Najib Faizi was the first man from Afghanistan to publicly declare himself a drag queen: "I am a man. I like to put on make-up and women's clothes." Today, he campaigns for equal rights and the rights of the LGBTQI+ community - in Germany and Afghanistan. In this interview, he talks about what moves and motivates him, why he stands up for others, and what we can learn from each other.
Najib, who now lives in Hamburg, fled Afghanistan with his sister in 2012. It took him over a year until he finally reached safety in Germany. Eight years later, he is still plagued by nightmares of his terrible experiences: "It took me a year, I was in therapy, until I found myself”, he says. “I never wish for refugees to go through these experiences.” And yet Najib is happy today and feels "somehow rich".
Najib has completed his secondary school diploma, graduated as a health and nursing assistant, and is now training to become a nursing specialist. With his open-minded and curious nature, empathy and patience, he also encourages others in the LGBTQI+ online community.
The IRC spoke to Najib about his experience.
Najib, you are in the public eye today as a drag queen. What can others learn from you?
I live a good life with less money. I'm still in vocational training, and even with this salary I pay my rent, clothes, food etc. and I'm very happy, I feel kind of rich.
I know how to have a good time and be happy - without alcohol, without smoking, without drugs. Others can learn that from me. They can learn how to put on make-up, learn to design, learn to dance - my fellow human beings can learn a lot from me.
What was a big challenge for you here in Germany?
I was shocked, disappointed that even in Germany LGBTQI+ is still not accepted. People are often bullied and discriminated against every day on the train, on the bus, at school and at work.
If you could change anything in the world, what would it be?
Refugees have to fight so much to get a place here in society. For example, to get a job, they have to send applications, but they can't always fill out the applications because they need support. In Germany, refugees have to wait so long to get their residency, otherwise, they are not allowed to take a German language course or get a job. This has to be changed!
A lot of LGBTQI+ people living in Afghanistan get kicked out by their own parents because of their sexuality. Without a home, they can't get jobs, they can't rent a flat. There is no support in Afghanistan. Society doesn't accept them. The state doesn't accept them. Germany has taken in 10,000 people from Afghanistan, but the lack of support for LGBTQI+ is not taken seriously enough.
If I had power, if I had money, I would start an organisation for LGBTQI+ people living in Afghanistan or in the neighbouring countries.