Through an analysis of Western lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) activist responses to the executions of two youths in Iran in 2005, this article considers why an interpretation of the executions as a case of antigay persecution became predominant despite reasons for doubt. I argue that this interpretation gained power because of how it resonated emotionally with the activists' liberal, secular imagination. A story of homophobic persecution cast these victims as exemplars of a universal “gay” experience and of a “civilizational divide” between a violently intolerant Islam and a progressively more tolerant West. This dynamic of identification and differentiation was powerfully articulated through expressions of love, fear, and disgust. Furthermore, the Internet, which facilitated the rapid circulation of images of, stories about, and reactions to the case, also proliferated emotional and affective responses that further validated this interpretation as a kind of “felt truth.”

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