Posts tagged ‘Iran’

August 4, 2012

Parishaan – Niyaz

I love this song and video.

 

 

The song “Parishaan” from the new Niyaz album, SUMUD. Composed by Azam Ali, Loga Ramin Torkian and Carmen Rizzo, this song is based on traditional poetry by beloved 11th century Persian poet Baba Taher.

Video directed and edited by Johnny Ranger  www.mindroots.com
Hair by Marco Di Biasio
Make up by Frederic Paulin

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March 26, 2012

Israel Reaches Out To Iran

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February 16, 2012

ORAM – Organization for Refuge, Asylum and Migration – Video Campaign

ORAM, the organization that works to help LGBTI people life in unsafe countries to find safety elsewhere in the world. On their site they describe their mission:

ORAM provides clients with free legal counseling and assistance, including representation at UNHCR proceedings. We assist refugees through their passage to safety, often until they are permanently resettled in new countries.

Visit their website here.

The organization has released a series of  narration free animated videos telling the  personal stories of what the reality of life is for LGBTI people living in hostile environments. Deeply thought provoking and maddening. The countries featured  in these three videos ( in order ) are Jamaica, Iraq and Iran.  A warning – although they are animated some of the images are disturbing.

JAMAICA

IRAQ

IRAN

January 2, 2012

It Gets Better for a Gay Iranian.

Heartbreaking.

It is getting better, as you are getting stronger, as the other gays are supporting you. For the ones that are living in western countries, w/ much more liberal society, just think about the other gays in middle east, Asia and Africa that they have much more problems than you have. So be strong and live your life! We are all together and would help each other…

And what is life like for LGBT people in Iran? Not pleasant as Wikipedia notes:

Some Human rights activists and opponents of the Iranian regime claim between 4,000 and 6,000 gay men and lesbians have been executed in Iran for crimes related to their sexual preference since 1979.[16]

According to The Boroumand Foundation,[17] there are records of at least 107 executions with charges related to homosexuality between 1979 and 1990.[18] According to Amnesty International, at least 5 people convicted of “homosexual tendencies”, three men and two women, were executed in January 1990, as a result of the Iranian government’s policy of calling for the execution of those who practice homosexuality.[19] In April 1992, Dr. Ali Mozafarian, a Sunni Muslim leader in the Fars province (Southern Iran), was executed in Shiraz after being convicted on charges of espionage, adultery, and sodomy. His videotaped confession was broadcast on television in Shiraz and in the streets of Kazerun and Lar.

On November 12, 1995, by the verdict of the eighth judicial branch of Hamadan and the confirmation of the Supreme Court of Iran, Mehdi Barazandeh, otherwise known as Safa Ali Shah Hamadani, was condemned to death. The judicial authorities announced that Barazandeh’s crimes were repeated acts of adultery and “the obscene act of sodomy.” The court’s decree was carried out by stoning Barazandeh. Barazandeh belonged to the Khaksarieh Sect of Dervishes. (Islamic Republic Newspaper – November 14, 1995 + reported in Homan’s magazine June 10, 1996).

In a November 2007 meeting with his British counterpart, Iranian member of parliament Mohsen Yahyavi admitted that Iran believes in the death penalty for homosexuality. According to Yahyavi, gays deserve to be tortured, executed, or both.[20]

One controversial execution was the execution of Makwan Moloudzadeh (sometimes spelled “Mouloudzadeh”) on December 6, 2007. He was convicted of lavat-be-onf (sodomy rape) and executed for raping three teenage boys when he was 13, even though all witnesses had retracted their accusations and Moloudzadeh withdrew a confession. He was also aged 13, and ineligibe for a death penalty under Iranian law.[21][22] Despite international outcry and a nullification of the death sentence by Iranian Chief Justice Ayatollah Seyed Mahmoud Hashemi Shahrud, Moloudzadeh was hanged without his family or his attorney being informed until after the fact.[23][24] The execution provoked international outcry since it violated two international treaties signed by Iran that outlaw capital punishment for crimes committed by minors, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.[25]

Full Wiki here.

The link to the Iranian minister’s statement does not work but here is another article on the subject:

Last updated at 11:12 14 November 2007

Homosexuals deserve to be tortured and executed an Iranian leader told British MPs during a private meeting at a peace conference, it emerged today.

Mohsen Yahyavi is the highest-ranked politician to admit that Iran believes in the death penalty for homosexuality following recent reports that gay youths were being hanged.

President Ahmadinejad, questioned by students in New York two months ago about the executions, dodged the issue by suggesting that there were no gays in his country.

Human rights campaigners say Iran falsely convicts gay men of other crimes to execute them

The apparent executions, including those of two underage boys whose public hanging was posted on the internet, has alarmed human rights campaigners.

Gay rights groups in Britain, such as Outrage!, accuse Iran of cloaking executions for homosexuality with bogus charges for more serious crimes.

Full article in the DailyMail here.

December 21, 2011

Arsham Parsi’s Speech at the World LGBTQ Youth Leadership Summit in Tel Aviv, Israel.

Via Sizedoesntmatter.com and IRQR

From his Bio page on his website

My name is Arsham Parsi. I am the founder and Executive Director of the Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees (IRQR), an international queer human rights non-governmental organization (NGO) based in Toronto, Canada. The primary mission of IRQR is to aid and assist to the best of our abilities Iranian Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered refugees in countries all over the world, and who now face the threat of deportation back to Iran, in obtaining asylum status in safe countries. IRQR helps those refugees through their complicated asylum processes and provides funding for safe houses through donations wherever possible, as most of our queer refugee clients are in physical danger in their countries of transit as well.

Today, IRQR is the only active NGO that works on behalf of the global population of Iranian queers, i.e. Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transgendered Persons. We document human rights violations against Iranian LGBTs on the basis of sexual orientation; provide letters of support for Iranian queer asylum seekers and refugees; and vigorously support anti-homophobia and anti-persecution efforts in Iran. Our documentation is widely respected for its accuracy and credibility.

Arshad Parsi and his NGO are doing extraordinary work to help LGBT Iranians escape  to safe destinations. He also tells the tale of what it was like to confront his orientation in the overwhelmingly hostile environment in the land of this birth. Here is the text of his speech at the summit that took place in Tel Aviv from December 4-9, 2011.

I am very pleased to be in Jerusalem or in Farsi, Urshalim. Although I am not a nationalist, there is an historical story associated with Jerusalem for me as an Iranian. Around 540 BC Cyrus the Great claimed the city of Babylonia as his own, and in short order repatriated displaced peoples, restored temples and cult sanctuaries. Indeed his infamous “Cyrus cylinder” is thought by some to have been the first declaration of human rights. As one who has dedicated my life’s work to the cause of equal and human rights for my fellow man, I am humbled to visit this place where my ancestral countryman first envisioned a world of equality for all.

I believe is the issues we face today are as important or more so than what we dealt with a few thousand years ago, but for academic purposes I learned the history. Studying these stories at school raised significant questions for me that I am still struggling with. Who am I and what are my responsibilities towards other people? What should I do, not only for my wellbeing but also for others? What must my priorities be?

As you can see from your program, my name is Arsham Parsi; I am an Iranian queer activist. But what you might not know is that I have two birthdays. One is my date of birth, September 20th. I was born into a middle class family but as a full citizen of Iran. However, my rights and freedom were denied in my country of birth due to my sexual orientation. My second birthday is on May 10th, 2006 the day I arrived in Canada as an Iranian homosexual, finally complete with the right to freedom and ability to pursue my goals and dreams and ultimately contribute my efforts on behalf of my fellow Iranian queers.

I went through many difficulties and challenges in between my two birthdays but I think all of these obstacles helped me to become stronger and ready to face other challenges especially as an activist.

I lived most of my childhood and adolescent years in silence and fear. Like many gay men, I felt from a very young age that I was different from my peers. As a teenager I began to associate this sense of difference with my attraction to men. I had limited access to information about homosexuality but soon I realized that in order to survive I would have to hide my true feelings and conform to the social norms of my culture.

A friend of mine loaned me a book that had a short chapter about homosexuality, it was the first material I had ever read regarding homosexuality. It described the sin of sodomy and stated that it was punishable within major religions.

I tried to become a so called “good person”. I prayed and practiced a lot more than other religious people. I felt that I was the only person in the world with these feelings and God hated me. I placed many restrictions on my daily life in order to punish myself whenever I felt guilty or that I was a sinner. After a while, I started to challenge my God. Why did you create me like this if it is wrong since it is known by believers that God is a just God and never makes mistakes? I could not see any justice when some people are legal and free, while others are condemned to death or other punishments and discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender, nationality, political opinion, religion or any other personal attribute or belief

In Iran, homosexuality is illegal. Punishment for engaging in sexual behaviour with a person of the same sex includes imprisonment, flogging and execution. Socially, the stigma attached to homosexuality carries the consequences of isolation, forced heterosexual marriages and exclusion from one’s family. It means a life lived in fear.

As my circle of friends grew, however, I became increasingly concerned about the stories I was hearing. People forced into loveless marriages to preserve their family’s honour; gay men entrapped through the Internet or in person. When two of my friends committed suicide out of desperation, I felt I had no choice but to act. I started by tackling the social isolation felt by many queer Iranians and then began to challenge the culturally and legally sanctioned homophobia impacting their lives.

Relying on the relative anonymity of the Internet, I started Iran’s first underground queer organization, Persian Gay and Lesbian Organization or PGLO. Starting with the email addresses of my queer friends, I began to send positive information about homosexuality.

It started small. Mostly it was me sending encouraging emails and information to my friends and subscribers. As I learned more and I saw how important it was for these people to find a connection with others, I expanded my work. We developed a website and finally, with the help of a friend in Norway we registered the organization there. I started to give interviews with international media to share our stories. I tried to accept as many invitations to speak on behalf of those who were unable to as I could. I wanted others to know that we existed and that we were struggling. However with limited access to resources, I began my work through the Internet in order to reach all Iranians worldwide. I decided to create a new form of organization and activism online. Even with no funding and the risk of being caught, I was able to establish large network for my cause. I believe it is proven that we can accomplish many things without funding and with limited resources, sometimes with a much greater effect on people’s lives than through large, well-funded organizations.

The organization continued to expand, providing support and opportunities for connection for the Iranian queer community. My international media profile increased as I strove to educate those outside of the country about the Iranian situation. I understood the risk I was taking, but my fear was outweighed by the sense of responsibility I felt to my community.

It wasn’t long, however, before the risks became too great to ignore and my life and the future of my activities were in danger.

In 2004, Iran’s secret police raided a party attended by members of Shiraz’s queer community. Several of my friends were arrested, tortured and “outed” to shamed family members. Capitalizing on the detainees’ fear, officials collected additional information that led to a series of raids over the next several months. The police harassment and intimidation drove the community further into silence and isolation. I was able to learn from those arrested that I was a target and that my organization was a topic of many interrogations. As the days and weeks went by I could feel them getting closer. I knew that if I was to protect myself and my family I had no choice but to flee.

I was an asylum seeker in an unjust situation and poor conditions but my activism was the first priority for me. I remember my Iranian queer roommates and I struggled to eat a meal once a day but I never gave up and instead became more active in my cause. According to a psychologist, sometimes this level of activity can be a sign of displacement and depression. . I never felt that I was depressed but if that was the case, I used my depression to bring change to my community. I felt I was a survivor and as such I wanted to fight back.

My newly established organization was my companion during my long journey from Iran to Canada via Turkey. I did not have an academic degree or acquire abundant experiences. I was very young to take leadership of my organization and deal with serious life threatening issues. However, I had something that I felt would compensate for my lack of formal training and experience I had hope and I already decided to act. I knew that nothing could stop me and moreover, I knew myself. I knew I could do whatever I decided and I felt strong about it. So, I was able to meet the challenges that lay before me.

In Canada, with the help of a few supporters, we established the Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees which is actively working on behalf of more than 480 Iranian refugee claimants living in limbo throughout the world as well as those who live in Iran. We created Neda Magazine. Neda means “Voice” in Persian and it is an online monthly magazine for Iranian queers. We also launched an online radio station with help of a number of Iranian queers called Raha, which means “Liberation”, where queer individuals have the opportunity to share their stories to others in order to raise awareness and also as a way to be heard. Our organization not only aids refugees but has expanded to help parents, families and friends of queer individuals through an Iran PFLAG project. Furthermore, we have recently launched the NIQHA project which provides information about HIV/AIDS and Sexual Transmitted Infections in the Persian language to raise awareness about different STIs and prevention methods. This work has been very important and it is what I feel I am meant to do with my life but our work is still not finished and we continue on our mission

We have been quite successful in helping Iranian queers who needed support. However, we have limited resources and are restricted to helping only Iranians. This does not stop me from thinking about other countries and communities. In the last few years IRQR has managed to provide support and help to three Afghans, two Palestinians and one Iraqi queer refugee who escaped their homes and sought asylum in Turkey through the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, or UNHCR.

Speaking of the UNHCR, one of my challenges was to establish a professional relationship with international organizations as well as individual activists from all around the world in order to use their experiences and have their support. In the last eleven years, I learned that through dialog and communication with other allies or even those who are in disagreement, we can find solutions for common interests.

I was able to meet the prominent international officials including senators, ministers and members of various parliaments worldwide. It was stressful for me to speak publicly at the 2nd session of the United Nations Human Right Council in Geneva, or meet the UN Human Rights Commissioner, and others, but I knew that I had to do it regardless of any fears I had. I was there to learn and move the Iranian queer human rights cause forward.

Long story short, I learned that I could meet the challenges and have no fear of them. I believe that when we become united and work together, we can overcome all challenges and take the next steps.

Because of the choices I’ve made, I know that I can never return to Iran. Although I suffered many hardships there, it is still my beloved home country where I was born and raised. I would like to share this with you because I believe in your future of activism and leadership in the global queer cause, although you will certainly encounter dilemmas where you must make difficult decisions. Most times, decision making is not an easy task. You are responsible for your choices and you should be ready to respond to those with opposing views. But the best decision is made when you know the situation and the circumstances and choose what the least harmful decision to all is. And it is a big challenge.

I remind myself of the promise I made to myself eleven years ago when I decided to do something for my community just after the tragic incidents of my two friends’ suicides. I decided to speak on behalf of those who cannot, and where ever and whenever possible to break the silence. I left all my belongings in Iran including my family, my job, my school and everything I had ever known just to do what I felt I had to.

Speaking here today, I chose to continue my mission to support my Iranian queer fellows and to speak on their behalf.

I am here today to talk about peace, love and human rights. I want to speak on behalf of all groups who are unable to be here with us today. We all know that there are many things going on in this world that we do not agree with or are not happy about. Discrimination still remains around the world especially towards queer communities. We all know that homophobia exists in almost all countries, even in my new home Canada, known as a land of human rights. In many countries being a queer individual can lead to some sort of criminal punishment. But I am optimistic. I continue to believe that, we can start a new approach for our global queer family’s future toward diversity, respect, tolerance and freedom.

I would like to suggest a one minute of silence with the peace “V” sign to wish for a day of peace, freedom, equality and justice for all citizens of the globe regardless of their sexual orientation, nationality, religion, gender, political opinion and other differences.

– one minute silence –

I am looking forward to that day with you and tomorrow’s queer leaders.

Thank you so much.

Arsham Parsi

November 28, 2011

This Iranian guy is totally awesome

Via Peter Galazka on G+

Anthony Sebastian Abrahamsen is all kinds of  awesome. The message in English, Norwegian and Persian.

Fuck everyone else’s opinion indeed.

From his Tumblr blog. 

Anthony Sebastian was the name I was given.

In Latin, it means; “Praiseworthy”.

In Greek, it means; “Flourishing”.

Sebastian, In Latin, it means; “Revered

In Greek, it means; “Venerable

Sure, you might think “…Who is he to say that life is difficult for gay people? How can HE even know what I am going through or have gone through?…

This is my story of a boy living in the present World, being a victim of bullying, being Iranian, having Cystic Acne, being outed by friends and family AND being gay.

I’m originally from Iran, but was born and raised in Norway.

In the course of my upbringing, I changed cities that I was living in 5 times and in that period, learned 2 different languages and also 2 dialects spoken in this country.

During my upbringing, I didn’t have my father present. When Iran fell victim to the new Islamic Regime and a new Islamic Republic was born, my parents left with their children to give us the sense of hope and freedom that they, my parents, didn’t get or have in the country at that time.

As we were leaving Iran, the Government played a trick on him and refused him to leave the country. Nothing was wrong. All the papers were correct, all dates and stamps, arrangements and all were correct, but they didn’t want him to leave. This led him to not being able to see me walk for the first time, utter my first words, see me smile, laugh and just being alive for 6 years.

Think about it.

That’s nearly a decade.

As I was growing up, I felt the sense of something was different with me. This feeling that I was meant for greater things. To change things, to do something with my life. Also a sense of something magical, restless and terrifying. …I was falling in love with people… of the same gender as me…

I found out that I was “more special than other guys”, as I like to put it, when I was around the age of 4 or 5. I knew at a quite young age that I was different, my mind was different, I talked more mature than I should have. With all these things in mind, I knew that I wasn’t going to fit in properly with the rest of the community, society and even the world.

One funny fact about me was that I in the beginning fell in love with guys without even knowing the terms “sex”, “love”, or even “relationships”. I knew who I was before I even knew what it meant. I also began to think I might be bisexual, as I would look at girls as gorgeous and beautiful creatures, but not in a sexual way. That was really confusing at times, but I ultimately knew in the end, that I was indeed gay.

Some people find it odd or peculiar that I’m gay, and how I can like or even love my own gender more than just ordinary friends.

I tell them like I have always done; “...I don’t know… But I know one thing, and that is that I AM… I’m a human-being. Always have been and always will be. And what difference does it make? Does love know any boundaries? In this world divided, raged with hate, famine, bullshit-economy, does it REALLY matter who I love or not? Seriously, there are FAR worse things happening in the world. Direct your nose, eyes and your pointing finger in THAT direction!

And on that note…. one fact has always been historically proven; “…Sharing the world, accepting people for their diversity, difference of any kind, has never really been humanity’s defining attributes…

One thing many people don’t know about me, is the fact that I have been bullied for 17 years.

Imagine that.

17 years of pain, suffering, teasing, bullying, make you feel unwanted by the people around you, and that you aren’t allowed to live side-by-side other people. You are worthless.

Every

Single

Day.


The feeling of being terrified to go to school, to utter your words and your views on things, making friends, being social, making your own style, being YOU as you intend to live.

And for what?

Because you love in a totally different way. You think completely differently than other people.

People bullying you for who you are, the way you walk, the way you talk, watch, eat… you name it.

Growing up, I didn’t have any friends. I spent my days studying, reading books, listening to music, playing video-games that let me escape to a far away land where things were much better. My own safe bubble. Fantasy kept me alive. People that tried to be my friends ended up stabbing me in the back, humiliating me, join the people who were bullying me and pretty much making me hate the fact that I was alive, existed and a part of this World and Universe… because I was different from the rest of them. I was strange and not like everyone else. I had to be like everyone else to be accepted, as I was looked upon as being completely and utterly wrong. I wasn’t worthy of being alive.

Oh yeah, because of my Cystic Acne as well. I was bullied for mostly anything. Showing signs of being gay, taking an interest in stuff that people don’t really care about and for having Acne. Also who you are, the way you walk, the way you talk, watch, eat, like I mentioned earlier.

I remember especially how people pointed at me, making me think I have cancer on my face, that I was disgusting, contagious and that I was a bio-hazard.

After 17 years of non-stop bullying, I came to the point of total-meltdown. Depression caved in, everything turned dark and gloomy, no hope, no happiness, no feeling of wanting to live anymore. Using Roaccutane to combat my Cystic Acne, I became severely depressed, to the point of being a danger to myself. My skin would get burned by the slightest exposure to the Sun, my diet had to be changed drastically, Insomnia came into the picture, which would dominate my life several years ahead. I would get extremely sensitive skin, which would crack and bleed because of all the side-effects. I had some of the most gruesome and mind-blowing side-effects while using this medicine. .

..But

I sat down, after 17 years, reflecting on my life. On how much I had lost because of this fear of being me, being the one that was supposed to be me and being the person that is and should exist, with the views, wisdom and thoughts. Not to mention having to fix my mind, body and spirit after that medication.

I chose to change my life entirely. Everything by me changed and it happened fast. Way fast. No more being depressed about being a bully-victim, having Acne, having used that medication etc.

The hair changed, the clothing-style changed, started working out at the gym, made my spine straight by working out from all the years I had been slumping, became more social and outgoing, giving people another chance to get to know me, learning to let go off old grudges and also learning not trusting people. Don’t get me wrong, trust as in expecting too much of certain people.

This also came handy when I started dating, and forming relationships with people. I, as many people out there, have also been in abusive relationships. But I never let it push or pull me down.

One thing I promised myself was to never become bitter. Ever. That’s why I gave it several chances, as I always work and look for ways to fix an issue. I don’t give up. I don’t know the word. It’s not in my vocabulary.

One thing I noticed throughout all my relationships in Norway, was that all of them had a problem of being seen with me, holding hands with me, talking with me, basically letting other people see me existing right next to them, in public. Me with black hair, brown eyes and showing attributes of being Middle-Eastern. Their friends would pour the hate from the moment they laid their eyes on me and I always asked myself what I had done to be treated this way. Racism, lies, hiding… the story goes on.

Knowing how painful such behavior was, I swore to never act like that to them, with them or around them, with my next partners.

It was funny to see how I had been at the low-point in my life, then fixed myself, only to be smashed down again with force for being none other than myself. Even funnier was how they would suddenly feel alone and out-of-place, when the kindness, love, warmth, caring, loving in such a powerful way that they had never experienced, presence and being one who wasn’t harsh or hateful, suddenly wasn’t a part of them anymore. I had the last laugh.

At the age of 23, I was even outed by my friends (I was weird, strange, a freak and inappropriate), straights (being gay isn’t always looked upon as a good thing. Girls might love it, but guys will frown and feel that they could “catch it from me”), the gay-community (70% answered in a survey that they couldn’t engage in a relationship with someone from the Middle-East) and even my family (I will never know exactly why this happened, but I have a strong feeling it was because of being gay and just being myself. Also having a brother-in-law that constantly spewed out hatred, hypocrisy, religious hypocrisy, negativity about anything and everyone, be it anything. My entire family was in a way smitten by this too. The drop-point came when he started harassing gay people and calling my phone “gay” and also constantly picking on the way I walk, talk, speak, eat and what I eat. He could chug down 24 cans of Red Bull’s, but me having a slice of bread with bread would be a sin, as I would die of Cardiac Arrest. Yup, hypocrisy at its worst).

That’s when I stopped up, and reminded myself to keep moving forwards, head up high, never backing down and that it would surely get better.

And it did! Finding new people, new friends, new family, new life and remembering what I held dear to my heart, but was pulled away from me because of various people. Everything came back and I got joy both through myself and others. Good people.

One quote I found a few years ago, was “Holding on to a grudge is like letting that person, that thing, that mind-set, that annoying chunk of blackness, live inside your head – RENT FREE!”, which helped a lot.

One thing I made sure, was to do what I needed to do, myself. I always told me myself;

…If I don’t do this, no one will!…”

Everything changed.

It’s kinda funny to look at old pictures of myself that people have taken of me and the pictures I have taken myself, and how I have changed. And I have really changed in many ways. Oh, so many ways.

But one thing that I absolutely made sure, was to make my place in this world. I wanted to use my experiences, thoughts and my views for the better for the people still scared of coming out of the closet. And to have ambitions, have goals and lift myself to higher grounds through education. Also to pay it forward. Why would I continue the dark spiral of hate and bullying, teasing, you name it, when I’ve been exposed to it? That spiral needs to stop, by educating other people and paying it forward.

I was determined to study Social Work, Social Pediatrics, Sexology (self-studying because of the fact that it’s extremely fascinating and interesting) and also many other subjects like Biblical Subjects, some Occupational Therapy and also settling for a full B.A in Social Work, having the other studies accompanying this degree and enabling me to specialize in various subjects. I sometimes wanted to study even more, much to people’s dismay. But I kept on going. I also vowed to learn at least a few new languages apart from what I speak right now and wanted it to make it to 5. I was told that I had a big imagination, but what I did was to realize that imagination.

When people get this information about me, they look at me in awe, wondering how I have survived, how I still smile and how they can’t see the effects of it on my face, my mind, the way I walk, talk and generally act.

See for yourself… look at my pictures on Twitter, my blog, all the other sites. Can you see anything? Any hint of me having experienced this?

I smile, laugh, socialize with people, go out and meet new people, even though I have had this hell in my past. Life will go on, as they say, and it did.

Determination and willingness are the key to moving forward.

And I live by it everyday.

Every single day of my life I have that saying in my head, guiding me through life, making me do things people told me I couldn’t do or achieve, going the extra mile and getting to new places in life, where people told me I couldn’t reach.

That’s probably why people don’t see my past on my face or in me generally. I learned and grew from the experiences. I didn’t let the darkness get to me. I knew I had to fight back up to the surface and make something with my life. I smile everyday and don’t look at my past as something horrific and wanting to forget about it, but allowing it to learn me to see the world different. Taking each day as something glorious. Something good. Appreciate everything and anything of the day. Even the small joys of life.

Believe me… I have had to endure Cystic Acne, being gay, shunned out of the community for the way you think, you are, because of your black hair and been referenced to being a terrorist because of having it (yeah, I know… W T F   ? !), been bullied for 17 years, experienced war and cruelty.

At times, I have literally screamed out;

…OH FOR FUCK’S SAKE! HAVEN’T I HAD ENOUGH?!

HAVEN’T I ENDURED ENOUGH PAIN?!

WHY MUST I BE THE ONE TO GET THIS TREATMENT?!

WHAT HAVE I DONE TO DESERVE THIS?! 

WHY ME?!!…”

The most surprising thing was that even though I was under this constant stress of dealing with this, I kept my will to finish up my studies and swore to myself that I was going to become something. I looked at those people and told myself “…One day… One… day… I’m going to become something successful…

And that I became.

Come to think of it, I don’t see the world any different from other people. When people get freaked out by my lifestyle, I tell them; “…I’m just like any other guy or person in the world… I just happen to see things differently through my eyes…

I am just like any other guy in the world. The person you happen to randomly see in the streets when you walk to the store, the movies or just sitting on the subway. Remember, I’m still a human-being.

And when I look back at the same people that had made me and gave me this personalized living hell, I pity them.

The once great feeling of great pleasure and dominating will over other people soon washed away and replaced them with nothing. No happiness on their faces, no future in their hands and people hating them even more. The once proud and dominating people are now the ones drifting in the streets and doing absolutely nothing. Pitiful lives. I pity them, I really do. Must be really lonely having to act in such a way and getting off on the idea of making other peoples lives a living hell, only to make their own more enjoyable.

See? It doesn’t pay to bully, now does it?

And a message to those of you who are bullying;

Please stop. Do you really want to hurt people? Do you want to carry the thought that you ruined peoples lives? That you ruined a perfectly well-working human-being and and derived them the chance to live a normal life? Come to think of it, have you asked yourself what the hell they have done to YOU?

If this is your funny sense of humor, your hobby or a favorite past-time, I suggest you getting a new one. You are hurting people. You are killing the very essence of their being and making them feel sad and making them hate themselves because of who they are, what they are and their place in this world.

Stop it.

Therefore, be strong, keep your chin up and live your life. To the max. Keep your chin UP and your jackasses DOWN.

I have experienced it all and I’m saying this out of experience. If I could survive this, you can too.

Believe me when I say this… you can.

Even though I can’t see you in person, shake your hand, pat you on you shoulder, trust me… you can.

Never stop loving yourself, never stop looking upwards. And forwards.

Take care of yourself.

Things will be better for you in the future.

Work hard in achieving the things you want in this life-time.

Nothing is impossible. Nothing.

Have the will to dream big and make it big.

This is your world too, and you are allowed to live in it. Just as much as the next person. You’re not an exception. You are allowed to live and live you will do.

Be who you are. Smile, Laugh, Live and Love!

Fuck everybody else’s opinion!

February 17, 2011

Sad story of a 9 year old asylum seeker in Australia.

Touching story from Hamish MacDonald at Ten News Australia of a young Iranian boy who lost his parents in a boat crash off Christmas Island and has now been deported from Australia  to return to the painful memories he left behind. As the Anchor notes an innocent victim was turned into a political pawn.

February 14, 2011

Russia Today asks: Tahrir today, Tehran tomorrow?

Russia Today looks at the spread of protests in the Middle East and events in Iran .

“The events in Egypt are reverberating throughout the Middle East. On Monday, anti-government demonstrators clashed with police in Tehran. Police fired tear gas to disperse the demonstrators, who were throwing stones at the officers. It’s the first such clash in the country for over a year. The day before the protest, the U.S. State Department began sending Twitter messages to Iranians in their native tongue. Professor Seyed Mohammad Marandi, from the University of Tehran, says Washington is losing ground in the region…

February 14, 2011

The unrest continues in the Arab World.

The frustration of citizens that caused major changes in Tunisia and Egypt continues to be heard across the Middle East  with protests in Algeria, Yemen, Bahrain and Iran. Each nation is unique and each state will undoubtedly employ whatever weapons of oppression it may have in order to quell the voices of the people.

Riot police in Bahrain used tear gas and runner bullets on protesters today and  government supporters in  Yemen hurled broken bottles and rocks at protesters there. It is uncertain if the protest movement has reached the critical mass required to cause change in these two places. Algeria has also seen its share of  unrest which saw a massive turnout of security forces to prevent a few thousand people from protesting.

By most accounts the theocracy of Iran is the most brutal in treating with the concerns of  those who object to the conduct of the government.  Today the PBS.org blog noted that the turnout of protesters was large:

Iran Standard Time (IRST), GMT+3:30

10:30 p.m. From a Tehran Bureau correspondent: It was amazing today. About 350,000 people showed up. The crowds came from the sidewalks. There was no chanting on the main avenue. The security forces would try to disperse the crowd once in a while by firing tear gas. People would move to the side streets and start bonfires.

It was beyond anything we had expected. They didn’t shut off the mobile phones so word spread quickly [that they were not cracking down hard] before they shut them off around 4 p.m.

It seemed like the Basij were ordered not to act until ordered. They just stood around looking bewildered. When the riot police would drive by on their bikes, they just put the fires out.

Rarely did they arrest. I saw 10 people arrested; this means probably up to 1000 were arrested.

I was all over on foot and on the rapid transit buses. The crowds were EVERYWHERE. They were remarkable for their peacefulness. They filled a radius of about half a kilometer to 400 meters on both sides of Enghelab Avenue. It looks like for the first time people from working class areas were involved too.

Read more here.

Unfortunately, unlike Egypt, Iran is largely closed to outside media and it is unlikely we will see these protests play out live on our TV screen.

Those unfamiliar with the situation in Iran and its history of oppression might do well to have a look at the excellent 2009 short documentary Iran, Gay and Seeking Asylum by filmmaker Glen Milner .  The film has been shown worldwide and has received awards including Best Short Documentary Film at the Phoenix Film Festival.

December 6, 2010

The Horror of Life in Iran

Read an extraordinary article by Otar Makharashvili about life for LGBT people, and specifically gay men, in Iran today. Disturbing would be too mild a word to describe the horrors that are going on in that country. How does one reason with a nation that treats its own citizens like this?

Via @vonIrrwegen on Twitter.

His first arrest for being gay came when police raided a party. He was imprisoned, tortured, raped and sentenced to 100 lashes: “After fifteen lashes the pain went away and I became unconscious. I was biting my arms so hard, to keep from screaming, that I left deep teeth wounds in my own arms. Eventually I passed out before 100 lashes were over. I do not remember a thing. When I woke up, my arms and legs were tight and I was lying on the ground in a cellar. I knew I was going to die that day that they were going to kill me and I wanted them to. It was better then public humiliation, better then seeing my parents faces when they found out I was gay.”

Read the full article here.