TOWIE’s Junaid Ahmed talks about the sadness of the lack of gay Asian and Muslim male representation in reality TV, admitting he needed positive role models during his teenage years
The Only Way Is Essex star Junaid Ahmed has spoken of his sadness at the lack of openly gay Asians and Muslims on reality TV.
ITVBe show newcomer Junaid, 27, said he struggled during his formative years, feeling lonely as he had no positive role models in the public eye from a similar cultural and religious background who had the same sexuality.
While chatting with hosts Bobby Norris and Stephen Leng on FUBAR’s showbiz gossip program Radio Access All Areas, Junaid said: “When I think back to when I was 18, there was no one I could look up to. in the industry or “out there” in public that I could take inspiration from.
Honest: The Only Way Is Essex star Junaid Ahmed has spoken of his sadness at the lack of openly gay Asians and Muslims in reality TV
“I come from a Muslim background, I’m Pakistani and my parents don’t agree with what I’m doing, we don’t have any communication, so I’m a group of men.”
He continued: “The sad thing is that there isn’t a single openly gay, Asian, Muslim reality star out there… So if I could take a stand and highlight them , it’s good.” Don’t get me wrong, I went through my hardships…but I still found happiness in the end, and I always try to do what I can to make other people happy too.
Junaid moved from Peterborough to Essex after being kicked out of his family home when his parents could not come to terms with his sexuality.
Someone to look up to: Junaid, 27, struggled during his formative years because he didn’t have positive role models from a similar cultural and religious background who had the same sexuality
Last week he opened up about how he started experimenting with makeup as a teenager before falling in love with his ex.
He said he left home with his belongings packed in trash bags when his family didn’t accept him for who he was and then stumbled upon the chance to appear on TOWIE.
Speaking to Johnny Seifert on the Secure The Insecure podcast, Junaid said, “It was something they couldn’t accept because of the community and the culture.” And then I got kicked out and moved out. Six rubbish bags later I was in Essex.
“It was the hardest thing I’ve ever been through in my life. But you know what? I got out when I was 18. And that was just one of the hardships I had to go through to make me the strongest 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 thrilled to be able to show his true self on TOWIE, admitting there will be some emotional scenes onscreen.
He explained, “I’m very grateful to TOWIE because on the show you’ll see that vulnerable side for me.
“You will see a very vulnerable side of me. And I’m excited. I want people to see this because there’s more to me than a screaming match.
“There are going to be tears when I talk about my relationship struggle. I talk about my relationship struggles and my desire to be loved and to be single, and you’ll see that, and that’s something I’m very proud.