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Gay Iranians Have a Surprising New Spokesperson

Gay Iranians Have a Surprising New Spokesperson

There aren’t a lot of well-known gay Iranians out there. In fact, there aren’t any. There are some within the expatriate Iranian community, but more widely?

That’s all about to change with the reality TV show Shahs Of Sunset, which is set in Los Angeles, home to a huge Iranian-American population.

One of its stars is gay Persian Reza Farahan, and he is well aware of the responsibility which comes with being a ‘first.’

He told AP:

“I have an important message, all the bling and Mercedes aside: Iím an openly gay Persian man. According to the president of the country I was born in, I donít even existÖ”

That’s a reference to Iranian President Ahmajinedad’s infamous statement at Colombia University that gays don’t exist in Iran, which was actually more like we don’t have gays like you do in the West but which he doubled down on last year,†telling CNN:

“My position hasn’t changed.”

“In Iran, homosexuality is looked down upon as an ugly deed. Perhaps there are those who engage in such activities and you may be in contact with them and more aware of them. But in Iranian society such activities, thoughts, and behaviors are shameful. Therefore, these are not known elements within Iranian society.”

Farahan says that another reason he agreed to participate in the show †is because he wanted his community to acknowledge the existence of gay Persians/Iranians.

Farahan told the Daily Beast that since the show debuted, heís received Facebook messages from closeted teenagers in Iran as well as hate mail from Iranian bloggers ó one suggested he was ďa fake gayĒ because itís trendy in Hollywood. But Farahan says, ďIím not backing down because of some blogger. Thatís not how I roll.Ē

“I donít mind being stereotyped as materialistic. Middle Easterners have many stereotypes, and materialism is one of the better ones. Weíre usually viewed as evil terrorists, so if youíre going to stereotype me Iíd prefer it be because we love gold and Mercedes instead of Uzis,Ē he says.

He also told the Beast that “I would date an ex-con before I would date a Republican.”

Watch Farahan talk about why he’s doing the show on CNN:

Related stories:

Looming Internet ĎDisasterí for Iranian LGBT

Iranís First Gay Movie?

Gay Persian Canadians ĎBreak Silenceí with Poster Campaign

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55 comments

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6:28AM PDT on Apr 2, 2012

Reminds me of when Reagan said "There are no hungry in America." Whose reality are these people in?

6:25AM PDT on Apr 2, 2012

They're not gay Paul. They're guys who have sex with other guys, millions of them, and they're not getting killed for it. They'd be mortified to have an outside "supporter" who classifies them as gay.

6:23AM PDT on Apr 2, 2012

They're not gay Paul. They're guys who have sex with other guys, millions of them, and they're not getting killed for it. They'd be mortified to have an outside "supporter" who classifies them as gay.

2:45AM PDT on Apr 2, 2012

@John

yes they're fine and dandy in Iran
http://www.hrw.org/news/2010/12/15/iran-discrimination-and-violence-against-sexual-minorities

nothing to see here, move along, and stop saying 'gay' ...

11:02AM PDT on Mar 31, 2012

Paul C

"Are you trying to tell me that Iranian LGBT"

But they're bloody well not LGBT. They're guys who have sex with guys - as well as women, something they might have to do just as furtively. They don't want to be labelled as gay and don't consider themselves as such. They don't want you to "support" them, they're fine as they are. And they're not getting executed for it.

9:58AM PDT on Mar 31, 2012

@John

Oh, for crying out loud.

"Who are we to "support" them or speak for them? Who are we to label them even, at variance with their tradition and culture?"

Because THEY'RE OPPRESSED.

Are you trying to tell me that Iranian LGBT live in happy la-la land where some of them are not being forced into operations because someone persuaded the great ruler than transgender people were allowed under Islam?

Under your schema, if Uganda passes a law saying gays having sex should be killed the evil west should have no opinion and ignore the pleas for support because IT''S THEIR CULTURE.

I do not care one iota whether they are 'gay' or some other name. It is COMPLETELY IRRELEVANT. They are oppressed people. END OF.

6:27AM PDT on Mar 31, 2012

Paul, they are supporting themselves. They are simply getting on with it, as I said - and not getting executed. Many men in Iran ( and in many other cultures ) who have sex with men don't even consider themselves as gay. Who are we to "support" them or speak for them? Who are we to label them even, at variance with their tradition and culture?

5:54AM PDT on Mar 31, 2012

@John

People may have the nuance wrong but the context right. And we do know there have been executions - of gays - because of some little work done by Amnesty and some other respected human rights groups. But it is not enough work and its profile is low.

Gay men in Iran may well 'just be getting on with it' but who is supporting them? Not the human rights groups as far as I can see. It is because of that vacuum that Farahan has a profile.

4:59PM PDT on Mar 30, 2012

Well Paul, I don't know. But as you can see, the sources generally are tainted or there are circumstances which emerge after the original lurid stories are published to show that the whole confection was not as published. By then, the damage is done and we have morons babbling on threads like these that "all gays" are being killed or execution is the punishment for "being" gay.

Indeed Paul, my original point is valid. "Gay Iranians" don't have a new spokesperson. A group of expats of Iranian descent, most of whom are American, have a self-appointed mouthpiece who has his own agenda. In the meantime, gay men in Iran (or at least guys who have sex with other guys) are just getting on with it.

4:26PM PDT on Mar 30, 2012

@John

There is one reason and one reason only why there is any question around the executions of gays in Iran - no major human rights group has thrown any resources at investigating it.

I have seen time and again them do what you have done, to state that there are 'questionable circumstances' or the 'source is tainted'. Why do we never actually find out definitively? We do in women being stoned cases. We have in other cases.

These groups have huge budgets and please don't tell me Iran is some sort of unique place where this stuff cannot be definitively resolved. Why they aren't doing it? We could guess - but the fact is that they are not.

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