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“The People’s Starbucks™”

September 4, 2013

Max: How did the LGBT camp at Gezi Park get started?

Emre: The LGBT bloc was actually built in one night. When we got back into the park after police retreated, some of us had rainbow flags and placards on our hands. We all know each other and we wanted to do a sit-in together. We didn’t know if the police were going to strike again and we wanted to stay together as LGBT people—it’s the mindset of minorities. That first night we brought a table and put some water and gas masks on it, and in the morning people from different groups brought food, hygiene stuff and medical supplies to our table. Other LGBT people throughout Turkey began talking about the bloc, and suddenly we became a new formative LGBT group in Turkey. It worked so successfully.

Max: With so many different interest groups in the park, did you ever experience tension or animosity towards you?

Emre: I never saw anything hateful happen in LGBT bloc. People were totally surprised and shocked because their stereotypes about LGBT people totally collapsed during these movements. LGBT Bloc was one of the main groups in the first day of the occupy movement, and we were fighting with the police too. People began apologizing to us for their homophobic and transphobic behaviors.

Football fans recently declared that from now on there won’t be any homophobic or transphobic chants in the stadiums—this was a first for Turkey. And also this year roughly 100,000 people attended LGBT pride in Turkey because of Gezi events. In 2012 we only walked with 25,000 people. I believe this occupation movement has awakened the new generation in Turkey.

Read More | “Turkish Summer” | Max Pearl interviews Emre Sağlam | The Media