29/04/2021 | Writer: Yiğit E Korkmaz
Lesbians* held 8 online meetings on the call of Kaos GL: "As if we were having a chat alongside light drinks," "Don't stay silent, shout: Lesbians exist!", "I never thought I'd make friends in the meantime."
The European Lesbian* Conference made various publishings in 2020 to discuss experiences of social isolation and quarantine in the new type of coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
Kaos GL also organized Turkish meetings on April 15, 23, 30th; May 7, 14, 21, 28th and June 4th, in the scope of these publications.
In the 8 meetings held since the beginning of the quarantine, discussions ranged from the conditions of quarantine to what it is to stay at home. Every week, lesbians* came together on a wide range of issues, from rights to sexuality and gender, from love to relationships, from violence to combat against violence, from TERF discussions to vectoralism, from disclosure discussions to the sexual health of lesbian-bisexuals.
Kaos GL ended the last meeting by saying, "We hope to continue our coexistence on other platforms, flowing through other channels."
So what happened at these meetings?
"As if we were having a chat alongside light drinks"
After the first meeting held on April 15th, Aylime Aslı Demir of Kaos GL, one of the moderators of the event, announced that the meetings will continue, saying, "It's like we're having a light drink."
"In these days that turned us all into zoomers, one meeting became significantly special for me. It's such an experience as if we met at an after-work venue in the pre-quarantine days and had light drinks accompanying the meals, and then we decided to move into a new venue because the conversation continued and we couldn't leave each other, but as the screen went off, it was like we were all alone in the house. I wish it had never ended.
"As Kaos GL, we work through several channels to record how LGBTI people experience the pandemic we go through, to produce solutions for them as much as we can, and ultimately to make a note of this period through our magazine and website. Therefore, I can say that I have witnessed many experience-sharing in this process, but the meeting I wanted to mention was very good for all of us for lesbians* who have experienced these pandemic days, to express different aspects of the process and to heal us while expressing our experiences.
"In these days when we understood our commitment to each other's bodies on a global level, it was incredibly good for us to hear each other's voices, to listen to their experiences, and we decided to continue these meetings with other content."
“Don't stay silent, shout: Lesbians exist!”
Another moderator of the meeting, Seçin Tuncel, described the meetings as follows:
"Like many people who are not economically strong, some lesbians are forced to live with their families, hiding their identity. For those with open identities, even houses that we think as safe are getting uncomfortable now. We came together by online meetings in the days when it is becoming more and more difficult to reach our partners and flirts who had to return to their hometowns."
"20 years ago, when even the word lesbian was unacceptable, but today we can shout with pride. Instead of lesbian, there were suggestions such as tomboy, dyke etc. On the other hand, we are all experiencing that CIS lesbian politics is no longer inclusive today. We must not stop coming together to make all these problems visible. Don't stay silent, shout: Lesbians exist!"
After the meetings, Tuncel also held a conversation with the participants. During the conversation that was presented as "Moderated by Aylime Aslı Demir and Umut Uzun; with the words of our participants Selda, Meryem and Nihal and the illustration of Selda..." participants shared their experiences:
“On the years of socially distancing to myself...”
Selda: Over the years of socially distancing to myself, the pandemic came in like a punctuation mark dividing the sentence. I never thought I'd make friends during these times. It's been a while since we've crossed invisible walls, trying to understand what they call the new normal, not knowing what to expect in the virtual rooms we enter. Some rooms repeated days of old times as if nothing had changed in our lives, while others discussed moods that alternated between utopias and dystopias. One of the rooms was the living room of a familiar house, sometimes a balcony with greenery, sometimes a secret room where we could share our secrets with our dearests. The happiness of meeting people who make us feel accepted/appreciated for our differences never gets old.
“I’ve met a lot of nice people”
Meryem A.: Hi, I'm Meryem A. I have spent months not going out and feeling a lot of mixed emotions. The virus came to our country at the same time that I said I should go out more. Staying at home definitely felt bad at first. Maybe I wouldn't feel so bad if it happened at another time. When I spent time at home, I realized that I didn't feel like I belonged anywhere, and I needed that feeling of belonging. I couldn't talk to anyone with similar opinions. Spending time with myself and improving myself felt good to a certain extent. Then I saw these meetings of Kaos. My first impression was that the safe space here made me feel good. Speeches, ideas, opinions and people gave me a sense of belonging. Talking and listening to things here made me feel a little better, took away my loneliness, opened my mind up. I'm glad there is an event where I can have such a good time. I felt like myself at here. I'm glad these meetings were held and I met a lot of beautiful people.
“I felt like a member of a big and strong family”
Nihal: As soon as 2020 started, we suddenly found ourselves in the midst of a pandemic, I had a very long period of confinement. Apart from being confined to the house, there was also uncertainty about how long this process could take (which is still not finalized). I was in a serious state of distress as I was trapped in the house and having to deal with the economic impacts of the pandemic and fears like am I contaminated? am I going to be infected?
Then bisexual and lesbian women's online meetings started, which made me feel very good and I even had a lot of fun. I realized there were a lot of things I've been missing; women visibility, woman-to-woman chats, having fun, singing. I think these meetings should continue in real life. Although there were many people I met for the first time on these digital meetings, I felt like I already knew them. I felt like a member of a big, strong family.