Up until the time that it all came into the open, we faced no problems. All hell broke loose, however, as the veils were set aside. In Iran if you want to be different you have to hide it; then you are free to do as you please, or rather just so far as they don’t become aware of you and your way of life. If you’re different, if you don’t conform to their standards and it becomes known, you pay the price as I did. You know, before that wicked man in the office brought us so much harm, we had an almost normal life.
In Iranian society, close friendships between men are unexceptional. Bromance is normal and accepted. It is not that weird for two men to hold hands in the streets. It is not odd to hug a man, sit with him in a coffee shop, go to a restaurant with him or even live with him. None of these things cause others to judge you as gay, so in this respect being gay in Iran is much easier even than in Europe. As long as people don’t tag you as being gay you are not bothered. On the other hand if you are pointed out as different then the whole world turns against you, from people to the government.
A gay Iranian refugee in Norway, discussing his life back home, in a must-read essay in The Guardian.