Meet Lara Özlen, one of the organizers of Istanbul Pride.
On June 28th, 1969 the Stonewall Riots kicked off a larger gay rights movement in the USA.
In 1970, the first gay pride marches took place in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago – today pride parades are taking place all around the world.
In 2018, I wanted to know who the people organizing today’s pride parades are, what the marches mean to them, and met wonderfully powerful, loving and kind people from places, which might not be the first ones that come to mind, when we think of queer love.
See all Faces of Pride.
My name is Lara Özlen and I am 26 years old.
Since when have you been involved with Istanbul Pride?
Since 2016 I have been involved in İstanbul Pride organization. Before that I was a regular in the marches as well until the ban in 2015.
Why do you think Istanbul Pride is important?
It is important for us to shout out loud and being more visible since there are no legal regulations in relation to hate crimes or marriage equality in Turkey.
LGBTI+phobia is real and concrete here, especially for the individuals who are more visible on the street. For the whole Pride Week we aim to hold a safe place for LGBTI+ individuals which is equally important with the parade. Pride Parade, on the other hand, is the top level of visibility for many individuals who have been closeted throughout years. We aim to make people more comfortable in their skins and increase solidarity among us.
What is one (or two) remarkable thing(s) that has/have happened at Istanbul Pride? 2014 Pride Parade was the longest and the most crowded March that everyone could see in İstanbul. We assume it was around 30.000 people. It was right after Occupy Gezi, and there were a lot of people from opposition.
What do you do when you are not organizing Istanbul Pride? I’m a freelance video editor at this point because I studied Film in BA. I also do workshops with refugee children in İstanbul.
What do you like to do in your free time? I like to watch movies (old habits never die), and read.
Is there something you would like to say to the rest of the LGBT+ community? You are never alone, we’re still here in every corner of the city!
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Not different, just love
How do you feel when it comes to dealing with our emotions, expectations and responsibilities, around coming out, living as a LGBTIQ+ person and when it comes to our families and love in general?