Story Publication logo January 9, 2009

Gay in Istanbul


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A resurgent Turkey is shifting from a linchpin of the Western system to an independent-minded actor...


ISTANBUL — A gay peasant, a nymphomaniac and a lecherous imam all figure in a bawdy theatrical play about Turkey highlighting contemporary issues such as consumerism, emigration and the proliferation of a confessional talk-show culture.

The lead character is a young man about to perform his military service who, to his macho father's consternation, enjoys dressing up in women's outfits and dusting the house. Concerned relatives decide to banish the problem by employing the lecherous imam to marry him off to the village nymphomaniac. Two wrongs make a right goes the play's skewed logic, sending up in the process traditional Turkish villages that view homosexuality as a shame to be hidden rather than discussed.

"It tells us how ignorant and homophobic we are," said Eran Cesar, 22, the lead actor who impersonates the gay son. "Because we discuss dangerous issues, we have to criticize them indirectly and in a closed scene. If we spoke about them openly we could be killed. We try to fight with humour rather than stones."

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