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IRAN: Forbidden Same Sex Love

Writing by Nita // Illustration by Arielle Jennings // I was eager to write my story in order to prove to everyone around the world that although we are dissenting voices in our community, we can not open our heart to people easily without fear.

Writing by Nita // Illustration by Arielle Jennings

It was about 5 years ago when I met her. It happened so easily, it was something like love at first sight and a little bit of serendipity. We were both accepted into the same university studying the same major at exactly the same time! If that’s not fate, I don’t know what is.

Those days our city in Iran was struggling with heavy snow and the weather was so cold as everyone was frozen to the bone. One day she did not attend university and I got worried. I had to ask some students who were in touch with her about her absence and I found out she had caught a cold as well as high fever. That day from dawn till dusk my thoughts were occupied with this matter and I couldn’t let it go. The next day she did come to university and I asked to take her home by my car and she accepted. We were both really happy about spending this new time together but we did not communicate comfortably. We realized that not only do we both live the same distance to university but we almost live in the same neighbourhood and this opened up a new horizon for our relationship. Everyday we would walk the same path together and this paved the way for starting our romantic and unimaginable same-sex relationship.

In all honestly, I would like to mention that our relationship did not grow easily. I had a sense of insecurity. I was scared of unintended consequences of this kind of relationship. It was rooted in my fears about how others were going to judge us or how we could hide our love from everyone. In addition, I did not feel positive myself. Because I had experienced a relationship with another girl when I was a teenager and it had not had a happy ending. I wrestled with many problems in that premature love which,in fact, was most likely not love. Although, a positive from that experience is that now I am in touch with that girl and we have forgotten everything. Those days we used to act childishly with each other and I have learnt from this experience.

From a religious standpoint, I was not able to ease my conscience over being gay. I used to feel guilty due to the idea pushed on us that same sex relationships are committing unforgivable sins in the eyes of my God. With so much rooting against our relationship, I felt deterrents to push me away. For example, I put a condition on our relationship at the start: “you must never want me in any sexual way”. I convinced myself that if I managed to give our love a spiritual touch, it would not be considered a sin. The funny thing about this rule I imposed is that I was the person to broke it. One day I realised how much I needed her body as well as her soul. Despite those kinds of forces against my emotions, eventually, I gave myself fully to my true love.

Being in love with someone brilliant is what I was always looking for. We were university students and had lovely friends. However, no one could imagine what was happening between me and my love as we had tried to keep it a secret. Everything was going smoothly. We both used to pass our courses with flying colours and we used to support each other to do our very best. Unfortunately, the easy days did not last forever. At a scientific event, a guy proclaimed that he loved me. I never forgot my commitment to my girl, but I was definitely curious. I had no idea about relationships between two people of the opposite sex. In Iran, we all educate at schools with a segregated system so we are complete strangers with the opposite sex. Therefore, girls and boys are always struggling with wanting to explore physical and mental features of the opposite sex.

I am sorry to say I formed a relationship with that man. I was on cloud nine because I thought I my girl as well as a man who loves me. I was cruel for believing that she would not be hurt. I was destroying her life while I was trying to pretend I was a loving, committed person. I was nothing except a girl who betrayed her true love.

I want to mention that I didn’t even touch that man. I did not let him touch my body because I had lots of memorable moments beside my love, I wanted to stay loyal to her physically at least. Was that enough? I do not think so. I was an easy target due to my sense of curiosity. I was drowning in lies because I had hidden my true self with.

After four challenging months, my relationship with that man came to an end. I know what rescued my love with my girl; deciding to leave behind all the people who upset our peace of mind with their evil purposes.

After all the hardships, we were still committed to stay loyal to our love forever and it was not an empty promise now. When our uni came to its end, we were totally confused and had no idea about what could be the best decision for our future. We wanted to shape a future together. We could no longer imagine ourselves separated. So we had to make the most difficult decision: immigration. Immigration to somewhere that we are able to live together, love each other without any harsh judgement. But how could it be possible without money? There were a decrease in our currency value and it was not valuable in comparison with other currencies such as the US dollar or euro. We decided to study hard, learn English and sit an IELTS exam to get an acceptable score. It could help us seek funding from a university to continue our course and start a fresh future.

As it stands we are waiting for the result of our test. I do not know when you are reading this story as to whether we get a desirable score or not. However, I know we will find a solution to build a future together.

I was eager to write my story in order to prove everyone around the world that although we are dissenting voices in our community, we can not open our heart to people easily without fear. They think we are menaces to society or to their security, while the truth is we never hurt them. Having a peaceful life is our right and I want all activists to know gay people do exist in Iran even if our politicians ignore our existence. We exist and we are striving for peace.

Arielle Jennings

Arielle Jennings is a Brooklyn-based art educator and 2014 RISD Illustration alumna. When not creating intersectional feminist artwork and diverse children’s book illustrations, she can be seen baking chocolate bourbon pecan pies or binge-watching crime shows on Hulu. Her favorite color is blue and she has a love for scarves. Her artwork can be seen on her website and her Instagram/Twitter handle is @arimjenn.


Nita is a 24 year old woman from Iran who grew up in a very religious family. She has fought for many things in order to have a normal life like other women around the world. She didn’t believe she was gay, but she has always known that love is something beyond gender and she totally swallowed it when she met her brilliant girl. She has not married her wife on paper yet but they started loving each other from their first day of university. Unfortunately no one knows and they have not had the chance to live with each other.
Nita wants members of other societies to know Iran has lovers of the same sex who are loyal even if their own families must not know about their loves.

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