This piece is featured in Issue No. 6 Defining Queer Liberation

Photo Series


Artist Statement

Three years later the same tea brews on the stove top. Smells of cardamom, cinnamon and cloves flow through the house. The news plays on the TV, an endless loop of the latest updates on the world-wide pandemic. There are oranges. Oranges served on an endless platter, reminding me of the orange orchards we own in Pakistan. Endless whispers infiltrating the walls, echoing the privacy of a home and the privacy of a mind.

Three years after leaving my family’s home and leaving the double life I was living as a closeted queer Muslim teen, I moved back. In this time, I found myself experiencing many conflicting emotions that I couldn’t begin to express and dissect for myself.

I photographed myself in various areas of the house in black and white and wrote quotes and drawings over them. Words that have been spoken to me hundreds of times, and the responses I’ve endlessly repeated myself. “What would people say” quietly ricochets off the walls every time a misstep occurs. Constantly being confronted with my queerness as a sin. In one of the images I have Surat Lot, a passage from the Quran, written on my palms with henna. This passage is often quoted to me on my online posts by some Muslims as a means to justify their homophobia. In other images, I showcase more intimate occasions of alienation. Seeking a small moment of peace in the privacy of a washroom and still not finding it, or the feeling of guilt for not spending enough time with my parents.

With this series, I explore how my relationship with religion, family and my own queer identity has grown and how that has manifested in the atmosphere of our home. These self-portraits are a reflection of my journey into navigating and understanding an environment I was no longer familiar with.

IMG 9317

Bisma Jay

Bisma Jay is a queer and non-binary multi-media artist currently studying photography at OCADu in Toronto. Their work surrounds creating more positive representation of queer and trans South Asian folks living in the diaspora. In their spare time they like to make videos for TikTok, paint, and take endless self-portraits.