The life-endangering choice of coming out as gay in Iran

William Dameron writes: Recently I received an email from a filmmaker, Wajahat Ali Abbasi, who is filming a movie about the true story of two Iranian boys executed by public hanging in 2005 for the crime of loving each other.

My first thought after receiving this email was, This is another part of the world. It couldn’t happen here. But then I thought about our politicians who spew lies and hate about me; about the pastor from my home state of North Carolina who called for gays to be executed; about one of my own family members who called me sick and will not speak to me; about the former classmate who hurled a homophobic epithet at us during our high-school reunion.

Dehumanizing a population makes it possible to extinguish them. In eight countries, including Iran, being gay is punishable by death.

When I asked Wajahat what the motivation was for making this film, he told me of his friend, a bright, 20-year-old boy with a promising career. This boy came out to his friends and family and experienced relentless, daily bullying. He became afraid of leaving his home. One day, while returning from college, he disappeared. Two days later his body was found. His murder was declared a suicide.

The film, Sin, is Wajahat’s attempt to tell the personal story, to put a human face on the two boys who were blindfolded and hanged in July 2005. You can view his Kickstarter page here. The trailer is at the bottom of this post.

I learned some sobering facts while researching this post. One of them is that because I am gay, I am 41 times more likely to become a victim of a hate crime. The question is not whether I would die for love, but whether I will.

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