BLOG: ‘I love people, regardless of gender’
AP photoThe summer had just begun. It was the weekend before the U.S. Supreme Court voted in favor of gay marriages.
I had planned a holiday over the weekend with good friends, and we flew to the south coast of Turkey to spend some relaxed days in the hidden bays and the little hippie villages that can only be reached by boat ride or a dangerous climbing route.
Here people can be just the way they are; especially gay, bisexual and transsexual Turks, but heterosexual Turks as well, travel to this area of Turkey for a holiday. Already at the entrance to the hippie village Kabak in the coastal region of Fethiye, there is a sign in rainbow colors: “Welcome home. Feel free to be who you are.” Here you can smell freedom and tolerance, unlike the rest of the country.
Mehmet, the cousin of my best friend, joined us on our vacation. Mehmet is a Turkish film producer who had lived the last 10 years in the United States, but moved to Turkey a year ago. My best friend announced Mehmet with the words: “He is gay but really okay.” That already made me suspicious. What does “but” mean? So I got to know Mehmet. He was a withdrawn, introverted, silent but wholeheartedly romantic 33-year-old man who would likely spend weeks alone on his sailboat and write in his next screenplay about homosexual or bisexual love affairs. As our group consisted of couples only, Mehmet and I decided to share a tent and a bed.
On the first night we were lying in bed together, Mehmet did not say even a single word. However, I gave him his peace. On the second night he at least let a “good night” pass over his lips. On the third night I asked him whether it was hard to be gay in Turkey. His answer was: “Yes, it is very difficult. But I’m not gay; I’m bisexual.”
I was impressed by that, because his entire family thinks he is gay. He was tired of explaining to people why he feels attracted to both women and men, he told me. Furthermore, he had been thrown out of his home by his father because of his sexual orientation. “I love humans. The soul of a particular person. I do not fall in love with a particular gender. I do not understand why this is so hard to understand,” Mehmet said. We talked the whole third and final night about love and sexuality. We even watched the gay movie “The Birdcage,” with Robin Williams in the lead role from 1996. At that time, the film was frowned upon in the U.S. Robin Williams was then insulted by some American media as “stupid fagot.”
Now, almost 20 years later, the United States has opened a new chapter: the chapter of love. Barack Obama already posted on his Facebook page the rainbow flag with the title “Love just won.” Mehmet doubts that in Turkey such a move would ever be possible. Nevertheless, he is planning to produce a gay movie like “The Birdcage” in Turkey. For this he could go to jail, says Mehmet.
“The Turkish media would tear me apart,” he feared. But Mehmet looks to the United States at a historic day for a ray of hope. It took a long time until gay marriages were allowed in the U.S., but it is possible. Perhaps it will be possible some day in Turkey. I wish it for Mehmet, this good-hearted and deep person, with all my heart.