The president of Iran's statement in New York this week that "In Iran we don't have homosexuals like in your country" may have had some kind of truth -- as in, yes, officially a homo-culture is not recognized there -- but I imagine in a literal sense Ahmadinejad's statement was news to men like Kamran and Kaveh, partners of three years in teeming Tehran. The pair did an interview recently with IRQO, or Iranian Queer Organization, and based on their observations it appears Iran has a pretty complex society of queerness:
KAVEH: Tehran gays are divided into two groups: south side gays and north side gays. Or shall I say upper-class gays and working-class gays. Working class gays are financially struggling because there are no jobs for them. If they do get employed somewhere, soon many problems arise for them in the workplace. So in general they do not have any real income. Parents will not give them pocket money. They don’t have the means to go to school and pay for books or tuition. For financial reasons they are denied higher education. They get teased in their neighbourhood and it is very hard for them to find friends. Most young people these days care very much about the clothes and brand names and so on, so that also works against them. The difficulties these gays face are much more intense and horrible than their rich counterparts. Rich gays are not problem-free either. Their parents usually give them a car, a home and money and say “just go and get lost from our sight”. Most of these people live in uptown in fancy houses, work in their own businesses, and continue getting pocket-money from their parents. Working-class gays often have liaisons with upper-class gays. They are exploited by the upper-class as fresh faces. After a while these relationships inevitably expire. This is a type of entertainment for upper-class gays.
Yup, no gays in Iran, Mr. Ahmadinejad. Thanks for clarifying that. And to get a sense of how Iran responds to gays it does locate and identify, click here -- unless you find the sight of young men hanging too disturbing.