I just heard the news of the death of Boysan Yakar and Zelis Deniz in a car accident from a friend with ties to Turkey, as do I. It was confirmed by this article on the Turkish LGBT rights website and by all the friends who have been writing all day on their page on Facebook. I met Boysan in 2007 when there were parallel attempts in Athens and Istanbul to try to establish forms of advocating for the rights of LGBT people: marches, exhibitions, magazines, pride parades.
Back in 2007, Boysan Yakar was talking about the organization through which he promoted the agenda of LGBT rights in Turkey (in the 7th issue of City Uncovered, the LGBT newspaper that we circulated along with friends in Greece at the time): “Lambda Istanbul is more of a collective rather than an organization. We are people who like to act on the road, working voluntarily in a horizontal organizational form. There is no President, no Board only committees and committees’ representatives. Our activities include a chain of information and advice through the media, the library, contact with organizations within and outside of Turkey, Pride Committee, our annual awards of homophobia and the continuous effort to find resources to support all this. We have consciously chosen not to be a legitimate organization for the state, which would require a structure completely different from that with which we work. This is good because it gives us the freedom to work as we want but it also has negative aspects, at least in financial terms. Lambda Istanbul finds difficulties to raise funds, as money is not often given for purposes like ours. ”
Regarding the organization of Pride, Boysan said to us then: “Turkey’s Pride will take place for the 5th time in Istanbul. It is organized mainly by Lambda Istanbul but has the support from all LGBT organizations in Turkey. Last year 50 people walked with us and this was considered a great success by Turkey’s standards (editor’s note: we are talking about 2006). For us Pride is a co-organization. Everything is put aside; there are no differences during those days. We talk a lot about everything, we find the common ground of all our voices and ideas and then we throw ourselves into work. ”
I have watched Boysan grow and finding his feet, I watched and commented on his transformations in Facebook. Recently he held the role of adviser on LGBT issues to the Mayor of Sisli. Always bright, with a gaze full of innuendos, he is an energy that I feel is still smiling on us from wherever he may be now.