Defiant and proud, gay Iranian refuses to blend in

Published: November 13, 2010

ANKARA, TURKEY — Passing as straight has always been the path of least resistance for gay men in Iran. By adopting macho mannerisms, dressing in drab clothing, and wearing their hair short and unstyled, most can move about the country without being hassled by police.

But Omid Sapahrara, 31, couldn’t do it. As risky as it was, he wore makeup and styled his hair into slick, squared-off bangs. While so many gay men struggle to deflect attention, Sapahrara defiantly commanded people to stare.

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