Matthew Ogston and Nazim Mahmood had been in a relationship for 13 years. They met in 2001 at a gay club in Birmingham and it was love at first sight. One year later they moved in together and built a life together. Their families did not know they were gay.
Matthew Ogston told the story of him and his lover, and how his boyfriend came to take his life because his parents could not accept he was gay.
When he met Naz, “there was an instant connection,” Matthew recalls. Naz told Mathew that he was a Muslim and asked if that was a problem for him. “I’m a Muslim, is that going to be a problem?” Soon they became inseparable. Nazim was attending a medical school and Matthew was a web designer. When they moved in together they pretended to be housemates. “We used to have to keep the window blinds in our front room closed so no one would see us,” Matthew reveals. “When we walked down the street we made sure there was some distance between us just in case a family member of his spotted us together.”
In 2004, Nazim was offered a job at a hospital in London and that was a great opportunity for the couple to move away from their parents. And so they did. “In London we felt free,” Matthew says. “We didn’t have to worry about bumping into our parents.”
In London they built the life they wanted to have, surrounded by friends and people who made them feel free to be who they were. But Nazim was still burdened by the thought of not being accepted by his family. On the rare occasions when they would visit Naz, Matthew was introduced as a housemate and they had to completely change their whole house. We had to ‘de-gay’ the house,” says Matthew. “That meant putting pictures of Kylie into the cupboard, Cher too – and any photo or memento that suggested a relationship had to go.”
But Nazim never liked to talk about his parents, he somehow repressed his feelings, he kept it all inside until he gathered so much heaviness and negative emotions. The point when Naz lost it was when his mother pointed out that she knew he was gay. Naz was late for a Muslim holiday that was taking place in Birmingham and his family was angry. “I am a good person,” Nazim said. “Why can’t people accept me for who I am?” And then his mother said “Is it because you like men?”
It was a shock for Nazim to realize that his mother knew something, and then he told them everything. His mother response was that he needed to go to a psychiatric facility to “cure.” That was happening in December 2014.
He was devastated and drove back to London. He acted distant but tried to cover his feelings. Months later, in July, when at office, Matthew received a call rushing him to his home where he found the police and his boyfriend covered by a red blanket. Nazim was dead.
At 34, Nazim jumped off the balcony of their apartment after his parents rejected him for being gay. Now, Matthew Ogston runs an organization called Naz and Matt Foundation dedicated to help the LGBTQI community, with a special focus on those who struggle because of their families and their religious beliefs.