TEHRAN, IRAN: Amir and his classmates hang out on the side of street in between two critique sessions on the last day of school. Amir was the only boy in his class, studying fashion design at the Tehran Institute of Technology. In the coming months, just before finishing his fashion design degree, Amir will flee Iran to seek asylum in Turkey because of his homosexuality.
[ EPF 2014 FINALIST ] ESSAY CONTAINS EXPLICIT CONTENT
Under Islamic laws, homosexuality is not recognized and is considered to be a sin. Contrary to what is often reported in the media about the Iranian government stand, the LGBT community in Iran live without harassment, threat or persecution. It is mainly the cultural taboos that forces them to remain closed and mainly underground.
Amir is 19 year old. He is a bold Iranian homosexual. He has been accepted and supported by his family and has survived in a society where his existence as a homosexual is denied. In April 2013, Amir, just a term away from finishing his degree in fashion design, leaves to seek asylum and becomes a refugee. In Turkey, he joins his ex-partner, where the couple share a two bedroom apartment with other members of their community in Denizli. Seeking a better future, over the next year, Amir’s close friends join him in Turkey. Few last through the hardship of the process and a few choose to return to Iran and live in comfort with their families and close friends.
Jense Degar is an ongoing documentation of those who identify with and explore ‘the other sex’ in Iran, a country where on principles and culture, their sexuality is not accepted by the majority, making it difficult to obtain a job or maintain a normal life. Jense Degar looks at the transformation, sexual exploration and the journey of these young men in both Iran and as refugees in the neighbouring country, Turkey.
TEHRAN, IRAN – With a photo of Imam Ali, first Shi’a imam hung in the background, Sasan and Pouyan, his partner, hold hand and caress on the couch. Sasan comes from a very religious family who have been very open, accepting him as he is. Homosexuality in Islam is considered to be sin and must be penalized by capital punishment.
TEHRAN, IRAN – Sasan and Amir take a cab home together.
TEHRAN, IRAN – Shahin and Amir chill out at a private boutique in Northern Tehran waiting for Amir to finish his tanning sessions. As they live an abnormal and no accepted life style, most of their lives happen after hours and underground.
TEHRAN, IRAN: Amir, his older brother, Reza and his mom and aunt wait in the car after a long day out picnicking on a national holiday. Amir is one of the fewer lucky men among his gay friends to be accepted and supported by his family despite his sexuality.
TEHRAN, IRAN – only a few nights t his departure, Amir hangs out with his friend in a park late at night and smokes a roll of joint to relax.
TEHRAN, IRAN: Sasan and his friend, Ali, hang out at a friend’s ouse and watch and make jokes about a domestic fight happening next door. Because of their distinctive body language and outstanding look, it is hard for Sasan and his other gay friends to spend time outside. They’re often singled out and have to bare gazes.
TEHRAN, IRAN: Sasan, Amir and his family celebrate the national holiday of “13 be dar” by picnicking in Eram Park. Amir’s family have been very supportive of who he is. They are no stranger with the gazes and humiliation the face in public on a daily basis.
TEHRAN, IRAN – Amir’s close friends, Left to Right: Shahin, Pouyan and Sasan) get ready to go to the airport with him, to say goodbye.
TEHRAN, IRAN: Sasan pays a visit to his doctor for a check up after a recent nose job surgery. He is very sensitive about his look and how he chooses to dress up and express himself.
TEHRAN, IRAN – Amir comforts his older sister, Elnaz as she broke down at his going away party. The two siblings are very close as they have great age difference with this other two siblings.
TEHRAN, IRAN – Amir surrounded by his mom and brother, says goodbye to his close friend, Shahin. Shahin and Amir have known each other from grade 6 and both discovered that they are gay around the same time. Shahin will be following Amir, joining him in seeking asylum in Turkey, in the coming month.
DENIZLI, TURKEY – Amir, on his very first morning, feeling down and homesick as he woke up in his new bedroom in Denizli. Amir moved to Turkey to seek asylum and reunite with his partner. Denizli has opened up to refugees for nearly two years and at the time of story is hosting more than 100 Iranian LGBT refugees.
DENIZLI, TURKEY – Amir chills out in the balcony on his first day in Denizli. Amir moved to Turkey to seek asylum and reunite with his partner, Shayan, after 7 months.
DENIZLI, TURKEY – Amir and his partner, Shayan, make out on the first night reunited in Denizli. Shayan moved to Turkey as a refugee and Amir joined him 7 months later. The couple moved in together, sharing a two bedroom apartment with 4 other Iranian gays, a lesbian and her 4-year-old son.
DENIZLI, TURKEY – After a night out, (Left to Right) Shayan, Sarisa and Amir, all from the LGBT community, wait for a cab outside of a disco club. Denizli being a small town, these guys usually stand out of the crowd and attract a lot of negative attention to themselves.
DENIZLI, TURKEY – Amir, reunited with his partner in Turkey after 7 months, embraces Shayan on the first morning upon his arrival in Denizli. Denizli has opened up to refugees for nearly two years and at the time of story is hosting more than 100 Iranian LGBT refugees.
DENIZLI, TURKEY – First weekend in his new town, Amir heads back to his apartment with his roommates after a long day out picnicking.
DENIZLI, TURKEY -Amir walks on top of Pamukkale terraces on his first weekend in Denizli.
Kiana was born in Iran in 1988. Moving to Canada while she was still a teenager, photography soon became her preferred way to bridge the communication gap faced in a new country with a new language and culture. Half way through her last year of university, Kiana put her life in a backpack and in search of her ‘home,’ started a nomad life. With a keen interest in documentary projects, she aims to use her camera to tell stories, with a social message. She is presently pursuing projects that illuminate her cultural background. Focusing on young women, Kiana continues to document challenges Iranian people face, both in Iran and abroad.