I Am Gay.  I am Lonely.

By September 12, 2022April 11th, 2023No Comments

It Was Not Always Like This

On the turn of the 20st century Western culture found its way into Iran. Huge households shrunk to fit smaller group of family-members. That too, later, gave way to the nuclear family; husband and a wife and their children would be considered “family” and lived under one roof. Thus, gay men, invisible in huge households among the extended families living together, and singled out in the setting of nuclear family, shied away into a secluded lifestyle and remained so until 1979 when a witch-hunt begun to spot, expose, and execute them; large number of homosexual men fled to the West and became refugees.

The last Shah of Iran was relaxed about homosexuality. Homosexuals lived peacefully and fully, as artist, writer, film-director, show-host, and pup-singer; first public appearance of a Gay Rights activist, Saviz Shafaee, took place in Shiraz University when he presented a paper discussing Homosexuals’ Civil Rights in a seminar. The talk wasn’t picked up again until two decades later, by gay bloggers who pioneered on-line activism in order to escape silenced lives, under shadows of Shari’a law

Speaking up on Cyberstage

Homosexual men reacted some 20 years later. Gay men took to dressing up against norms; teased masculinity with their plucked eyebrows; allowed body-language to speak of their sexual orientation, and at the same time, denied links between appearance and sexual orientation; some took refuge in chatrooms, homepages, and on-line presence.

Blogger  Hamjensgera mentions in a post dated 2008, “long before weblogs were introduced to Iranian society, gay community appeared on-line via html homepages called yahoo clubs, or yahoo groups”. He mentions later the date goes back to 1995. Other bloggers confirm that they’ve seen the first gay blog around 2001, belonged to man identified himself as Behrooz, who wrote on his first post: I Am Gay; updated a little while later: I Am Lonely.

Still many bloggers remember Epsilon Gay as the first gay blogger, an inspiration to many who looked for ways to connect and express themselves. Epsilon Gay was interviewed sometime during 2005 by Dead Poets Society[i]. In that interview, Epsilon answered questions via email, talked about his feelings, and commented on his own blog.

Thus, 2001 was the beginning of a decade of hard work during which Iran’s lGBT community was formed and grew into a movement with tireless individuals orchestrating the challenge for decriminalization of homosexuality, initiating social justice for the queer community.

Blogs were considered real beings. Their birth and life span, untimely death, and suicide was closely followed and responded to by other gay bloggers.

Forming virtual families on-line

Weblogs of the LGBT community doesn’t serve only as alternative media for civil activism; it is also used as virtual family-setting on-line. Clusters of blogs and like-minded bloggers read each other daily and observed the mood in each weblog. If a blogger in their circle post about sorrow, or a recent attack, or shows suicidal hints/self-inflected wounds, they all gather in his comment-box, give advice, tips, and provide support. If a blogger doesn’t up-date for more than two weeks, everyone enquires of his whereabouts; According to the urgency of situation, reaction to the issues takes to the outside of the blogs to follow up. These bloggers presume the role of each other’s family members, each taking a role and acting upon it in their circle. They fill the gap that lack of actual parents/families brings upon the gay community. The strategy has worked fine and effectively, so long.

Home of all LGBT Blogs

During 2005 a Link’e Honar initiated to gather best of LGBT blog links. Right after, another weblog, called Khane Honar(House of Art) launched to all links without exception, in blogfa[ii]. It moved to blogspot when it became unsafe to remain with a server within Iran and face removal.[iii]  This weblog served as reference, mentor, and touchstone for events and issues in the LGBT community from 2005 to 2008 until the original team decided to keep a neutral stance. During the course of the last two years, this weblog has recorded over 200 LGBT blog’s removed from the net by direct order of official authorities. Still, over 300 weblogs are actively writing today, more and more responding to general issues of the Iranian society, as a natural path to be involved and included in the main society with their identity as homosexuals.

Weblogs subject to removal don’t receive warnings. They only see announcements such as this on the face of the weblog: This weblog has been closed for one of these reasons: 1- Violating server’s code of rights. 2- By direct order of official authorities. 3- Posting immoral content or content contrary to law of the land. Sometimes, though, bloggers receive letters warning them to stop writing, or stop addressing certain issues. Rarely do they receive emails explaining in detail that they are under scrutiny and must stop all immoral activity on their weblogs[iv]. These emails are sent from police110, or Gerdab, or similar institution, via gmail or yahoo. Although it is known fact that emails sent through any general domain doesn’t directly com from the institution but from factions related to the institution, and that these warnings will not immediately result in interrogation or detention, still bloggers stop writing in their weblogs to prevent eventual arrest. IP is traceable via Iran’s phone company. Users of phone and internet services are tractable via phone-line, through log-storages by order of intelligent service.

Gay Poetry in Weblogs

Up until 2009 leading bloggers were poets promoting gay rights disguised in fine and magnificent poetry. Their poetry was picked up with their permission – after they stopped up-dating their weblogs- and published by Gilgamishan and distributed as E-book on Iranian Queer Library. Today the majority of leading blogs belong to those with social activism in mind. One of such blogs Pesar (Boy) that started with porn-pictures 2005 or earlier, and switched to the role of big brother of the younger bloggers, advising, commenting, analyzing, and slightly mentoring. Or Hamjensgera, who is the observer and objector of everyword spoken or published with hidden or obvious violation of LGBT rights in Iran.   In between these two type of blogs, there are those who aim at teaching matters of relationships, committed and long term relationship, and even sexual encounters to a generation that has no role model, unlike the young of the main stream who confidently follow tradition and culture-based stages of social life. Gay couples specifically stress on promoting long term and committed relationships. Of course, their whereabouts is never known until they jump over the border into Turkey to seek asylum.

While Transsexuals have been nearly as active as Gay Bloggers, Where are lesbian bloggers? In a list of over 300 weblogs of gay and TS bloggers, only 5 or 6 belongs to lesbians, (do you have any thoughts about this? Where the lesbians and TS are? Would be interesting to develop) maybe mention Maha? What are the connections to the feminist movement? and that too, is only for matters of personal importance.

I also think it would be awesome with some information on the role of Iranian LGBT activists that work outside the country (your own organisation for example).

Is it possible to end the text with some thought about the future, what do you see, hope, can happen?


[i]   The weblog dedicated to archive all blogs belonged to gays. It was deactivated shortly after it opened, apparently because they’ve received tips of tracing by government, but remained on web without update and was removed by order of official authorities on 2009 for violation of moral codes even though there were no posts besides  list of weblogs and type of content.

[ii] Iranian Server

[iii]  Non-Iranian server

[iv] Samples of these letters are kept in IRQO archive.

I wrote this piece for Sweden’s RSFL on 2011.

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