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Legendary Iranian Diva Challenges Taboos with Lesbian Couple

by Hrag Vartanian on February 17, 2014

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The name Googoosh is pop cultural catnip to people across Western and Central Asia, where the Iranian singer and actress has developed a cult-like status among music lovers young and old. Now, the singer, who was idolized for her work in 1960s and 70s Iran, then remained silent for two decades when women could not publicly perform in the Islamic Republic of Iran, and finally staged a comeback in 2000 with a tour overseas, has broken the rules again.

Her latest video, “بهشت” (Behesht or Heaven), which features lyrics like:

“I afraid of the feeling that’s still between us
The end of this way is not clear, I know as you know
Do not tell me that we should cut off this love, you can’t as I can’t,”

focuses on the point of view of one of a pair of lovers who are only revealed to be lesbian at the conclusion of the video.

Using a music video technique that was first popularized by Prodigy’s 1997 video “Smack My Bitch Up,” Googoosh’s video flies in the face of Iran’s own restrictions on LGBTQ relationships and suggests a possible thaw in global Iranian attitudes towards sexual diversity. Currently, the punishment for lesbianism in Iran is 50 lashes, though the penalty can be death if the individual is convicted four times.

The video was released on the singer’s Facebook page last Friday, Valentine’s Day, and it was greeted with hundreds of comments of support both in English and Farsi.

Last year, the singer, who has lived in Los Angeles since 2000, told Le Monde:

“Je voudrais militer, contribuer à faire de l’Iran un pays libre et démocratique. J’aimerais prendre mes responsabilités. Mais je n’ai ni le pouvoir ni les connaissances pour faire évoluer les choses.” (I would advocate, help to make Iran a free and democratic country. I would like to take my responsibilities. But I have neither the power nor the knowledge to make a difference.)

h/t Henry Chalian

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