No sooner had we set out than we started to meet our allies!

No sooner had we set out than we started to meet our allies!

02/09/2020 | 17 Mayıs

Aiming to strengthen the LGBTI+ community and its activism, We celebrated our first anniversary with a statement.

No sooner had we set out than we started to meet our allies! - May 17 Association

Illustration: Aslı Alpar


We were founded on 2 September 2019 in Ankara, May 17 celebrated its first anniversary today. We have published a statement for our first anniversary.


The Statement is as follows:


Happy anniversary to Us!


Our association was founded a year ago. We have been struggling for LGBTI+ rights through solidarity with our allies for a year now. Though it seems like a year, we derive our power from the experience of the LGBTI+ movement that is over two decades now. Walking in solidarity with our allies, we are singing for happier, freer, and fairer days. As the LGBTI+ community whose voices were priorly suppressed, we are now taking full charge of our lives.


As is the case for the rest of the world, for us, the last year has been a struggle with the pandemic, too. Yet, together, we have developed coping strategies. Be it through an online meeting, or a face-face one under health regulations, we have managed to get together and will continue to do so.


On our anniversary, rather than blowing candles, we wanted to converse with our beloved friends and followers. Maybe one thing leads to another and *maybe a movie comes to town, maybe they will write of a beautiful forest in the papers. Let us start the conversation and tell you the story of our past year.


No sooner had we set out than we met our allies. We opened up our venue that is to be collaboratively used with Aramızda, the association for gender research, and, Ankara Rainbow Families Association (GALADER). The venue was named after Mahmut Şefik Nil, one of the pioneers, and veterans of the LGBTI+ movement. We had two opening celebrations where we shared our stories with our beloved friends.


Before long, we set out to accomplish our dreams. We have provided consultancy support for over 8 LBGTI+ organizations in Ankara, Antalya, Bursa, İstanbul, and Mersin. With our new projects starting as of today, we aim to expand and increase that support and solidarity network.


One area where we wanted to focus was the human rights of persons living with HIV+. Right after our foundation, we got together with LGBTI+ and HIV organizations, health workers, lawyers and activists to determine our road map. Our first step was to set out a research project -soon to be published- involving in-depth interviews with LGBTI+ persons living with HIV. We will continue to be in solidarity with LGBTI+ persons living with HIV in the struggle against labelling and discrimination.


Within the context of aging, we started our works almost simultaneously with the Initiative for 40+ **Lubunya. We started to talk and discuss about aging to reclaim our right to dignity and to say ***Naş to all sorts of stigma regarding aging. All the discussions and work carried out within this context will soon lend themselves to a published report. With our motto “Aging is beautiful”, we started our online journey around different cities, İstanbul Pride Week Panel being our first destination. This is just a beginning, older LGBTI+ persons are fast and furious.


Yet another thing we are proud to have been involved in is building solidarity with the intersex movement through Intersex Turkey, Intersex Anatolia, and Intersex Shalala. Despite seeming as a capacity building support, what we have done is a brilliant example of building solidarity that we take pride in. It is our only desire to ensure no one is left behind and to start equitability from within. So, we say “long live the intersex movement!


The pandemic has been tough for all of us and even more so for the LGBTI+ persons with no access to healthcare services. As we have known, it is through solidarity that we can survive, we were in solidarity with trans women, one of most badly affected groups by the pandemic. We provided them with financial support within our limits.


So, this was our story… What about your May 17 story? Share your own story with May 17 or your motto by tagging us on your social media accounts, sending messages, or posting with the hashtag #17Mayısisayearold.


Many happy returns!

* lyric from a famous 90s pop song by Sezen Aksu.

** a Lubunca word that previously used to refer to feminine gays and trans women but later came to be used as an umbrella term to refer to all LGBTI+ persons

*** a Lubunca word meaning “to dismiss”

Translation: Kerem Selçuk

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