If you have not been to Istanbul before, it is recommended to start with understanding the special gay culture of this city. Being the most crowded city of Turkey, Istanbul is the heart of Turkish gay life. Although Turkey is undergoing a rapid change, certain things are still very traditional and peculiar in this country. The gay culture is a good sample of this. Taking immigration from all over the country, Istanbul is a summary of the whole Turkey.
Istanbulgay.Com is published by local people living in Istanbul and updated frequently with the latest information about the gay venues in Istanbul which you can not find anywhere else. We are not only listing the existing venues, but also the places which have already been closed down for various reasons, still being listed on other websites and printed gay-guides as well.
Turkey has got a traditional bisexual or
culture taking its root from the history. The classic
gay relationship is between real gay men and
men. In this traditional culture these bi-curious men would
not define themselves as gay or bisexual and the passive partners are
usually appreciated to be young, glabrous an slightly
feminine. Hetero-flexible / bisexual guys are supposedly
top and do not have sex with each other. This gay
culture is kind of similar to historical buggery or sodomy
culture in the western countries. As a result of this bisexual
culture, there is a big transvestite & transgender
society in Istanbul and in other big cities of Turkey.
In the last 20-30 years Turkish gay culture has been westernized
rapidly and sexual interactions between gay people have become more common. In fact there is still not a
sharp distinction among the sexual orientations. The
border-line is very transitional between straight,
bisexual, gay, queer, transvestite and transgender
According to the statistics Istanbul is listed among the
safest metropolises in the world. But naturally, there
are some risks in gay and night life
just as in other
big cities of the world; and you can bump into bad
guys along the way. As long as you know what is
happening and behave accordingly, you do not need to
worry too much. Not surprisingly, the most common
criminal incident in gay life is small-scale thefts
(mobile phones, cash money etc). Theft and robbery
incidents are more likely to take place in isolated
cruising spots or when you go somewhere with someone
about whom you know nothing. Of course these things are
not happening everyday and should not discourage you
from meeting people but just in case it is advised not
to carry valuable belongings and a lot of cash on you
when you go out for cruising especially in outdoor
places such as parks. Do not go with local people to their places,
as much as possible. Prefer public
venues such as cheap hotels,
houses and saunas, if your own hotel
is not suitable. Naturally, you should be more careful
if you date someone via internet or gay dating
applications, just like you should be
anywhere else in the world. The most popular dating
app among Turkish LGBTQ people are
Growlr and Turkish-owned
There are several other potential risks for tourists, regardless of being gay. First of all, avoid some tourist-hustlers who usually hang around Taksim and sometimes around Sultanahmet districts. They will try to convince you to go to some scam night clubs to rip you off. Your bill can be up to several thousand Euros depending how far you follow your basic instincts instead of your logic. There are few night clubs like that but their hustlers are always around who are said to be taking commissions. Briefly stay away from people who are too friendly all of a sudden, no matter what their stories are.
It is of minor importance but there is a new tourist trick played by some fake shoe-shine men walking about some main streets. They deliberately drop their brush and keep walking as if they are unaware; so that you pick it up and give it to them. Then they try to look very grateful and suggest you to shine your shoes, as if returning the favor. But they do want money at the end - even more than normal shoe-shine price. It is just a silly but annoying confidence trick, in other words.
Another less possible scam risk is dishonest taxi drivers. Some taxi drivers may over-ride tourists to charge them more. Although rarely it is also heard that some drivers may also switch the big banknotes with smaller ones, and blames you for giving the smaller note. It is better if you really pay them with small banknotes, indeed. If you have a problem with taxi drivers, write down the plate number of the taxi explicitly (make sure he understands), and try to tell him that you will go to the police ('police' sounds the same in Turkish). If you do not want to experience such headaches on your holiday it may be wise to ask taxi driver how much you will pay for the place you go before you get in. You can also ask your hotel's staff to call you a familiar taxi driver, if they can..
If it is your first time in Istanbul, it is recommended to make a discovery tour to find the locations of gay bars and clubs in day time. It is not wise to ask people directions at night, because you can bump into a crook or get lost in risky back-streets. If you can afford, we highly recommend you to hire a private guide from this Turkish travel agency which operates gay friendly tours for more than 10 years.
In general feel at home and even be a little snob when necessary. Make sure that there is law in this country, and fight for your rights if needed. In fact ordinary Turkish people are very hospitable and nice people, but do not expect everyone you meet will be like that in such nightlife or tourist districts of the city. Istanbul is a big metropolis ultimately, where you can meet any kind of people.
The gay events and activities have become more visible
since late 80's. The number of the gay venues
increased rapidly in recent decades. Vicinity of Taksim
quarter of Beyoglu town on the European
side of Istanbul is where almost all major gay
venues are located. In fact, this district is the center of
night life in general. There are many gay
bars, night clubs, gay-friendly saunas and Turkish baths around
Taksim. This gay neighborhood is also frequented by many
gay-for-pay rent-boys. Some of these escort boys can
be very handsome, but caution is
highly advised. There are also a number of clubs
exclusively for transvestites
and transsexuals and their admirers around Taksim
neighborhood. Indeed, the gay
life of Istanbul is very colorful and vibrant. Istanbul
is hosting gay pride parade every year since early
2000's, which is one of the biggest LGBT gathering in
Eastern Europe. There are several LGBT solidarity groups
in Istanbul, including
Istanbul LGBT. Lambda Istanbul is the first gay and
lesbian organization of Turkey.
Click here for gay events, parties, concerts and other LGBT friendly cultural activities in Istanbul.
Turkish people are a mixture of Caucasian (white) and Mediterranean in appearance. Although the
Turkish people have fair complexion you can also see
many brunettes as well as blond people with color eyes.
The major ethnicities other than Turks are people of
Kurdish and Arab origin who still carry their
characteristics despite considerable miscegenation by
means of intermarriages in recent decades especially in
big cities. Istanbul is a city of domestic
emigration and houses a total mixture of all these
ethnicities from all around Turkey, also including
minority groups such as Greeks, Armenians and Jews. Istanbul
top 10 list of the most visited cities in the world,
welcoming over 10 million tourist every year from all
around the world. There
are also considerable number of
coming from variety of western countries
living in Istanbul for work and other reasons.
To see the ethnic diversities in Turkey click here for picture gallery of famous Turkish male celebrities
There is not any law against homosexuality in Turkey
since the beginning of the republic period (1923). In
fact, there is not any law at all concerning
homosexuality. In theory, some general laws can be
applied if you make sex in places open to public, but it
is never heard of such an incident in real life. The age
of consent is 18, which also applies as the age limit to
be able to enter bars and clubs selling alcohol.
Regardless of the sexual orientation, any sexual
intercourse with someone below the age of consent is
regarded as pedophilia and it is illegal even if it is
done with the approval of the minor partner.
Although there are still some defects with her democracy, Turkey is the most secular and democratic "Muslim country" in the world, closer to the western culture if a comparison needs to be made. New democratic legislations enacted by the parliament in early 2000's have improved this situation further more. Unfortunately, when a new constitutional law was being discussed to punish various discriminations in late 2004, sexual orientation was omitted by the Government members of the national assembly at the last minute. When critics grow, the Minister of Justice of that time stated that the phrase which means "gender discrimination" already taking place in related law would automatically cover "sexual orientation" as well. A similar law (5237/122) was enacted by the parliament in the same year punishing such discriminations, partially as a result of European Union Membership agenda. The first significant implementation of this law was in 2015 against a bath house owner who refused to offer service to a Turkish transgender woman. Also in 2016 an openly gay Turkish referee won a landmark lawsuit against Turkish Football Federation following his dismissal in 2009. Since the beginning of 2010's two of the main stream left-wing opposition parties have been openly supporting LGBT rights and they have even presented few LGBT candidates in local and general elections.
The official numbers of HIV + people in Turkey is still stated by just a few thousands, Istanbul being the leading city, naturally. A total of 15000 people are diagnosed to have Aids/HIV virus by 2018 in whole of Turkey, according to the statistics of the Ministry of Health; and homosexuals hold a very small percentage (around %10) of these official numbers. But the real number should be much bigger than this. Majority of Turkish society is still conservative about certain things and HIV is still regarded as a sexual disease. Less-educated part of the population are not very knowledgeable/careful about safe sex. Consequently the people either do not take any HIV tests or tend to hide themselves, and it is not very possible to obtain accurate numbers. Regardless of the accuracy of these numbers Istanbulgay.Com supports safe sex all over the word.
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