Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Jr, the grandson of former Prime Minister and President of Pakistan Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, is known for his poetry, visual art and theatre performances which focus on the queer identities among coloured communities. The heir in one of Pakistan’s biggest political families, Bhutto Jr found his political calling with issues related to gender, masculinity and queer subjects. After completing his education, Bhutto Jr decided to stay back in the U.S.
Currently known for his performances as a drag queen at “eclectic tenderloin” gay bar in Castro in San Francisco, the Pakistani artist said he wishes to raise awareness around Muslim queers around the world. Speaking to The Turmeric Project, an initiative focusing on South Asian queer artists, Bhutto Jr said that people do not understand the hardship a Muslim queer person has to go through. “Who listens. They don’t care. Like we have to be honest. They don’t care. They don’t know. They are not interested. But when you make it funny, they actually reflect on their own ideas,” he said.
Bhutto Jr also talked about the concept of “strong men” and “masculinity” all around the world. “A lot of nations have built this especially ones that are ethnically formed, it happens in India. It happens in Pakistan. But the strong Muslim, the strong Sikh, the strong Hindu, the strong Jew, the strong Arab… There is this stereotype that the representative of the nation is a strong man.” Bhutto Jr said the idea of masculinity and strength is “ridiculous”. He added that masculinity for him is “softness”, “effeminate” and “gentle”.
Bhutto Jr also spoke about his history and the violence that surrounded him in his childhood. “My father was killed when I was six years old outside our home in Karachi. My grandfather was also killed. My aunt was also killed. My uncle was also killed. So how our identities formed through violence,” he said.
Currently working on art performances to protest against US President Donald Trump’s visa ban, Bhutto Jr talked about his poem titled “Muslim’s burden”, which deals with the politics associated with being a Muslim. “It’s not me. It’s you, the white man. You have called me out… I’m a Muslim because a white man says me so,” he said.
Bhutto Jr’s artwork was recently at an art gallery in Castro. Speaking at the event, Bhutto Jr said, “I want to see more artists of colour take over these streets. I want to see more artists of colour in Berkely, in Oakland, in San Francisco, in fact, take over the whole f****** world.”