From Your Favorite Iranian Lesbian

Joonies, it’s confession time.

I’m a lesbian. And an Iranian-American.

How many of those have you met, hmm? Your torshideh khaleh (trans: unmarried aunt) doesn’t count! I’m the real deal:

julie ershadiSince day one of preschool, I was on the playground, flashing my 101 Dalmatians underpants at the other girls. Then on the weekends my father, a half-Tork mazhabi (trans: religious) Rashti would drag me kicking and screaming in a roosari (headscarf) to Islamic school on the weekends, which I totally could not get down with. Like, not even a little.

Unless we spent the whole day talking about Adam and Eve — but mostly Eve — running around naked in the Garden of Eden before the whole seeb (apple) thing happened. Yowza!

When I got a little older, Baba jan gave up on the religious training and started bringing me to Persian language classes. This was ideal: sweet, kind-hearted Persian girls in their early twenties teaching us babies how to read, write, and speak. Leila, Fatemeh, Sholeh, Narges…. I was in love! I learned kheeiiiilliii (a lot of) Farsi in those years, joonies. Kheili. Besyaar.

I sensed that the feelings I had for my teachers, and other women, were abnormal and so it became my own little secret.

In fact, I still haven’t told Baba jan that I’m gay.

(Good thing his English reading comprehension ain’t much!) Ever since I hit 20 years old, when we talk on the phone he offers to introduce me to Ali the banker, Mohammed the physician, and any one of the million other young Iranian guys who are the gainfully employed. Mamnoon but no mamnoon.

Still, even with a super mazhabi baba and a recovering Catholic mother (from Detroit), my cultural environs have allowed me to be a very different, much more liberal — and liberated — person than if I had been born and raised in my father’s home country.

As a teenager, over time I came out to all my friends — including my Irooni ones. One day, it all got me thinking: isn’t it amazing that we Iranian-American young people keep our parents’ culture alive while simultaneously blending it with what we learn here in the States?

This hybrid culture is a seriously significant phenomenon, as you probably know if you’re on this site in the first place.

rose petals

It’s also a story worth telling:

the story of Iranian-Americans, of who we are, and of where we are taking our heritage. This history is at risk of disappearing in the wind if nobody takes the time to record it.

Luckily, I’ve got a project in the works aimed at doing just that: it’s a multimedia journalism piece called “Rose Petal Pathways: Journeys Through Iranian America.” I’m crowdfunding the expenses for a cross-country train ride to conduct research for it; check out the fundraising page here. If you agree that these stories need to be told, get your contribution in before February 15.




Khasteh Nabashinaaa,


Gender Inequality, by an Iranian American Female

In my Iranian-American family, there is a double standard. I have a younger brother who has been raised and treated rather differently from me. I love him but he gets away with things, I would’ve been buried for. Sometimes, this double standard exists because he’s younger. But sometimes it’s because he’s a male.

And I feel that to be an attack on my gender.

After growing up in a pretty traditional household and working in a male-dominated profession, I’ve picked up on some of the subtleties that create gender inequality. Gender roles are often reinforced by harmless words and attitudes, moreso than by laws and handbooks. The fact that my brother is never asked to wash a dish or set the table. The fact that women have to remain feminine and submissive at the office to be liked; because assertive and intimidating are qualities that are reserved for men. 

Inequality goes both ways.

My brother is expected to stunt his emotional growth and deny any feelings of fear or vulnerability. Men in the office often only express their dissatisfaction by shutting down or getting angry. While, as a woman, my emotional intelligence is emphasized and accounted for.

She cried because she’s a woman.” The statement is actually more liberating than discriminatory. Yes, my tear ducts are smaller than a man’s, and I will cry when I want. For men? If you cry, you better run for cover.

While inequality exists for both genders, I still believe that ‘male privilege’ is quite an oppressive factor that women face in today’s society. But as an Iranian-American woman, I’ve discovered that gender equality, to me, is a change of attitude and perspective. It is the acceptance that genders are different, but equal, and that none of the current gender roles rightly define what it is to be ‘male’ or ‘female’.

As a female, gender equality isn’t looking at a man and saying ‘me too! me too!’

It’s saying ‘I’m different but my differences do not make me worth any less’.

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tweet me: @saaghi_joon



I’m A Little Bit Selfish

Hi there joonies, this post was sent to us during the week of the Boston Marathon bombings. 

This week has been hard for me as an Iranian American and as a Muslim. It was hard because of an incomprehensible attack in Boston, which made me and many others nervously hope wasn’t related to the peaceful religion we practice at home. It was hard because there was another earthquake in Iran, affecting the poorest in the country, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to help in any way because the sanctions imposed to limit the Iranian government’s nuclear activity have actually blocked the transfer of much-needed humanitarian items like food and medicine. But like all people everywhere, I’m a little bit selfish, and it hurt the most because I broke up with my boyfriend, whom I love, over ambiguous and big words like culture, values, and lifestyle.

My now ex-boyfriend is Hindu. I am Muslim. (Cue all past and future Bollywood movie plotlines ever.)

I am not South Asian, so I don’t think I can ever fully understand the antagonism between Hindus and Muslims, or between almost any two religions in that subcontinent for that matter. I suppose I am Shi’a, but my parents immigrated from a predominantly Shi’a country, so I cannot even claim to fully understand the Shi’a-Sunni conflict, although I joke with my Sunni friends that they’re just oppressing me whenever we argue over something.

Interracial and interfaith relationships are always interesting, but they have their own special significance when it comes to first-generation Americans. Being raised with a culture and often religion that is not predominant in the country our parents immigrated to, and which we now call home, we feel the enormous responsibility to be the keepers of traditions near to our own hearts. Traditions, which we feel are often at stake of being lost in this darn Westernization our parents always referred to when we were growing up.The languages in which our parents told us fairy tales, the foods we grew up eating and still haven’t mastered to cook, and the community we are scared of being exiled from when we lose the things we can’t quite put our fingers on.

Many of us have decided that the only way to remain a part of this community, and to retain the things we know are important but don’t know how to put into words, is to create a family with someone like us. [Read more…]

Casting Call! America 1979

Hi Joonies,

Movies, are a lot like blog posts.  But longer– and definitely more eye-pleasing. Lila Yomtoob, an Emmy award winning filmmaker, reached out to us  to post this casting call, and we couldn’t be more excited to get the word out! 

if you or anyone you know are interested, shoot an email (with the below required attachments) to

america 1979


**Casting Notice**

**seeking actors and non actors**

AMERICA 1979 is a short film in whicha nine-year-old Iranian American girl feels the stress of the Iran Hostage Crisis. A racially charged event at school leads her to act out against her older brother, making an already tense situation more complicated for her parents. AMERICA 1979 is directed and produced by Emmy Award winning Iranian American filmmaker Lila Yomtoob.

We are planning to shoot the film for three days in September 2013 and are seeking actors and non-actors to audition. Below are descriptions of the roles we need to fill. Compensation TBD. We are holding auditions in NYC and Great Neck Long Island the week of June 17th.

If you would like to audition, please email us at . Actors, please send your headshot and resume. Non-actors, please send a photo or two (your face must be clear in the photo) and a short note explaining why you are interested in the project and why you might be a good match. Due to time constraints, emails without photos cannot be considered.

To learn more about the film, please visit [Read more…]

Ari Melo: Make the Girls Say Hello

I interviewed Ari Melo about a year after I had started listening to him, and the first thing I wanted to tell him was “Thanks for helping me stay on the treadmill longer with your song “Breakaway” . Its just one of those tracks that you want to keep listening to, because every few seconds it takes you for a different ride. And all his tracks (see below) are available for a free download because he’s just that generous with the eargasms.

Ari Melo, also known as Arian, is a pretty mellow (random as he calls himself) guy. He loves his sister,  can speak computer code — and counts dancing as one of his favorite things to do. 

Overall, he’s one of those guys you meet and know that even when he makes it big, he’ll still shimmy at the Persian mehmoonis.

xx, Saaghi
ari melo wall

[Read more…]

Dating Disaster FOBS

Joons – this has been an exciting week. First, we introduced the wonderful Yasmine with her first post (click here). Tonight, we have another joon to introduce you to – Souraya. Check out her first post below and welcome her to the S&F fam. 

You are an Iranian-American girl, and meeting someone who shares the same culture sounds really appealing at first until you realize you’ve entered a drama web full of lost in translation exchanges. Those Farsi terms of endearment this FOB (Fresh off the Boat) guy is using go right over your head too.

Man jigharet o mikhoram.

What? You want to eat my liver? That sounds gross.

FOBs are another breed of man. They have a mix of traditional views on dating, while also claiming that they have “assimilated,” when they really exclusively date and hang out with other Iranians. I must say that I am describing the most stereotypical FOB guys, who want to put behind their baggage of dating in Iran, but can’t get over the cultural expectations that an Iranian girl should be pure, prude, passive, and a pushover that they can control.


At first FOB guys woe you in with how much they know about Iranian culture and how sensitive and in touch with their emotions they can be, but I quickly realized that this was a mask for their manipulation, drama, and possessiveness.

They have this idea that when they meet a girl they are supposed to know they love them right away.

You know like back in the day when they drove around the streets of Tehran, spotted an Iranian beauty, and it was love at first sight. [Read more…]

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