Windy City Media Group Frontpage News Home
CELEBRATING 28+ YEARS OF Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender NEWS

Search Gay News Articles
Advanced Search
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2014-09-17
Download Issue
  News Index       Archives   About WCMG    Publications    Bars & Clubs     Calendar   Videos   Advertisers    OUT! Guide    Classifieds   AIDS @ 32
 Local | National | World | Politics | Obits | Profiles | Views | Entertainment | Theater | Dance | Music | Film | Art | Books | TV/Gossip
 Travel | History | Marriage | Youth | Trans | Lesbian | Celebrations | Food | Nightlife | Sports | Health | Real Estate | Autos | Pets | Crime

Ceres' Table; Soho House Chicago eateries Ceres' Table;
Soho House
Chicago eateries
Patrons have been warned: They should "bee" careful at Ceres' Table (3124 ...

Browse Gay News Index   Browse Gay News Archives
  Windy City Times

PASSAGES Gay activist Ifti Nasim dies
Posted July 24, 2011
by Erica Demarest
2011-07-27

facebook twitter pin it del.icio.us stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email


Iftikhar "Ifti" Nasim, a Pakistani-born poet, radio host and gay activist, died July 22 at the age of 64 following a sudden illness.

Best known for his award-winning poetry and over-the-top style, Nasim maintained a vivid presence in Chicago's LGBT scene for the past 35 years. He founded Sangat Chicago, a South Asian LGBT organization, and was inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame in 1996.

"In a world where race, racial identity, sexual identity and immigration status all matter," said Kareem Khubchandani, 28, who considered Nasim a friend, mentor and role model, " [ Nasim ] would always talk about the changes he had made, and then make me really aware of the fact that things aren't perfect, things have to be done, things don't happen on their own."

Nasim, who identified as gay and Muslim, began his career as an LGBT activist in the United States in 1974, the year he moved to Chicago. In addition to working on behalf of immigrants, Muslims, South Asians and eventually AIDS victims, he frequently wrote and performed poetry. Nasim saw two collections published in his lifetime: Narman ( 1994 ) and Myrmecophile ( 2010 ) .

His work is considered the only poetry to express gay longings and desires in the Urdu language; it has garnered both enthusiastic praise and hateful criticism, and even earned Nasim several death threats through the years. Despite any controversy surrounding the books, many young Pakistanis considered them inspirational; Narman was responsible for inspiring the narmani, or honest poetry, movement in the country.

The son of a journalist, Nasim was born in Lyallpu ( now Faisalabad ) , Pakistan, Sept. 15, 1946. He grew up poor and often worked odd jobs to help support the family. When he was 21 years old, Nasim's parents pushed him toward an arranged marriage—a common practice in the predominantly Muslim country.

"I did not want to live a double life," Nasim told the Chicago Tribune in 2001. He had known he was gay since he was a teenager and had already had several sexual experiences with other men—always under a pseudonym. "I did not want to leave a wife at home and go out and pick up guys. I thought that was a dishonest way of living."

Hoping to escape the marriage, Nasim—who had recently earned a law degree from Punjab University in Lahore—convinced his father to fund a three-month trip to the United States to further his law studies. "I read an article in Life magazine, which said that the United States was the place for gays to be in," Nasim told the Thaindian News in 2008.

He soon relocated to Detroit and enrolled at Wayne State University. The months turned into years and, in 1974, Nasim moved to Chicago. He instantly fell in love with the city and its thriving disco scene.

"At first I was afraid to go into a gay bar," he told the Chicago Tribune, "but I went in. They were the nicest people on the planet Earth. I said, 'What the heck? Why haven't I been here before?' It was a non-stop party. I loved it."

It wasn't all fun and games, though. Nasim said he witnessed hate crimes and robberies at the hands of homophobic people. "I couldn't believe my ears and eyes," he said. "What had happened to the Life magazine story? But the gay liberation movement was on, and I joined."

When he wasn't working full-time selling cars at Loeber Motors ( Nasim was known for driving a gold Mercedes ) or writing poetry in English, Urdu and Punjabi, Nasim worked assiduously as an activist. He focused his energy primarily on Muslim, immigrant and South Asian queer communities, and worked to help those who were persecuted in other countries gain asylum in America.

In 1986, he founded Sangat Chicago, a South Asian LGBT organization that takes its name from the Sanskrit word for togetherness. "If you are a Muslim and a gay, you are a minority within a minority," Nasim said. He frequently spoke out against war, homophobia and social injustice in Pakistan and other Muslim countries.

With a penchant for ostentatious jewelry, fur coats and drag get-ups, Nasim was anything but a wallflower. The combination of his dramatic ensembles and uninhibited honesty drew attention everywhere he went, and it wasn't always positive. While eating in a Rogers Park restaurant in March 2001, Nasim was reportedly attacked by a Muslim man who called Nasim an "abomination" and threatened him with a knife.

" [ Nasim ] would show up to an event or a meeting—to anything—wearing a fur coat and a sequined beret," Khubchandani said. "He'd make an impression before he'd even speak up. And I think that was part of his way of making an impact, of getting people to see him and pay attention to him, by making a spectacle and being glamorous and being amazing well before he even spoke up."

Once the AIDS epidemic began in the 1980s, Nasim used his considerable flair to educate people about HIV/AIDS prevention. In addition, he regularly hosted a weekly radio show called Radio Sargam, and his books of poetry have become part of the curriculum at Santa Clara University and Truman College.

"The LGBT community in Chicago—not just the South Asian and Muslim communities—has greatly benefited from his activism," Khubchandani said.

Nasim is survived by his partner of 28 years. Nasim was buried July 23 in the Rosehill Cemetery, 5800 N. Ravenswood Ave., following Muslim traditions.

See more about Nasim on the Chicago Gay History website at www.chicagogayhistory.com/biography.html.


facebook twitter pin it del.icio.us stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email




Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.

Joan Rivers dies 2014-09-04
PASSAGES: Healthcare advocate Caryn Berman dies 2014-09-02
PASSAGES Point Foundation co-founder, 40, dies 2014-08-30
PASSAGES Robert "Rob" Paradise dies 2014-08-18
Billie Letts, mother of Chicago playwright Tracy Letts, dies 2014-08-13
PASSAGES: Veronica "Ro" Gazzillo (nee Soper), Force assistant coach 2014-08-11
PASSAGES Robin Williams found dead at 63 2014-08-11
PASSAGES Raymond G. Hughes 2014-07-30
THE AMAZON TRAIL Nancy Garden: Lesbian hero 2014-07-23
PASSAGES Thomas C. Senesac 2014-07-22
Chicago lesbian activist Joanne Marie Bristol dies 2014-07-19
PASSAGES Elaine Stritch dies at 89 2014-07-17
Chicago lesbian, 26, loses battle with cancer 2014-07-12
PASSAGES: Former U.S. Sen. Alan Dixon dies 2014-07-09
PASSAGES Wil Abtahi 2014-07-07
Former Chicagoan Frank Robinson dies, Milk speechwriter 2014-06-30
PASSAGES Naya Taylor 2014-06-26
PASSAGES Author Nancy Garden dies 2014-06-24
PASSAGES: Zoraida Reyes, transgender Latina activist 2014-06-14
PASSAGES Paul R. Rogers 2014-06-06
Tajma's Hall's life celebrated 2014-05-31
Lutter memorial set for June 11 2014-05-30
Frankie Knuckles tribute June 3 in Millennium Park 2014-05-28
Tajma's Hall's celebration of life May 31 at Center 2014-05-28
Iconic activist Storme DeLaverie passes away 2014-05-27
Tajma's Hall's celebration of life May 31 at Center 2014-05-21
PASSAGES D.J. Boos: 1997 Mr. Chicago Leather, green artist 2014-05-07
PASSAGES Clifford R. Duske 2014-04-30
Friends of Tajma Hall: 'We lost an icon' 2014-04-27
Hundreds pay tribute to Frankie Knuckles 2014-04-24
Lady Tajma Hall dies 2014-04-19
Frankie Knuckles memorial April 21 2014-04-14
PASSAGES: Ron Novak, 64, dies 2014-04-10
Frankie Knuckles, legendary DJ, dies 2014-03-31
Community gathers to remember Vernita Gray 2014-03-31
Vernita Gray: A community remembers 2014-03-26
Anti-gay activist the Rev. Fred Phelps dies 2014-03-20
PASSAGES Vernita Gray, longtime activist, dies 2014-03-19
PASSAGES Longtime activist Gravemier passes away 2014-03-17
PASSAGES D.J. Boos 2014-03-15





Copyright © 2014 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
the online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 



 

Trans* woman claims self-defense in case
 
REELING FILM FESTIVAL Max Adler of 'Glee' runs amok in Saugatuck
 
Veterans Health Administration opens doors to LGBT vets
 
Mother of Eisha Love: Heartbreak and courage
 
Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame selects next inductees
 
Windy City Times Current DownloadNightspots Current DownloadQueercast Current Download
Windy City Media Group BlogsJoin Our Email List!Donate Now








  News Index       Archives   About WCMG    Publications    Bars & Clubs     Calendar   Videos   Advertisers    OUT! Guide    Classifieds   AIDS @ 32
 Local | National | World | Politics | Obits | Profiles | Views | Entertainment | Theater | Dance | Music | Film | Art | Books | TV/Gossip
 Travel | History | Marriage | Youth | Trans | Lesbian | Celebrations | Food | Nightlife | Sports | Health | Real Estate | Autos | Pets | Crime



About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video      News Videos      Nightspots Videos      Entertainment Videos      Queercast Videos      Comedy Videos     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.