No, I’m not gay. Although I do have a former neighbor who might argue that point. Lot’s of my friends are black, I mean gay. I have to laugh here. I have heard so many times over the years, upon an acquaintance discovering I am part African-America, the same sentence, “Lots of my friends are black.” And I always respond the same way, “Really? Have you been to their homes? Have they been to yours?” [Sarcasm added.]
But truly, lots of my friends are gay. And yes, they have been to my home and I have been to theirs. In fact, I invited one friend to live with me. I wasn’t afraid or anything! [Sarcasm again.]
I used to live in the heart of Philadelphia’s “gayborhood”, or what I liked to call, “the gay ghetto.” As a straight person in my 8-unit building, I was part of a clear minority. Philadelphia boasts lots of gay bars, the big annual gay pride parade, at least one fitness center that is predominantly gay, gay flag football leagues, at least one gay newspaper, and the bell of the ball – the Henri David Halloween Ball! Go Philly!
I probably mentioned in one of my earlier posts that my wedding was a rainbow of nationalities and colors. We had guests that were born and raised in far-away lands: Eritrea, India, Jamaica, Australia, Germany, China, and more. Shades ran from porcelain white vanilla to creamy dark chocolate, with hints of lemony yellow and cherry red in between. But in addition, our wedding was a rainbow of life choices. Old and young married couples, lots of singles, and at least three gay couples and one lesbian couple. Our wedding was fabulous!
But now to the heart of this post, did you know that in Turkey there are no gays? Ask almost any Turk on the street. They would be embarrassed by such a question! Of course there aren’t! The fact that men walk arm in arm, kiss each other in public, wear extremely tight pants, and hold wrestling events in which they wear leather pants, go topless, and smother themselves in olive oil means nothing. Tee hee.
Seriously though, I know religion plays a major role in many lives, but I am wondering if that is the reason that so many people here will tell you Turkey is without gays. None of us cross all of our t’s and dot all of our i’s when it comes to practicing our religions. We “live in sin” with our lovers, we drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes, we eat shell fish, we have abortions, and some of us even support our gay friends.
Yes, I am Catholic. And I am the first to admit that I definitely don’t follow all of the rules. Thank Goodness! And I praise the Lord that some of my gay friends do not feel as though they are pushed out of the Catholic Church, and continue to practice their faith as well.
I know of three gay men in Turkey. One is a Brit who blogs about being gay in Turkey. I have never met him personally, but he’s an awesome guy! I believe his partner is also a Brit. (I should get back to reading his blog more regularly so that I can confirm that.)
The second is a Canadian. I only met him once, and frankly, just assumed he was gay. I did get confirmation on that later. Although I did not ask the nationality of his partner, or if he currently even has one. (If he doesn’t, my male friends should check him out. He’s hot!)
The third is another Brit. Although I am not close with him, I do know that he has a Turkish partner. Aha! There it is! A Turkish gay male! I knew there had to be at least one. [Sarcasm again!]
I must admit that I don’t know much about the gay lifestyle here, but I felt compelled to write about it. I am told that there are gay bars down in Ulus. I would like to learn more about that. To me, Ulus can be a very cool place by day. But at night, it looks very seedy. Bars are open until the wee hours of the morning. Hookers run the streets. Gambling goes on there. Lots of fights in the streets. And I’m told this is the home to the local mafia. This is not a place where I would want to see my gay friends hanging out, thrown in with the “deviants”. But perhaps I am wrong. If you know any better. Let me know.
Finally, I would like to pass on some good news. I hear Turkey will hold it’s first ever Queer Film Festival! It’s to take place right here in Ankara – the country’s capital. (I can’t believe it’s not in Istanbul or Antalya) and starts November 17th. I have no idea from where Turkey will import all of the gays (now I’m laughing as I fall off my chair.) I hope it goes over well and will open the door to better things.
Some interesting reading on the subject: Click here.
More details on the Festival in English: Click here.