Amir is from Shiraz, a city of more than a million people in southwestern Iran that the Shah tried to make “the Paris of Iran” in the 1960s and 1970s, attracting a not insignificant gay population and making Shiraz a favorite vacation spot for Iranian gays -- but after the 1979 revolution led by Ayatollah Khomeini, Shiraz was targeted as a symbol of taaghoot (decadence). Amir’s father was killed by a gas attack in the Iran-Iraq war in the 1987, becoming -- in the Islamic Republic’s official parlance -- a “martyr,” whose surviving family thus had the right to special benefits and treatment from the state.The pictures at Direland depicitng the wounds of physical torture are extremely unpleasant so be warned.
Amir, who grew up with his mother, an older brother and two sisters, says “I’ve known I was gay since I was about 5 or 6 -- I always preferred to play with girls. I had my first sexual experience with a man when I was 13. But nobody in my family knew I was gay.” Amir’s first arrest for being gay occurred two years ago. “I was at a private gay party, about 25 young people there, all of us close friends. One of the kids, Ahmed Reza -- whose father was a colonel in the intelligence services, and who was known to the police to be gay -- snitched on us, and alerted the authorities this private party was going to happen. Ahmed waited until everyone was there, then called the Office for Promotion of Virtue and Prohibition of Vice, headed in Shiraz by Colonel Safaniya, who a few minutes later raided the party. The door opened, and the cops swarmed in, insulting us -- screaming ‘who’s the bottom? Who’s the top?’ and beating us, led by Colonel Javanmardi. When someone tried to stop them beating up the host of the party, they were hit with pepper spray. One of our party was a trans-sexual -- the cops slapped her face so hard they busted her eardrum and she wound up in hospital. Ahmed Reza, the gay snitch, was identifying everyone as the cops beat us up.
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