In Dersim, a rainbow appears under the moonlight

Source: Yasemin Aykaç, “Dersim’de Gökkuşağı Ayışığında Beliriyor,” (“In Dersim, a rainbow appears under the moonlight”), bianet, 13 February 2014,

Roştîya Asmê, which is the first LGBT association in Dersim, means “moonlight” in Zazaki. Loren Elva says “Homophobia is the same everywhere. Every region calls hate by a different name. We should not be deceived by Dersim’s political stance.”

“We dedicated the name Roştîya Asmê to transgender sex workers who are imprisoned at home in mornings, in darkness at nights, whose rainbows appear under the moonlight, and to homosexuals and transgenders who are slaughtered in the darkness of night, under the light of the moon.”

Roştîya Asmê, which is the first LGBT association to be founded in Dersim, means “moonlight” in Zazaki.

Loren Elva says, “Our fellow transgender female friend in Dersim who was born into this world in the wrong body described her life that she spends under the moonlight at night when darkness falls, after running away from home, renting a house downtown and being trapped in that house during daytime, in the following sentences: `Rainbows usually come out in the daytime, mine on the other hand comes out on pitch-black nights accompanied by moonlight.’ And we decided to give the association this name.” LGBTI people were encouraged by the LGBTI march, which was organized by Keskesor LGBTI in Munzur Festival last year and then they founded Roştîya Asmê.

Being LGBTI in Dersim

“Hate attacks against LGBTI people are the same in every region, in every territory. Hate only changes its name according to the region. In one region a crime committed under the name of a hate attack or a murder of passion might be labelled a custom and in another region a tradition; insanity etc. follow that.”

“However, there is only one thing hiding behind all of these names: “hate.”  Hate is a product of a lack of love. Nowadays, people exist with a lack of love and murders of women and LGBTI people increase day by day.”

Well, what are the advantages and disadvantages of being LGBTI in Dersim?

Elva, noting that there is no experience per se since there are no visible LGBTI people in Dersim, tells the city life for LGBTI people:

“Dersim is a small place and that means people who live here get to know each other in a short period of time, especially in relationships in the neighborhoods and tradesmen. It is easy to understand that a student who comes from outside is a stranger. It is because the face of this student is not familiar or he cannot speak with a Dersim accent.”

“And in a city where almost everybody knows each other, that means that homosexual and transgender people are only known by their gender identity and sexual orientation. With that reason this question comes to mind: Why are LGBTI people not visible?”

“So Dersim is not as comfortable a city as it appears, at least for LGBTI people.”

“We are together to shout out that we are here”

Elva wants us to pay attention to the prevalence of homophobia and transphobia, regardless of political views and she says, “You must not be deceived by Dersim’s political stance.”

“In Dersim, even the clothes of LGBTI people may annoy the people of this town. The common saying “Homosexual people came to Dersim from outside and their purpose is to assimilate us” makes us concerned. Because neither are we outsiders nor are we purposefully assimilating this public. We are also Kurdish, Alevi individuals from Dersim who live in this land. We also own this place and we are giving the fight of existence for it.”

“We are an association which got together to shout out that we exist in these lands by getting out of our houses in which we are trapped, we want to exist and we will exist. Since we are a part of this community, we are giving this justified fight with the aim of living freely with our emotions, which we have suppressed until today.”

“I think that an increase in LGBTI visibility might result in hate attacks towards the LGBTI population. At this point, we must not be deceived by Dersim’s political stance. At least, as an organization we will pay attention to that.”

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