Turkey’s asexuals look for community to gather
Alpbuğra Bahadır Gültekin ISTANBUL-Radikal
Former asexual Burcu Sufi Demirtürk constructed the first website in Turkey addressing asexuals. She is now getting prepared for marriage. Hürriyet photo
Asexual Turks are struggling to maintain their sense of community in a country whose cultural mores often cloud the meaning of what it means to be asexual. According to researchers, 1 percent of the world population is asexual, which describes people who lack sexual attraction to others or lack interest in sex.
Burcu Sufi Demirtürk, 28, is a former asexual who constructed the first Internet website bringing together around 1,000 asexual people in Turkey four years ago.
Demirtürk said they had addressed a wide mass of people thanks to Aseksuel Online, which is no longer active. She said the knowledge of the first 300 people had made a big contribution to the website.
“But over time, we realized that this group of people was the wrong one. We saw many people who are homosexual but cannot have sexual intercourse because of religious and social reasons defined themselves asexual,” she said.
'Situation better five years ago'
“People in the organization began thinking that ‘asexual people may be interested in their own gender but they cannot make love emotionally.’ This thought annoyed those who were really asexual and neutral about sex. Also, people who had other reasons not to have sexual intercourse used to define themselves as asexual and this situation negatively affected the organization,” Demirtürk said.
Addressing the feelings of being asexual in a country where sex is a taboo, Demirtürk said Aseksuel Online was warmly welcomed in Turkey since asexuality was not a sin. She said they had even received positive reactions from religious authorities. “They said ‘sexual relationships must be forbidden until marriage.’”
Demirtürk said the situation was better five years ago. “First of all, mutual understanding should develop in Turkey. I don’t define myself as an asexual right now. Because there is a special person in my life and we are planning to marry. But I think people should spend some part of their life as an asexual. A part of my soul is still asexual,” she said.
Demirtürk said she had received harsh reactions from the asexual community about her decision to marry. “For the first time in my life, I feel that I love someone. When you love someone, you give up many things. Yes, they might have been disappointed. Some think that this decision is wrong for me. But like I said, the mystery of marriage is very different,” she said.
According to some, asexuality is a “tendency,” while according to others, it is a “preference.” The issue has caused discussion among asexual people, with some saying that those who cannot have sexual intercourse because of religious and cultural reasons are different from asexuals.
According to doctors, this situation is not a problem theoretically, but it becomes a problem when
people are “stigmatized.” If sex is considered important for the progression of a relationship, it would be very difficult to find a person who maintains a relationship without having sexual intercourse. It does not mean, however, that people who do not want sex will spend their life alone.
The largest organization uniting asexual people around the world is the U.K.-based Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN). The organization, which has been active for 11 years, has branches in various countries and languages. Aseksuel Online was AVEN’s Turkish-language option.
‘New Turkish Asexual organization is necessary’
Many asexual people in Turkey have voiced calls for a new organization while others say they discovered their asexuality thanks to the Aseksuel Online website, which is no longer active.
“There was an unbelievable synergy when the website was first founded. But later on, homosexual people began to call themselves asexual. This was damaging to us because asexual people have very unique feelings. The Aseksual Online website will return one day but this day will be determined by people living in this country,” said 41-year-old O.S.
Another person, V.K., 59, said s/he spent all his/her life as an asexual. “We are fragile, childish people but we can be harsh when necessary. It is very hard for us even to hug someone.
Friendships made through Aseksuel Online are unforgettable. Also, knowing [site founder Burcu Sufi] Demirtürk was fortunate for us. Her life dynamic is unbelievable. Her childhood is our reality. Even if she gets married, it will not change.”