Korycki, K., Nasirzadeh, A.
Desire recast: the production of gay identity in Iran
(2014) Journal of Gender Studies, Published online Feb 2014
This paper traces the transformation of sexual space in Iran during the past 200 years; a process which culminated in the emergence of Iranian gays at the beginning of this century. We reconcile the work of Najmabadi [2005. Women with mustaches and men without beards: gender and sexual anxieties of Iranian modernity, Berkley: University of California Press], Foucault [1990. The history of sexuality, Vol. 1: an introduction, New York: Vintage Books], and Massad [2002. Re-orienting desire: the gay international and the arab world. Public Culture 14(2), 361-385; 2007. Desiring arabs, Chicago: University of Chicago Press] and describe distinct moments of modern subject construction. We claim that gays are constituted in Iran through a process of heteronormalization of social space, followed by the ‘fixing’ of deviant types in law and medicine and then the availability of a positive frame of reference which makes its appearance in the mid-1990s when the discourse of identity and human rights enters Iran. We conclude by signalling a new chapter in the constitution of sexual space in Iran in which gay activists experiment with Persian culture to create gay-friendly speech.
gay; homosexual; identity; Iran