A:     Can I tell you something?

S:     Can you?

A:     Remember my cousin, Zain? The medical student? I think he is gay.

S:     How did you find out? I can’t imagine him confiding in you.

A:     He didn’t. Not voluntarily, at least. Let’s just say I paid him a surprise visit and found him in a compromising position.

S:     Please elaborate.

A:     I think you can manage.

S:     So, what did you do?

A:     What do you think I did? I left like I was never there and came here.

S:     You’ve been here for two hours, and you’re telling me this now?

A:     Sadiq, please forgiving me for not divulging all available information straightaway. I was kind of in shock. Maybe I still am.

S:     Because someone you know is gay? Or is it homosexuality that shocks you?

A:     Definitely the former. I once had a different opinion on the subject. But I did a lot of reading and learnt that human beings do not choose their sexual orientation. I can’t take credit for being straight so I guess it would be unreasonable of me to blame anyone for being gay.

S:     You surprise me.

A:     Yes, people are apparently very much into that these days. And don’t look at me like that. I’m not your child so you can quit being overwhelmed with pride.

S:     So, are you going to talk to him?

A:     I don’t know, should I? Do I really have to? What would I even say to him?

S:     For starters, you could tell him that you haven’t broken the news to the entire family and don’t plan to. Do you realize that he must be freaking out right now? You think this is hard for you? Imagine how difficult this must be for him. This is Pakistan. Most people in this country think homosexuals are sick and deserve to die. Need I say more?

A:     No, I get it. But would it be so bad if I pretended that I know nothing.

S:     But you do, and he knows it. He is your cousin Ameen, and I could tell when I met him that he looks up to you. It is important that he knows that you accept him for who he is, and you’ve got his back. If he wants to come out to his family, help him. If he doesn’t, respect his decision and treat him with love and respect like you always have. It would mean a lot to him.