The stage: a space for queer subjectification in contemporary Turkey
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This article focuses on the role of the stage in complex modes of gender performativity in the work of three Turkish performers: Zeki Muren (1931-1996) Bulent Ersoy (b. 1952) and Seyfi Dursunoglu (b. 1932) a.k.a. Huysuz Virjin [Cranky Virgin]. These three I suggest are the pioneers of contemporary Turkish queer performance. Their performances - both on-and off-stage - are validated through a reiterative absence of queerness in their everyday lives and stand in the midst of various negotiations between queers and the secular Islamic nation-state in Turkey. In the works of Muren Ersoy and Huysuz the stage is suggestive of a space where queerness can be managed. It is a contested space that does at least allow for the communication of queer ideas to a wider audience. I discuss the works of these three performers as three variations of queerness in Turkey in relation to different eras and different political climates that are directly related to the nation-state's desire to perform modernity. While explicating complicated modes of gender performativity I consider the stage as the primary space for a queer body to exist. Through this discussion I aim to activate debates both within and against the context of secular Islam on gendered political space and on those overlooked sexualized spaces in which the nation-state produces powerful yet unstable values to manage queer subjectivity in contemporary Turkey.