The Perspective of a University Student on LGBT Issues: Interview

Posted On 3/3/2019 3:55:00 PM, 3Comments

I decided to interview one of my high school friends who is now studying Russian Language & Literature at Karadeniz Technical University. I informed her about the project and provided detailed information about what we're doing. She willingly accepted to answer the questions and allowed me to share her thoughts and opinions on this matter.

  1. Can you introduce yourself to us?
  • My name is X. I'm 21 years old. I'm studying Russian Language and Literature at Karadeniz Technical University. I'm heterosexual(straight).
  1. Are you familiar with the term ‘’LGBT’’? If so, what do you know about it?
  • Yes, I've heard this term before. This is an acronym. That means: first letter 'L' lesbian, second letter 'G' gay, 'B' bisexual, 'T' transgender. It represents a community. Heterosexuals are interested in the opposite sex. Homosexuals are interested in the same sex. Actually, we define these genders by only categorizing them into two sections; homosexuals and heterosexuals. However, there are so many genders that we can’t define them by simply referring them as homosexuals or we can’t simply forget all the other genders and focus on gays and lesbians to categorize the genders.
  1. Is it easy to identify someone as gay [straight] [lesbian]? Why or why not?
  • Of course, it is not easy to define a person as gay or lesbian. These kinds of people may take a long time to recognize their own gender identity. This may take 1-2 years or it may even continue to bother them throughout their entire life. So, it can be a life-long process to define a person’s identity. Since they may have difficulties in identifying themselves after a long process, it would not be easy for us to define their gender identities by simply stating gay or lesbian for them. You know, these things are not just easy. For example, a gay person may not see himself gay and struggle to be a normal male person or that person may just accept the fact that he is gay in the end. The most important thing is; it shouldn’t be us to define their identity.
  1. In Turkey, what do people do or say (or not do or say) if they want to be seen as gay [lesbian] [straight]?
  • Actually, from what I’ve observed, they mostly change their clothes. They wear a different kind of clothes, appealing ones. So, they basically change their physical appearance. Also, they change their friends/environment. I think they have difficulties in adapting to such environments where they might feel insecure. They stay close to ones that won’t threaten them and accept them as they are.
  1. In Turkey/your university, which gender identities seem natural or acceptable? Which do not? How can you tell?
  • The fact that a society reacts to natural or unnatural situations and gender identities can reveal too much about that society’s perspectives towards the people we talk about right now. In my university or even in my country, generally, the most accepted ones are the heterosexuals(straight). This is because of the opinion that heterosexuality is the societal norm and the identities are dictated to each member of the society at birth. To sum up, the gender identities which are accepted by the majority in a society are the natural ones. For example, in big cities, we see lots of people from different cultures and different backgrounds. The people who have different gender identities are also counted as individuals in these cities. So, I think that the people who live in big cities will tolerate and accept gay, lesbian or any other genders as natural ones, unlike the small cities where different genders won’t be tolerated and accepted by the people.
  1. After people move from Turkey, do they change how they think about gender identities? If so, how? If not, why not?
  • A society affects people’s perspectives and opinions in an indirect way. I think that people’s opinions about gender identities won’t change when they move to another city. However, the society still has an ‘’indirect’’ impact on that person who decides on such issues. The people can only make a proper decision when they are in a society where the people in that society think or have the same thoughts and opinions like them. So, the most important thing is the society since it affects people in many ways while making decisions. Moving to another city will give an opportunity to a person to look at the issues from another perspective but this does not mean that the person’s opinions will change.
  1. How safe do you think your university is for LGBT students? How do you know?
  • I don’t think my university is a safe place for LGBT students. I even think like this for most of the universities in Turkey. These people(students) feel like they are alienated and oppressed. The best examples would be the news that our media reflects each year; LGBT people committing suicide.
  1. Do you think we can conduct lessons related to the LGBT issues in our classrooms? If so, how can we integrate LGBT issues into our context? If not, why not?
  • I think the teachers can conduct lessons that would draw the attention to LGBT issues. At least, there can be some elective courses for such issues but I don’t know if anyone would voluntarily apply to these courses.

Comments (3) -

Deniz Ortactepe
3/5/2019 8:39:48 PM #

Dear Necati,

Thanks for interviewing a friend for this task. I think interviewing a heterosexual person who seems to be familiar with LGBTQ issues was a good idea. It’s however interesting that your friend, although seems sensitive to these issues, calls a heterosexual man as a “normal male person” which automatically makes the gay person not normal. I have noticed this sentence as well: “To sum up, the gender identities which are accepted by the majority in a society are the natural ones.” Meaning the natural ones are the heterosexuals? That’s not what she probably means but this takes us to how our language use is really powerful and can perpetuate the heteronormative discourse in the society. What do you think?

Necati Sönmez
3/6/2019 10:33:35 AM #

Thank you, Professor Ortaçtepe!
I thought that interviewing a heterosexual person could reveal so much about LGBTQ since we might have the chance to see the bias or the support towards the LGBTQ community in detail. Actually, my friend is sensitive about this issue because I know that she has two gay friends in her environment and she told me a lot about them while I was interviewing her. However, when I was finished with the interview, later I sensed the same as you did. I mean, there seems to be a bias towards LGBTQ when you read the interview. In fact, she actually supports them. In my opinion, the language that she used caused us to see the interview as a bias. So, we should actually be more selective and careful when we use the language to address such issues. I sometimes keep quiet about these issues since I don't want to say or mean the opposite of what I'm trying to say.

Bill Snyder
4/5/2019 10:08:15 PM #

Hi Necati,

I also really enjoyed reading this interview. It was nice example of choosing another perspective on a subject.

I agree that your friend seems aware of LGBTQ issues and is supportive in general of LGBTQ people and probably especially of her friends. But, as you and Deniz hoca note, some of her language use might help perpetuate stereotypes.

I noticed something else in the interview, at the end, when you asked about teaching lessons on LGBTQ issues. Her response seems limited to me.

She says that teachers can offer lessons that "draw attention to LGBTQ issues". And I have to wonder what those issues are. I think that ultimately, they would become issues for everyone, of equality and justice. So, I think having LGBTQ characters in a textbook and having them be treated the same as other characters in terms of responding to whatever situations the narrative of the book holds is probably more effective at creating inclusion than special units that label certain issues as LGBTQ issues. In other words, it's not the equality is an LGBTQ issue but that equality is an issue for everyone, and it impacts LGBTQ people as much others, but perhaps in particular ways.

I hope I've been clear in what I said there. If it's not, ask me to try again.

I also don't want to come across as criticizing your friend. I think she is sincere in her support, and that's a starting point, and a place to grow further from.

Thank you for this interesting discussion!

Best wishes,


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