We started this interview with the joke that one ought to publish it with the title “Two bisexual women – a love story between Corum and Bandirma.” These are two small provinces in Turkey that no one associates with love between women. As this alternative title says, Gozde and Melahat are two bisexual women. They shared with kaosGL.org their “friendship as fellow travelers,” their fun chats, what they’ve learned from each other, and their love.
There are two different theories as to how Gozde and Melahat met. “I met her during the 2nd Symposium against Discrimination whereas she met me at the Anti-Homophobia Meeting last year. You see, there is a 5-month gap in between,” explains Gozde. The reason, amnesia.
“Melahat does not remember when we first met but I can’t really forget as it was a kind of ill-tempered one. When we introduced ourselves to each other again last year at the Anti-Homophobia Meeting, I cracked a joke about it, which made me feel relaxed.”
Now, let’s hear the story from Melahat: “We spent a good deal of time together during the events of Anti-Homophobia Meeting in May. Gozde and her friends helped me a lot with organizational matters, we were always together. We had a friendly intimacy and it went just like that for a while. And I already had a lover back then. Also Gozde was seeing someone…”
Then interrupts Gozde: “I wasn’t seeing someone. I had a lover, too [laughs].”
Gozde: After that, the Izmir Pride took place and we spent some time together.
Melahat: We can say [our relationship] started after the Pride.
Gozde: No, it did not start after that, we still had a month to go [laughs]. I can say that we started talking and meeting more often after the Pride.
Melahat: Yeah, in time our feelings got more intense and we opened up to each other. Back then, I was in love with another woman and I realized that I’m attracted to two persons at the same time. I can say that it was a little confusing period for me.
After that Melahat decides to tell how she feels to both women:
“I shared my feelings deep from my heart with both of them. I did not want to deceive either myself or the women I love. I thought that it could go on as it was but, of course, it was important that they were comfortable with the situation. When I brought it up, they were both very understanding. Since they said “what we live as a couple is only our business”, we continued like that for a while. Now it is only me and Gozde. So to say, we are back to monogamy [laughs].
“No such love was ever seen before,” or was it?
Patricia Carli’s 1968 song, “Que C’est Triste Un Monde Sans Amour” [“How Sad It Is, A World Without Love”], questions the hypocrisy surrounding familial teachings of love and draws attention to how children encounter, with astonishment as they grow up, the notion of alienation, which she argues configures adult human relations. In stark contrast, its Turkish version by Ajda Pekkan, “Üç Kalp” [“Three Hearts”], slams polyamory, taking a broken polyamorous relationship at face value and herewith arguing that one ought not to love more than one person at a time.
I remind them of its famous lyrics, “how can two hearts be lived with a single heart / the one who loves two dies twice,” with which Melahat strongly disagrees:
“Why not, it happens. It is not as if it disappears when you say no such a thing can exist. People feel in diverse ways. Or they might not be so visible! For example, we even gave some thought to whether we should be including this in the interview, because of the possible irritating reactions we might get. What matters is mutual agreement, consent, happiness. It is my first experience of that, too, but I wasn’t against it before. But still, to me it seems like it’s all about how true we are to ourselves, to our feelings; how open we are to change and how we have afforded ourselves with the freedom to express such feelings.”
“What’s your relationship?”
I wonder whether they faced any obstacles in front of their relationship. Melahat explains how tiring it gets to be forced to define a “relationship proper”:
“We did not have obstacles for our relationship. But, surely, there are some obstacles, the whole world. When we see those obstacles for everyone, we find the solution in fighting heterosexism and other forms of authority. But it takes time, effort, hope, patience…”
“Our organizations and close activist circle were not creating that pressure. They have always been empowering for us, providing us with a space to breathe in. Although it wasn’t the only thing bothering us in life, people around us were asking us about our relationship. We did not deny it but we did not declare it with a certain title, either. Then we started calling each other lover and that’s why we are lovers now.”
Gozde thinks that a relationship does not necessarily require a definition: “It was not something we really defined. That was strange to feel obliged to talk about something you don’t really define. Because it’s not a thing to be defined.”
What they understood from their being together became clearer to them as they spent more time together. As Melahat is in Ankara and Gozde in Izmir, they covered hundreds of kilometers to meet.
Gozde: Pamukkale Turizm [a coach company in Turkey] became my lover [laughs].
Melahat: And Kamil Koc [another coach company] made a good profit out of me [laughs].
Gozde tells how they got to know each other better:
“Of course, it can never be a state of full understanding. You begin your observations in the process of taking the other person along with you as you discover something new about yourself everyday. It is also about desire. As long as there is the desire to do so, there are tons of stuff to discover about the other person at any one moment.”
“Our relationship empowers other women”
Although, as their relationship gained visibility they received some unknown messages like “she is cheating on you,” Melahat tells that the general reaction to their relationship has been predominantly positive:
“Because we share about our relationship and live it openly, it has the potential to empower other people. We got so many positive comments from people we know and we don’t who follow our social media accounts. We realized that it especially empowers lesbians and bisexual women, which made us very happy.”
Gozde: For example, Melahat got so many fans through my blog. They love her a lot.
Melahat: [They say things] like we’ll hug you wherever we see you.
Gözde: As the messages are mostly anonymous, they write easily.
Melahat: The names are not visible.
Gözde: That’s what anonymous means, lovely [laughs].
“It is super fun to hold hands”
For Gozde, it is a great feeling that both she and Melahat are open about their sexuality:
“It is not even about the orientation, I think this is my first relationship which is so visible. I enjoy the pleasure. We call our relationship a path through which we walk together. And it is super fun to hold hands. Having this reflected in real life is unbelievably beautiful and gives me peace. Besides, being part of the LGBTI movement as activists, it is super fun to try to do stuff together. Sharing our ideas with each other gives me hope. Because this relationship nurtures us not only romantically but in so many different ways.”
“I love her open heart”
The 3 things that you like most about each other?
Melahat: I love the way she hugs. Makes me warm inside. I feel very peaceful when she hugs me.
I like her conversations. For her, everything can be thought, talked about, discussed and shared. She is very constructive and understanding. One topic leads to another, and we have so much fun as we talk. It makes me feel so good to have such a communication with the woman I love.
I also love her mind. No secret plots… She is a clever woman with good political analysis and sense of humor.
Gozde: I think, first of all, her being open-hearted. I mean, she does not hide anything. Whatever is in her heart comes out as it is from her mouth. That impresses me a lot. If something is black, she is not trying to show it as gray, we hold together for the good parts of black.
Then, I must say, our camaraderie on the same path. I don’t feel like being dragged in my journey with her. It is sometimes hand to hand, sometimes knee to knee, and sometimes eye to eye. You know it, too, as activists we are not living easy lives. I’m not saying that to agitate or to say “look how difficult it is,” but there are some psychological shifts that we need to go through faster than other people. For example, we hear of sad news of losing a friend of ours but we try to keep fighting against the reasons that cost our friend’s life. Such sudden shifts, experiencing some feelings like grief in different forms… And not everyone really takes it. Or it takes taking some other hands [laughs]. At that point, I can truly say that Melahat is a great friend on that road. Neither ignoring the stones on the road, nor stopping the walk when she sees the stones.
I adore the beauty of her insides. And she is patient. I mean, this question is a little cruel because I can’t limit myself to only 3 things. But maybe, as a last remark, the reflection of her eyes on her hands. Anyone who sat with her will notice; her head is always full of problems that she is constantly trying to find solutions to; in a passing moment when these thoughts pause, you can see that moment in her hands. I love that.
“When you don’t hide your feelings…”
What have you learned in this relationship?
Melahat: We learn together. As we share, through time. And it never ends. It is great that we continue our relationship without hurting each other. These days when I think about our relationship, I go like “What is love? Love is goodness, friendship. Love is labor… [Referring to a well-known quote from the 1978 Atif Yılmaz movie, The Girl with the Red Scarf].
Gozde: Although I did not learn it in my relationship with Melahat, I felt it the most with her: When you don’t hide your feelings and do deal with minor stuff, the emerging feelings are flattered. Because sometimes some unnecessary tension wears you out. If I love, if I’m happy, I like to continue without making up problems. Talking about everything as it is, maybe that’s what I do. More comfortable, more open and healthier.
“I can’t forget the happiness when I introduced Gozde to my family”
What is that you’ll never forget?
Melahat: When I introduced Gozde to my family lately. My family is open-hearted and nice. They have always been nice to my friends. But I was wondering how it would go with us. I mean, it is the first time I’m introducing a girlfriend of mine to them. I talked with my mother and brother a little beforehand. We didn’t talk about our relationship. But my family was so relaxed and close to Gozde as if they knew her for ages. I can’t forget the happiness that I had that day.
Gozde: One of the things that I cannot forget is a night that we spent in a hospital. A friend of ours was hit by a taxi. After a very intense week and night, there came this tragic event. I can’t forget the night we spent in the emergency. How we ran around in the corridors, how we sat in a bench in the cold of the night, how we waited for a result… That night connected us even more. And I can’t forget how we couldn’t sleep due to tiredness once we were home.
“It is very much important to give yourself a chance”
Lastly, you now that the fear of loneliness is kind of high among LGBT people. Apart from the difficulties finding someone, people do not fully enjoy their relationship because of social pressure, making them feel hopeless about romance. What would be your message to people who feel that way?
Melahat: I know that it is not easy but pessimism doesn’t make it any easier. It sometimes even prevents you from seeing the good experiences and experiencing them. There are roads in front of us to walk. What we need is more will and courage. Of course, your road will cross with someone else’s. It is possible.
Gozde: It is not like two parallel lines in space. Roads do cross, for sure. For example, when we first met I would not even guess that we would be as we are today. It is very much important to give yourself a chance. Very much!
 Ömer Akpınar, “Bana sarıldığında içim ısınıyor,” Kaos GL, 13 February 2015, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=18737 (in Turkish)
 In Turkish, the concepts of “lover” and “girlfriend / boyfriend / partner” are often expressed using the same word, “sevgili,” lit. “the one with love.”
Update 02/16/2015: Added the link to Gozde’s blog.