"In a country where publicly talking about sex is strictly off limits, Mr. Saleem has managed not only to bring up the subject on his prime-time television talk show — but to do so without stirring a backlash from fundamentalist Islamic clerics.
And he has done so as a woman.
When Mr. Saleem takes to the airwaves, he is Begum Nawazish Ali, a coquettish widow who interviews Pakistan’s glitterati and some of its top politicians.
A real woman could not possibly do what Mr. Saleem does. In the unlikely event a station would broadcast such a show, the hostess would be shunned. And taking on the guise of a married woman — whose virtue is crucial to her whole family — would be equally impossible.
But apparently a cross-dressing man pretending to be a widow is another matter entirely.
It is something of a mystery why a man who openly acknowledges he is bisexual is a sensation here. Traditional Islamic teaching rejects bisexuals and gays, and gay Pakistanis have few outlets for a social life. The gay party scenes in Lahore and Karachi are deep underground".
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