Sir Ian McKellen to narrate documentary on Muslim drag queens

Sir Ian McKellen

Sir Ian McKellen is to narrate a documentary on Channel 4’s about Muslim drag queens.

The channel announced today it would air the one-off First Cut documentary Muslim Drag Queens, that gives us a new insight into the gay Asian community in the UK.

With homosexuality still illegal in many Islamic countries, drag is regarded by many Muslims as the ultimate taboo.

The film focuses on three drag queens out a number of Muslim drag queens in the UK – many of whom face stigmatisation and the challenge of tolerance within their wider communities.

The queens in the show are 33-year old Asif Quaraishi/ Asifa Lahore, 28-year old British Pakistani Imran/ Zareena Khan and 22-year old Ibrahim – a Mauritian studying in the UK who often struggles to reconcile drag with his devout religion.

This is a problem for many LGBT Muslim as some find it difficult to accommodate their sexuality alongside their cultural identity and traditions.

Asif Quaraishi – the most experienced Queen – said: “Up until now, people in my community have chosen to be invisible.

“There is a whole community that is living in Britain which is hidden. Now is the time to come out. You’ve got to be big. You’ve got to be bold. And you’ve got to have balls of steel.”

Regarded as an “epitome of glamour”, according to Channel 4, Asifa appears on stage in “sequins, ruffles, saris and cocktail dresses and in a calculated move to provoke reaction and debate – a burqa.”

Performers like these three are doing what they can to change mindsets of people around them. Asif Quaraishi even did this in his personal life by inviting his conservative mother to the Attitude Magazine Pride Awards.

Commissioning Editor David Brindley has spoken about the documentary saying: “This is an incredibly important, surprising and moving film. Those who have chosen to tell their stories have done so with immense bravery and speak so eloquently about the struggles they have faced.

“With piercing honesty, Muslim Drag Queens gets right to the heart of the community that have up until now remained hidden from the wider British public.”