WE MOVED TO HACKNEY TO BE FREE AS A LESBIAN COUPLE
Aylin & Sinem
How did you meet?
A: We met in the class. At that time, I was married to a man and was in the process of divorce with him, and in those really difficult times, my feelings started coming back to life. The feelings that really got me excited and whilst trying to figure out what they really were, they got very intense and therefore I decided to write Sinem a very long e-mail and our relationship started once I realised that her feelings were the same.
S: I guess whenever people start to do little things for themselves they create little miracles! When the class had started, I remember following Aylin on social media. I would write some things on her posts, hoping that she would answer. I wasn’t expecting that e-mail from her. The first courageous move came from Aylin, but I was already quite ready for this relationship.
What does it like to live in Turkey as a couple? Have you ever experienced homophobia? What do your families think of your relationship?
A: It is almost impossible to live as a lesbian couple in Turkey. There is a very small group who can have their relationships freely but these people are generally based in Istanbul; it is not possible to live in that way in Izmir. You either choose to wear a mask and act out of sight, or you live your relationship openly and get neglected and isolated from society. We had to choose acting because we are already two people who have settled careers. We couldn’t afford to take this risk and damage this because of the views of other people. Still, I do believe that we are lucky because all our close friends, except our families, know about our relationship and therefore we feel more “normal” about it. I didn’t tell to my family because I didn’t want to put them in a situation where they could feel caught between their daughter and social norms. This would have added a bigger burden to their shoulders without resolving anything. Because homophobia is existent in our every day lives, including in our jokes… it is not only us who are exposed to homophobia, it is also sometimes our parents as well.
S: It is hard to be two women in love in Turkey. It is hard to live in a society that sees love within certain limits. We haven’t experienced any homophobia because like Aylin said, except our close friends no one knew about our partnership and the rest of the people just thought we were just two very close flatmates living together. Maybe a lot of people knew about us but luckily we were more known for our occupational achievements. This too, was a pressure for us as well because we had to hide our relationship because of the fear of our relationship damaging our careers. In my family, my cousins from my generation know about Aylin and I also didn’t feel like telling to my mum. Perhaps in order to protect her, knowing that we can overcome everything, not telling her was the best choice.
Why did you decide to move to London?
A: For years, we travelled together to actually taste what it would feel like to hold hands in public and be ourselves. We visited a lot of different cities and countries but we’ve never felt more local anywhere but London. The atmosphere here made us feel like the people we really wanted to be. So 3 years ago we decided to move to London.
S: I think our primary urge has always been the idea of living as an “us”. Source: Hackney Magazine
Who can use Derman Counselling Service?
This is a free of charge adult (16 onwards) counselling service for Turkish speaking clients or clients of Turkish, Kurdish and Cypriot origin who reside and/or are registered with a GP in Hackney.
How to Refer to Derman?
Derman accept referrals in writing, a letter or completing referral form, from GPs, other Primary Health Care professionals, Locality Mental Health Teams and other voluntary sector organisations or health professionals.
Download the Counselling Referral Form
Return the completed form by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org or
Post to: Derman, The Basement, 66 New North Road, London N1 6TG