In this article we examine accounts of self-identifying Iranian gay men. We draw on a range of evidentiary sources—interpretive, historical, online, and empirical—to generate critical and nuanced insights into the politics of recognition and representation that inform narrative accounts of the lived experiences of self-identified gay Iranian men, and the constitution of same-sex desire for these men under specific conditions of Iranian modernity. In response to critiques of existing gay internationalist and liberationist accounts of the Iranian gay male subject as a persecuted victim of the Islamic Republic of Iran's barbarism, we address interpretive questions of sexuality governance in transnational contexts. Specifically, we attend to human rights frameworks in weighing social justice and political claims made by and on behalf of sexual and gender minorities in such Global South contexts. In this sense, our article represents a critical engagement with the relevant literature on sexuality governance and the politics of same-sex desire for Iranian gay men that is informed by empirical analysis.