we are gezi

It was never downright illegal to be LGBTQ in Turkey but there is no legislation against discrimination and hate crime, which makes life very precarious for queers. In fact, Turkey is one of the countries with the highest number of trans murders. Also, there are instances where the basic rights of trans people have been hijacked, like when a famous trans singer was banned from going on stage in the 1980s. More recently, trans individuals were fined for “exhibitionism” for merely going about their lives in the clothing of the gender they identify with. Although NGOs fighting for LGBTQ rights have been working diligently for over two decades, society is still homophobic and transphobic. While the queer community has feminist, anarchist and leftist allies, these supporters have a problematic relationship with LGBTQ politics, to say the least. The Gezi movement was an important moment in spreading coalition. We personally joined the Gezi movement because we were afraid that, the way things were going, we would not be able to do the Pride parade. It all started with the ban of International Labour Day demonstrations that take place on the 1st of May each year. The government closed down public transport and traffic in major bridges, roads and so on, to prevent people from reaching Taksim square where the demonstrations were going to take place and where Gezi Park is situated. Then, throughout May, not a single demonstration could happen on Istiklal Street (the street that leads to Taksim square and Gezi Park), where there is usually at least one demonstration daily. Whenever a group holding a sign came together, even if it was just five people, the police used gas. This street is also where the Pride parade is held every year. So, by the end of May, when the Gezi movement started, we joined in to defend not only Pride but public assembly in general. The LGBTQ community had also specific reasons for defending Gezi Park against demolition as the park is a cruising area for gay men. When a very wide spectrum of people came together at Gezi, most of them had never even met a LGBTQ person before, yet, they ended up resisting side by side. The Gezi movement was dispersed very violently by the end of June but, paradoxically, when we still took to the streets for the Pride parade on the last Sunday of June, no one cared to stop us. Considering the preceding violence towards public protest, that was the first occasion that a demonstration was not stopped. So, with the Gezi protestors joining us, Pride 2013 became the biggest to date with over fifty thousand people.
—  Istanbul Queer Art Collective, Tuna Erdem