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Arsham Parsi - Gay Iranian Hero

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Arsham Parsi founded the Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees (IRQR) which operates out of Toronto, Canada. He has posted the harrowing tail of his life growing up gay in Iran, and how he barely escaped. He, and IRQR, continue to do fantastic work to rescue queer refugees from prison or death in dangerous Islamic countries. The following is an excerpt from a post, "I Did Not Kill My Dad" describing his incredible fight and struggle while trying to live as a gay Iranian in Shiraz, Iran.

When my father died, I went only to the first day of the funeral. It was not that I didn’t grieve. No matter how difficult our relationship had been, no matter how many times he yelled at or slapped me, no matter how much I disappointed him because I would never be the son he wanted, he was still my father. I wanted to be there to show my respect, but I could only stomach the dirty looks of my relatives for so long. They didn’t want me to be there. I had known this since the day my father died, discovered laying face down on our living room floor. The day passed by like a blur and I can only remember bits and pieces; my mother trying to wake him; my sister and I calming her down enough to drive to the hospital; the doctor’s cold, direct diagnosis of heart-attack. And I remember when my uncle arrived at our house. “You killed your father,” he muttered to me. “Murderer.”

In school, my classmates and teachers knew I was different before I knew myself. They made fun of my haircut, my fingernails, the way I walked. The names they called me stung like bee stings. When I went to the headmaster he said “Just look at yourself. If you don’t want to be bullied, you better change the way you are.” He was nothing compared to my religion teacher. He had a cane which he called the ‘Dialogue of Civilizations’ which he used to punish students for no reason, particularly me. He would ignore other students talking in class and joking around, but when I did it he would humiliate me in front of everyone. One day when he was especially angry he left the ‘Dialogue of Civilizations’ at his desk and slapped me across the face. Furious, I screamed, “I am a human and I have rights!” After that, he began punishing me every day. “Yes, you have rights,” he would taunt. “And it is right you are punished.”
Read it. It will make your blood run cold, and it is a reminder of why we must remain vigilant to never let ignorant religious extremists take over our country. Arsham is also to be commended and deserves our support in his fight to rescue our brothers and sisters from the horrible fate of living under regimes like those in Iran.

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