On April 3rd, at 9.30 pm NDTV 24*7's estimable Documentary 24*7 
programme will be showing a documentary on the gay Pakistani-American 
poet Ifti Nasim. Many of us on these lists will know Ifti from his 
activism, his poetry, his humour and above all, his wonderful mock-
battles of insults with out own Ashok Row Kavi. 

I rather doubt these battles will feature in the documentary on TV 
because all we'll hear is beeping, but I rather wish they'd treat us 
to another example because where else in this increasingly sanitised 
politically correct world will get such a great example of the 
invective filled slang which queens have used first as protection, to 
keep hostile forces at bay, and then as a form of almost loving self 

In other places this slang has been given a formal name, like Polari 
in the UK or Gayle in South Africa, but I don't know if anyone has 
called it anything here (dare I suggest, randibhasha...) I'll try and 
dig out the one example I preserved somewhere of Ashok and Ifti in 
full flow, but till then here are some of Ifti's entertaining and 
moving poems (I love the ending of the last poem!). 

On the NDTV Documentary: 

On NDTV 24x7's Documentary 24x7 at 9.30pm
April 3 - Nar Narman - a film by Mazhar Zaidi
Synopsis: Nar Narman is a short documentary on the life of Pakistan's 
first gay poet, Iftikhar Naseem who lives in Chicago. The celebrated 
poet is regarded as Urdu language's first gay poet of modern times 
and has been inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of fame. 
Along with his poetry, Ifti, as he is known among his friends, has 
been actively involved in the civil rights movement in United States. 
He regularly tours various cities of India, Pakistan and the UK for 
poetry recitals and is very well known in Urdu literary circles 
Iftikhar Naseem's flamboyance and his open attitude towards his 
sexuality have always landed him in controversy. In this documentary 
he talks about his journey from a conservative Pakistan of the 1970s 
to the US and the discovery of his own sexuality and his love for 

On Ifti Nasim: 
Born in Pakistan, he wrote `Narman', an award winning book of Urdu 
poetry – said to be the first direct statement of "gay" longings and 
desires to ever appear in that language. Its courageous publication 
met with revilement but critical acclaim and inspired other Pakistan 
poets. He co-founded Sangat/Chicago and has been president of the 
South Asian Performing Arts Council of America. 
This Chicagoan, born in Pakistan, has written gay-related poetry in 
Urdu said to be the first direct statement of "gay longings and 
desires" ever published in that language. The publication of Nasim's 
book of poetry, Narman (a Persian word for "hermaphrodite", or half-
man, half-woman), has initiated both wild praise and hateful 
criticism. Narman has also been distributed in Urdu in India and in 
the West (in England, Norway, Sweden, and Germany). In December 2000, 
he published Myrmecophile.   
The manner in which Nasim's verse was published in Pakistan 
underscores its controversial nature: Because Nasim's publisher knew 
that there might be "trouble" having the manuscript typeset, the 
publisher stood over the printer's shoulder as the text was entered 
into the computer. The real nature of the manuscript was not evident 
to the printer until the books were printed. When the printer 
realized that the books dealt with gay-related themes, he 
screamed: "Take these unholy and dirty books away from me, or I'll 
set them on fire!" Because of the controversy, the work is being sold 
underground. It has generated a surreptitious market.   
Publication of Narman has produced some positive change in Pakistan. 
Because of the poetry's honesty, Nasim has said that a group of young 
truth-loving poets has begun to refer to other "honest" poetry 
as "narmani" poetry. Obviously, Narman is educating Pakistanis. A 
prominent Pakistani in his 60s with many children told Nasim that he 
broke down and cried when he read Narman, apparently because he did 
not know about homosexuality. This man has become an ardent 
sympathizer with gay rights.  
Ifti Nasim's Narman raises issues related to Islam's tolerance for 
homosexuals. Nasim, who believes he has a close and personal 
relationship to his God, believes God "wouldn't have created me if he 
didn't want me to lead a happy and fulfilled life. God doesn't create 
trash." In 1993, he became the first Third World poet to read at the 
Harold Washington Library Center in Chicago. For his poetic work, he 
received the Rabindranath Tagore Award from Chicago's South Asian 
Family Services in 1994.   
Nasim's contribution to Chicago's gay and lesbian community is not 
only confined to his courage as an international ambassador of 
tolerance. As co-founder of Sangat/Chicago, he has also displayed a 
leadership role in the city by launching an organization to provide 
education and support for gay and lesbian South Asians.   
Nasim has served as president of the South Asian Performing Arts 
Council of America and is also a top salesman at Loeber Motors, his 
employer for 12 of the 22 years he has lived in Chicago. Ifti Nasim's 
model of courage has enriched our entire community.  

Ifti's poems: 


At the Kennedy airport I told the cab driver
About the YMCA 
He dropped me off in front of the door.
A woman checked me in
I dropped my luggage in the room.
Came out of the room looking for a toilet.
I saw few men standing in front of the urinals
I stood in front of an empty one and released
Myself. Suddenly I noticed someone is watching me.
I looked over my shoulder.
A sailor was standing next to me
I was very impressed by the warm welcome
And American hospitality.
Being an Eastern and newly arrived in this country,
I did not want to be rude.
So I told him very politely
"Thanks but I am vegetarian."

For Matthew shepard

You asked for a rose
But you did not know
A stranger could have a knife 
What were you thinking?
When they were tying you down
Like a Jew in a nazi camp.
Were you feeling any pain
When they were skinning you
Or you were just numb.?
Were you crying and pleading 
>From God who made you 
Were they thinking 
That you were a child of
A lesser god.
Were they burning you
Or fumigating you.?
Centuries of hatred toward you
Was finally exhibited
And we all were standing there
Like Venus de Milo
They pecked at your eyes
Like vultures
Because the dream in your eyes
Had not been the same
What they had.
To be different or to be a minority
Is not a crime.then why they
Tried to annihilate you.
Why was Wyoming sky is grayer
And darker this year than usual?
Why did the snow fall early
On the ground this year?
What was the crime that God trying to cover
With shame.
You did not die in vain.
Wherever the drop of your blood fell
A tree of water will blossom
Which will wash away all the hatred 
>From hearts 
For eachother.


Your wife was watching us 
While you were screwing me
Framed on the wall in a black and white picture
Displaying her four kids
Like a trophy won in a marathon of fake orgasms.

I am sure you have gone to heaven 
Because you left me in hell.

For ashraf and saleem

One look at you and I open all my orifices.
I am the child of nature.
Come and look into my eyes
And recall the days when you were embarked
On the odyssey of life.
Every strand of your gray hair 
Is laden with the mysteries of life
Wrinkles around your eyes are like fishnet, which have trapped so 
many stories and dreams
I want to explore the hidden world of my future through your eyes
Is life really a bridge, thinner than a strand of hair
And sharper than a sword which I have to cross.?
Tell me about the secrets of life.
I know the history has been distorted many many many times.
But I shall believe you until I see it otherwise.
Tell me there was no Romeo and Juliet.It was Romeo and Julian
There was no Adam and Eve. There was Adam and Steve.
Taj Mahal was not built for a woman
But was built for a Turkish Mumluk boy by a Mogul king.
What's wrong with that Tell me every thing.
Show me how to do all the asanas
And I promise I wouldn't kill you.
Come fill me up with your knowledge of years gone by and
I shall quench your thirst with my fountain of youth.
Let's live forever.


It does not give him the right of the caliph-hood.
Make your father wish you were the elder
Make him look bad by getting the best grade in the school
Remember in some species only the strongest off spring survive.
Exercise daily. Wear the trendy clothes. (Never wear khaki)
If you have sisters become their best friends.
Share the beauty tips and occasionally clothes.
Learn to dance. Girls love the boy who can dance.
Escort your sister's girl friends to their homes.
(They will tell your sisters that you are a thorough gentleman.)
Entertain your sister's gentleman caller and always praise them. 
(Learn to lie)
And when sisters hate them, you hate them too. (Time to tell the 
Be religious. Go to your church, mosque, temple or synagogue.
God is androgynous. She understands.
If nothing else you will have a better chance to a have good time 
with the holy man.
Always help your mother at home but never ever tell her about your 
father's liaison.
But make sure he knows that you know about it.
If your brother tries to teach you how to be a man
Never listen to him especially if he wants you to learn boxing.
(Look at my nose. I listened to him.)
Do every thing opposite of what your brother does especially don't 
wear Dockers.
Be generous to your servants. You never know when you need 
their "kindness".
The first chance you get move away from your brother do it.
Move to a metropolitan city. Never settle in a suburb.
In  practical life not only your brother but the whole society is 
against you.
No one will understand your homosexuality and sometimes you won't 
The best survival tactic in the battlefield is to retrieve and come 
back when you are strong.
Remember only the agile and strong survive in the jungle.
Take your boy friend's sister to your brother's wedding. (Do not 
exclude him.)
Dance with her all night. Dress up to the "T". Up stage your brother.
And when you are settled down call your brother and tell him on the 
phone (never in person)
"By the way all the rumors about me being gay are true."
Hear him says, "I know it". Then tell him about his macho, homophobe, 
married childhood friend
"I slept with him." Hear a deep silence on the other end.
"And by the way I was the top."
If nothing else that would kill him. 

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