Personal Stories

Personal stories on LGBTI issues in Turkey

My Pride Story: Pride from Sisterhood to Sapphism

 

Today in Pride Stories: Who cannot settle with feminist sisterhood, sapphism and LezBiFem

Gaye’s Pride Story

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Nowadays, I am in the middle of a busy work schedule which I thought was ‘temporary’ at first. Like other things that I postpone, I was waiting for the right time and place to write and share my little story, with a cup of coffee on the table and shed from the anxiety of being late to work.  Sometimes activism needs the right time and place too… For me and my friends, working or being broke is such a common reason for not being able to go or organize an event; it is a relief to know that we will run into each other at Pride at least.

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My Pride Story: From 15 people to tens of thousands

Today in Pride Stories: From the first Kaos GL cortege on May Day 2001 to Pride Marches of tens of thousands…


Murat Özen’s Pride Story

It’s the year 2001, my senior year in university. As a “kezban” [1] who has just begun to know his identity, I frequently go to Kaos GL. In one of these visits, I overhear a discussion on whether to join May Day demonstrations as Kaos GL. When they ask me “will you come as well?”, I cannot say yes straight away.

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My Pride Story: Istiklal has never been so beautiful

Today in Pride stories: Friends calling to ask “are you ok”, my brother calling to ask “what are you doing with those fags” (!)

Cihan’s Pride story

When I read Hakan’s Pride story in the middle of the night, I said to myself “Yes, I have to share mine as well”.

Last year’s Pride March was my first Pride as well. In the previous years I was mostly held back by my make-up exams – I’m not lazy, studying medicine is hard work- and more importantly visibility was a problem for me. I was thinking that I would be somehow visible among the tens of thousands of people and not having an Istanbulite koli [1] to stay with and being poor had impacts as well.

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My Pride Story: Ideological banner!

Today in Pride stories: Our paths, that crossed for the first time with the people in our procession during that march, never parted.

Tunca Özlen’s Pride story

It’s 2012, a year has passed since we founded the Red of the Rainbow, together with a handful of people. The pride of coming out, finding each other and holding on together is not enough. The struggle is pushing us to producing politics, to going out on the streets. We want to see what our political claims correspond to in life. With the hope we mustered at the march we attended in Ankara, we rolled up our sleeves for Istanbul Pride March. 

We said we would walk behind the banner “Equal citizenship is in socialism!” After all, we believe in equality against discrimination, citizenship against pan-Islamism, socialism against capitalism. We have never gotten banners made in our lives and here I found myself in a flagmaker’s on Kazım Karabekir Avenue. Then off we go to Istanbul. It was time for Pride March. It’s our first time participating as an organization, we are excited of course. With our red rainbow flags and our banner, we joined the march from a point we saw fit.

A friend, who we later on found out was a part of the Pride Week Organizing Committee did not take his/her time to ‘welcome’ us: “Your banner is ideological, you either take it down or walk at the back!” Only we were ideological among the thousands of rainbow flags, slogans against heterosexism, the tens of thousands who filled Istiklal Avenue, ultimately we are communists! The imposition of “Pride March above politics” is itself ideological, we don’t buy that! We said “We will walk behind this banner, through the crowd”. And we did what we said, we are communists after all.

Our paths, that crossed for the first time with the people in our procession during that march, never parted. We were a few before the march, our numbers grew, even if [just] a little, after the march. We accepted being a few at the beginning, in order to grow. If we took down our banner that day, we would have given up altogether. Today we are not few at all, for we focused on growing our crowd and not on our banner. But we are still terribly ideological!

Stories multiply as they are shared. If you would like to tell your Pride story as well, send your writing of maximum 500 words to web@kaosgl.org, we will publish it on both Kaos GL and LGBTI News Turkey both in Turkish and English. Do not forget to include your name or nickname.

My Pride Story: Being born into love

Today in Pride stories: Maybe my story doesn’t take place in Istanbul, maybe I didn’t walk with thousands of people, maybe I wasn’t soaked by water cannons but that day a big void inside me was filled.

içimizdenbiri’s Pride story [1]

May 21, 2016/ Lefkoşa [2] March Against Homophobia

Note: Maybe it wasn’t Pride, but it was for me.

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A child, who never thought they could and who never did join Pride, whose self acceptance process started only a few years ago, who is only trying to let themselves go to be happy. This child has only lived inside themselves and raised their voice only for others. But that day something was different, that day this child walked for themselves. You know why? Because love…

Maybe my story does not take place in Istanbul or any other big city in the world, maybe I didn’t walk with thousands of people, maybe I was not soaked by water cannons, I wasn’t exposed to homophobic stares, maybe I wasn’t shot that day, but a big void inside me was filled. The hope that years took away from me piece by piece was standing in front of me as a whole and all it needed was a little courage.

When we got to the starting point of the march, there was a little group and we did not draw too much attention. But minutes later, people started gathering, people who brought their children with them, people who drew rainbows on their faces and eyes. As the crowd got bigger, I couldn’t stop the enthusiasm rising inside me. I grabbed a flag, looked at the crowd and the first thing I felt was happiness. I wasn’t the “other” anymore, I did not feel different. I was there, everyone was seeing me and I was smiling like there is no tomorrow; we were infinite. The march started and people started joining the crowd along the way. Old aunts and uncles applauding from their balconies. Slogans, whistles, laughters, I didn’t want any of that to end. But everything ends and so did this, but this end was the beginning of many things.

If I learned anything these past few months of my life, you become someone when you let your guard down, a person. And your whole life stands in front of you and looks at you. Your feelings are free, your thoughts are not restricted. That is when love comes- or not but that’s what you think- it enters your life when you least expect it. The feelings whose existence you did not accept for years stand in front of you like a mountain. No one knows, and many don’t believe it but there you know it and the rest is not important. What you hold on to is not that love or what you feel for that person, it is just that hope. Then the desire to get up and do something is born inside you and your march towards the sun starts.

As Sezen Aksu [3] says “If I didn’t die of love, if I wasn’t born into love, would I devote myself to fairy tales?”

Stories multiply as they are shared. If you would like to tell your Pride story as well, send your writing of maximum 500 words to web@kaosgl.org, we will publish it on both Kaos GL and LGBTI News Turkey both in Turkish and English. Do not forget to include your name or nickname.

Translator’s Notes:

[1] İçimizden biri means one of us in Turkish.

[2] Lefkoşa is the Turkish name for Nicosia, a city in Northern Cyprus.

[3] Sezen Aksu is an iconic Turkish singer/song-writer.

My pride story: I’m here and resisting, my love!

Until the earth becomes the face of love: “I’m here and resisting, my love!” [1]

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Hakan’s Pride Story

As a lubunya [2] from Ankara who came out 3 years ago, 2015 Istanbul LGBTI Pride March was my first pride march. When I was a student I could not join because I had no money and later on because I had to work on weekends.

Can someone be assaulted in their first ever Pride March? Apparently, yes, one can.

On Friday, I left for Istanbul from Ankara on the high speed train. I felt both the excitement of Pride and the pride to be finally able to go to Pride. I had previously marched in my own city on May 17 [IDAHOT] and it was the time when I felt the dynamism of the LGBT movement intensely. I was fighting, I was transforming.

After I got off the train, my lover and his flatmate picked me up from Pendik. Yes, Pendik. You love the people picking you up even more, when they travel all that distance to Pendik. Then we caught up on all the fun of Pride Week. That same night we enjoyed ourselves in Tünel, we drank and danced. On Saturday we went to the picnic at Maçka and met lots of beautiful people there. We fell in jugs of beer on Mis Street, partied again, had fun again and kissed on the streets!

Resist Pride March!

Then that day arrived. On the morning of the march we had our breakfast and went to Taksim around 15:30. I shared the video “Mahsun, take me to Taksim” from the film “Tabutta Rövaşata” that morning. Because “I had to go” to Taksim. We saw the tension and the police check points. We considered the possibility for an assault. But we still entered Taksim with Hasan, holding hands. Although that day was the Pride March, those who saw us hand in hand looked twice at us. I thought to myself, “Visibility is a must in our heteronormative society”.

That’s when the resistance started. We could not go up to Taksim from the side streets. We had to drop our lollipop banners and get out. As soon as we got out, a TOMA [3] came from the direction of Taksim and cornered us on Mis Street with high pressure water. We got gassed on Mis Street. We first took refuge in nearby establishments. I can tell you the spirit of Mis Street was glorious. We were together with those who stood against the TOMAs and who resisted for hours.

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We got gassed, resisted and stood against our assailants together. But I cannot deny that the most significant and the most romantic moments were when my lover sprayed Talcid [4] on my face as I got gassed. When it is so difficult even to come out, to come to a point where you can resist against the system and the assault with your lover on your side, it is a memory that makes me shiver to this day. It feels extremely good when you have someone worrying for you as you resist and when you both try to save each other from harm against the police.

Even though we ended our relationship two months after our resistance together, Hasan remains my biggest comrade in the path of resistance I have taken.

Until the Earth becomes the face of love: “I’m here and resisting, my love!”

Click here for the original Turkish version of this story on our project partner KaosGL.org.

Stories grow as we share. If you want to tell your Pride story, send your maximum 500 word story to web@kaosgl.org and we’ll publish it in Turkish and English on Kaos GL and LGBTI News Turkey. Don’t forget to add your name or pseudonym!

 

[1] A popular chant in Pride Istanbul goes: “Where are you my love? I’m here my love!”

[2] Lubunya refers to a gay or trans person in Lubunca, the LGBT slang spoken in Turkey.

[3] Intervention Vehicle to Social Events is the infamous water cannon vehicle used by the Turkish police.

[4] The lozenges used for stomach problems, they are also used for their anti-acid effect against the teargas.

 

 

My Pride Story: No descriptions!

 

Today in Pride stories: Free love is impossible to describe and the ecstasy of getting lost in her eyes…

Pragsidike’s Pride Story

I’m only twenty years old. I have never been able to understand what I was feeling, until today. I never believed in love. I love the cinema, I watched films about homosexuality, the ones which really capture you, I watched most of them with tears in my eyes. I know the cruelty they inflicted for years. Inequality, injustice were everywhere and evermore. People never got past beyond these silly reactions, they were unable to. Together, we will go beyond these…

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Until today, I have always been interested in women, as much as I have been in men. I thought of my interest for women as a matter of emulation, of being inspired by other women. Up until three days ago. Imagine someone who thinks of herself as heterosexual and who does not believe in love, getting lost in a woman’s eyes. The excitement I felt, the tone of her voice, her smile. There is no way to describe how I felt. There shall be no descriptions, we shall love freely.

Click here for the original Turkish version of this story on our project partner KaosGL.org.

Stories grow as we share. If you want to tell your Pride story, send your maximum 500 word story to web@kaosgl.org and we’ll publish it in Turkish and English on Kaos GL and LGBTI News Turkey. Don’t forget to add your name or pseudonym!