrace the femininity that he was forced to suppress all throughout his childhood and teenage years. When I first started drag there was a drastic difference between the two – Manghoe was a lot louder and rambunctious than Humza.
Southasians are very different from each other yet similar in some traditions, could you give us your background?
I’m Pakistani; born and raised in Canada. I’ve visited Pakistan 3 times.
Gay rights in Pakistan are not established, however the third gender rights are seeing some light! Do you think that the Islamic Republic of Pakistan would ever have a loophole for the gay men?
I don’t see it happening any time soon but I’m hopeful this will change in my lifetime. I’m grateful for all the queer artists that are coming out and still advocating for their Pakistani heritage. I think this the beginning of a (slow) revolution.
A lot of gay men are hidden in Pakistan, some have no choice but to marry and lead a very lonely life. They lead a double life, as well as there are reports on many gay men joining the third gender communities to get an identity and within that community, they go through transformation to make them more feminine. What do you say to that?
It’s incredibly sad that queer men in Pakistan have to resort to this. However, I understand the need to put your safety first and adapt to situations to ensure your safety. I have issues with the term “double life” when it comes to describing the lives of queer people; this is just life for some of us. I think that if folks are making that transition to find a community and a sense of self, that’s their prerogative and I’m happy for them.
In one of your previous interviews you admitted that you did not come out to your parents yet, with all the media and publicity, are they still unaware of Manghoe Lassi?
They’re still unaware hahah. They know I do makeup and that I attend a lot of costume parties though. 😛
What do you see the future for Manghoe Lassi?
I’m hoping my platform continues to grow and I am able to advocate for queer Pakistani voices. I would love to travel (once this Corona ban is lifted!) and spread my art everywhere!
With your popularity, there are many Pakistanis and other southasians getting inspired. Even though you are making an impact indirectly, do you think you would do something directly for the rights of gay men in Pakistan?
I hope that my platform is able to take me there, but I always have a fear for my safety when I think about what could happen if I ever went back. I’m hoping it will eventually happen and that I’m able to overcome my fear (or at least lessen it somehow hahah).
What do you say to those Pakistani men who are living a sort of an unwanted fake-life in order to keep their family traditions of getting married and having children?
I understand both sides of the coin. Each situation is unique and so many factors come into play, so it’s not right for me to judge anyone for doing whatever they can to protect themselves. If people are able to escape this before marriage it would be ideal, but those circumstances are not available to everyone. I always prioritize safety before anything else, and unfortunately for some men this is what safety looks like.
You have the support within Canada as well as the gay/lesbian southasians relate to you, but how can you make a difference worldwide for gay rights or for Pakistan?
I think I’m already making small waves with my platform. I’ve had countless folks’ message me from Pakistan, India, the middle East etc. asking me for advice and telling me that my visibility online has helped them through tough times. It’s the small, personal stuff that affects people the deepest.
Any finally any advice to the Southasian youth that are wanting to lead a gay life or are still leading a double life?
Be safe!!!! That’s the best advice I can offer anyone. Please make sure that you are prepared for the worst scenario, have a financial plan, and most important – have people outside of your blood family that you can rely on. It can be really scary and folks needs to be realistic about it.