Dr. Payam Ghassemlou, 30 August 2003, wrote: ( In and out of closet)
"When I need validation of gay love, I read love poems by Sadi, Hafiz, Rumi, and other Persian poets. They have written hundreds of love poems on same sex desire, which indicates a great deal of Persian literature is based on homosexuality.
"When I need to feel encouraged..., I read life stories of great Sufis.
"Unfortunately, most English translations of classical Persian literature are misleading and do not speak the truth. For example, most poetry by Hafiz has been translated in a way that makes the reader thinks he is writing a love poem for the opposite sex. In reality, Hafiz always honored same sex love in his poetry. Public display of homoerotic love has never been easy, and Rumi portray this in the following poem:"
I saw you last night in the gathering,
but could not take you openly in my arms,
so I put my lips next to your cheek,
pretending to talk privately.
Rumi (1207-1273) Rumi
The "whirling dervish" order of Sufis was founded by Rumi following the disappearance of his beloved friend Shams.
Rumi wrote love poems for and about Shams.
Rumi was born in Afghanistan in 1207 but lived most of his life in Turkey.
Rumi was a thirty-four-year-old Sufi teacher when he met the 'wandering dervish and mystic' Shams. Shams was in his fifties. Rumi and Shams 'would disappear together inside a house for months at a time, causing great resentment and jealousy among Rumi's followers.'
In 1247, Shams disappeared, possibly murdered.
While in mourning for Shams, Rumi began to "whirl" and chant his poetry.
Rumi had 'passionate relationships' with Salah al-Din Zarkub and Husam al-Din Hasan, two of his pupils.
Rumi's mystical epic poem The Mathnavi was chanted aloud to Husam.
Rumi's The Divan of Shams-i Tabriz was written expressly for Shams. Rumi wondered how to describe his relationship with Shams. "Even friend and beloved are wrong words for this," he said.
In The Divan, Rumi combines the spiritual and the erotic:
My mouth tastes sweet with your name in it...
I turn my face to you, and into eternity:
We have been in love that long...
There is a grainy taste I prefer to every
Idea of heaven: human friendship.