TOWIE’s Junaid Ahmed speaks of grief over lack of gay Asian and Muslim male representation in reality TV, admits he needed positive role models in his teens
The Only Way Is Essex star Junaid Ahmed has spoken of his grief over the lack of openly gay Asian and Muslim in reality television.
Newcomer to the ITVBe show Junaid, 27, said he struggled in his formative years, feeling alone because he lacked positive role models in the public eye from a similar cultural and religious background who shared the same sexuality.
Chat with hosts Bobby Norris and Stephen Leng on FUBAR radioOn the showbiz gossip program Access All Areas, Junaid said, “Looking back at 18, there was no one in the industry or ‘outside’ in public that I could draw inspiration from.
Honest: The Only Way Is Essex star Junaid Ahmed has spoken out about his grief over the lack of openly gay Asian and Muslims in reality television
“I come from a Muslim background, I’m Pakistani, and my parents don’t agree with what I’m doing, we don’t communicate, so I’m a one-man band.”
He continued: ‘The sad thing is that there isn’t one openly gay, Asian, Muslim reality star… So if I could take the stand and show them off a little, that’s fine. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve endured my hardships… but in the end I found happiness, and I’m still trying to do what I can to make others happy too.”
Junaid moved to Essex from Peterborough after being evicted from his childhood home when his parents were unable to accept his sexuality.
Someone to look up to: Junaid, 27, struggled in his formative years because he didn’t have positive role models from a similar cultural and religious background who shared the same sexuality
Last week, he explained how he started experimenting with makeup in his teens before falling in love with his ex.
He said he left the house with his belongings packed in garbage bags when his family didn’t accept him for who he was and later stumbled upon the chance to appear on TOWIE.
Speaking with Johnny Seifert on the Secure the insecure podcastJunaid said, ‘It was something they couldn’t accept because of the community and the culture. And then I got kicked out and moved. Six garbage bags later I was in Essex.
“It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through in my life. But you know what? I came out when I was 18. And it was just one of the hardships I had to go through to make me the stronger person I am today.
“And the sad thing is that the community has something to say about it, but it’s not my choice. It’s not my choice to be gay.’
However, Junaid is now happy to show his true self on TOWIE, and admits that there will be some emotional scenes on screen.
He explained: “I am very grateful to TOWIE because on the show you will see that vulnerable side of me.
“You will see a very vulnerable side of me. And I’m excited. I want people to see that because there’s more to me than a screaming contest.
“There will be tears when I open up about my relationship struggles. I’m candid about my relationship issues and wanting to be loved and single, and you’ll see that, and that’s something I’m very proud of.”