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An Interview with Saye Sky, An Iranian Lesbian Rapper

By Arsham Parsi

Translated by Anisa Varasteh
When I asked to have an interview with you for Neda, The Iranian Queer Magazine, you replied: “To be honest I was shocked with your proposal because this is the first time that someone like you pays attention to me as a lesbian. I truly thank God for that. You might not be aware of the hope you have given me since we met. I appreciate it.” “What kind of experiences did you have that made you reply like this?” I asked .
Well, you know, in Iran this issue (homosexuality) is easily denied. People humiliate female singers let alone lesbians. When I first mentioned the idea of my song to my colleagues (who were all male and unaware of my sexual orientation) the only response was ridicule and by statements like: “Is it the only thing out there for you to choose?”, “you’ll embarrass yourself by doing this”, “No one will upload your song online and no one will download it”, “no guy will work with you” they tried to put down my idea for the song .
I corresponded with a couple of International broadcasting channels with the hope that they would spread my words to the others and that one’s efforts against all odds might be interesting for them. But unfortunately I didn’t receive any replies. So, it is natural that I was shocked by your proposal .
Who is Saye Sky ?
Saye Sky could be that young person who has got an innocent and pure emotion but is unable to express it. She could be that woman who has come out to her family, and in order to “correct” her they made her get married; now she has got a child; sleeps with a man whom she has got no emotions for and cries in her solitude and watches the suppression of her emotions. Saye Sky is the woman who has been hanged because of her sexual orientation. She could be the university lecturer who can not talk about her beliefs. She could be the person who committed suicide because of repeatedly being told that this relationship is against religious principles and Iranian rules or she killed herself because of the distress that her dreams would never come true. I am a Saye (a shadow) which is separated from the body of these people whose share of life is as vast as the sky. When I think about the problems of women I feel like even if I would sing a hundred songs about insecurity, rape, negligence of women’s human rights I haven’t even started. However, I am happy that I have initiated in this field for the next generations .
That was an introduction about Saye Sky. Now what would you like to tell the readers of Neda Magazine about yourself? age, education, job. etc. by the way are lesbians sensitive about their age too ?
Well, lesbians might not want their age to be mentioned as well, but I personally don’t have any problems with this issue. I am 20 years old, a resigned student in electronic from Tehran university; Sometimes I have been sacked from my jobs because of protecting my female colleagues and I often hear from those who know me that: “ you will get in trouble one day!”; I am stubborn, quick at repartee, a fighter but I always listen to my conscious. I often send text messages in the middle of the night, I like meaningful movies, and I can’t resist horror movies easily. I love animals especially insects. I usually have full energy. And of course I have to mention my girlfriend who I owe a lot but unfortunately is so far away from me. And as I said in my song, with my song the distance of 001 will decrease to 0098 .
Saye when did you find out about your sexual orientation? Did anyone know about your sexual orientation ?
Although, most of my playmates were boys and I had a good relationship with them I was never attracted to the opposite sex. I, just like other homosexual people, tired to suppress this feeling but I soon realised that this feeling was so close to me that I felt like I was born a lesbian and not only shouldn’t I suppress it but I should consciously and respectfully deal with it. Unfortunately, because of the dreadful situations that the government, the society and the families cause, I, like any other Iranian lesbians, should keep my feeling and relationship a secret and because of these reasons no one knows about this. You cannot talk to anyone because they perceive you as a pervert and label you as sexually deviated. All my effort is to make sure that one day any Iranian experiences freedom without any fear and is able to be in a relationship with anyone they wish .
If one day your family finds out that you are a lesbian what do you think would happen and how would they react ?
Just like Rap which is called ‘underground’, the life of us lesbians is underground as well. I am sure that they would not have a positive perception, and with my knowledge about my family and their faith in their religion I can assure you that instead of my next song, my fans can look forward to the public notice of my death. Secrecy has had many awful effects on me. I always have to wait until the family leaves the house so that I can rehearse my songs. I have to be careful that when I am talking to my girlfriend no one notices and other such problems. I am sure that if they find out they will call me shameless or sexually “sick” and will try to “cure” this “illness”! Only God knows how!
Why did you think of music and why Rap ?
One day I was watching a video music that a girl was participating in. She didn’t have any talent other than coquetry and flirtation. There is no doubt that she was talented but it was obvious that she was used (or as I believe ‘abused’) to increase the download rate. I was so upset and thought to myself now that she has got a chance, why doesn’t she talk about the thousands problems of her counterparts? Why doesn’t she tell everyone about the disasters that are happening? Why doesn’t she tell them that the only one who hears a woman’s screams and cries is herself? I was truly moved because I am always looking for a way to spread the suppressed ideas of women and especially lesbians .
Another reason was that because of lack of information and wrong beliefs of the society some friends recognize homosexuality as a sexual deviation. Well of course it is not their fault. When in Iranian dictionaries homosexuality is defined as such you cannot expect more from people. Lack of information prevents teenagers to appreciate healthy relationships and I thought Rap could convey this concept without censorship to increase people’s awareness .
Well, another advantage of Rap is that it is a kind of genre which criticises social issues, has got a great number of fans and is easily accessible (this last one is not true about my music though, because website managers do not accept songs which are sung by a female soloist especially when the topic is controversial). Anyhow, I thought that the best way for me to raise my voice is to become a singer and I have really fought to achieve my goal. Ultimately, Rap became my path and my voice and my ideas became my rifle in a very unfair battle .
When I was listening to Saye an Iranian woman (song’s name) for the first time one of my homosexual friends was with me. Do you know what his first impression was? He said: “how anti-men! Why is it so aggressive?” how do you reply to such questions ?
Well, if your friend, who I have a great respect for, has a glance at the history of Iranian women they will learn that women from the very beginning of their birth are used as slaves by men and the most horrible brutality (including physical and emotional abuse) is used against their innocent and vulnerable bodies only because men are physically more powerful and financially independent. So, in comparison to all the cruelty and negligence of women’s human rights by men I have even talked gently to those men who view women as products with expiry dates .
No one denies the existence of sexual and gender discrimination and of course there are still many men who behave like that and many women who approve of it. In my opinion the time of such behaviours is finished and we have entered a new era and we should use new means to fight and defend our rights. What do you think? And what tools do you think you have ?
I absolutely agree with you. My fellow citizens’ ears are my most important tools. It’s the era that women should forget and leave the fear of men because their right should be claimed back even if it is in the fist of some men who have no logic other than violence against women. Every Iranian lady owes a debt to women’s freedom. A woman who weaves carpets could illustrate on her carpet some women who are calmly opening their arms toward the sky instead of a capricious man with women around him. A university lecturer could talk about her same sex counterparts’ rights and allow her students to do so as well. My tool is my music. With my suffering voice and thoughts which turn into lyrics I repay my debt to women. Women should hear the freedom to get used to it; they should whisper it to themselves and others and make this whisper a loud cry and make other women awake and conscious so that everyone can embrace freedom in their arms. No matter how much discrimination and palpitation, me and all Iranian women have a rifle in our hands which if used properly will remain forever. And that is our intellect which knows no boundaries and if kept intact and unique, the dream of equality of men and women’s right is not unapproachable anymore. So my intellect has no border and I grasp every opportunity to freedom .
How do you make your songs and prepare them for broadcast ?
It is a very good question. Excruciatingly and with a lot of difficulties! Firstly, I am a female singer and have had many limitations so far; Studios (managers) open the door on me and ask me which boy I am going to sing with and when I tell them I would sing on my own they look at a door and after 2 seconds I am out of that door! That’s why I had to work other people in the beginning and sing things that I do not like. But I will compensate with this song and my future work. After a lot of communication with different people I have finally made a friend who makes the songs to my taste. I get the draft of the song which is %50 of the job and then I match it with my pre-written lyrics and then start recording. And after the recording ‘mix and master’ is done, broadcasting it is my own responsibility and as I mentioned before website managers do not accept my songs because of the topics and because I am a female soloist. Therefore, my only hope of my ideas to be heard is through my dear friends and words of mouth .
Thank you for accepting to have the interview. What do you have to say to other Iranian homosexuals and readers of Neda Magazine ?
Thank you for asking me to have this interview and to talk about thousands of untold stories of Iranian women. I am proud of being the first lesbian rapper in Iran. All people who fight for Iranian women’s right and I have a great mission, but it requires the help of others too. If we do not help each other, the number of people aid us will decrease to a few. I hope that one day all homosexual people freely express themselves and courageously be proud of their choice of being an independent homosexual thinker. Big dreams cost a lot. By spreading the homosexual culture, by any means within humanitarian framework, we can pay this cost. The Iranian government needs to know that the existence of thousands of homosexuals in Iran who are treated in the most inhuman ways cannot be denied .
With hopes for freedom
A small member of a very large community
Saye Sky

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last update: 4/26/2017 9:47