Speaking in his apartment in a suburb of Diyarbakir, in southeastern Turkey, Solin and his colleague Koya are so scared of being identified that they will not allow even an obscured photograph of themselves to be published. Nor do they want their real names to be known. “People here see homosexuality as a poison - a disease,” says Solin, the ash of his cigarette making a quick, quiet hiss as he taps it into a jar of water.
For all their fear, however, the pair embarked on a radical experiment, launching the first-ever magazine for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transsexual (LGBT) Kurds this July. Called ‘Hevjin’, meaning ‘intercommunity’ in Kurdish, the first issue of the free publication is available online and in a few bookshops and cafés in Diyarbakir, a city with a large Kurdish population.
It took three years of patient work before Koya and Solin, both gay Kurds themselves, were ready to bring out the first issue. “There are 15 million Kurds in Turkey, and one in 10 people is gay, but where are the Kurdish gay people?” asked Solin. “That is the question that led to this. We wanted to find out how people express their sexuality in this culture.”
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Alexander Christie-Miller is a freelance journalist based in Istanbul, where he writes for the Times.