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Gay Relationships In Turkey: Does Anyone Have Information?

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I'd like to know whether anyone has any experience of what it is like for same sex couples in Turkey. When I visited about 15 years ago I was struck by the intimacy and closeness of friends of the same sex, particularly men. However I realise this does not translate to widespread acceptance of same sex couples or homosexuality generally.I am interested in hearing if anyone has had experience of what it is like for lesbians and gay men in Turkey and whether there are bars or clubs where gay people meet. What is it like to be gay or lesbian or same sex attracted in Turkey?

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I have a few gay friends in Turkey, one couple who live there most of the time and another couple who visit often. They seem to rub along with everyone there and there don't seem to be bars specifically for gay customers. As far as I can see they are accepted. This is in a small coastal resort where Europeans are very much in the minority.

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I live in the north of Turkey and if you are gay you certainly wouldn't want to be open about it because you would get badly beaten up or worse. It would also be viewed as a great shame to your family as it is forbidden in the Koran.Recently a gay website was closed down in Turkey.From what I have read it seems to be tolerated in the tourist areas in the south and also Istanbul though you would still run the risk of being harmed if you were too open.

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Yes, Abi is right in her last post about the gay situation here. I don't have any gay friends but I live in the clubland area of Istanbul where Turkish artists live and this bohemian landscape obviously attracts gay couples. I have seen quite a few gay male couples, both foreign and Turkish, around here. Also a nice middle aged gay American frequents my gym and he lives with his partner in Cihangir, which those who know Istanbul well, know to be 'the' arty-farty area in Beyoglu:) Presumably these people keep their sex lives discreet and don't flaunt it. As Abi says, being gay is considered shameful here and gays are in risk of being beaten up if they 'come out' in an obvious way.

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On the other hand on TV a lot of performers seem open about their gay tendencies. The one that comes to mind at the moment in Bulent Ersoy but there are numerous others. Someone will probably tell me I've got it wrong and that he's a transexual or some such but as a non involved person I can't tell the difference. There is a street in Alsancak, Izmir that seems to be well known for transvestites and I've seen some of these hairy men dressed up to the nines in dresses, high heels, wigs and make-up. Where they come from and where they go I've no idea.

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Well, a lot of these performers don't live in Turkey anymore. I don't follow Turkish showbiz gossip but wasn't Tarkan considered to be gay and of course he now lives in New York or at least is based there. Rich showbiz personalities live in a bubble and don't have to conform with neighbours, family or work colleagues.There are transvestite clubs in Taksim too as you probably know. I think that transvestites are not actually homosexual but are straight men who like dressing in women's clothes and using make-up. Eddie Izzard is a famous self-confessed transvestite but is not actually gay as far as I know. I think a transexual is something else i.e. they are either bi-sexual or had a sex change but like you, Sunny, I'm a bit out of my depth here and hardly an authority on the subject!Certainly big cities are more cosmopolitan and tolerant as a whole but I believe if the starter of this thread is gay (he doesn't say he is but he asks for information so he might be) then Ankara isn't in the same category as Istanbul, being an Anatolian city and much more conservative.

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As far as I can perceive (and bearing in mind that I don't live in Turkey, have just spent a lot of time there / married to a Turk), the attitude appears to be more tolerant towards foreign (ie non-Muslim) gay men than to Turkish.There is a widely held notion that gay Turkish men are not 'real Turks', or that real Turkish men can't be gay - therefore I suspect that a lot of Turkish gay men are straight-acting. Being gay is 'haram' / forbidden by Allah, so to admit to being gay is essentially admitting to being a bad Muslim. Of course, religious attitudes and local culture vary across the country, with larger cities tending to offer more diversity than small villages, where peer pressure / elder pressure is likely to be more strongly felt.As you correctly observe, it's culturally acceptable for men to link arms / put arms round each others' shoulders / greet each other with a kiss on either cheek, however some ignorant foreigners interpret this as a sign of either latent or active gay tendencies, and I have heard some very offensive things said about Turkish men 'becoming gay' in the Winter when the tourists go home.I have no doubt that some Turkish men find the Winter frustrating, having been accustomed to easy access to sex in the summer, and then returning to 'more Muslim' villages - but nevertheless, that's no reason for these ignorant people to make wild assumptions !!!(Sorry, I know I've gone off on a tangent to what you asked - but I mention it because it's quite common to hear foreigners saying that Turkish men are all bi-sexual. Go figure!) Obviously, it's a sad situation that the vast majority of Turkish gay men can't be open - however, liberal attitudes in cultures are not something that can be easily forced, and you can't condemn the individuals within a conservative culture. It will probably take many more years for the wider population of Turkey to accept homosexuality (even longer for lesbians than for gay men I would guess, due to the strong expectations laid upon Turkish women).Again, I may be seeing something slightly skewed as an outsider, but I do find the position of gay / transsexual celebrities / media figures quite ironic. It appears that there are many things that Turks will watch on the television but not accept as a part of everyday life. This also includes very scantily-clad women. It's ok to watch them, but you wouldn't expect any relative of your own to behave in this way and bring shame on the family.I sincerely hope that I have not offended anyone in what I've said. I believe in the rights of the individual, but I also believe in respecting a culture. I may feel sad or sometimes angry about injustices, lack of freedoms, etc, but I don't want to assume any sense of superiority. I try to marry up my belief in freedom with tolerance....... not always easy!!

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and I have heard some very offensive things said about Turkish men 'becoming gay' in the Winter when the tourists go home.I have no doubt that some Turkish men find the Winter frustrating, having been accustomed to easy access to sex in the summer, and then returning to 'more Muslim' villages - but nevertheless, that's no reason for these ignorant people to make wild assumptions !!!(Sorry, I know I've gone off on a tangent to what you asked - but I mention it because it's quite common to hear foreigners saying that Turkish men are all bi-sexual. Go figure!)

I have to agree with most of what Sirin has posted but.......... In answer to the above comments I personally knew of 4 Turkish guys who although they insisted to me they were straight did in fact have a sexual relationship with a very good friend of ours who is most certainly Gay, and this was during the season where as you say 'Sex with girls is on tap' ...... I couldn't understand why they 'went' with him when there are so many free woman about.......but he did let them stay at his home and he did pay for everything for them when we went out..... I did have conversations with the Turk guys explaining that if they choose to go with a man and also had sex with woman then they would be classed as bi-sexual not gay....... but they insisted to me that they only like woman and they were straight............. without being too informative they argued with me that because they 'gave' and didn't 'take' this didn't make them gay.....I tried to tell them that any English straight men I had ever known would never 'give' to another man if he was not Gay or bi-sexual..... they just didn't seem to grasp what I was saying and just kept saying they only like woman..... What do they say 'Ignorance is bliss'By the way our Gay friend lives most of his time in Germany (he can be very free and open about his sexuality there) but he also has a House near Dalyan, he frequents Bodrum quite a lot when he's staying in Turkey and this is where we usually meet him and at times he's invited us to stay with him at his house ........ although I think you can most certainly tell he's on the Gay side, he did ask us not to say anything to anyone about his sexuality, he didn't want close friends and his family to know.... So not all are wild assumptions

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Debbie you've reminded me of an Irish guy who used to live around here. He was gay and had various boyfriends who he used to finance, one of whom I remember getting married but it didn't work out even though they had a child. He moved south and the Turk went with him.

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Yes, Debbie - I too knew of a gay guy living in Marmaris who was taken advantage of in a similar way.I think there are some resort workers who will not pass up an easy target, whether male or female. Awful. And very often, the easiest targets were the ones whose generosity and ability to see the best in others made them so vulnerable.

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''but they insisted to me that they only like woman and they were straight............. without being too informative they argued with me that because they 'gave' and didn't 'take' this didn't make them gay''yes this seems the understanding round these parts too ... i sometimes try and get the convo going...as it really interests me how they dont get it. noone ever admitted to us thier tendencies but it did come up in convo sometimes with the more openminded of our circle and my conclusion is possibly some men fear 'taking' anything as its a well known fact/ myth (??) that the army docs do check mens rear ends when they have thier medical check ups... i dont know fact from fiction and i havent been to the army obviously so how can i know- but new soldiers have check ups before they are posted...(some leave without the more intense check, especially if family are friends with those who work in the army office or something similar or can claim they are straight)....i think this is normally done at the local army centre where you live....it has been known to be protocal to check your tendancies......now im no ass expert but what gives anything away is anyones guess......but it could be one reason as well as ignorance for why many dont 'take'....pls prove me wrong if this is just not the case or remove this claim if i am not stating fact as i dont want to offend or create untrue gossip...but my guess is noone would come forward and say they were refused military service entrance due to them being 'found out' to be gay.as for being gay in my area...i think the youth here are rather unforgiving and it would be impossible to be openly gay. Having said that i do presume many marry as their peers do but are gay and live two seperate lives somehow. sad really. I have never ever heard anyone mention lesbians here, between females in my circle it seems far from thier mind as a topic let alone a possibility for some. The opposite of SE london and my old circle of friends. Two very different communities and i cannot imagine how when i do speak fluent turkish i will cope without discussing such topics freely.I have found my area to be conservative and noone dares to step out and speak up about 'other' subjects....they dont mind to press thier views on you but cannot take it when someone mentions a new perspective..and they often blame it on Euro views or some tourism based loose living lifestyle......but having said all that...most of the villagers havent even been to Bodrum (apparently best place for open thinking where the subject above is concerned) let alone another big city in Turkey and life doesnt change there for decades...nor opinions maybe....

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Is that for your work or other reason?

I have the opportunity to study in Ankara as part of a Masters course and if I came to the city my partner (who is a man) would come as well.However I do speak to gay men all over the world as part of my counselling work and it is useful for me to know how things are in Turkey.

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Cool.I'm gay and I have been living in Istanbul for only 3 months so I'm probably not a specialist and have no idea about Ankara (maybe apart from the fact that there is no gay bars/ clubs there) but I think that If you were here and be careful you could live here with a guy with no major problems. It's not the UK but there is a gay scene here, and as somebody mentioned before a district that some call The Gay Republic of Turkey.Yet again, I haven't been here long enough but I was pretty open at the beginning and nothing bad happened. Well... in fact what happened more than I expected is: 'Yeah me too...'. Not straight away but pretty much to the effect. I do think tho that gays here are very troubled in a rather strange way. I'm Polish and I understand what you go through when society don't accept homosexuality but here I found a whole new level... It is a bit like being gay trying to prove yourself all the time that you are not gay. Not sure if I'm clear but it's very important to be 'less gay', so this 'receiving' business and generally im-a-men-and-you-are-not kind of thing. Maybe it's just my bad experience but I personally decided to be asexual until I get home because I'm really tired.I do have a friend who is a lesbian and spent a year in Ankara. I will ask for her opinion.Good luck!

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I'm only a frequent visitor to Turkey and I'm not gay but do have gay friends who either live or visit there. They live in a small coastal town frequented mostly by Turks and just a few Europeans.The gay friends are European but I do know of one openly gay Turkish man there as well. They don't make any secret of it but I suppose don't flaunt it. It seems to be accepted and they appear to have friends of several nationalities including Turks, gay and not. I do think though that as long as you are going there spending money the traders will welcome anybody! As far as Turkish men go I have never had a close relationship with any but a friend has and her partner told her that when young and in the army he had sexual relationships with other men just because there were no women available and also during winters. He said that a lot of his friends did the same thing. I feel pretty sure he was telling the truth and he did say that given the choice he prefers a woman. I would think that tolerance or acceptance of homosexuality must vary wildly as Turkey is such a large and diverse country. Many of the Turks I meet in the coastal areas tell me they are not devout muslims and seem very European. I would think that as you travel away from the coastal regions the people are more devout and maybe their view on the subject is different. I find it very sad that gay people in so many parts of the world are not accepted.

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As far as Turkish men go I have never had a close relationship with any but a friend has and her partner told her that when young and in the army he had sexual relationships with other men just because there were no women available and also during winters.

hmm... if I was locked in a military with women only I would eat ice cream, watch sex and the city and gossip - not having sex! unless of course someone would lock me for 30 years... but I believe that's not the case since the military service is only a year or so isn't it?? I suppose I am 100% gay...And what do you mean during winters??? hehe

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lol - well in the winter all the visitors leave the tourist spots and these blokes who seem obsessed with seeing how many women they can lure during the summer season are at a loss and seem to either consume as much raki as they can or turn to men or both! It's not just a rumour, my friend is certain her friend is telling the truth. I think these coastal places are so different to the rest of Turkey.

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Hey,According to my friend there are some clubs in Ankara: one is on Tunus Street (which is one of a main streets apparently), and it's called Tribal and Q Cafe under it... Both of them are apparently 'horrendous' :lol:Good luck! xx

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'horrendous'thats a good thing right??!! :winner_first_h4h[1]: bloody great word i must say.....just watching Ellen,,,was she famous before she came out or what? i never heard of her til she did. thats something worth thinking about....coming out for some can improve their life immensely it seems....thats a whole other thread im sure....will be interesting to see how Turkey is in 20 yrs time on this issue...... :hysterical[1]:

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Thanks for all the information. In the summer I hope to visit and experience the place all over again, after so many years.Ash.

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So many guys in the closet in Turkey!Many bisexuals too.They do so the more east u go, the more gay guys you meet, something to do with all the sexual oppression, I don't know.I had a couple of gay friends in Turkey, but mostly the Turkish gay scene irritated me, they are either pretending to be straight or too in your face. Its like you want to tell them, it's ok to just be themselves.

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There seems to be areas where it is more accepted than others. Friendly Corner in Cesme was the meeting place when Fatma owned it as her son Cem was married to Bulent Ersoy (the one that looks like Pete Burns) Years ago Bodrum was famous for its free and easy lifestyle. E Viva bar was teaming with all sorts of people and very interesting too I have to say. When Zeki Muren died Bodrum grinded to a halt and they named a street after him plus did a museum and he was a dead ringer for Danny La Rue. Quite a few well heeled gay Turks owned places in Bodrum as was much freer than Istanbul and escaped there as often as they could. Rich and famous seem to have no problems and the poorer ones I know if they are lucky get to be a singer in a bar or do a bit of belly dancing.

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