Letters

January 2005
January 5 | January 6 |

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Queers, limited

In response new issue of electronic magazine for Iranian homosexuals "MAHA":

Dear Jahanshah,

I appreciate that you announce the publication of a gay magazine on your site, but I thought I should send this letter and give you and the Iranian's readers my two cents on the subject.

While Maha introduces itself as the magazine for "hamjensgaraayan," it articles and images seem to define hamjensgarayee in a very limited sense. Every time I see you announce the publication of Maha, the Iranian Gay and Lesbian Online magazine, I wonder, where is the lesbian in Maha? I guess this Maha is not for "maha"! Honestly, it looks like a recycled version of old Homan, when it used to be a masculinist translation of 70s gay men's activism published in 90s! And now, in 2005, the online version of it is available, in case we miss the old times!

You can find articles that are almost identical to the ones published in Homan more than 10 years ago! It seems to me that as Homan has changed its active base to Los Angeles and has become more aware of issues of gender and race, some old-time Iranian gay activists have become nostalgic and have moved back in time to restore what is left of a particular form of gay politics. From conversations with a few friends, I know that I am not the only one to thinks this... I, for one, am tired of seeing naked hairy men on the covers of magazines that introduce themselves as the publication of "hamjensgaraayan" or as the "magazine for Iranian gays and lesbians."

Last year, when I spoke at the Homan conference, the last question came from someone who said that "it was not fair" that I critiqued Homan, as Homan is facing homophobia from the mainstream Iranian society. I expect to get a similar reaction to my criticism of Maha.

Let me reiterate that it is good to see more and more queer zines and sites (Hasha, Homan, Khanaye Doost, Gay Persia, PGLO, Maha, etc.). Yet, I am not of the opinion that we should not criticize one another in public when we are under siege. Why? Because some representations of Iranian queers perpetuate stereotypes that in performative acts constitute particular gay/lesbian subjectivities.

The more we write about queerness and the more we move away from this imagined "we"ness, the more room there will be for growth and fragmentation. Maha's inclusive name notwithstanding, this magazine remains exclusioanary and limited in its scope.

Best,
Choob DSG

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Link to response

In response to Sayed MohammadReza Hashemi's "Another plot":

In response to Sayed Mohammad Reza Hashemi's article, I would like to post the following link. It would be much better for Sayed Mohammad Reza Hashemi to do some research and bring forward some evidence instead of just saying "bar hamegaan vaazeh va mobarhan ast" >>> Read here

Firouz

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I would side with them

In response to Kyle Saghafi's "Embrace extremists?":

If I were to take a stance between wiping out the clergy from the face of Iran, or protecting and siding with them, I would definately choose siding with them. Some of the greatest works of philosophy and even psychology were produced by the Iranian Ulama.

And I disagree with you that the 'Ulama were trained to be conservative in thought and action. Then why do we have so many liberal "akhoonds" in Iran that their views are sometimes more liberal than western liberalism?

Read the works of Ayatollah San'ei on his rights of women. Read President Khatami's philosophy of civilization or "civil society". He studied philosophy in Germany before he took any courses in the howza.

Ayatollah Mutahhari was one of the greatest philosophers of our time, combining Western and Islamic philosophy to create a new world thinking.

You could also say the works of Imam Khomeini took us out of the shackles of 2,5000 years of absolute monarchy, and brought us a step closer to more representative democracy. The Shah's children inherited the throne, the Rahbar's children don't inherit the minbar or the throne. The Shah imposed himself by war and force, the Rahbar is elected by a council of experts that are voted in by the people.

It might not be pure democracy, but it brought us one step closer. It taught us some lessons in civil society, rule of law, and the importance of democracy and voting.

During the Shah's time, only 1% of the population of the country voted in the Shah's rigged and one-party system. At least now, even though everyone was disfranchised, 18% of Tehran alone voted (48% - 54% of the country). It taught us the meaning of the vote, the way to handle it, the way to look out for corruption.

These are all lessons for us. And it couldn't have been done without the support of the Ulama to bring about such an intermediate system. And let me tell you, their is no such oath to be given to stay out of the political sphere when you enter the howza.

Islam's foundation is revolution, and the Shi'a branch's pillars are revolution as well. It is a continual struggle for political and social justice. To struggle against the Abu Sufyan's all the way to the Muwawiya's and the Yazid's of our time. Both those who are against Islam, and those who claim to be Muslim that rule above us. Islam's message is to fight both to establish justice.

And therefore, as an 'Alim one must follow that path of seeking political and social justice. To follow the path of Imam Ali (a.s) is to not seek power, but to accept it when it is finally given to you in order that you may aleviate injustice and help those struggling for freedom from the pillars of tyranny and corruption.

If you try to squeeze Islam from this political power and thirst for revolution, you will only see it rise up at a later time. Look at Turkey. By force the country was secularized, only to come back more Islamic than ever 50 years later. No matter how secularized society has become in Iran in recent years, who knows what future generations will bring. Khodah negahdar,

Dariush Abadi

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Great songs

In response to Music compiled by Azam Nemati:

Dear Azam:

i love what you have done with this web site, great songs that bring lots of memory for me and my family, thank you and thank you , i hope you recieve lots of compliments ,you have made us very happy with your creation of this page, dorood bar shoma hamvatan.

sincerly

bahman habibi

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Victims in the middle

In response to Kyle Saghafi's "We don't owe them":

Dear Kyle,

I truly enjoyed reading your thoughts, very good points. Basically if I understand correctly you are saying "what else is there that we need to do as the audience to show our loyalty to the art and the artists?" I think that covers it. Most of my assault meant to be on the organizers.

However I think the artists should get the financial rewards like any other person with a successful career. For example we do not expect an accomplished Iranian heart surgeon at UCLA to make as little or equal money as a butcher at an Iranian grocery store although they both may simply work with different knives and similar tissues, since there are two separate careers and different demands.

An artist also has to compete hard to become the best, take for example Alizadeh a tar player and etc. For their many years of hard work, they need monetary rewards too. I just want them to be able to protect their copyrights, so that when they get old hopefully they be able to have a reasonably comfortable life, given they have not ruined their lives already by that time.

But you are correct in that sense that the quarrel is between the artist and their organizers and it seems quite often we get victimized in the middle of it.

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