The Kurd, an oppressor of Kurdistan
Yes, I answered understandingly, you are oppressed because you are Kurdistan. Your oppressors are Turkey, Iran and Syria.
No, no, no! Kurdistan shook his head violently, then sighed. I am oppressed because I am gay. My oppressors are Kurds.
Ahmet Yildiz – A Starflower
A freedom fighter once said: Kurdistan is like a garden. Every flower has its special colour; every flower has its special scent. This diversity makes the garden even more beautiful.
Ahmet Yildiz was a flower in this garden; he was a borage, the purple starflower that symbolises strength and courage. Ahmet needed courage: He was not only a Kurd from Riha living under a Turkish regime that violates human rights, he was also gay.
He loved his family but they would not him accept him being a homosexual. He moved to Istanbul where he could be honest and open about his sexuality, although even in Istanbul the LGBT community (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual) is not treated as equals with heterosexuals.
The family wanted Ahmet to come back home so he could be cured by a doctor and an imam for his “disease” (his sexual orientation) and married off to a girl. Ahmet rejected this proposal because why should he suppress his identity, how could he be his own oppressor?
His family did not take this well. In 2008 Ahmet felt compelled to go to the Turkish prosecutors and tell them that he had received death threats from his family but the authorities dismissed his worries.
On the 15th of July 2008 Ahmet was taking a break from his studies and went out to buy ice cream when he was shot in the street. Ahmet managed to get into his car and flee the assailants but because he was injured, he crashed and later died in hospital.
Ahmet’s friends say his family did not come to claim his body from the morgue, a clear indication of his family’s disownment. His father, who is suspected of killing Ahmet to uphold the family honour, is said to have left Turkey and to be hiding in Iraq.
Kurds Oppressing Kurdistan
No one understands better what it is like to be oppressed than the Kurd. He has been denied his identity – just like Ahmet Yildiz. He has been denied his rights – just like Ahmet Yildiz. He has been treated like an outcast – just like Ahmet Yildiz.
Then how does one outcast dare oppress another outcast? Ahmet Yildiz had to endure discrimination in Turkey based on both his ethnicity and his sexual orientation. How does a Kurd dare join the Turkish regime in the oppression of a homosexual Kurd?
Oh, freedom would taste as sweet as a pomegranate from Amed, Kurds say, we just want to be free. We want freedom! freedom! freedom!
It has become a word with a hollow sound, this freedom. It is used lightly among Kurds and has lost its meaning. Freedom for Kurdistan is not only freedom for Kurds, it is freedom for mankind. I once defined Kurdistan as follows:
To be a Kurd is not a question about ethnicity. Kurdistan is freedom for it is borderless and those who fight for freedom are Kurds.
To be a freedom fighter is to be alive because being constant aware of death makes you kiss the earth softly, rest your cheek on the scabrous bark of a tree and lay your head on sweet smelling moss.
To be alive is what the rest of world fails to be because being safe and comfortable is to be dead. You are dead if your life tastes like sushi, beer and turkey. You are alive if it tastes like the salty sweat that evaporates from your body when you are fighting in what seems to be Hell.
This definition includes all: everyone who fights for freedom is a Kurd. Every Kurd is a freedom fighter. Every gay, bisexual and transsexual fighting for the right to be himself is freedom fighter and a part of Kurdistan.
When I ask Kurds what they think about people with another sexual orientation than heterosexuality, many wrinkle their forehead and say: That is not normal. That is not how God intended it to be, not how nature intended it to be.
If God truly did not intend for homosexuals, bisexuals and transsexuals to be on this Earth, then he did not intend for Kurds to be on it, either. The Kurdish and the LGBT community share the same struggle: the right to their identity and existence. Both are considered second-rate people by the world and both fight to the death for freedom in its truest, purest and sweetest form, a form of freedom of which the rest of the world is oblivious.
The intolerance towards people who are not heterosexuals is probably more widespread among the elder generations while the Kurdish youth (especially in the diaspora) is more open-minded.
Still, I am surprised and disgusted when I hear young people in the Kurdish community say: I do not mind homosexuals but I could not be friends with them.
I am surprised because this position on the LGBT community is an indication of the Kurdish youth’s unawareness of what the Kurdish struggle is truly about: acknowledgement of an individual’s right to be who he is.
I am disgusted because homosexuality, bisexuality and transsexuality should not be something that one has to come to terms with. It is a natural thing like breathing and eating – it is love and to deny love is a sin. Ask religious people, who use their God’s words as a reason for not tolerating other sexual orientations, if denying love is not a sin.
A minister in Turkey said in 2010 that homosexuality was a disease. It is not a surprise that a member of the Turkish government would say such a thing seeing as the state is known for its violation of human rights. But it is a problem that people within the Kurdish community share this belief. They argue that homosexuality is not normal, that only a man and a woman should be together because that is the way it has always been.
This is a notion out of touch with today’s world. The objective of the human being has from the beginning of mankind been survival, and reproduction was an important way of securing this. Before, that could only happen when a man and a woman were together. By forming a family they secured their survival in two ways: by living in groups and having children. Today, one does not have to form a family to survive and one can have children in other ways than in the old days.
Homosexuality is a disease? No, the only thing that is harming the human being is people believing it is a disease.
The Responsibility Of The Kurdish Youth
The last few months I have repeated together with other Kurds: Ez li virim. I am here.
But so is the gay man. The gay man is here, the lesbian is here, the bisexual is here and the transsexual is here! They are supporting the Kurdish fight for freedom and the Kurds should support their fight for freedom.
I am not asking the Kurdish people to accept only the Kurdish LGBT community. I am asking the Kurdish people to accept, understand and support every human being calling for freedom.
When politicians and activists fight for the Kurdish people, it should not only be a fight against discrimination of an ethnicity. It should also be a fight against discrimination of sexual orientation. Freedom is freedom; a Kurd cannot demand to be free and yet at the same time deny the LBGT community to be free and the right to express their sexuality.
Every Kurd has a responsibility: Do not only call for freedom, do not only fight for freedom but give it! Give it to those who are oppressed like you.
Remember always what the Kurdish freedom fighter said: Kurdistan is like a garden. Every flower has its special colour; every flower has its special scent. This diversity makes the garden even more beautiful.
Act in accordance with his vision. If you do not, Kurdistan will hold you responsible for its division:
“You have marched back and forth upon me, crushing the red roses, the yellow dandelions and the green grass beneath your feet. You have claimed to defend me when in reality you have inflicted more pain upon me than your worst enemy.”