In 2007, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made an appearance at New York’s Columbia University, and was asked to explain the recent execution of gays in Iran. He replied that, “in Iran, we do not have homosexuals, like in your country!” This was a bold statement to make about a country that has historically been tolerant towards gays and others of the third sex. Today, same-sex relations are punishable by death in at least five countries such as Iran, where human rights activists have reported that about 4,000 gays have been executed since the Islamic revolution in 1979. Even with all the adversity gays face within the country, there are a few gay Iranians that are paving the way for tolerance, acceptance, and of course bringing attention to the world about what is happening in a hostile land. Although there are quite a few openly gay Persians, I wanted to bring attention to someone who I felt is both a strong role model and have made some changes to the world: Anthony Sebastian Abrahamsen: a blogger, tweeter, gaymer, and friend who gained fame in his “It Gets Better” video, which I have posted.
Some may look at studly, handsome Anthony Sebastian and wonder what story does he have to tell. Aside from the good looks and amazing smile, there is an amazing story which when he shares not only changes lives, but saves them too. In ways he is on the same mission as me, not just to inspire people and be a good human being, but to change lives and hearts. Originally, he was from Iran but born and raised in Norway without his father's presence. His father, like so many others, fell victim to the new Islamic Regime and Islamic Republic; and was denied to leave the country, even though all the papers were correct and arrangements met. This resulted in his father not being able to see him walk for the first time or say his first words to him for six years. Growing up like so many of us, Anthony felt a sense that something was different about him. He states “I was meant for greater things. To change things, to do something with my life. Also a sense of something magical, restless and terrifying, “I was falling in love with people... of the same gender as me.”
In the beginning Anthony fell in love with guys without even knowing the terms “sex”, “love”, or even “relationships”. As he says “I knew who I was before I even knew what it meant.” Like a lot of us he felt as though he might be bisexual, as he would look at girls as gorgeous, beautiful creatures, but not in any sexual manner. In this truly confusing time, he ultimately knew that he was indeed gay, and was okay with it.
Some people find it odd that Anthony is gay, and how he can like or dare to say love someone of his own gender as more than just friends. He tells them this: “... I don't know... But I know one thing, and that is what I AM... I’m a human being. Always have been and always will be. And what difference does it make? Does love know any boundaries? In this world divided with hate, famine, bullshit economy, does it REALLY matter who I love or not? Seriously, there are FAR worse things happening in the world. Direct your nose, eyes and your pointing fingers in THAT direction!” Also, he says that it has been historically proven, “Sharing the world, accepting people for their diversity, difference of any kind, has never been humanity’s defining attributes...”
One thing many people do not know about Anthony is he has been a bully victim for 19 years. Many of us can empathized with bullied, suffering, being teased, or being in pain, but not for that long. Feeling unwanted by the people around you, feeling you are not allowed to live side by side with another person, that you are “worthless”. Anthony felt terrified to go to school, make new friends, be social, or just be himself, he was scared to be exposed or be himself. We all have been bullied or teased for something “...Because you love in a totally different way, you think completely differently than other people. People bully you for who you are, the way you walk, the way you talk, watch, eat... you name it” After 19 years of non-stop bullying, and reflecting on his life. he knew it was time for a change. He chose to change his life entirely, change his mind, body and spirit.
With this new change came a new Anthony, a fearless person, who has opened himself more than before. Open to dating, meeting new people and just changing his outlook on life. Even though he has been outed by some family and friends throughout the years, he has a stronger sense of self. At times feeling he was undateable in the gay-community for reading (that 70% answered in a survey that they couldn't engage in a relationship with someone for the Middle-East), to me so not true, but what do you think? Throughout various adversities Anthony has become resilient and has overcome, learning from his past and changing the way his future will be. It could have been easy to just believe in what the bullies said to or about him. But instead, he made a change within himself and went on a mission to help many gay youths regardless of their nationality battle against bullying and have a strong self-worth, something we all need. We all have a story to tell, when we share our story it not only clears our mind but gives someone else courage and hope. So get out there in the world and find a space to share your story, we all have a struggle. You may be surprised how similar our struggles are, both gay and straight. As always thank you for reading! If you want to know more about Anthony and his various programs check out his about.me page (it has everything about him!); and check out his “It Gets Better” video down below! As always thank you for reading, and rate, comment and share!