Perking the Pansies
Jack and Liam move to Turkey

What's it like to be gay in Turkey?


Being openly gay and Turkish is difficult and, outside the major cities and coastal resorts, virtually impossible. Turkey remains a deeply conservative, family orientated country and discrimination is rife at all levels of society. Open homosexuality is considered shameful. Most gay people remain firmly in the closet and often get married to appease family pressure. The exception to the general rule is the arts and entertainment scene where even the most outrageous individuals can attract a level of popularity and adulation that borders on cult status. There is widespread confusion between sex and sexuality. Many Turks only consider the passive male partner to be gay and lesbianism is virtually invisible. Nevertheless, Jack and Liam rarely experienced prejudice from Turkish people. They supposed, as western infidels, they were hell-bound anyway so it hardly mattered what they did as long they were discrete. Read about it in Perking the Pansies, Jack and Liam move to Turkey.

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Chapter 2: Ave Maria
"...Gayks passed by with terrifying haste. Liam took up position as unpaid planning guru, devouring every relocation book on the market and organising our journey into the Byzantine world of Turkish red tape. He concocted a bells-and- whistles financial model and called it Bill. On the day he was born, ..."
"...Gaytruth, the speed at which everything happened did throw me off balance. I had worked since the age of eighteen, dodging further education by careering into my first full-time job as a shop boy on Chelsea’s trendy King’s Road. It was an easy way to earn an honest crust and ..."
"... prices. “God knows why two openly Gay men would want to live in a Muslim country,” I announced, “Particularly one with an unenviable reputation for military coups. There’s nothing for it. I shall insist that Liam wear a head scarf and walk three paces behind me at all times.” Enjoying ..."
"... and walk three paces behind me at all times.” Enjoying the giggles from the attentive assembly, I launched into a self-indulgent, innuendo-laden, Gay-man-abroad patter, concluding with “the Queen wears a head scarf and she’s not Muslim.” Later, as the crowd began to thin, I found a ..."

"... a simple white canvas, accented with patchy flashes of primary colour. Liam was uncomfortable. “He’s a bit odd, don’t you think? Gay Gollum meets the Queen Mother. And that scrawny cat looks positively evil.” Once we had seen the sumptuously appointed show home, Lorraine ushered us ..."

Chapter 4: Indian Summer
"...Gayreceived word that our cargo had arrived from England. We were thrilled. A Gay boy just can’t survive without the little essentials of life: decent cookware, ethnic knick-knacks and gallons of over-priced scent. A rude little man from the service- with-a-smile agents rang our newly acquired mobile phone at ..."

"...Gay disarmingly attractive trio never did divulge any information about themselves and seemed to revel flirtatiously in their anonymity. We didn’t particularly mind and even when the shelves were sparsely stocked we were more than happy with their friendly, personalised service. They kept us constantly supplied with American cigarettes ..."
"... “Don’t piss about.” “Does it really matter?” “Of course it matters. There comes a time in every Gay boy’s life when he needs to step up to the plate. Let’s give a certain little lady a splash of homo panache.” “Chrissy? Waste of time. I suspect she has a rather ..."
"... how did you two hook up?” enquired Charlotte. “Now there’s a story.” “I’m all ears, sweet pea.” “It was a Gay pub near Trafalgar Square. Halfway to Heaven.” “Only halfway?” “We didn’t go all the way for weeks.” Charlotte shrieked, drawing the ..."
"... Bernard, I don’t.” “It’s okay, don’t be embarrassed.” “I’m not.” “The Gays always look at me, I’m used to it.” “Yes Bernard, I’m sure you are. More hummus?” “I don’t love the old sod, Jack, but the sex is mind blowing.” Nancy’s eyes sparkled ..."
"... in full flow. “You would think… Frig me backwards, look who’s arrived. Now let me tell you…” Nancy snuggled up to me and slipped her hand under my arm. “My son’s Gay.” “Okay. That’s alright?” “Course. Love him to bits. Works for British Airways.” “Trolley ..."

Chapter 6: The Emigreys
"... It was early days, but we had already encountered some appalling Brits abroad. By contrast, local Turks had been warm and welcoming; there were no obvious signs that homophobia was about to wreck our Anatolian idyll any time soon. Maybe being Gay in Turkey wasn’t that difficult after all. ..."
"... suicide. How tragically romantic.” “I can see the headline. ‘Mad Mullahs and Militant Expats Force Gay Perverts into Suicide Pact.’” Liam paused. “I don’t want to die yet, Jack.” “Me neither. Not yet.” As we climbed Tepe Hill, we planned our winter ..."

Chapter 7: Clement's Closet
"...Gaydrank tea wrapped up on Clement’s balcony and watched the sun dip into the horizon. In a vain attempt to raise the hackles of his pretentious neighbour, Liam slurped his tea like a navvy. Mr Mistoffelees leapt onto Clement’s lap and demanded attention, writhing impatiently until his master tickled his ..."

"...of his innocence and I had discovered a new kind of perspective. Our life in Turkey wasn’t real. Not really. We were drifting around in an extraordinary expat bubble with people we didn’t know or really care about. We’d forgotten what mattered. Liam dragged mother up for a Gay Gordon and I wondered if he had sensed it too. ..."

"...Gaygün was resigned to his fate as a covert Gay man and was completely bewildered by our choice to live in a country where open homosexuality was considered shameful. We tried and failed to explain our situation and there was little more to say. We finished our coffee, exchanged a ..."

Chapter 11: Fright Night
"... all his splendour. Berni waved at Bobbi and Bobbi blew Berni an exaggerated kiss. “From Blackpool,” said Berni. “No kidding,” I said. “The only Gay in the village?” “Not anymore.” Berni shrieked a belly laugh that could fuse a pacemaker a mile away. As ancient hearts skipped a ..."
"... on BBC World? Let’s get out of here.” We said our fond farewells to busty Berni, the lovely Üzgün and the cardiganed quiz-meisters, hitched up our skirts and took our little Gay arses, wedding rings and all, into the cold drizzly night. ..."

Chapter 12: Tales of the City
"...Gaytime in Blighty blossomed into a social renaissance and I was awash with invites. Strawberry blond aspiring actor Clive invited me along to dinner at his stately town house in Islington, the epicentre of liberal London. Clive created away in the kitchen, while his partner, soap mogul Angus, served up ..."
"...Gay night of the chattering classes frolicked along handsomely. Fuelled by the entire contents of Clive’s wine cellar, we tripped through politics, high and unbelievably low culture, Eurovision, the banking crisis and pensions reform, all glued together by enough gossip to feed a year’s supply of The National Enquirer. I ..."

Chapter 13: Come Dine with Me
"...Gay thirty minutes our trapped guests were bombarded by a surround-sound picture and video extravaganza, set to music by DJ Liam. Everyone sat in silence, crammed onto our sofas, transfixed and watching their first Gay wedding. Our victims had no idea what to expect. Who would be wearing the frock? ..."

Chapter 14: The VOMITs
"... Away the Stone was another corker. Our ‘sha-la-la-las’ were the stuff of legend. “Our little Gay gang broke up when Peter left,” I said. “He upped sticks, swam the Channel and never came back.” Carol was impressed. “He swam the Channel?” “No, Carol. Not literally.” “Oh. ..."

Chapter 16: Judgement Day
"... us and waved. Painted smiles applied, we headed towards the high-heeled vision of Hell. Chrissy was drowning in gin. “Drink, boys? Mother’s ruin for my favourite Gays?” Her clicking fingers summoned Üzgün. “Two more G&Ts, dear. The real stuff, not your local rubbish.” We offered ..."

Chapter 18: Paradise Lost
"...Gay high season rush was behind us and we had time and space to think. We had reached an important milestone. Crucially, we had disengaged from the tedious soap opera of the emigrey ignorati, a day-time drama that played out within a parallel universe of neo-colonial separateness. Pork sausages, property ..."
"...were mixed. The Minister for Health contradicted her statement and a small demonstration in Istanbul (not quite Stonewall, but never mind) did make the papers so there was some kind of hope. To make matters worse, that very morning, a heated debate was raging on the Turkish Expat Forum: “Gay weddings, for or against? Vote now.” How jolly nice of them to think of us. The verdict was an overwhelming majority against same-sex couples getting married, or having any legal standing whatsoever. The Old Testament hell-and-damnation school of enlightened thought won the day. Victorian values were alive and thriving ..."
"...Gayt evening we held our own prissy protest by camping it up in Yalıkavak. In the interests of personal safety, we dumped the pink ‘I’m queer, get over it’ banners and plumped instead for tight tee-shirts and a gallon of Escada Pour Homme. We toured the village inns in our ..."
"...Gay next morning, Liam couldn’t feel his legs and decided to stay in bed and pinch for paralysis. I braved the hangover, crashed out on the patio sofa and thumbed through back copies of Time. Our Gay night in Yalıkavak had been a licentious success, if a tad more Gay ..."

Chapter 19: Hit the Road, Jack
"...Gaym’s presentation was a shock to the system. We were in the same position as the Greeks but couldn’t guilt-trip the Germans into bailing us out. Prostitution and taking in laundry were discussed as potential earners but we knew we couldn’t compete with the Gay-for-pay brigade or the washerwomen thrashing ..."

Chapter 21: Love Thy Neighbour
"... Liam slipped and slid across the kitchen floor, cursing me as he did so but still firing spaghetti. “If you’re not careful I’ll pour the bolognaise over your little Gay head.” I ran through the French windows into the garden followed by Liam and a vat of sauce. Beril looked up from ..."

"...Gayhappened across Meyhane Sokak, a narrow lane off the bazaar and home to a cluster of small bars exclusively frequented by Turks. The place overflowed with good-humoured trendy young things swaying to the deafening Turkopop. We squeezed onto one of the tall bench tables lining the lane to enjoy the ..."
"... years. He would need a roadmap and instruction manual to hit the winking target. Charlotte laughed. “Irfan doesn’t really get the Gay thing. He just gets sex. It’s the any-port-in-storm mentality.” She was right. Nancy’s provocative twirling with the speedo’d gay boy was right ..."
"... She was right. Nancy’s provocative twirling with the speedo’d Gay boy was right on the money. Irfan cut in and wrenched his woman from the clutches of his love rival. Soon, Nancy’s moisture meter hit critical and the star-crossed lovers retired to the lower cabin. “Looks ..."
"... Yer can’t fart without everyone knowing. You know what they call yer around here?” “Drunks?” “The A Gays. Did you ever hear the like?” Berni ordered a round of drinks. “I suppose you’ve heard the news?” We looked at her blankly. “Üzgün, my sweet little waiter.” ..."

Chapter 25: Home Alone
"...Gaygün’s murderers claimed that he came onto them. They had been scared of him. Jesus, Üzgün would fall over if you blew on him. Something wasn’t right. The last time we saw him, he was happy and now he was dead. Maybe he got drunk in Mehmet’s bar and revealed ..."
"...Gayore the summer rush, whole caravans of young men with locked-down libidos and any-hole-is-the-goal mentality began their annual migration to the coast looking for casual work and casual sex. Some of these poor fellas were like coiled springs. The frustration was palpable. And why give it away when there was ..."
"...Gayas still struggling. Maybe it was all to do with the distinction between sex and sexuality. There’s a world of difference between a quickie with a passing stranger and the profound desire to form a romantic and emotional bond with a member of the same sex. That’s where the grief ..."
"...Gaym and I felt relatively safe in Turkey, it was different for us. Sophia’s guarded warning about Sharia Law had spooked us but we didn’t take it too seriously. She had the best intentions but I didn’t sense a country slipping towards religious fundamentalism. The Turkey I knew was not ..."
"...Gay did we leave London in the first place? It had been kind to me. I crashed onto the Gay scene at the tender age of sixteen without fear or regret. I came out when no one came out. I wasn’t ashamed. I rarely waved a flag. I didn’t need ..."

Chapter 27: Jack's Cotillion
"... place, tomorrow night. We’ll do drugs.” I was dazed by the surprise and suspected Liam’s hand in it. The next day, Liam banished me to Maurice’s hotel while he cooked, stocked up on the booze and dressed the house for a Gay boyz foam party. Maurice heralded our arrival, wailing my ..."

"...GayThere will be envy among your neighbours that there are two very polite Gay yabancilar who pay on time and are courteously living in the family’s stone house, both of which have already singled you out from many. Whilst the older generation counts the pesos, you are setting a path ..."

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"An insightful tale of life abroad from the pen of a serial people watcher. Expat Jack lays his characters bare..."

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