Lovers Reunited After 35 Years In I Am The Water, You Are The Sea


Imagine being separated from your partner against your wishes. Then imagine that separation lasting decades. That’s what happened to Alex, an American Peace Corps volunteer, and Ali, an Iranian Muslim—35 years ago.The two men met in 1967 and soon became soulmates. But by the late ’70s, the political climate in Iran, where the two men were living, became unstable and Alex, Leopold’s uncle, had to return to the U.S. But thanks to filmmaker Malachi Leopold, Alex and Ali have been reunited for the first time since 1977 in Leopold’s bold documentary, I am the Water, You are the Sea, which successfully secured funding last fall through Kickstarter.

“While he was there, he met and fell in love with Ali, an Iranian Muslim man. They kept their relationship secret, but were forced to separate when my uncle had to leave the country prior to the revolution,” Lepold recounted to the Chicago Tribune. Despite the obvious obstacles, the men have remained in contact, talking on the phone several times a week.

Leopold was so inspired by Alex that he starting looking for financing—not only to document the heartbreaking story but to reunite the two lovers in Istanbul. Happily, Alex and Ali were reunited on May 7, 2012. Lepold’s completed film would show their reunion and the ensuing results.

We don’t usually promote works needing financing—only because there are too many for us to name—but Leopold’s project is truly incredible. And it’s still in need of further grants to complete and possibly be adapted into a feature film. So if you like what’s in the video above, consider making a donation.

Photo: Malachi Leopold

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  • w.e.

    Who the hell is Adam?

  • Callum

    Alex and Ali, quite a story. I am sure there are other similar stories out there.

  • Cam

    At the risk of sounding like a sap. I love stories like this and it would make a great movie.

  • Richard Ford

    In the movie “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” Tim Wilkinson very tenderly plays the role of someone in a similar position–a gay British man who fell in love with an Indian man in India when both were young. When their relationship was discovered, and the Indian faced dishonor in his culture, the Brit returned to his home country and the two lost touch. Years later, the Wilkinson character returns to India to search for his lost companion and….
    Well, that would be giving it away now, wouldn’t it gov’ner?
    This film, starring Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, and the fabulous Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire) is really worth a viewing.

  • Kevin

    Looks like Alex ain’t doing so well.

  • EvonCook

    @Richard Ford: Richard, so glad you mentioned that movie. It was really very nice. I saw it with my partner and a teacher (and his wife) who had taught me 49 years ago!) We all loved it.

  • EvonCook

    But, I just hope the movie exposure does not put either of them in any danger. Iran still is definitely not a friendly place for gay men. Sometimes publicity can have terrible repercussions. Even Istanbul is not too welcoming for very out gay men.

  • Joseph

    Would love to see this movie; hope it has a happy ending.

  • darkorient

    Wow. What a story.

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