Ulker Sokak

Süleyman the Hose: “Could I let people say that the state’s police officers were beaten by a homosexual?”

This interview with Süleyman the Hose was published in the mainstream Turkish daily newspaper Hürriyet in 2005. 

Source: Gülden Aydın. “Devletin polisi homoseksüelden dayak yiyor mu dedirtecektim” (“Could I let people say that the state’s police officers were beaten by a homosexual?”), Hürriyet, 30 January 2005, http://arama.hurriyet.com.tr/arsivnews.aspx?id=292556

Who does not know Beyoğlu Police Department’s Chief Police Officer Süleyman the “Hose” Ulusoy! He is a “transvestite hunter,” a “phenomenon,” and true “believer” of the state and the police department. He fought against all kind of “perverted tendencies” that can damage public morality without feeling demoralized and exhausted.

He is the first name that comes to mind when thinking about cruel politics towards homosexuals and transvestites. He is often hated. When talking about Pürtelaş Street and Ülker Street in Beyoğlu during the 1990s, he does not just talk, he goes back in time and relives it all. He retired to be the mayoral candidate of Horasan for the Justice and Development Party (AKP). But another AKP member won the election.  He is now the manager of Parkada, which belongs to Bayrampaşa Municipality and is known as the place Prime Minister Erdoğan fell off a horse. He has collected all news reports about himself in six files. We first chatted a little. He is from Azap village of Horasan town in Erzurum; I went to a boarding school for four years in Erzurum. I asked him when the lovely kete (local bread) would be found outside of that city’s borders. I asked him about Hançer Barı (a folk dance from Erzurum) and the ten thousands of crows that invade Erzurum City with their voices as they descend from Kargapazarı Mountain. Mr. Süleyman called his wife and told her to bring kete immediately. Kete comes from his home and I asked him everything through our shared gusto…

In 1991, the year you became the Chief Police, what kind of a place was Beyoğlu?

When I was appointed and moved from Şanlıurfa to Istanbul, I went to Akyol Avenue through Pürtelaş Street. There were half-naked men with make up, wearing brassieres and size 45 heeled shoes. It was the first time I saw a transvestite. I was shocked. This was a strange view which is not compatible to our culture and customs. I said if my God makes me the chief officer, I will clean it here.


Once Upon A Time in Queerland: Ülker Street and Süleyman the Hose

Source: Elçin Turan, “Bir Zamanlar Lubunistan,” (“Once Upon a Time in Queerland,”) Ajans Tabloid, 7 February 2011, http://www.ajanstabloid.com/haber.aspx?pid=63

When we look back in history, we see that Cihangir has been the location of special meeting houses or “bachelor pads” from the early years of the Republic. After the 1980s, Cihangir’s embrace of transvestites and transsexuals made it the place for marginals and bachelors, intellectuals and artists who did not mind living with them. Trans people get displaced as a result of police operations time after time; after Abanoz Street, Pürtelaş, Sormagir they settled in Ülker Street. Ülker Sokak became a “liberated area” and trans people succeeded to organize under their own identities. However, police forces under the helm of Beyoğlu Police Department’s Chief Police Officer Süleyman Ulusoy launched constant operations and violated trans people’s right to live. According to trans testimonies, neighborhood resident “Güngör Abla’s” collaboration with the police and her exploitation of discourses such as honor, religion, country in order to persuade other residents to join her in the assault of trans people in one more street in Beyoğlu made trans people’s identity, culture, lifestyle, and lives a target and thus another part of the area was “cleaned” of trans people.

We talked with İstanbul LGBTT activist Demet Demir and LGBTT member and Women’s Gate (Kadınkapısı) STD prevention center activist Şevval Kılıç about the creation of a street and the story of its downfall, trans people’s organization in the streets of Beyoğlu, and living/not living with transvestite and transsexual identities.

Why did transvestites and transsexuals (TT) choose Beyoğlu as their living place?

Demet: Beyoğlu is a place where othered people can live. It has been the place of artists and all othered people from the beginning. Cihangir and Tarlabaşı embraced the TTs 30 years ago just like they do today. The difference in Tarlabaşı was the fact that the first TT residents there did not bring clients to their homes as neighborhood residents did not allow them to.

Şevval: Pürtelaş, Sormagir (now Başbuğ Street) and Ülker Street were our hangouts. The fascist attitudes of the Beyoğlu Beautification Association and the Cihangir Beautification Association towards us should not be overlooked when life in these streets is discussed. They were the ones who brought Süleyman the Hose (Süleyman Ulusoy aka Hortum Süleyman, dubbed the Hose because he used hoses to beat trans people), they all collaborated with the state back then.

Demet: Cihangir disbanded in 1989. There was nobody left there by 1990. We owned 5 or 6 streets back then. Cihangir was our empire.

Şevval: We called it Queerland or Fagland.

Demet: Think of an empire disintegrating and a small part remaining. Ülker Street was that small part left of that empire. Then going out to the E5 highway, deaths, and migration to other places started. We were deported. Then came the second dispersion with Ülker Street.

Şevval: I call these streets ghettos. There are both positive and negatives results of a ghetto’s dispersion. Cihangir was the first LGBTT ghetto and probably the only real one. It was perfect for its group dynamics but it also set us back in the matter of social integration because all our friends and our role models were trans. We were introverted. We became more exposed to hate-motivated killings. The Hose came and broke our doors, burned our houses down. We gained Kurtuluş and Pangaltı but still…