A gay Kurdish Muslim finds success, freedom, & activism in Canada

I was born in a small Kurdish town in Eastern Turkey. In the summers, like most children growing up in a Muslim family, I would go to Islamic school to learn about Islam and the Quran until the age of 14. At the age of 14 I decided to stop going to the religious school in the summer due to a conflict between my sexuality and the Imam’s speeches.

Hearing and witnessing some honor killings of gay men I started to be so afraid of my feelings. At the age of 16 I wanted to commit suicide because I had been with a man and I was so afraid my family was going to discover this.

Surviving suicide I realized that I could escape from the dominant mentality of Muslim fundamentalism in the town I lived if I studied hard and was accepted into a school in a different city. I got the chance to study in Istanbul at the age of 17 and lived my gay life partly freely, but I was still so afraid to be discovered by my family.

At the age of 21, I got the chance to go to the US where I started my undergrad and lived as an open gay man. I have finished a double Major from Portland State University in Political Science and International Studies. After I graduated from the US I moved to Ottawa where my ex-partner was living. In July I will graduate from the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University with a Master’s degree.

I became a political activist for Kurdish people and for the Muslim LGBTQ community. I have faced much discrimination within my own community but I never gave up. I have continued to volunteer and help them on every occasion. Due to my hard work the majority of my community have accepted me as who I am.

While I was working for the Kurdish community I became a Vice President for the Kurdish Youth Association of Canada. In that capacity I met with people in the Conservative Party of Canada. I worked closely with the Conservative Party and I have found a strong connection with the Conservative Party.

Currently I am Chairman for Fundraising for the Conservative Party in Ottawa South, and I am hoping to run for election one day to become the first openly gay Kurdish MP in the world, not just in Canada. People might think I want to run out of self-interest but I want to show to Middle Eastern homophobic people, gay people, and the families of gay people what can we become and that we should not be ashamed.

Yusuf Celik

Ottawa