“Let’s fight against Homophobia by having our stories told”

Lesbian, bisexual, and transsexual women tell stories about the violation of their rights and how they were exposed to discrimination. First story by Zeynep S.

Source: Aslı Alpar, “Hikâyelerimiz anlatılsın diye homofobiye karşı mücadele edelim”, Kaos GL, March 19, 2018, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=25360

About 2 months remain before the 17th of May, the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. Throughout these 2 months lesbian, transsexual and bisexual women, through KaosGL.org, are going to tell their stories of the violation of their rights and how they were exposed to discrimination. We will listen to lesbian, bisexual and transsexual women’s experiences in every aspect of life from education, health and family to work life.

The first story belongs to Zeynep S:

Not being able to tell our story

I have experienced discrimination in regards to sexual orientation several times. Being verbally abused by your peers in school and by your family and the inability to walk the streets holding hands; aren’t these already discrimination? Still, I want to talk about my most tragi-comical discriminative experiences. I call it tragi-comical because it was in an event organised by an NGO that claims to be working for women’s rights where I came across by the event organiser turned into discriminative behaviour.

Eight years ago, there was a meeting in Ankara. Women’s conditions and experiences were supposed to be discussed. In this activity, women of different ages were gathered together and the mediated conversation was directed to recounting experiences. The topic was sexism.

Immediately starting to talk in a meeting has never been a thing I would do. I waited, I listened to everyone else. Listening to severe sexual harassment stories encouraged my audacity. Yet, I continued listening. About 10 women quoted their stories. Rape in marriage, sexual abuse, safe sex methods and abortion were discussed. All the sexism-related experiences discussed were between men and women. Possibly. I wanted to tell my story, too, but since no other homosexual women shared their experience and even the existence of homosexual women wasn’t discussed I was pushed to my corner.

There were some missing points, but there was a sincere atmosphere. I decided to tell my story as the meeting was getting to the end. I felt brave since I had recently come out to my mother. I started talking, before telling my story I decided to make an introduction.

I said: “We spoke about sexism but all the stories where experiences between woman and man,” I was about to continue when one of the participants said: “what else could it possibly be.” It was one of those times when I would escape from speaking in a meeting; when I heard that I blushed and my heart was jumping out of my mouth. The moderator didn’t say anything so as I was trying to calm myself down I said, “sexism can be experienced between women too.”

The moderator asked, “Are you a homosexual?”

I answered, “Your topic has nothing to do with me being a homosexual or not. This is the topic; sexism is not only being experienced between men and women.” This broke my courage including the story I was about to tell.

The moderator asked again: “Are you a homosexual? Please tell if you’re lesbian, as long as you’re telling your story.”

This insistence, encouraged the guests as they were staring at me with their curious eyes, someone asked, “Some doctors believe your homosexuality is an illness, have you ever received treatment?”

I told them homosexuality was not a disease, that their claim was not scientific and that I identify myself as bisexual. As I was not yet done with my sentence, the moderator panicked and said things like: “our meeting is about to end. We have said quite a lot in the past 1.5 hours.” However, s/he didn’t say anything to the participant who said “homosexuality is illness” and s/he ended the meeting. My story stayed with me.

In the end, a title was asked for this series of articles. I would say: “Let’s fight against Homophobia by having our stories told”, this is my title.

Photo Credit: Kelly Beeman

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