I am a student in comparative linguistics. I used to have a punk band and I am still working on music projects and other creative stuff like painting and photography. Besides of that I am doing some activism. When the coup happened I was in my hometown, together with my parents. We were watching everything going on in İstanbul on TV, it was very strange. I felt bizarre, just like in some kind of dystopic novel. I felt scared, because there was something happening out of your control – and will eventually affect your life.
It’s still considered as a coup détat, the police has the utmost power. They can for example stop you on the street and ask for your documents or anything else. So you feel insecure, living your very daily life. If you do something inappropriate, you can be stopped and get in trouble. In fact, your life is not only yours anymore. There are investigations on professors in universities, who signed on this peace contract action. A couple of days ago when we entered the university, the security checked our university ID cards for the first time in years. It’s one of the little things that makes you feel strange and become more fearful.
As a queer person in turkey you have to deal with more pressue than a heteronormative person, for sure. For example your appearance: if you go out dressed up not considered ’normal‘, you can be harrassed by the people on the streets, which comes as no surprise all around the world. The more you fit into standards, the less you get harmed. But as those creepy people gain more power, they feel like they have the right to catcall you, or stare at you or do other awful things.
Well of course the situation changes from area to area. I moved to this neighborhood 2 years ago, because I feel safer here. When I was living in a more conservative area, people used to harrass me very often. Here, I do not experience that kind of things. But beside of that I hate the stereotype of Istanbul being not safe – there is no place that is absolute safe at the moment!
Of course you have disadvantages here, but you also have so many events and solidarity. The queer community is big, you can easily meet new people if you know where. I never identified as queer to my parents, but I came out to my sister about my sexual orientation 3 years ago. I had to tell at least one member of my family, because I felt very isolated from them. It’s still a big deal in turkey, most of the parents do not know anything about such things -or they simply ignore. I gave them many signs that I won’t lead a „normal“ life, in that case I think they know me. I do not live with them, that’s a big relief.
For the last 3 years the government banned the pride parade, so we try to do other small actions besides of the march itself, like painting part of the streets in rainbow colors during the parade, in between loads of cops in Taksim. But whatever you do – you always have to take care and watch out for others, for instance your direct action group should not be too large, because police could attack you. We learned so many things in this circumstances, really. Since the referendum, new LGBTI+ groups have formed, organizing political workshops, readings and other events. I am trying to be more involved in activism, because I hate to feel useless. I want to be useful for others and for myself, not just stay in my own small world.
It’s a bad time for demonstrations right now, you will labeled as a terrorist instantly. So the actions have to be smaller and wiser. Sometimes I hate all of this and want to leave, but then I think need to stay. After Gezi protests, the LGBTI+ communities in fact gained more power, because we had to learn how to organise and stick together if we want to survive. That was a positive aspect amongst all the bad things. Finally, i don’t see the political leaders as saviours yet I believe in the power of people.