A Diyarbakir “Outing”: “What are Gays Doing at Newroz?”
A group of gay and lesbian Kurds in Diyarbakir decided that this year’s Newroz would not only be a call for political freedom, but also an honest declaration of their sexual identity.
Newroz is a political arena in Diyarbakir, the predominantly Kurdish city in the southeast of Turkey. We, a group of gays and lesbians of Diyarbakir, used to go as heterosexuals, shout our conflicting demands for freedom, dance, and celebrate with our heterosexual friends, saying “Newroz piroz be,” “Happy Newroz.”
In our heads there was always the question, “why, when everyone is demanding freedom, does my most basic right to life seem so frightening to people?”
Rainbow flag at Newroz
…This year, a lot changed in Diyarbakir.
Like everyone else, we were very excited about this year’s Newroz. Why? Because our group of gays decided to go to the celebrations as Piramid GL Diyarbakir. Although we would not be shouting slogans, we would unfold our rainbow flag in front of such a big crowd for the first time.
Worrying about some people’s reactions, we went to the Newroz site. And among the surprised looks of people around us, we also shouted for freedom, and we also waved our flag.
Surprise and heckling
…We started dancing, and as we got more excited, some of the surprised looks turned to attitudes of ridicule.
As time went on, more and more people noticed our flag and we became the focus of attention.
One person said aloud, “That’s the gay flag, what is that doing here?” While we were dancing, we overheard someone near us warn his friends “not to join those guys.” Others said things like, “Diyarbakir has become spoilt,” or “We should throw you into that Newroz fire,” and “Why are you here?”
On the other hand, we also had positive experiences, like the people congratulating us and those telling us insistently “how much we respect you.”
Even if some people were made uncomfortable by our visibility, this time we transformed those negative attitudes into a positive energy, we danced and thus asked for freedom for ourselves.
We knew that we were only a handful of homosexuals in a crowd of hundreds of thousands, but we felt like a crowd, too.
We left the Newroz site with great honour and smiles on our face, having represented the gay and lesbian community of Diyarbakir. Newroz piroz be.
*photo via Bianet