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How Love Victor's Gay, Muslim Character Saved Season 2

How 'Love Victor's' Gay, Muslim Character Saved Season 2

How 'Love Victor's' Gay, Muslim Character Saved Season 2

Anthony Keyvan talks his character Rahim, love triangles, and femmephobia.


Both Love, Victor and Love, Simon offer up tender stories of how terrifying it can be to come out as an LGBTQ+ person to your friends and family, but ultimately show queer youth and adults alike that romance is out there for us and that we all deserve a great love story. 

Season 2 of Hulu's television spinoff introduces Rahim, played by 20-year-old actor Anthony Keyvan. He's originally shown as Pilar's best friend but as the show goes on, we see Rahim's own struggle to balance his understanding of his sexuality with his and Muslim faith and parents' expectations. 

Keyvan, who is Iranian/Filipino American, is proud to showcase another kind of coming-out story in the Simon-verse. "I think it's really, really special," he tells PRIDE. "I remember watching the movie in Atlanta actually and thinking, how crazy it is that we haven't started telling these stories sooner and how important it is and continues to be. All I want to do as an artist is to do work that means something to people and helps people."

Heavy spoilers ahead...

Episode 6, "Sincerely, Rahim" dives deep into his backstory as he reaches out to Victor for advice. While he's comfortable with who he is, he's anxious to tell his Mulism family that he's gay and goes through great lengths to hide it from his parents.

Going into the role, Keyvan spoke with his real-life family about the state of Muslim LGBTQ+ folks. "Talking to my dad about it, he told me that in the Muslim community, being queer is like forbidden," reflects Keyvan. "Not only is it not talked about, you could be persecuted for it. To have that idea of it just being such a taboo and have it being illegal in a lot of countries that these people are in... Being queer is valid and these people aren't validated every day of their lives."

Muslim LGBTQ+ folks don't often have the room to tell their stories so it's certainly special to see one of them on Love, Victor. "To be able to play a character that is able to do that, I feel like hopefully [Rahim] will give those people hope that they can be who they are."

As Victor's family struggles to accept his sexuality, he's able to come to Rahim for refuge and understanding. The two have a frank conversation about how much harder it can be to coming out to your family when you're Mexican or Muslim compared to a white one, something Victor's boyfriend Benji isn't able to grasp.

"How can you love your parents when you hate a lot of what they believe in?" Rahim asks Victor in a tender moment. "But you do because you know how much they sacrificed for you." There's a level of understanding between the two POC that Victor was struggling to convey to Benji.

"This show is telling stories about people of color coming out," says Keyvan. "That's not really something we've seen often, even with Love, Simon. It was about a white boy coming out. It was relatively easy in the grand scheme of things. He had the support and love from his parents but it's not always like that. And especially with people of color because the cultures that they come from just doesn't allow for that. To be able to talk about that on a show I think is really cool and groundbreaking. There isn't anything on TV like it. I have yet to see another queer, Muslim character on anywhere to talk about that. To be able to be one of the first is so special and I'm, again I'm just so honored to be trusted with this story."


Rahim also starts a discussion about femmephobia in the gay community. In episode 9, "Victor's Day Off", Victor and Rahim skip school and meet up with a boy Rahim had been talking to online. When the two meet, the date promptly leaves, blaming their lack of connection on Rahim being too flamboyant. 

"I know that's a common experience that people have in the LGBTQ+ community," says Keyvan. The moment stemmed from a personal experience of writer Brian Tanen, who "wrote this pretty much verbatim of an experience that [he] had," according to Keyvan. His partner in the scene, out actor Nicholas Hamilton, agreed the scenario "is very, very common."

"How would it feel to just be blatantly rejected because of how you look or how you talk by someone that you thought you liked, by someone that you thought you could trust," Keyvan reflected in the moment. 

It's certainly a problem in the gay community, where masculinity is a prized trait to many. Love, Victor is an unexpected place to hit on the topic, but the writers certainly weren't afraid to go there. 

The beautiful thing is that Rahim still does get to be a love interest. There's tension between Rahim and Victor throughout the season, but it becomes something more than platonic in this episode. Victor and Benji are on a break at this point and the two get into various hijinks on their skip day, even hitting up a gay bar and singing Justin Bieber karaoke. The song choice was questionable but the chemistry is thick in the air.

In the world of television romance, when the main character is a person of color they almost always pair them with white love interest. It seems to be even more of a trend when the character is LGBTQ+. There's nothing wrong with that per se, but it certainly doesn't reflect all interracial relationships. It's thrilling to watch the two brown boys simp over each other because it so rarely happens on TV. 

Keyvan noticed that as well. "I'm so used to seeing the love interests, especially an LGBTQ+ love interest, being a white person. I think it's for whatever reason, the studios think it helps the viewer feel more comfortable with the idea of this person being gay because they're white, whatever that is. I love that Love, Victor is pushing those boundaries and figuring out that it doesn't have to be like that. I mean, of course, Benji is white but it's really cool that I get to be a person of color who's also a love interest for another person of color instead of it being just like, an interracial couple like a white and a little spice added."

Keyvan credits the writers' room. "It comes from one of our writers, Marcos Luevanos being a Latinx person of color who's also queer. It's so important to get those kinds of people in the writing room because the last thing I want is to be telling a story about people of color written by white people."

"I get to tell that story and to show people that you don't have to be white to be loved."

Season 2 ends on a massive cliffhanger where Victor is in crisis mode and runs to up to someone's door for reassurance. The screen goes black before it's revealed who Victor has turned to, Rahim or Benji, but many are crossing their fingers that he's at Rahim's door. 

"Fingers are crossed," says Keyvan. "At the end of the day, I just hope that whoever's door Victor ends up at, it's the right one for him and it's the right decision that's going to make Victor happy. I feel like Victor's been confused for the past two seasons, so I'd love to see him finally figure out what he truly wants. And if that means being with Rahim, then awesome."

There's a moment when in the series where Rahim thanks Victor for sharing his story and "helping him be brave." It's ironic considering that's exactly what Victor, Rahim, and this show are doing for many young LGBTQ+ folks who are still figuring out their identities. 

Keyvan hopes Rahim's story and the show as a whole can be empowering for anyone watching. "If you surround yourself with the right people, it doesn't have to necessarily be family but people you choose to be family, then I feel like you could be strong enough or brave enough or whatever it is if you have the right people around you to be your true self."

"That's what Love, Victor is, gathering the troops and figuring out who you can be comfortable around enough so that you can be comfortable with yourself. I just hope that that's what people take away from the show because I feel like that's exactly what Raheem is to Victor and Victor is to Raheem, and Pilar is Raheem, and Felix is to Victor."

Season 2 of Love, Victor is streaming now on Hulu.

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