I was born and raised in Shiraz, Iran. My family and I moved to
Canada about three years ago after living in Malaysia for a while. We
left Iran before my brother was forced into military training and to
escape the increasing pressure my father faced from the Islamic
Republic government. Aside from being a defence lawyer, my father
held workshops teaching human rights. Because of him, I developed an
awareness and sensitivity towards social injustice around me.
Growing up in Iran was a contrast of happiness and anxiety. I had
sunny days in gardens eating pomegranates and reading poetry with my
large and colourful family, all of whom loved me dearly. But I also
had mullahs lecturing me on how I should be covered when I was a
child.We travelled often and spent a lot of time with extended family
and family friends. I was a defiant kid but I was studious and mostly
I was brought up mostly secular and encouraged to think for
myself. I slowly came to terms with respecting and being fond of
some aspects of Islam while being critical of others. I knew my Islam
wasn’t that of my teachers. Like most other Iranians who have a hard
time with Islamic governance, my family’s relationship with Islam is
a complicated one. I remember my mum giving my dad the stink eye when
he’d say blasphemous things. To him God is in everything but my mum
had a more traditional view of the religion. She has since become a
lot more secular and open minded. They sometimes make fun of me for
calling myself a Muslim, maybe because they think Islam doesn’t have
a place for people like me.
Today, Islam is a source of solace for me. An identity I get to
define on my terms. At 11, I picked up the daf and studied under a
great master. Exploring Tasawuf has been the spiritual
introspection I yearn for.
As a kid I day dreamt of being suited up and kissing my wife
goodbye like the white couples on TV did. As a preteen, I cut my long
hair short to look masculine because I thought of masculinity as
being synonymous with having power and liking girls.
Roller derby is my favourite past time. In roller derby, I have
found a community that accepts me for exactly who I am and encourages
me to better myself. I did speed in line rollerblading in Iran and
have been doing all kinds of skating (sans ice) my whole life. I
started derby because I wanted to skate and become fearless. Derby offers
the kind of queer space that isn’t focused around drinking or sex
which I am very grateful for.
I picked up skateboarding two years ago and found out that it is
much more convenient and fun than walking. I enjoy going to metal and
punk shows and dream of being a good enough daf player to start a
taqwa core band.
In my opinion, stigma and misplacement are some of the biggest
challenges facing Queer Muslims today. Islam is incredibly
misunderstood and the queer conversation is only just beginning. We
can be rejected by both queers and Muslims. The supposed
juxtaposition of Islam and queerness is only made more complicated by
the North American hostility towards Muslims in a climate where
Muslims strive for acceptance and visibility.
I hope to be able to return to Iran and help make things better
for little girls who feel what I felt. I hope to help move Iran
towards acceptance and support of its queer people. I dream of the
smell of orange blossoms and sunny mountains of Shiraz.
I once shaved my head in a public restroom. I was thirteen and on a school trip to the planetarium. That morning I’d swiped the clippers my father used for his face and put them in my coat pocket. They don’t check you for metal when you come in on a school bus.
When you come in on a school bus it’s a massive wave of little footsteps against the lobby floors, echoing from one marble surface to another. Backpack key chains clanking in time to the whispers and giggles of school children.
The inside was a fishbowl full of stars and blue light. There were more of us than there were seats in the darkened dome so I slipped out the door unnoticed. The fluorescent lighting made the bathroom glow poisonous yellow.
It was a slow process, the shaving. You were meant to have short hair already, I think. After a while, I figured out that if I pulled my roots taught, the cut was closer to my scalp. After a while, the door still hadn’t opened and I was a patchy kind of bald. My brown curls littered the tiling. I beamed at my reflection in the rust-speckled mirror.
Later, when they asked me why I did it, I shrugged my shoulders. They asked me why and I thought about the men and women I saw playing drums and dancing in the airport when we dropped my sister off. I asked one of them why they didn’t have hair and he told me it was for cleanliness and simplicity. I liked that.
They asked me why I did it and their faces scrunched all up in this very worried way and they made me eat lunch with the guidance counselor for the rest of the year.
When my hair had grown enough to cover the lobes of my ears, I broke open a Magic 8 Ball on a dare and drank what was inside. I said I wanted to know the future.
It tasted harsh and chemical and got me drunk for the first time. I threw up blue for three days, but it was only after two that my mother found me hunched over toilet, shower running to drown out the sound.
She took me to the hospital and they told me it was too late to pump what was rest of the blue out of my stomach. They told me to rest, that I was dehydrated, before pulling my mother away. Her expression darkened, I could see through the window into the hall.
“24-hour psychiatric hold,” she said when she came back in. Her lipliner quivered as she spoke. Apparently I was a danger to myself.
The ends of my hair hung against my collarbones the year I read that the Mars rover sings Happy Birthday to itself every August 5th. It plays the song to the empty planet. It keeps itself company.
I told this fact to my friend Vanessa at lunch the next day. Unimpressed, she told me it didn’t matter.
It didn’t matter the way stealing boxes of condoms from the Thriftway and sneaking into college parties mattered to us then. That was around the same time I learned how to sneak out of my house, the time that climbing down the tree in my front yard became more exhilarating than climbing up it.
Vanessa introduced me to the boys we met as “the crazy chick.” Boys always wanted to fuck the crazy chick she would tell me. I wasn’t really crazy, not like my sister, but head shaving and isopropanol drinking is enough for some people, I guess.
I became accustomed to returning home with the sun, eyelashes clumped and legs sore. I became accustomed to the sight of my mother’s face in the morning light, tired in a way I can’t quite explain, waiting on the other side of the door.
“Have you been sitting there all night?” I would ask.
And she’d nod and turn and go up to bed.
My hair grazed my hipbones the day my mother called me.
“I’m busy,” I said.
“It’s your sister,” she said.
I took a train back home and tied my thick hair back with a ribbon that matched my black dress. The casket was open and her sharp angles poked from beneath paper skin. She looked better than the last time I’d visited.
She’d been at a facility in New Mexico then, she wouldn’t look at me so I told her that you can cry in space, but your tears don’t fall. They bubble in your eyes and cling to your face. If you keep crying without wiping them away you can drown.
She spoke then. “What?”
“It doesn’t matter,” I told her.
When we put her in the ground I held my breath and counted out all the planets and their moons in my head. My parent’s house was full of the mourning, the air thick with their sadness and misdirected anger.
When I thought I might suffocate I locked myself in the master bathroom and rummaged through the drawers until I found what I needed. The clippers began to hum and I could have been right back in that poisonous yellow room.
I felt the weight of the last ten years fall to the floor in muffled clumps, cool air brushing against the newly exposed skin.
Plot: Steve is sleep deprived, hurt and having a rough time of it. Will his boyfriend exboyfriend rise to the occasion? Fluffy romantic H/C.
Content warnings: Child abuse, cheating, drinking, language and other canon-typical shit.
A/N: Thank yall for the 400 followers! Also this story started out really good but I got my wisdom teeth removed and I feel like Steve got progressively more OOC? Anyway it’s still good work for someone on painkillers lmfao.
I want to tell him I’ve been the dirt under my mother’s nails, the sting of her palm across my cheek. I am my father’s face and I hold his temper, I am the ice in his eyes and my mother’s sixteen year old whimper.
I am each curl on my head that’s been fucked out of place, the face of a man in his dark washed jeans, his mouth between my legs before I ever reached thirteen, the rat’s nest at three am when I shake myself awake,
I’m the spider that takes up the corner of his dirty tub, building a home or a trap, who are you to know,
I am three pills before bed and each impulse they help shed,
I’m a raw threat in the back of my throat when someone has loved me, something that has said run run run, i am sweat stained sheets and a vacant face, a metronome heart where love has no place, I’m the eyelash I pick from my daughter’s cheek, a wish that she turns out nothing like me.
I’m not one to be wishing for, now, before, or after, I am a bitter taste in your throat and the absence of laughter, you will never know the whole story, my story, I have smeared each page. I am good at being fragile, being delicate, italicizing each bold. I can place a laugh and a smile and a wrinkle of my nose.
But I am not good and I am not soft, and there was something warm in me it has simply shut off.