A man thought to be one of the first UK Muslims to have a same-sex marriage said his husband had been his “guardian angel” after years of bullying.
Jahed Choudhury, 24, said he met Sean Rogan in 2015 while crying on a bench in Darlaston, West Midlands, shortly after he had been treated in hospital following an overdose.
“It was outside Asda of all places,” he said. “He came up to me and asked if I was OK. I thought he was my guardian angel.
“I had been crying privately to myself, although I was screaming inside.”
The meeting followed many difficult years for Mr Choudhury, who said he had been ostracised by many in the Muslim community for being gay.
He said he was also bullied at school, including on “his first day” there.
“I knew I was gay at about six or seven, but I was taught it was wrong so I just kept it hidden,” he said.
He said at senior school bullying included name calling and having rubbish bins emptied on him.
“I did anything to try and change how I felt,” he said. “I prayed, I read the Koran and went to pilgrimage.”
He went abroad for several years, changed his circle of friends, took medication and had Muslim teachers pray for him.
“I thought it was wrong and was being told Satan had got to me,” he said.
However, he said he could not escape his feelings and suffered mental health problems as a result.
Mr Choudhury, who has been helped by family members, especially his mother, “came out” in 2012 and said that led to the most difficult period in his life.
“But when I came out of hospital I had started to think ‘enough is enough’,” he said.
‘God’s in my heart’
Meeting Mr Rogan, who is very positive and confident, helped Mr Choudhury accept his sexuality.
“Every time I feel down he says to me ‘don’t feel bad’ and says a lot of people feel the same as me.”
After their first chat, Mr Rogan “took me to the cinema to cheer me up,” he said.
The couple were married at Walsall Register Office last month. This was followed by a party and honeymoon.
Mr Choudhury said he believed people could be both gay and Muslim.
“My religion will never change,” he said. “God’s in my heart”.
“My mother tells me ‘God made you like this – you have love for God’.”
Mr Choudhury has been open about his sexuality on the internet and set up a YouTube channel where his “Coming Out Story” received more than 5,000 views.
He said people had been “mostly supportive”, although he had received some death threats on social media.
However, he said he wanted to tell his story to help others in the same situation.
“I just want to help them and would be happy if I could stop one person going through what I went through,” he said.