Feminist and queer art was part of the 13th International AWID Forum in Costa do Sauípe, Bahia Sep 8th-11th , 2016). Gabrielle Le Roux was one the many artists whose work was then shown. Gabrielle is a queer South African painter and visual artist who since the mid 2000’s has portrayed queer activists from Africa and the global South more broadly . At the AWID Forum in Brazil, Gabrielle presented a video worked titled Proudly trans in Turkey, a project developed in partnership with Amnesty International. It is centered on the lives of seventeen Turkish trans women and men — Aras, Belgin, Demet, Destina, Iksen, Inan, Puzgar, Buse, Sema, Sewal, Selay, Sinem, Eylul, Esmeray, Dezni, Su and Gami — who talk about their age, their work, gender identity, violence and hate crimes, religious and spiritual beliefs, family and friends, self perceptions and activism in a series of nineteen short videos. Their testimonies and stories compellingly illuminate trans lives and experiences while at the same time providing deep insights about the Turkish social and cultural context, including in regard to state, religious and gender politics.
Also at the AWID Forum, a number feminist and queer activists have shared updated information about the dire political situation in Turkey after the July tentative coup and the brutal reaction on the part of the Erdogan government. Since then 60.00 persons have been imprisoned, including prominent intellectuals. More than 120.000 public servants, mostly teachers have been fired, the press has been censored, the space for civil society is drastically constrained and many scholars and a activists have left the country. Despite this dire and worsening political conditions, in August, when the trans sex worker and activist Hande Kader was brutally murdered, hundreds of people defied the rules prohibiting public demonstrations and have taken to the streets to protest.
SPW thanks Gabrielle and offers this Sexuality&Art post as a tribute to Turkish social movements and intellectuals who are resisting the sharp authoritarian conditions now prevailing in their country and, most principally, to Hande Kader.
Click here to watch the Proudly trans in Turkey videos