Graduation Year


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Second Department

Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Reader 1

Piya Chatterjee

Reader 2

Anthony Shay

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Rights Information

© 2017 Tara Partow


Mohammad Khordadian is a gay, Iranian American dancer and entertainer who immigrated to the United States from Iran shortly after the 1979 revolution. Since his arrival to the United States, Khordadian has produced countless instructional and presentational dance videos which garnered enormous popularity among diasporic Iranians and Iranians in Iran alike. I locate a tension between his adoration by the public and the immense anxiety that male Iranian dancers can induce in other Iranians. Khordadian invokes the historical evolution of the archetypal Iranian male dancer/entertainers written about in Persian literature and poetry --the 12 to 16-year-old, handsome boys with older lovers. As Orientalists linked these sinful relationships to male homosociality and sexual repression in Islam, the memory of the male dancer has been repressed out of an Iranian desire to fold into the pale of Western modernity. Khordadian, with his over-the-top gestures (what I will call “queer gestures”), the transnational circulation of these gestures through instructional videos, and his lived experience as a gay Iranian man, transgresses the boundaries set by heteronormativity and Orientalism. However, this is not without a myriad of complications.

Streaming Media

Streaming Media

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.