“Nazim’s spirit lives within me. A few years ago, I legally added his surname to mine. I’m ‘Matthew Mahmood Ogston’ and will always be”
TW: suicide “I met Nazim at a nightclub in Birmingham in 2001; he had a beautiful smile. It was the easiest conversation I had with anyone. It was electric; we just wanted to be with each other. I’d recently accepted myself as a homosexual and was so happy to have found a friend and lover in Nazim.
At the time, Nazim was 21 and I was 23. I’d just started my career as a web designer and Nazim studied medicine. We’d cook, travel, party and watch movies together. After about 18 months, we saved enough to buy our own flat. But Nazim’s family didn’t know he was gay. When they'd visit him, we’d say we were flatmates.
After 3 years, when Nazim graduated and got a job in London, we decided to move together. We lived our ‘own lives’ away from his parents. One of the first things we did was visit a gay street for couples to walk hand in hand. For the first time, we held hands outdoors.
We built a life together; we worked hard and paid bills. On our 10th anniversary, I went down on one knee and asked Nazim, ‘Please marry me, darling?’ He smiled and said ‘Yes.’ My family was happy, but Nazim’s family still didn’t know.
Once, we travelled to Birmingham to celebrate Eid with his family; we arrived a little late. Nazim’s family was upset and took him aside; I overheard him weeping, ‘I’m a good person! Why can’t you accept me for who I am?’ Then I heard his mother retort, ‘Because you like men?’ In a flash, Nazim spilled the truth about us. His mother yelled, ‘We’re taking you to a psychiatrist to be cured.’
Nazim didn’t utter a word for two days. Then, while I was at work, I got a call from my sister who begged me to go home. I could see cops everywhere. A body lay on the ground. Nazim had jumped to his death from our home.
I met Nazim’s family, but they wanted nothing to do with me. They considered it a shame their son was gay. Nazim’s mother said, ‘Don’t make a scene at the funeral.’ I asked her if I could be present for his burial. She gave me a location, but she’d lied; I cried as I saw his burial taking place in the distance.
Nazim’s friends were my comfort. They’d sit on the balcony and hold me from jumping! I had no reason to live. Then one night, I heard Nazim's voice; he said, ‘Matt, start a foundation to comfort those in depression because of religious homophobia.’ I wanted to make this dream a reality.
Two weeks later, I started ‘The Naz and Matt Foundation’. I held a special service for Nazim where a gay Muslim, gay Hindu, a gay vicar, a trainee Rabbi and a lesbian interfaith minister were present. Through our foundation, I help parents accept their LGBTQI children.
Sometimes, I think about how wonderful my wedding with Nazim would have been. As much as he wanted to marry me too, he’d say, ‘A wedding wouldn’t feel right without my mother. Let’s wait.’ Nazim’s spirit lives within me. A few years ago, I legally added his surname to mine. I’m ‘Matthew Mahmood Ogston’ and will always be.”