December 27, 2013 — In Iran, homosexuality carries the death penalty and the penalty is carried out by hanging. (Click here for a Huffington Post 2012 report.) No surprise then that one of the most moving scenes in a new visual poem, “I,” by Iranian author J.D. Kamran occurs when Iranian gay men and Iranian lesbian women take a hangman’s noose into their hands and untie it. Then they play jump rope, visually asserting what we all know to be true: gender knows no boundaries of play, just as love knows no boundaries of outdated law.
I have always been here,
Not on the gallows! Not in death! I have always been here, in life.
Thanks to the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission for supporting the work of LGBT activists in Iran. The IGLHRC will soon be publishing manuals in Persian to be used by media, activists, and human rights attorneys. Meanwhile, LGBT folks in Iran rely on mobile devices and the Internet — not only to get their stories out but to know that they are not alone. I have to admit that when I stumble across folks like these on the new international social media available — yes, even those “who’s nearby” or not apps — I’m stunned at their courage.