An article on gay men living in Istanbul… - Part 1
We spoke with Doğu Durgun, who received second prize in the Dicle Koğacıoğlu Article Awards with his article “Gay Places: The Relation of the Gender Structure of Gay Men with Heteronormativity.” In his award-winning article, Doğu Durgun discusses gay men living in Istanbul, and the subculture they have created.
Can you talk about the research phase?
I began researching this issue when writing my master’s thesis for the Political Science program at Galatasaray University. I made in-depth interviews of 1-2 hours each with 11 homosexual men. In addition, I studied gay personals websites, forums and various gay bars and clubs in Istanbul.
Can you talk about your interaction with your research subjects?
Interviews add a lot to the interviewer. At first, I had qualms about how to avoid objectifying the person sitting across me; I worried about what question I should ask when. As time went by, things took a natural flow. With the exception of a couple of people, most interviewees were at ease. We did run into some difficulties. I realized that sharing stories was important. I began to comment on what they said and share my experiences.
Can you explain the gay men subculture based on your article?
Non-heterosexual minorities in Turkey are socially stigmatized in everyday life. Therefore, people who believe themselves to be nonconventional create tangible and intangible niches for themselves in the city.
The subculture between gay men must not be thought independently of the ongoing hegemonic culture and social dynamics. Socialization processes may cause people to internalize culturally-defined norms. Internalization and the prohibitive/punishing power of gender may result in the re-production of heteronormative practices. Although not linear in nature, the subculture created by gay men, mostly in the West and to a certain extent in Turkey, is becoming more masculine.
Beside gender practices, we can also adopt a class- and ethnicity-based approach. It may be the case that a city-dwelling gay man tires of the provincial gay men who are new to the urban “scene”. People of similar classes and social or cultural positions like to be together, and this social separation may occur without hierarchical stratification. I can say that the problematic in my article arose from the need to say something to the community.
to be continued...
Last Updated: 11.11.2010 11:16:37