Gay Iranians increasingly fleeing their country after June's crackdown

Published: April 2, 2010

Gay Iranians increasingly fleeing their country after June’s crackdown

As Hassan walked — well, more like sashayed — through the market in this southern Turkish city, the population on the sidewalk — elderly women in dark veils, men behind stalls selling Turkish pears five to a bag, children in woolly striped sweaters — all gawked.

"Yes, look! Look all you want," Hassan said with a flourish, opening his arms in a benevolent gesture, as if their stares were rooted in adulation and not curiosity bordering on disgust. A portly, middle-aged woman narrowed her eyes and curled her lip at him.

"What?" said the 34-year-old Iranian refugee. "Is this the first time she’s seen a man wearing makeup? Maybe she should take notes. She could use a few beauty tips."

Behind him, Farzan giggled. The slight 25-year-old sporting a shoulder sack that would be labeled a purse even in the male-bag capitals of Tokyo and Paris offered up a quick tale in his feminine lilt. "The other day I was buying some eggs, and the man would not even take the money from my hand," he recounted. "He looked at me and said, ‘Put the money on the table,’ and spat on the floor. He gave me no change."

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