10/04/2023 | Writer: Miran Koçkır
She was also our friend, our history and our destiny. That’s why we also backed our own fate on our shoulders, we were sharing a common fate. The fact that she stood up against those, who exiled her, disregarded her, and insulted her every day, again and again was empowering us. Moreover she was nominated as a candidate in İstanbul 2nd district, where Süleyman Soylu also was.
On April 9, I was really experiencing a great excitement, hard to express, when I was going to the meeting held by Workers’ Party of Turkey (TİP) to announce and present candidates. While I have been fighting for LGBTI+ visibility in politics and a more free world for ten years, I was aware that I would witness a significant moment in the history of LGBTI+ movement in Turkey. The overflowing crowd and the excitement raising from the hall made me over excited, when I arrived at Şişli Lütfü Kırdar Meeting Hall. I couldn’t keep my eyes off my friends I saw after a long time, many people struggling in the LGBTI+ movement and surely Esmeray.
Many activists, known for keeping away from TİP, were also there. They told that they were tired of the fact that other political parties didn’t include LGBTI+s into their election lists and they had a bellyful of politicians who didn’t even mention LGBTI+s, during our conversations. After a long conversation, we entered the hall for the presentation of candidates.
There was a tremendous excitement in the hall. People couldn’t fit in the hall, most of them were standing. Rainbow and trans flags were waving in the hall.
As soon as the candidates come into the hall, the level of the excitement began to reach peak. At first, the election manifesto of TİP was read. Applause erupted from the hall. No topic was passed over, people were standing up and applauding to the echo at every topic.
Then Erkan Baş’s speech, which deeply affected us all and gave hope to us, began. Surely he kept harping on LGBTI+s. I guess it would not be wrong to say that he was the only party leader who wasn’t afraid of talking about LGBTI+s. The more he talked, the more hopeful and stronger we felt.
Then it was time for the announcement of the candidates and their places. Applauses were breaking out as each candidates was announced. As the names were announced, the candidates revealed themselves.
It was Esmeray’s turn. Her her name was announced, applause erupted from the hall. Esmeray started to wave the rainbow flag in her hand. When people stood up and started applauding her, witnessing such historic moments made me incredibly hopeful. I cannot express the happiness we experienced and the value of the reward we reaped as result of our hard working for her candidacy for a long time, as TİP LGBTI+ Commission. Esmeray’s proud and haughty look on her face seemed to carrying the responsibility and traces of being a living symbols of LGBTI+ history. Well, we had taken another step, a big one. We were getting one step closer day by day. This was an essential step in the history of LGBTI+s in Turkey, even though we are moving forward with baby steps. The honor of having an important name, who is also likely to be elected considering her place in the list, of the LGBTI+ movement in Turkey, was a common achievement of entire LGBTI+ movement. This also brings a heavy burden on our shoulders in its train. Because Esmeray is a woman, who was subjected to torture of Süleyman the Hose, was exiled from Ülker Street, sold mussel on streets for earning her life, that is to say experienced all kind of persecution that a trans woman could be faced. She was also our friend, our history and our destiny. That’s why we also backed our own fate on our shoulders, we were sharing a common fate. The fact that she stood up against those, who exiled her, disregarded her, and insulted her every day, again and again was empowering us. Moreover she was nominated as a candidate in İstanbul 2nd district, where Süleyman Soylu also was.
In this historic election, she took our flag pertinaciously again and took the stage with the other candidates. They were applauded for minutes right next to Erkan Baş. This is the time for our stubbornness to really turn into our will. One of the unforgettable phrases from LGBTI+ history haunts me; “It is time to come out of the closet.”
In the words of Esmeray “We will do it my dear.”
Translation: Selma Koçak
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Tags: human rights, women, arts and culture