I wrote this as a comment on JJ's "Gay Times" blog on the upcoming comedy night in San Francisco "There are no Gays in Iran". Since JJ has asked us to blog our own experiences with gayness, I am submitting it right away, pretty much the the way it was as a comment. When I have more time, I will edit and add to it.
At age 10 I had a serious crush on my cousin Farhad, who was not only very gorgeous, cool and smart but also gay. I found out the latter piece when he killed himself when I was 15 and he 23. He tied some rocks to his ankles and made himself drown in the middle of the Mediterranean sea.
On my dad's side I had many gay relatives whose identities were closeted or not so, during the Shah's time. Some had come out by introducing themselves as bisexual, which perhaps sounded more chic in some social circles. To my dad who was my role model as far as civility and acceptance of "the different" went, those guys were all responsible, educated and respectable members of our extended family.
After Farhad's suicide, there was severe concerns about other young male gay or bi and friends among us. I was not only in shock and quietly mourning the loss of my intense childhood love but for the first time I had a grown-up conversation with my dad about sexuality. He said, "You loved Farhad for what he was in totality... I congratulate you on that, but also know that aside from your age difference, he could not have changed himself for you or for any woman. He was gay but he loved you as his young cousin... he could never hurt you or anyone by being gay. And he died for many reasons related to his adjustment to that fact. Too bad Farhad thought his options were a short list."
I was so relieved by our short talk. Then Dr. Ebrahim Khajehnouri a family friend, who knew my cousin Farhad and a prominent psychiatrist of my teenage years in Iran, at a 13-bedar gathering in Karaj, educated me on the genetic pointers of being gay, the accomplishments of many gay artists, political figures, or average Joe's among us - I was absolutely fascinated. As a teenager I was confused about the dilemma non-heterosexuals had to face, even back then.
I have recently heard many comments about my excitement about the "There Are No Gays in Iran" comedy night for iranian.com. Many well-wishers among my mom's side suspected my divorce was due to my coming out of the closet... "It's Ok to be a lesbian, (but stay away from our kids, they implied), until you're clear on your decision." I did not bother to share further than saying, "my divorce had nothing to do with my sexuality nor any other man, or woman... I had decided on my hopeless marriage many many years ago and I proceeded with my decision when it was the right time for the kids."
I still get their tones of disbelief especially when I send them "There Are No Gays in Iran" ads (weekly) urging them to buy their tickets, better yet plan their trips to SF for the show :o)
I have had many gay, lesbian or bi friends, colleagues, professors and clinical directors. Working and owning a business in SF's Hayes Valley for like 20 years. How could one not? Or attending the most liberal graduate school and working in the field of healing, how could I not? I love them all, for different reasons but not because of their sexuality. My friends and colleagues, all know that where I come from, as a woman I would feel like a minotrity too - that if I ever decided to go back to Iran of the IRI in fact I'd be stoned to death more than twice for marrying and zenaa with non-Muslim men who were nowhere close to any institutionalized religion.
I leave this blog with this: IRI atrocities committed toward gay men or women, are unacceptable human rights violations in Iran. We need to voice our protest against abusive treatments of any minority, be it religious, sexual or ideological. We are equally responsible about supporting our second or third generation gay Iranians in diaspora who may need our acceptance and tolerance for who they are and who they choose to be. Growing up as a minority, has trained me to support all minorities, until they/we are no longer minorities but human beings with different ideas about living life. We don't need to hide ourselves under black covers or in dark closets, we are here to Live. Accept us as we accept you.
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