Alireza Fazeli Monfared was 20 years old when his family beheaded him last month.
The social media influencer was just days away from escaping his home in Iran, where homosexuality is a death sentence, to live his dream as a free gay man in the West, only for it to be crushed by the fatal blow of Iranian homophobia.
“Pressure means not being able to behave however you want in society,” Monfared said to a friend in a voice recording sent to Insider as he made plans to escape for a new life in Europe.
When Monfared’s half-brother found the influencer’s paperwork detailing the soon-asylum-seeker’s exemption from the Iranian military, which allows homosexuals to forgo mandatory service, however, relatives in a remote village beheaded Monfared in what an Iranian human rights group declared an “honor killing.”
Monfared’s story is not unique to Iran. According to Human Dignity Trust, a U.K.-based global nonprofit dedicated to LGBT rights, homosexuality remains a crime in 70 countries worldwide plus Palestine. At least 11 jurisdictions warrant homosexuality worthy of the death penalty.
As millions of LGBT people face severe persecution abroad, however, millions in the Western world are celebrating June as Pride Month, complete — as usual — with carnival-style parades and massive parties in a sign of cultural acceptance. While most parades, which require extensive preparation, had already been canceled before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed its guidelines, the parties will return along with corporate activism capitalizing on the cause.
Increasingly, Western companies ring in the first of June each year with a logo change adopting the rainbow colors of the pride flag in a form of passive progressivism signaling some form of commitment to the pursuit of gay rights.
Nothing has exposed the ensuing logo changes as performative activism like their absence on corporate pages advertising to the Middle East, where nearly every country imposes criminal penalties on homosexuality.
Mercedes-Benz will proudly signal its pride on its primary Twitter page, but on the account “Mercedes-Benz Middle East,” it appears the corporation’s pride evaporates quickly.
It takes real courage for major corporations to display the Pride rainbow colours in our homophobic and heteronormative culture.
— Titania McGrath (@TitaniaMcGrath) June 2, 2021
Monfared’s death illustrated where June Pride activism is needed most, and it’s not in the West. If corporate America really possessed a genuine commitment to LGBT acceptance, they would be engaging in substantive activism abroad where homosexuality is literally a death sentence.