Imagine, living – and we’re sure some of our readers have – in a country where you can be killed for being identified as gay. Where simple every day pleasures like having your hair the way you want it and shaving your face are taken from you. Arad Winwin is now a Trophy Boy for Andrew Christian underwear, but his life wasn’t always so sexually free. In fact, he tells C&C how he went AWOL during duty fighting for Iran and made it to modelling jockstraps for one of the world’s most recognised gay brands.

“Living in Iran is not a happy life… People are just trying to trying to survive day-to-day,” he tells C&C.  “People are denied every type of freedom, personal choice and chance to advance ​their​ lives”. Arad details the decision to leave the Iranian military at 22 years-old, leaving all of his family and friends behind, “I knew I would not be able to have any type of life that would provide me any happiness there.”

Arad escaped on foot through the snowy mountains between Iran and Turkey, but without a passport was arrested and imprisoned for six months when he arrived in Turkey. “During this time, Turkey was getting ready to deport me back to Iran where I would have been hanged for being a military deserter”. Describing his experience in prison – where he didn’t speak Turkish – as “horrible”, fate would prove it would go on to save his life.

In prison, Arad met more Iranians trying to escape who told him about the United Nations Refugee Program. After getting a message to his parents, they contacted an attorney who would go on to help Arad get accepted into the program, “I was accepted into their refugee program because the U.N. knew that I would be killed if I was sent back to Iran.”

When he arrived in Dallas, Arad has $300 to his name and didn’t speak any English, but managed to get a low-wage job at an elevator company which he cycled to and from, three hours each day.

“The U.N. makes refugees repay their airline tickets so I spent the next year trying to pay that off…but at least I was free and I appreciated that Americans have a basic respect for each other which doesn’t exist in Iran.” From there, he became a go-go dancer, and became familiar with Andrew Christian’s brand (aka, his uniform).  “The first night I worked ​dancing ​I made more money than​ most people make ​working 4 months in Iran.” And from there he was invited to become one of AC’s Trophy Boys.

“I had always wanted to model but that isn’t even a choice in Iran. Unless one follows the strict religious laws you will be arrested.”

Hearing Arad’s story can really put life in the Western world into perspective, but also highlights the importance of political freedom, something Christian pushes in his hot new coffee table book: SEX = POWER = FREEDOM.

When asked if Arad had some words of support for young gay men or women in similiar situations: “for me freedom and happiness are contagious and I want to help spread hope to other LGBT people who must live in any oppressive environments whether it is a small town in the U.S, or with a family that isn’t accepting or in a country like Iran where people aren’t allowed even basic freedom”.

Arad’s goal ties in heavily with the recent election, claiming, he wants to “help make Americans understand that most people from the middle east are just like you and me…they want to live in peace and freedom and many good people need our assistance”.