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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Sunday, June 16, 2024

Queeries: How my sexuality changed my immigrant dad to a conservative American

I was 16 years old when I realized that my attraction to individuals lacked the typical gendered format. This led to a chase for my sexuality. I was looking for a faultless description to describe myself. One day, feeling brash and bold, I expressed my frustration to my sister who unknowingly voiced my confusion to my parents. I had never been scared or sad about my sexual orientation, so I had not anticipated the feeling of relief that overcame me when my dad called me to tell me, “It’s okay, none of this matters.” Unfortunately, this relief was short-lived. 

My father was born and raised in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Being an Islamic Republic does not mean that Iran is anti-human sexuality; in reality, it means that it enforces a positive outlook on sex. The Qur’an makes clear that sexuality was part of Allah’s plan for human life. However, Islamic jurists do not teach this as the case under all circumstances. Sexual activity is only moral between a man and a woman under Islam. Because of this, when moving to the United States, my father was forced to undergo a cultural transformation and learned about the varied national ideals of the United States, gaining a more Western context. This included a more accepting thought around the LGBTQ+ community. This played a large role in my lack of alarm when my parents learned about my struggles in defining my sexuality. 

The feeling of acceptance I first experienced regarding my father’s reaction was euphoric. I no longer stressed about finding a label for myself or dreaded having to eventually “come out of the closet” and disclose my personal relations to my parents. After more time went on, my two-year-long relationship with my high school boyfriend ended, and I eventually started to date a woman. This engendered issues in my bond with my father. At first, our exchanges revolved around the acceptance of our family abroad in Iran, where being in a same-sex relationship is illegal. 

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission calls attention to the problematic fundamental intention behind the Iranian Penal Code. Under this code, same-sex actions are discussed in the same section as rape, sexual assault and incest, giving the implication that these actions are deviant and violent. Under this code and more social expectations from our family abroad, my dad would have been seen as someone who had deviated from the norm, raised his child incorrectly and sinfully and would lose his privilege and status with his family in Iran. 

This endangered his masculinity as he would be seen as someone who went to America and failed. His masculinity was associated with succeeding because, as aforementioned, it meant being competent and in control of every domain — especially at work and with family — and following the Iranian view of the traditional American lifestyle, which did not include having a bisexual daughter.