Early this month I received a surprise call from Sohrab.
“Coz, guess what?” Sohrab shouted on the phone.
“I'm in Canada, baby. I finally made it to fuckin' Canada.”
“You did? How did you get a visa?” I asked.
“Oh, dude … this, you got to hear. You ready? Are you sitting down? … They gave me a visa because … I'm gay.”
“Yeah, baby … I'm so gay, it's not even funny. I'm talking flames shooting out of my ass, baby.”
“Come on, man. Seriously … how did you get your visa?”
“I'm serious as a heart attack,” Sohrab said. “I am gay and proud of it — that got me the golden key to paradise.”
“This is not funny.”
“I'm not trying to be funny. I'm gay and on top of that I've converted to the Bahai religion. Baha'u'llah is my homeboy.”
“What the hell? You've converted to another religion?”
“Yeah, baby. I'm a homosexual Bahai and I love it.”
I don't have to tell you how awkward I felt at that moment. I mean, what do you say when your cousin who is the national symbol of heterosexuality and doesn't know the first thing about his own religion, let alone Bahai religion, confesses to you that he's now gay seems to be extremely open about it. Sohrab used to take extra pleasure in beating up gay guys back home and he especially made certain that gay men did not cut his hair, shave his back, or massage him in the public bath houses.
When we were kids the son of a distant relative who happened to be very feminine, was constantly abused by Sohrab who used to attack the poor kid, pull out his shirt, pants and underwear, throw him out in the street and lock the door to the house. The kid would run naked around the neighborhood and scream.
I don't know. Call me homophobic but I was not very comfortable discussing my cousin's new found spiritual and sexual preferences on the phone. I nervously cleared my throat and remained silent. Sohrab sensed my unease and laughed.
“Listen, OK, here's the truth, just hear me out, alright … let me explain,” Sohrab whispered.
Back in Iran Sohrab found himself increasingly isolated and frustrated. His attempts to obtain a British visa had failed. He asked a few friends to meet him at a coffee shop for a bitching session.
While waiting, Sohrab casually glanced at a daily newspaper on the next table and a small article on the last page grabbed his attention. The headline said that by the order of the Islamic court a number of gay men had been executed in several cities. The first thought on Sohrab's mind was, “the fagots got what they deserved.”
But suddenly a rare moment of inspiration followed by nicotine attack hit his entire body like a rock. Sohrab started hyperventilating. His body started to tremble. His head was about to explode. He was actually thinking, which was a new experience˜of course. He was formulating a brilliant scam that would set him free forever.
Sohrab rushed to a computer at the coffee shop and went to work. He needed data and he needed it now.
“This was my ticket to freedom. I could feel it,” Sohrab said. “So I started doing some research to find out what the laws of the land are.”
Sohrab's research was fruitful and to his astonishment he found the mother load: According to Article 152 of shariya laws of Iran, if two men not related by blood are discovered naked under one cover without good reason, both will be punished at a judge's discretion.
Excuse my ignorance but what good reason can you possibly have to be naked under one cover with another man? But that's beside the point.
Wait there is more: Rubbing one's penis between the thighs without penetration (tafheed) shall be punished by 100 lashes for each offender. This act, known to the English-speaking world as “frottage” is punishable by death if the “offender” is a non-Moslem.
Wait there is more: If frottage is thrice repeated and penalty-lashes have failed to stop such repetitions, upon the fourth “offense” both men will be put to death. According to Article 156, a person who repents and confesses his gay behavior prior to his identification by four witnesses may be pardoned. Even kissing “with lust” (Article 155) is forbidden.
Sohrab reads the law over and over again. Like millions of Iranians he had no idea that this laws even existed. He was overjoyed. This law is absolutely brilliant, Sohrab thought to himself.
“The plan was simple, I was going to the Canadian embassy and tell them that I was a fruity Bahai and my life was in danger because I was caught under one sheet with another man for no good reason. It was a cold night and I was naked and I tripped and found myself under the sheet with another man and did I mention I'm Bahai? Therefore I needed a visa or asylum. I would convince them that if they don't get me out of the country I would be hanging from the ropes like the rest of them gay boys. I was determined to show them that I was a few seconds from being brutally murdered by the hooligans of the Islamic regime and my blood would be on their hands,” Sohrab said.
“Man, you're the most unethical individual I have ever known,” I replied.
“Because … this is horrible. How can you possibly consider doing such thing?”
“What thing?” I asked. “Pretending to be a gay Bahai to get a visa. Are you for real?”
“What's the problem?” Sohrab asked. “How come it's OK for a gay man to pretend to be heterosexual to get what he wants but if a straight man pretends to be gay then all hell will break loose?”
“Because you don't do that. And you told them you're Bahai? That's low.”
“Why not. I have Bahai friends who are as much of a jerk as any of my Moslem friends. Who died and made them so special? Why should they get a free ride and get asylums?”
“Because they are harassed in Iran,” I said.
“Well big freakin' boo. So was I. I was harassed too.”
“You? You were harassed? Just because the police broke up a few of your parties … that doesn't mean you were harassed. Just because you were lashed 50 times for banging the wife of your high school principal, that doesn't mean you were harassed.”
“Anyway, can I finish my story or are you gonna continue preaching?” Sohrab said.
“Find. Go ahead.”
Sohrab knew he would only get one crack at this so he started preparing his act. He went to a trendy hair salon and asked the owner Freydon for help. Freydon refused to have anything to do with Sohrab and his plan. So Sohrab turned on the old charm and threaten to kill Frey if he didn't help.
Training was long and excruciating. Sohrab was a rough, bodybuilder heterosexual with no finesse. He had to learn the walk, the talk, the hand movement, the head movement, the ass movement, correct gesturing and most importantly the bounce. The bounce was killing Sohrab. He just couldn't get it right. Poor Frey spent hours teaching his art but progress was slow.
Frey had to also teach Sohrab how to dress. Muscle shirts were out and metrosexual shirts were in. Sohrab was trying to absorb anything and everything he could. Frey introduced Sohrab to the underground Iranian gay society and Sohrab was shocked to discover that many of his old buddies belonged to the club. Sohrab swallowed his pride and started hanging with the boys. He needed to be around gay men to practice his newly occurred skills and to complete his training.
Soon Sohrab's reputation was shattered. Rumors started to spread and his personal training, man-whore, and pillaging careers began to suffer greatly. But Sohrab didn't care. He had his sight set on something grander.
Sohrab advanced his plans by initiating contacts with Bahai community. He asked all kind of questions about the religion. At first the Bahais was suspicious of Sohrab and his intentions. After all, nobody in a right frame of mind would convert from Islam to Bahai religion in Iran. But noticing that Sohrab was a flaming gay man, Bahais started opening up to him. Sohrab learned all the basic gibberish about the Bahai religion and to his surprise he noticed that Bahai religion was actually Islam on ecstasy.
Sohrab was almost ready but Frey would not give him the go-ahead until he was convinced that Sohrab was fully converted. Meanwhile Sohrab's parents were in shock and awe recognizing that the fruit of their labor was a … fruit.
As his token of apparition for everything that Frey had done for him, Sohrab tracked down and beat the heck out of a few guys who gave Frey a hard time for his gayness. Frey was feared from then on.
“So finally I was ready to make my move. Reputation shut to shit but I didn't mind because I was going to a better place. So I woke up one morning, put on my extra tight bellbottom pants, my pink shirt, my silk neck scarf, my puma shoes … a little makeup, some perfume and … Canadian embassy … here I come.”
[Part 1] [Part 2]