Not silent, but on the street
Not hiding, but organized
We are walking against hate!
Trans pride took over Istiklal Street in Istanbul. Held jointly by the organizations Istanbul LGBTT, Women’s Door, and the political group EHP, almost 500 people turned out to support transgender pride. I admit I was very happily surprised by the turnout, and the positive reactions from bystanders the march received.
The afternoon of the pride, Chad and I arrived in the lilac headquarters of Istanbul LGBTT. Many of the girls were getting their outfits ready. While some were dressed up, many others wore more ordinarily dressed, but wearing pride symbols. The room quickly began to get crowded as more people and a camera crew showed up. It was stuffy and crowded, but at the same time everyone seemed excited for the march. Soon those who were ready started heading to the Pride meeting point.
We left the apartment with 10 or so others – and it was like a mini pride had begun. What I love about this group is that they do nothing softly. Waving flags and beating drums, they walked proudly down the small little side streets toward the gathering spot, as people in outside cafes looked, and with some also clapping in support.
The meeting point for the Trans Pride march was on the far end of Istiklal Street. A huge 20m rainbow flag was unrolled, as bystanders stood around watching. Soon, the number of people in the square started swelling as more people stopped to look, and more participants of the Pride started showing up.
Being a Sunday, Istiklal Street – a pedestrian only shopping street – was extremely crowded. With drums beating the march began. There was no DJ or artificial music, but instead megaphones were used to lead marchers in chants. At several points those with the speakers yelled that those against homophobia should sit down, in which everyone participating took a seat. A group of traditional Turkish street musicians joined the pride at one point, and near the finish some people started dancing. Finally, at the end of the march people got up and spoke to highlights the issues and problems the Trans community faces, especially the increasing amount of hate crimes and the terrible state of lack of discrimination legislation that had prompted this march.
While the march did receive an open minded reception from the majority of people, the original trans-phobic causes for having the march should not be forgotten. Being a witness to this first ever Turkey Trans Pride was truly exciting, and I sincerely hope they have succeeded in drawing more attention to their cause, and solidarity among more people from the ‘voting’ public.