America has Gaga, and Iran has Googoosh, a Persian pop phenomenon whose latest music video makes a statement about homosexuality, still considered a crime in the Middle Eastern country.
Iran’s reigning queen of pop is more likely to walk the red carpet in a kaftan than a flank-steak dress, but when it comes to promoting equal rights in a country ruled by religious law, Googoosh is right up there with Gaga. On Valentine’s Day, the 63-year-old Persian icon released the music video for her latest ballad, “Behesht (Heaven).”
In between glamour shots of Googoosh crooning in a dark nightclub, the video follows the love story of a beautiful young Iranian woman and her lover, unseen behind the camera. Their relationship unfolds as their love for each other faces obstacles from disapproving parents and violent youths, culminating in the young woman sitting in the audience, tearfully watching Googoosh sing the song’s chorus: “I know they say these feelings should not be, but they are.” The camera then pulls away, showing that the young woman’s off-camera love is another woman (a similar tactic was used in an iconic Australian ad for marriage equality in 2011).