-“Where are you, darling?” -“Here I am, darling!”: Call and Response as LGBTI Resistance Formation Before, During and After the Gezi Park Protests in Turkey
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This social justice project examines the extent to which the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersexual (LGBTI) movement in Turkey has been affected by its participation in the Gezi Park protests that took place across Turkey in May, 2013. I argue that a dialectic process of organization and interaction took place between the protesters in Gezi, which I name call and response. This process opened up the possibilities for unexpected insights and changes in the LGBTI movement’s strategies and dynamics. I draw on intersectional feminist theory to discuss the dynamics of the movement before, during, and after the protests, and I use textual materials such as news, magazine articles and interviews to examine the shifting views of different groups on LGBTI issues and the LGBTI community’s reflections on Gezi’s impact on the movement. My research is structured around in-depth, semi-structured interviews with five LGBTI Gezi protesters in Istanbul. My aim was to investigate how the LGBTI community is interpreting the influence of its 20 years of history on its Gezi experience and formulating new ways to seize upon the possibilities Gezi has opened up for the movement. I also explore key moments in the protests through five photos that highlight the significance of the LGBTI community’s presence in those events. I draw upon my own experiences and observations both as an insider - as a member of the LGBTI community in Turkey, and as an outsider, a researcher currently residing in Canada - in order to complicate my findings. For the purpose of historicizing my results and drawing parallels and comparisons between similar movements, I juxtapose Gezi to the gay liberation movements in the U.S. and in South Africa. It is my hope that this study will open up new areas of discussion for social justice groups and organizations, and help in forming new possible strategies for the LGBTI movement in Turkey.