The Iranian Way

Photography by
Navid Sinaki

‘There are no homosexuals in Iran,’ the president adamantly proclaimed a few years back. And yet, my first fuck couldn’t help reminding me/himself that I was a homosexual and, more importantly, Iranian.

‘They’d kill you where you’re from, right?’ he asked during.

Yes, I was born in Tehran. But I’ve spent 23 of my 24 years (minus a few summers) in the suburbs of California. I grew up behind a community college and learned about culture from the local Barnes and Noble. I tried to tell him this, but he was getting off to a picture of me under a tandoori sun.

Thus, I figure myself somewhere between the two: existing and erasure; fallacy and fetish. In one context, I do not exist. In another, existing is pornographically essential.

During my last visit to Tehran, I researched old Iranian sexploitation films for my thesis at UC Berkeley. I learned that after the Islamic Revolution of 1979, a handful of films were censored using a so-called magic marker method: basically, certain scenes were colored over or scratched out. Thus, I used this technique to photograph nudes of myself, an act of self-erasure, but leaving enough Orientalist space for eroticization. It is an attempt to make concrete a homosexual that does not exist, and one who exists as colored in.

I currently live in Los Angeles and am working on my Masters in film and art. My apartment has no minarets or glass domes, though I still meet men who imagine them there.

Published on 12 April 2011