Human Rights / Family

They Are After A ‘First’

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

They identify themselves as the “marginal of the marginal” because of the pressure and discrimination that they suffer.
ANKARA- It is seen as a big problem by the society, the cohabitation of homosexuals, that are sometimes disclaimed even by their mothers, fathers and siblings; the victims of hate crimes, that the people can’t even stand seeing them walking on the street. Aras and Barış, who struggle to live in such a reality, are in preparation of leading the way in Turkey getting married to each other.
There are many identities in the world that are marginalized and unseen because of their races, religions and life styles. The top of the list is the homosexual identity that is discriminated in every field, and assumed as the “marginal of the marginal”. One of the biggest problems that the homosexuals encounter occurs in their need for cohabitation. Besides not getting accepted by the society in Turkey, this need is not legally secured by the government yet. Aras Güngör and Barış Sulu are in a preparation for leading the way to a homosexual marriage in such conditions in a country like Turkey. Right along with the problems that homosexuals suffer in Turkey, with Barış and Aras, we talked about their lives that brought them together.
‘You are one of the most beautiful friendships I’ve ever made’
Barış Sulu was born in 1978, in Nazilli, and Aras Güngör in 1983, in Ankara. Barış, who mentions that he is a part of homosexual-bisexual, travestite and transexual movement since 1998, tells that he is working professionally in Kaos GL since 2008 and is a volunteer of Pembe Hayat. Barış tells the way he met Aras as follows: “I met Aras in May, 2009.  The activities of The Meeting Against Homophobia and Transphobia were going on in Ankara, and I was about to leave the office of Kaos GL in order to participate in the activities. Just then, the bell rang. It was Aras at the door and he had came to get some information. I told him that I was very busy and I was about to go to Ekin Art Center. Then we walked to Ekin Art Center together. That was how we met for the first time. Then, he kept coming to Kaos insistently, and helped for the works; transcribed the interviews and hosted people. Later, he decided to go on doing these works in Pembe Hayat. In this process, our friendship developed as well. Once in 2009 I remember that he said ‘You are one of the most beautiful friendships I’ve ever made’. Then, in November 2010 we found ourselves in a relationship. We have been together for 4 months.”

‘We want the homosexual marriage to get opened up for discussion.’

In a time that their right of living hangs by a thread, Barış tells the decision of making a homosexual marriage in such difficulties:  “There is no priority of rights for us. There is nothing like ‘first this right should be granted, then let’s deal with that one’. As heterosexuals do, homosexuals should be able to cohabit, marry and get benefit from many rights too”. Barış, who mentions that they ask themselves continuously if marriage is a right or not, states that first of all they want homosexual marriage to get opened up for discussion, and secondly trans-identities to get discussed. Barış says “in this country there are trans-identities. Not just trans-women but also trans-men exist. We want it to be seen. Then we want it to get opened up for a discussion in terms of the rights. We want to initiate the discussion about why they don’t have the rights that hetero-couples have, at a point that two people love each other and touch each other’s lives”. 

‘We want the concepts of womanhood and manhood to get discussed once again’

Aras mentions too that the main reason why they bring the issue of marriage forward is the demand for equalization of rights. Aras, who states that they question the issues such as womanhood, manhood and marriage says: “We have problems about the meanings attributed to this concepts. We think that these concepts should get redefined. However, if some can use this right, LGBTT couples should be able to do so. That’s all of our purpose. We want to raise an awareness about it, or, there is something like that: with my lover, the one I have been together for 10 years, I want to have rights about the properties that we owned together. I want to accompany my lover at the hospital when something happens to him. I want it to be asked to my lover about the permission for the donation of my organs when I die; because he is my family. But these are directly ignored because we can’t get married. However, till the issue of the consent of my partner about organ donation, I can’t even take part in his funeral. Likewise about the right of inheritance; when I die, my partner should surely benefit from the properties that we owned together. Or, when of the partners is jailed, the system prevents you from seeing your lover in a moment that you both need each other mostly, since it ignores your relationship. This is a sort of violation of rights, and there are many other types of injustice for LGBTT individuals in many legal cases that we don’t mention here. These should be get equalized. This is a very clear demand.”
 ‘No one can identify me over someone else‘

Aras, who is a trans-man, says: “In addition, trans-men are already ignored, and there is a perception of trans individuals to be heterosexual. If you were about to love a man, then why did you need to become a ‘man’? It is not the person in my life that determines my gender. What matters actually is the way I feel and the way I express myself. My gender and my sexual orientation are not determined when I am with a partner. This is already the situation that I am in, something I already carry since my childhood. It goes also for the trans-individuals. My trans-identity is not something that exists in terms of my relationship with someone. I’ve known my trans-identity since I was 5 years old. And I, with a male existence, can love another man. No one can identify me on someone else; only I can identify myself based on my own existence”. After mentioning that sexual orientations are defined as homosexual, bisexual and heterosexual in the data of World Health Organization, Barış points out the incorrect perspective in society saying: “We live in a society where trans-men are considered heterosexuals. Trans-individuals can be gay or bisexual too, it is as simple as that. As a biological man can be homosexual or bisexual, trans men and trans women can be homosexual or bisexual too, in fact it is not very confusing”.

‘We will benefit from the legal gap’
Barış, who mentions that İn Turkey the legal situation of marriage is defined based on the ‘blue’ and ‘pink’ identities, says: “In Turkey, a pink identity can marry a blue identity. But two blue identities or two pink identities can’t marry each other. However, since the legal gap doesn’t question the sexual orientation of individuals, we will benefit from this gap and get marry in order to emphasize that homosexual identities can marry too, using the fact that one of us has a blue identity card and the other has a pink one”. Aras, who states that they don’t expect to face with any legal barriers, says: “If any difficulties get raised against our marriage, I think it will be for our benefit. You called me with a name that I didn’t embrace, you gave me an identity that I don’t want to have, you determined my religion without my consent, you determined my gender, you decided my sexual orientation, and now, depending on the thing that you consider me; I want to use this right. But if you still don’t let me use it neither, this is the indicator that this system reveals its transphobia in no uncertain terms. It is a way to say ‘you two cannot love one another’. We are thinking about to struggle legally if our marriage is precluded.”      

Nobody can develop an exploitive moral on the labor of others…
Barış and Aras, who mention that they are insistent on the decision of marriage, state that this will atke part in the agenda of LGBT organizations, and express their worry about it. Barış states his worry saying: “On the other side, I think it will come to the fore in LGBT organizations. Because we said ‘There is no need to put marriage into words while we couldn’t have our right to live yet”. Indeed, it is true in one way; but as a medium for putting our living rights into words, we think that the core institution of the system should have got discussed”. Likewise, Aras, pointing out that all conjugal communities as well should be questioned, says: “In Turkey, there still exist marriages out of the will of women. There are extorted marriages, child brides, and marriage shows on TV when you take a look at the Turkish TV channels. People directly ask the incomes of the candidates before asking their names. That is the criteria determined for marriage. There are morning shows, in which people talk about their family lives. So, what is the level of Turkey in supporting the marriages? How can this marriage get discussed by these people? This a situation that should come up from a different standpoint”. Aras, remarking that they aim at questioning the roles of being male and female, explains: “When you get married, there occurs an unspoken casting call. The man shall earn money, and the woman shall take pains with the domestic jobs, shall raise children. The man shall earn money, gain status and spare time via this invisible labor of woman. The woman shall raise the child, it will be her basic responsibility. And if those children become ‘good’ children, man shall be proud of it; if they are raised badly, the woman shall be considered incompetent. There are social roles like that”. Aras, denoting that they have a relationship which turns this roles upside down, says: “Our economic experiences are different from one another. The concept of ‘labor’ is very important at this point. Nobody can develop an exploitive moral on the labor of others. For instance, we don’t live at the same house, and we don’t have an intention to do so in the future.”
If you are marginalizing too, this is the most dangerous point

Aras states that people learn to be heterosexual in society, and pointing out that being a LGBT individual is something learned too, says: “How to be a gay, how should a gay be, how should a trans be, in fact we learn all these things too. Being a LGBT doesn’t take the individuals out of the system. If you are a trans-man, you should be very macho. From the way you walk to the way you talk, everything should be explicit. This is something that reproduces the societal manhood. Trans-woman should put on makeup, and should be ‘more woman’, should serve for men. Because trans women as well learn from their mothers how to be a woman. We want to turn this fact upside down too”. Barış says: “How to be a homosexual man and how to be a homosexual woman are unfortunately things that we teach each other. Sometimes, we, between us, can marginalize all the issues that we criticize in the society. I indicate that the coupling of a homosexual man and a trans-man should be visible. This the most dangerous point if you marginalize some people in a society that marginalizes you”. Aras denotes that they struggle not just against the heterosexual world, but also against the LGBT society, and says: “When I told that I have a relationship with Barış, a heterosexual friend said ‘you said you were male?’, this person was out of LGBT activism; however, I heard smoothed versions of this sentence from LGBT activists too. It was said as ‘well, what are you now?’. I just fell for a human being. There is nothing difficult to understand on this.” (DİHA)

Translation: Vildan Seçkiner

Picture: "Bize Bir Yasa Lazım" / "We Need A Law"


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