As a child, I always knew I was different. Unlike the other kids I didn’t really enjoy soccer, I wasn’t over competitive, I didn’t have that angry streak in me like most of the boys that were around me. As I got older, I came face to face with what in Iran is usually a hush-hush issue.
Upon entering public elementary school, I eventually learned of a ‘forbidden alley’ at my own all boys’ school. While most boys were playing tag, horsing around, or playing soccer, in this alley a select few fourth and fifth graders were busy engaging in ‘other activities’ and in the middle of the day, in public! Upon seeing it for myself I was shocked (although a bit curious) and that image is engraved in my mind till this day. Looking back on it now I know that it’s virtually impossible that the staff at that school was unaware of the activities that went on in that alley in the school yard, and yet they did nor said anything about it.
Ten years later I came across a childhood friend in Iran that told me of the ‘horrors’ of the all boys’ high schools and swore me not to tell a soul, even though he claimed that everyone knew about it anyway. In Christiane Bird’s novel, “Neither East nor West,” she touches on the fact that in Iran every fact is contradictory, siting the fact that she had heard of a massive Kurdish uprising in Mahabad, only to find that there indeed was an uprising in the city, but a small one and only consisting of teachers wanting higher pay.
The same holds true for how homosexuality is viewed by Iranian society. Everyone in the nation knows that it exists, being most evident in junior high and high school when young pubescent boys experiment in all boys’ schools, and yet those same boys are expected to get over it, get married, and never talk about it again. It is something rooted in old Persian and Iranian cultures, as is evident in other parts of the old Iranian empires such as Afghanestan, Uzbekistan, and Azerbaijan. My encounters with the citizens of these nations tells me a similar story: as long as the issue is not brought up and the behavior discontinues (aka the man gets married, has kids, the whole shpiel) all is right with the world.
Unfortunately for these societies, being gay is much more than having sexual encounters with the same sex. It’s true that lust plays a role, but so does love, emotions, day to day life, and how a person views the world. A gay man views the world much differently than a straight one, and interacts not only with men but also with women differently. Their connection to God is greatly impacted, as is their personality and their role in society.
So while “President” Ahmadinejad continues the tradition and claims that “there are no homosexuals in Iran,” individuals like myself are choosing to break the silence…
…for “Truth shall overcome all darkness.” ~ Zoroaster