The work Ashraf Booley does today is the product of the many challenges he faced and the resilience he showed in overcoming them. As the president of Impulse Cape Town, he strives to create and foster an entirely inclusive community for queer people, one which will allow them to be comfortable in discussing issues such as sexual and mental health.
Growing up Muslim and coming out to his family was an immense challenge that formed the early part of his journey to Impulse, but it was a volunteer experience at Tygerberg Hospital — where he was introduced to The Gender Equity Unit at UWC — that sparked his passion for advocacy and civil engagement. It was while developing a media and marketing career that Ashraf decided he needed a big change – he leapt into the world of freelancing, launched an online business and then applied for and received the prestigious Mandela Washington Fellowship, with which he headed to New York to study Civic Leadership at Wagner College.
Ashraf’s tireless work is done with the vision of a future South Africa where no one is defined by or criticised because of their identity or status: “A South Africa that is anti-racist, does not stigmatise HIV, mental illness, sexual orientation, or gender identity,” he explains. There’s a lot of honour and responsibility in being chosen and trusted to lead Impulse Group’s first chapter on the African continent — to have a place where everyone can feel valid and heard, and that destigmatises identity and HIV status, is a big step towards his vision for the country. As he says:
“Your dreams are valid, no matter how big or small.