Matt

This image was taken in London shortly before I walked 150 miles to my fiancé Naz’s graveside in Birmingham in 2015. It represents me because it helps show I will never give up on my love for Naz, my soulmate, my everything. I walked that far because I wanted to raise awareness of the devastating impact of homophobia, triggered by religion and culture. Friends walked with me, and even complete strangers joined our journey. The journey lasted 8 days, we raised £12,000 and over 10 million people followed our journey. 

"I will always remember Naz laughing, with his cheeky grin and infectious smile… quite often wearing a Christmas jumper."

Naz was my soulmate, my everything. I walked 150 miles to my fiancé Naz’s graveside in Birmingham in 2015 to show that I will never give up on my love for him. I walked that far because I wanted to raise awareness of the devastating impact of homophobia triggered by religion and culture.

Friends walked with me and even complete strangers joined our journey. The journey lasted eight days, we raised £12,000 and over 10 million people followed our journey. I will always remember Naz laughing, with his cheeky grin and infectious smile… quite often wearing a Christmas jumper. Naz and I met in a nightclub in Birmingham. Naz was 21 and I was 23. We quickly fell in love and ran away to London to be ourselves and escape the intense pressures of not being 'out' to his family.

But we grew tired of having to keep our relationship a secret, fearing what might happen if Naz’s religious parents found out. After 13 years together, when we were engaged to marry, Naz, who was a successful and much-loved GP, sadly took his own life.

The tragedy took place two days after he was confronted by his family about his sexuality. It was the first time they had learned the truth that their son was gay, in a long-term relationship with another man and planning to get married...

One of their solutions was to tell Naz that he needed to be ‘cured’ for being gay. In memory of Naz, my soulmate, I have to set up the Naz and Matt Foundation, a registered charity which tackles religious and cultural homophobia in schools, further education, and the national and international press.

Our mission is to “never let religion, any religion, come in the way of the unconditional love between parents and their children."

What has been the impact of becoming a Survivor Ambassador?

Since joining the Survivor Ambassador Programme earlier this year, the impact has been overwhelmingly positive and up-lifting.

From the moment I joined I was invited to meet the entire team at Karma Nirvana in their offices, taken out for a welcome lunch and introduced as a new member of the Survivor Ambassador family. I am now friends with several members from all around the UK (who I met at SAP events), each offering support to each other, positive encouragement for self-development and friendship. By joining the Survivor Ambassador Programme, I became a lot more familiar with the incredibly important work that Karma Nirvana does.

And because of this Karma Nirvana’s helpline has become a valuable support mechanism, not only for myself — but also for the individuals I now help through our charity. I have on several occasions called the helpline to seek advice for handling a challenging family situation with one of our clients where there was nowhere else to turn. I often refer individuals to the helpline too.

Being a SAP member has given me more confidence to talk openly about my love for Naz. I no longer feel like I am walking this path alone. 

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