Thursday, March 11, 2010

Is The World Changing?

Yesterday this blog had the honor of hosting a video of one young boy who all gave us hope for the world. I wish that feeling could have stayed for more than 24 hours...sadly, the realities of the world come crashing back to remind us that while hope does tragedy and that their are those out there who still need our help. That help may take many with the earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, blankets. food, and medicine were real ways that we could reach out and make a difference. And sometimes ...the only way we can help someone is to bear witness to what happened and let the world know that we are watching. Such is the case with the video of a Saudi man who was videotaped, dressed up in a police uniform and pretending to be an effeminate police officer pulling over a motorist. He then proceeded to imply to the pretend motorist (and camera man) that he could escape his situation by offering "comfort" he then bared his chest and fondled himself to music. Well....Youtube being what it is, the video went viral and got back into the hands of  Saudi authorities. Both men have since been arrested. Watch the video and read on below the fold.

I picked this story up on Queerty who later did a follow up on their sentencing...which you know wasn't going to be good. 1 year in jail, a fine of Sr5000,....and a 1,000 lashes.

watching this video all I could think of was, "these men have signed their own death warrents". That may be a sad thing to think about, but its the reality of the world in so many places in our world. While Uganda struggles with public outcry over their "kill the gays" bill, other nations just kill their gays with not a whisper to tell that it happened....and just like that, so many gay and lesbian people just vanish from the earth. Who remembers them? Who tells their story so the world knows what happened? Or will it be another chapter of of our common lives as GLBTQ people hidden or destroyed as if we were never really people at all? Beat us, jail us, kill us in the streets and celebrate the event, then never talk about us we are lost to time... unless someone sees and tells the tale.

To help explain the weight of the sentence these men will endure, one of Queerty's readers, Terrwill, left this comment (not posted in its entirety):

In Iran a few years back two Gay teens were sentenced to lashings same as this guy. The body can only sustain max of 50 lashes per session because the flesh and muscle are literaly ripped from the body.So the cycle of torture goes on for months…and consider they are not sent to a hospital bed to "recover" it is a filthy prison cell. The two Gay teens were about finished with their punishment and suddenly "new charges" were filed accusing them of child molestation. Interesing because they were 14 and 16 when arrested. After another "trial" they were sentenced to die by hanging. The "compassionate" way to hang a person is to place them atop a trap door with the noose around their neck then open the trap, the body falls and the neck is snapped. Immediate death results. These kids were placed upon a flat bed truck which then drove away slowly ensuring a slow torturous death by suffocation. In front of a cheering mob of thousands…….

If you haven't had a meal yet and want to see some of the most reprehensive displays of what subhuman savage scumbags did to these two teens check this link out:

The teens he refer to are the ones who's photo are at the top of this post. According to the sources listed in the this link over 4000 lesbians and gay men have been executed since the Ayatollahs seized power in 1979....thats only in Iran.

I hesitated to post this....Partially because some may view the video and only see its content and not the greater context of the society in which it was made. The video by itself is standard Youtube clowning...but taken within context I have to wonder what motivated its creation. Was it just the belief that it would never be connected to them? That would be odd because his face is front and center for the entire video. Then perhaps he's attempting to make a statement..his own form of activism?...I don't know. All I do know is that these two men are probably not long for this earth and they should not be allowed to go quietly. And though we don't know their names..nor will they go anonymously.

What we can't stop we can remember and bear that one day their stories can be told to a generation that wonders how the gay culture they inherit came to be...what it was like to be gay in our times...or if there were others like them and what happened to them. Who were we? Our lives should not be erased, both because they have as much meaning as anyone elses and because one day anther generation will look back at us in order to figure out where they came from....and hopefully unlike us, they will be able to know instead of finding history with torn out and burned pages.

I feel helpless watching this. How do you face this or find any level of understanding? That sometimes horrible things happen here for so many pointless reasons. This song by Lisa Shaw guided my heart as I wrote and I dedicate it to those who we have lost and who continue to suffer. I hope it is not taken as tasteless. to me it represents that moment of calm when you have cried every tear you have to cry. It is a song for suffering and rememberance....and survival.

*! In an aside that links to the theme of this post.. An argentinian judge has nullified a marriage between two men performed in the capitol. The marriage in question was the second performed in the nation to my recollection (and without fact checking). It just goes to show that as long as legislators and judges have a loophole through with to thread their bias, they will use it...again and again. Equality then becomes the revolving door instead of a step forward. I think its time to start burning our closets to the ground rather than be put back in them again. This giving rights and taking them away crap has got to end.


  1. The two Iranians were named Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni.

    I remember when this happened and even some conservative Americans were outraged at the actions taken by the Iranian government. Granted, they may have been more outraged by the fact that these were boys, not grown men, but the fact is I do believe our country has hope for a future of acceptance. Sadly, it may take a long while for the rest of the world to jump on board.

    But anyway, hopefully putting names to these two boys' faces can at least allow them some dignity. The world needs to know and understand that we are not monsters; we are not abominations; we are people.

  2. Mahmoud and Ayaz have become the face for LGBT oppression in the middle east...I think the Pet Shop Boys even dedicated an album to them. If I ever meet the president of Iran, I'll hit his face with a baseball bat in the name of these two.

  3. Be pacient Bryan. It's like you said, we have to bear witness to this, in order to learn and to help others learn of the caliber this issue holds not only for ourselves, but for the world as a whole. We're fighting our battle here, and the US, although slow, is changing it's tune to the LGBT community. All we can do is be a safe home for ourselves and our families, a safe home for others and a prime example of what can be accomplished when time is taken to understand ourselves and others. It's going to time for everyone to learn. Baby steps.

    "The philosophies of one age have become the absurdities of the next, and the foolishness of yesterday has become the wisdom of tomorrow."
    -Sir William Osler

    Take care Bryan


    Davis, CA

  4. Hey Bryan,
    Last year I met a young gay man from KSA (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) online. I first contacted him since I was surprised to find a guy from that country who was openly gay (at least in the website). We started to exchange messages and then emails, and we have now become online friends. He has told me how horrible it is to be gay in that country, all he has been through, and how he basically has to live a lie so that this kind of thing doesn't happen to him.

    Right now he is actually studying in the U.S, but will have to return to KSA once he is finished. He has told me how happy he is, what a change it has been for him, and all the new people he is meeting. However, one day we had a chat and he was really depressed because he started to think what would happen to him once he returns to his country. He feels he cannot continue with the lie, but he knows that if he tries to live a gay life he will not only bring disgrace to his family but he is certain he will be killed. He is in his early 20's and he is already haunted by the thought of such a horrible death!

    This blog entry really hit home for me. That same helplessness you felt when reading about this and writing was what I was feeling when I had that chat with him. I could only send him my words through a message program. I couldn't offer my shoulder or my arms for a hug. Experiences like this only makes us more committed to keep fighting for LGBT rights. You guys are doing a great job with this blog and the youtube channel.

    Thanks for sharing.

  5. Bryan, excellent writing as always. You are expanding beyond the LGBT element of inequality to show people that there are many ways in which we forget our humanity, and mistreat each other. It is important to exercise our right to speech on behalf on those who cannot.

    Even though I know how, I don't know why torture continues. We as people are very vulnerable, and we are lucky to live in a country where we don't have to think about it--we can talk about it.

    My thoughts are with the Middle East daily, because I have studied what happens there at length, and it is deplorable. We can see thousands, millions of deaths online, executions and murders. It's too much to expose ourselves to, lest we become ill. When you feel sympathy, Do what you can, feel what you must, but try not to let it get the best of you, or you won't be able to help anyone. <3

    Love you guys. You're so aware of others, and your compassion is exemplary.

  6. Hi, Bryan and bloggers, this strikes very close to home. I live in southern California, well within an hour's drive of Los Angeles. I grew up in a very conservative "born-again" Christian family. I never "came out" because I feared my life would be threatened. I'm now in my late 40s and the youngest of 3 siblings. I tried building a network of gay friends but I found great intolerance and judgement from the gay community for not being out. So I lived my life pretty much a recluse in private life, the "apple" of my parents' eyes.
    My sister recently told my brother and father that she suspected I am gay. My brother sought me out, assaulted me, and attempted to murder me. He was arrested and sentenced with a reduced plea bargain, given a light probation and a court order to stay away from me. The court said it was his first offense and it wasn't serious until he attempts again or succeeds at murdering me. He has sworn to fulfill his threats. My father applauded him and is encouraging him to return and "finish the job." Their southern Baptist minister supports them in this. My father and "Assembly of God" Christian brother believe they are doing God's work by ridding the world of me.
    In short, I am in hiding and live every moment glancing over my shoulder. This situation cost me my home, my career, and my sense of safety. I have been reduced to sleeping in a sleeping bag on the floor of a rented room in someone else's home. I am thankful for a core group of people who know me and love me and are trying to help me through.
    I join those who have commented here in being terribly grieved for Mahmoud and Ayaz. During this fight for basic human rights there surely will be many many more names added to the list of hate crime casualties: some of them here in the US. Every video and blog entry you and Jay post throws a lifeline and a glimmer of hope to those of us out here who live in the shadows literally fearing for our lives. Thank you for bringing hope.