Boston Gay Men’s Chorus

All gender bathroom initiative achieves success at Boğaziçi University

“All Gender Bathroom” initiative at Boğaziçi University yields its initial successful outcome!

Source: Ekin Keser, “BOĞAZİÇİ ÜNİVERSİTESİ’NDE CİNSİYETSİZ TUVALET PROJESİ SONUÇ VERDİ” (“All gender bathroom initiative achieves success at Boğaziçi University”), GZone, 11 February 2016,

We first heard about this campaign in a press release on November 19, 2014, World Toilet Day. Signatures were collected, petitions were submitted, public forums were organized. Today, we talked to Beren Azizi and Görkem Ulumeriç of BÜ [Boğaziçi University – Trans.] LGBTI Studies Association about the “All Gender Bathroom” campaign, which officially yielded its initial successful outcome.

Could you start by telling how this idea came about, how you got started and when you first took action?

Beren Azizi: This idea emerged from analyses of the “violation of rights” that result from “deprivation.” Education is a human right, because everyone is equal; however in practice we see that things do not really work that way. LGBTI+ students drop out of their studies, do not come to school, they are depressed or “unsuccessful.” When you start asking what happened and what went wrong, you realize that places, where a fundamental right such as education is offered, are in fact filled with challenges and obstacles for the LGBTI+’s. Toilets, as we see from numerous scientific studies around the world, are one of those obstacles. Based on the feedback we received from LGBTI+ students, we realized that “All Gender Bathroom” is a right and we should demand it.

We took the first step on November 19, 2014, World Toilet Day. We sent out a press release. Of course, mental framework for this idea was in place long ago, in fact years ago.

Görkem Ulumeriç: LGBTI+ can face challenges while using binary gender bathrooms, changing rooms and dorm rooms. They either use the bathrooms while everyone is in class or never at all. We bring up such issues during the meetings of the LGBTI club and make it an active topic of discussion on campus. We organized forums, prepared banners, made press releases, wrote many pieces to the university’s Facebook groups. We submitted a petition with 400 signatures. The president’s office evaluated these inquiries and all gender bathrooms were already in place at the beginning of this semester.   


Boston Gay Men’s Chorus: “We are not worried, we are excited”

First their concert at Zorlu Center was cancelled. When the concert was moved to Bosphorus University, another university’s chancellor reacted on social media.

Source: Şafak Timur, “Boston Gay Korosu’nun Türkiye Konseri: “Endişeli değil, coşkuluyuz”, (“Boston Gay Men’s Chorus: “We are not worried, we are excited”,”) BBC Türkçe, 23 June 2015,


The Boston Gay Men’s Chorus, which has been performing for 33 years in the USA, says they are not worried about the reactions to their first-ever concert in a Muslim majority country. On the contrary, they are excited to be coming to Turkey.

Reuben Reynolds, the music director of the chorus for 18 years, laughs when I ask him “Are you and the chorus members worried?” and says, “We talked a lot about this. We have no worries, we are filled with excitement to be there.”

The chain reaction in the media began when Yeni Akit published a news article [“Pervert Chorus Coming to Turkey!”] last month. Zorlu had not cancelled the concert yet.

After Zorlu Center cancelled the concert, Yeni Akit and Yeni Şafak claimed that the concert was cancelled by Zorlu Holding’s Chairman of the Board Ahmet Nazif Zorlu.

Reynolds says they were informed of the cancellation but were not provided a reason.


Medeniyet University Rector Criticizes Bosphorus University for Hosting Boston Gay Men’s Chorus and Gets Response from Student Group

The chancellor of the University of Medeniyet [“Modernity”], M. İhsan Karaman, reacted to the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus concert in Istanbul. The response came from the Bosphorus University’s Council of Student Representation.

Source: Bianet, “Sayın Rektörüm Ne Olacak Ayol” [“Aww My Dear Chancellor, So What?!”], 18 June 2015,

Boston Gay Men’s Chorus, one of the prominent choruses in the US, was to arrive at Zorlu Performing Arts Center for a concert on 27 June [2015], a day before the 13th LGBTI Pride Parade. Vahdet, a newspaper in Turkey, carried the concert to its headlines as “Perversion Runs Free,” in which it called for a boycott against Zorlu Holding and pointed out both Zorlu Holding and Kaos GL as targets[1]. Consequently, ticket sales were halted.

Following the cancellation of the concert, with the efforts by the Bosphorus University LGBTI Studies Club, it was announced that the concert was going to be held at Bosphorus University’s South [Main] Campus.

“Concert in freedom in a free university!”

Screen Shot 2015-06-20 at 05.14.34İhsan Karaman reacted to the news, saying “We are waiting for the thousands of followers of Bosphorus University’s Council of Student Representation to protest the strategic efforts to paint homosexuality as if it were cute! NO to the gay concert at the Bosphorus!”

The Council of Student Representation replied: “Aww My Dear Chancellor, So What?! Concert in freedom in a free university!”

The Boston Gay Men’s Chorus will be in Istanbul [at Bosphorus University’s Main Campus -Trans.] on Saturday June 27th at 6:30pm. The concert will be open to public and free of charge. A sound system will be set up at the 1,500-people capacity venue for those who cannot find a seat.

[1] Turkey has a history of political violence, hate crimes, and political assassinations that followed a governmental authority figure and/or mainstream media singling out a person or a group out as rightfully injurable with impunity. –Trans.

Zorlu Performing Arts Center Hosting Boston Gay Men’s Chorus is Facing Pressure to Cancel Performance in the name of “Public Morals”

Update [14 May 2015]: Zorlu Performing Arts Center will not be hosting the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus. BGMC is looking for a new venue to host them.

Boston Gay Men’s Chorus, which was scheduled to perform on June 27th, one day before the Istanbul Pride Parade, is facing pressure to cancel. The concert venue, Zorlu Performing Arts Center, has suspended ticket sales for the event.

Source: Ömer Akpınar, “Boston Eşcinsel Erkek Korosu’na ‘genel ahlak’ engeli!” (“Obstruction to Boston Gay Men’s Chorus in the name of ‘Public Morals’”), 8 May 2015,

Obstruction to Boston Gay Men’s Chorus in the Name of “Public Morals”

Boston Gay Men’s Chorus was scheduled to perform on June 27th in Istanbul, one day before the LGBTI pride. However, pressure from homophobic media against the concert and boycott call against Zorlu Holding, owner of the concert venue, resulted in the suspension of ticket sales to the event.

Executive Director of the Chorus: We have an ongoing contract. Reports of Cancellation are not true

Executive director of the chorus Craig Coogan told that they have an ongoing contract with Zorlu Performance Arts Center and news of a cancellation was not true. [Coogan also announced that “on Wednesday, May 13, our representatives from ACFEA Tour Consultants will be meeting with the Zorlu Organization and Performance Center to clear up any miscommunication” in the BGMC statement.]

The campaign to cancel the concert on claims that the mission of the chorus is to “legitimize and spread homosexuality,” whereas the chorus director in his interview with Kaos GL Magazine had explained their mission was “to knock down the walls of prejudice with music.”

The Campaign Does not Fit’s Community Guidelines

The campaign on, which aims to persuade Zorlu Holding and the Ministry of Family and Social Policies into cancelling the concert while targeting the LGBTI community, does not fit the community guidelines set forth by

“No hate speech – We’re fans of free speech, but we don’t allow hate speech. Hate speech is typically the advocacy of beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people based on characteristics such as their age, color, disability, ethnic origin, gender identity, nationality, national origin, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, medical condition, or veteran status.”

Zorlu PSM* Suspends Ticket Sales

Zorlu PSM has not made any public statements regarding the suspension of ticket sales but information regarding the concert has been deleted from the venue’s website. Ticket sales out of Biletix are ongoing.

Vahdet Newspaper, a well-known producer of hate speech against the LGBTI community, had targeted the chorus, Zorlu Holding and Kaos GL Association in its excerpt titled “Perversion Runs Free.”

“I am worried about Pride Week”

Madır Öktiş, an LGBTI activist looking forward to the concert, has stated that the news has got them worried about pride week.

“When I woke up today to a news item called ‘GAY CONCERT AT ZORLU CANCELLED’ talking about Turkey being a Muslim country, the month of Ramadan and the chairman of the company not being aware of the concert; I was rightly furious as I understood how such an unprofessional decision could be made.”

“The intervention with this performance which takes place on Pride Week, which I and my queer friends were looking forward to seeing, has led me to be concerned about the fate of future pride week events or any other activity that has to do with the LGBTI community. I am hoping my concerns are needless and I wish that the organizers of the event would ensure that the concert take place in a new venue away from all phobias.”

“Bosphorus University’s doors are always open”

Bosphorus University LGBTI Studies Club has made a press statement saying that their school’s doors are always open to the chorus in the case of the concert’s cancellation in its original venue and added, “Freedom will always prevail against pressure from hateful, discriminating and censoring minds.”