Payam Feili, 29, who was recently incarcerated for 44 days has managed to flee to neighboring Turkey where he has been living since June 13.
In a country where same sex relations is punishable by flogging and execution in Iran, Feili an openly gay author, made no attempt to hide the sexual undertones in his writing.
Feili has just completed a novel I Will Grow, I Will Bear Fruit…Figs. Chapter one begins: “I am twenty one. I am a homosexual. I like the afternoon sun.” It is a tale narrated by a gay boy. The book has found a German publishing house.
Already blacklisted in Iran due to previous works, Feili was forced to seek foreign publishers for his latest novel for which he was also in contact with an Iranian-Israeli woman who agreed to translate his work into Hebrew and which is soon to be released in Israel.
Feili began penning classic love poems when he was 15 that were compiled and published in 2005 when he was 19 years old. The book, his first and last to be released in Iran, took two years to be authorized by the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance.
It removed two poems they found to be anti-religious, and he was put on the list of banned authors barring him from ever publishing in Iran again.
He was since been fired from his job as an editor at a publishing house and his email and social media accounts hacked. His family and friends too were visited by plainclothes policemen.
“All people were scared to be in contact with me. I was even left alone by my friends—being in touch with me was causing trouble for them so they would stop,” he said.
In 2011, he was arrested the first of three times. His last arrest for 44 days began in February 2014 when three bearded men forced their way into his house, blindfolded him, and kept him in a shipping container.
They would strip him naked, take pictures, insult him and call him a faggot. These were the last days of his life, they said, before they let him go.
In the first week of June two articles about him were published in the Iranian media describing him as gay, an Israel supporter, and conspirator to overthrow the Iranian regime.
“I realized that many bad things could happen to me, from long prison terms to execution,” he said and purchased tickets for himself and his sister for Turkey, leaving the country for the first time.
The PEN American Center has shown interest in his I Will Grow, I Will Bear Fruit…Figs novel and Feili is working on his third novel—his seventh book—called The Sad Whales.