An Iranian Asked Me To Tell You…

My favorite memory of Iran is this one: back in the city of Kerman, my very sexy, glimmering-eyed tour guide Vahid told me to stay in the hotel at night. So I waited for him to go to his room, and then I went out for a walk. I met a nice man at a food cart on the street, and he invited me into his home. He opened the door to the living room — a cavern covered in carpets, free of any furniture — and we found his wife and daughter sitting there.

The man extended his hands as if presenting me on a stage to an audience, and said, “Look!! An American!!”

The mother and daughter stared at me with their mouths open. A moment or two passed, in which no one blinked. Collecting herself, the mother said, in English, “Do you want some vodka?”

We chatted over tea for an hour or so. Above all, they were interested to know what everyday Americans thought of Iran. Just before I left, the mother clasped her hands together in front of her sternum and said, “Please go back and tell people that we do not hate America and we want to be a part of the world.”

This little story is from my book There Is Room for You: Tales from a Transgender Defender’s Heart. I am re-publishing it here in response to the anti-Muslim policies of the new American government.

The first picture is of a gate outside the ancient city of Bam (not far from Kerman), which was largely lost in a powerful earthquake in 2003 and is now being rebuilt.

The second picture is from the entrance to the Sheikh Loft Allah mosque in Isfahan. There is a saying in Persian — “Isfahan nesf-e-jahan ast.” — meaning “Isfahan is half of the world.”

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