British-Pakistani drag artist Asifa Lahore faces death threats from religious fundamentalists, according to the BBC. Asifa, whose track “You And I” has been shortlisted as one of the 50 songs to compete in the Moldovan national selection for Eurovision, has had to fight prejudice within the Muslim community ever since she came out.
Speaking to the BBC, Asif Quarishi, the man behind Asifa Lahore drag persona, says that he has been struggling for acceptance from his family, who sent him to the doctor to treat his homosexuality. The British-Pakistani artist has always had to contend with homophobia.
Asif, who identifies himself as a gay Muslim, has created the drag act Asifa Lahore as a continuation of his personality. As a result, he says that he receives constant death threats, hate mail, and online abuse. BBC took to the streets, asking several Muslims what they think of Asifa and the reactions were mostly intolerant. (The ones they chose to share, anyway).
We are having deja vu‘s from the backlash Conchita Wurst had to face when she was selected as Austria’s Eurovision representative. We all know how Conchita fared at Eurovision eventually, so we hope that this will give Asifa perspective and encouragement to go on.
Asifa is also an LGBT and HIV activist. Last month, she was invited to speak for a global audience on the BBC World News’ Impact programme about the struggles of LGBT and ethnic minorities in the UK. She also performed her song “You And I” live:
It will be interesting to see how her performance will be received at the live auditions in Chisinau. Until then, we applaud the Moldovan broadcaster TRM for shortlisting a drag act as part of its national selection O melodie pentru Europa.
Moldova’s live audition will be broadcast live on the TeleRadio Moldova website on the 17th of January. From the 50 shortlisted songs, 24 will advance to the semi-finals stage. The semi-finals are scheduled for 24 and 26 of February, with the national final on 28 February.