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Saturday, December 31, 2005

Backlog [Part One]

It took me two days, but I've finally done it.

I've now cleared up all mails sent to me in the last two months and I want to give a reply to the final few here, by splitting the post into two parts.

I've had to be selective, due to limits of time and space. If anyone has sent me a question, which after some reading you can't find on this blog, you can always try again.

But I can't promise anything.

My Backlog List [Part One]

Christmas Cards
I'm sending big hugs to everyone that sent me a Christmas card or special seasonal message. I tried to personally reply to all of them, but if I did miss out any it was unintentional. After all, it is easy to skip a few when you have 50 or so cards to read.

I do want to single out 6 people, however, for a special thank you:

  • Firstly to Leila and Yassin, two good people who have been emailing me almost everyday with support and well wishes.
  • Secondly, to Leslie from Australia and Sarah from the UK for the poetry they wrote on their cards. It was very creative girls, thank you.
  • Tarkan on the front cover of Sevil's monthly magazineThirdly, I want to thank a friend of mine who works at a Sevil Boutique. I know her personally, not through the Internet, and she is one of my most avid readers and forces everyone at work to read my blog, too. She has a great heart, large enough for the whole world. Her whole team sent me a very special e-card. Turkish ladies of beauty, I thank you.
  • Finally, I have to thank Mailyn, not only for finding the time from her hectic life at the moment to actually send me a card, but for the card itself. A card from the Humane Society of the United States was not only thoughtful, but very appropriate. Thank you.

Living Trees
Mailyn's card also reminded me of a post I was planning to write for the upcoming Christmas season, but was unfortunately diverted from writing.

The post was to be about "Living Trees" for this holiday season. Instead of chopping down trees normally grown for the holiday and then burning them afterwards, which is a great tradition in Northern European countries like Holland, a tradition which my family have used for generations is something that has finally begun to hold favour in the USA, too.

You look after your tree in your garden, care and tender it throughout the year, bring it in for Christmas and then put it out again. The benefits are rewarding in various ways. It is not only educating and rewarding physically, but it adds an extra dimension to the spirit of the season. I recommend it for next season.

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Tarkan and Homosexuality
I always get a lot of mail regarding this issue, i.e. "Is Tarkan gay?" Here is what I usually say:

I wouldn't know, never having been in 's bedroom. I wouldn't care to know, as I don't categorise or define someone's talent with whom they choose to sleep with.

Simply put, it is a non-issue for me. However, I have decided to answer one mail under this heading, because the writer raises pertinent points.

George Maalouf from Palestine writes:

"I am a Christian from Palestine studying in Germany. I love your webpage about Tarkan. I love Tarkan and the way he dances and dresses. For me it was a relief when I learned that Tarkan is open to everybody and open minded. For me he is a rebel against patriarchal tyranny.

One question to your actual website: Why do you oppose the idea of Tarkan having more than just friendly relationships to men so much? I mean he is an artist and free to do what he wants."

You misunderstood my article regarding the book Alpay Aydın wrote. My article isn't about opposing or denying Tarkan's sexual preference. If that were the case I would have written an article putting an opinion about this issue a long time ago.

I don't care whether Tarkan wishes to have with men or women. People's private lives do not interest me.

My article was about the abuses of journalism and how people try to make money off Tarkan's name. I was questioning the author's motives. It's one of the worst kind of abuses, when one abuses friendship, even more so when the public will never know for certain if what is written in that 'book' is true or not. What could Tarkan do? Speak out against such spite and give the thing credence?

I would have condemned the act had Tarkan's long time girlfriend Bilge Öztürk come out with an alleged 'kiss and tell' book also. Aydın's story was written out of pure economical gain and malice, the Turkish media were reporting it as though it were the truth, and Tarkan fans were confused about the whole situation. I felt I had to write an article to put things into perspective.

Tarkan is free to sleep with whomever he so desires, and not just because he is an artist. Everyone should have this freedom.

It doesn't threaten my notion of values to allow people privacy in their bedrooms.

Abuses of Journalism
We must read everything with a critical mind. I don't just immediately believe what I read. If it is a subject I am not familiar with, I do my own research, check out the author and his/her sources.

If I read something I disagree with or I believe is wrong then I act.

Last year, the online gossip news portal ixtanbul.com decided to post news about Tarkan's English song titles from his unreleased album derived from a post of mine at Starpages, which they had received second-hand from a person who didn't even understand English. Without bothering to check their own sources first, ixtanbul.com printed the song titles as official titles, and Tarkan fans had begun posting the news to their groups. When news reached me about this, I immediately got in touch with the editor.

My post was written as a technique to invite readers to put their own views across on Tarkan's English language album - to keep up interest in it.

I received a letter of apology from the editor and was promised that as a result posting at ixtanbul.com would change. They began to list their sources.

As I'm not a reader of ixtanbul.com, for obvious reasons, I don't know if they have continued with the changes, but due to the nature of the "news" they print, one does not hold much hope.

But bad journalism does not just appear on such sites.

Tarkan Simdi/Now Festival PosterMore recently I disputed an article about Tarkan at Qantara.de. It had been written in light of the upcoming Berlin Şimdi/Now festival later that year in 2004.

As this is a reputable news link and in the name of good journalism - for people could have used this as a verifiable source - I couldn't just let the article they presented quote: "In 2001, he admitted to being homosexual in order to ward off a horde of Turkish scandal journalists and a gang of blackmailers," if this wasn't the case.

This isn't a situation of my being against homosexuality, or trying to hide the fact that Tarkan might be homosexual, or even holding a difference of opinion. From what I knew, in no magazine or newspaper or TV interview has Tarkan ever admitted to being homosexual. There were no "gang" of blackmailers, either, just one very sad man.

The fact was if that one sentence couldn't be credited to a source, then it was a mistake or lie, or the personal belief of the writer written as though it were fact. The writer had to prove to me by substantiating that sentence with sources exactly when and where Tarkan admitted to being a homosexual. Especially since I had reputable sources of the same year where he claimed to be heterosexual.

I have grown up with Tarkan, his music and his scandals. I know only too well the continuous fight he has on his hands. Even some fans that profess to respect and admire him believe that he is a homosexual in denial and that his relationship with Bilge is false. This throws a shadow over the singer and his girlfriend's character. Why should they want to mislead the public, the media and the fans in this way?

I don't care whether he is in denial, or not, but until there is proof of this, making such unfounded comments can be construed as gossip, and no doubt would hurt those to whom it is directed.

At any rate, first and foremost it is bad journalism.

The editor at Qantara.de behaved excellently about the matter and was very responsive. The journalist in question replied back too, and I couldn't believe the third rate sources he quoted me, and none of them even backed up that statement. I was amazed at the low level of journalism I was faced with from this German reporter. Needless to say those comments were unjustified. The editor at Qantara.de agreed with me, and changed the article accordingly. Hopefully, they will also ask a list of sources from journalists now, before they print any articles.

I have a log of all my mails in regard to this subject and copies of the article before and after the amendments I requested, if anyone should dispute what I say here.

My View on Homosexuality
I also do not like the fact that my article seemingly gave the impression that I am against homosexuality.

I don't treat homosexuals as pariahs or a new modern invention due to the weakening of moral standards in society. Not to mix definitions, in fact the creators of Western civilization all indulged in male love, whether it be open homosexuality, pederasty or other forms. In Islamic culture one of the most moving love stories, from which examples are frequently quoted, is between two men. In one of my posts I translated a story of love that was between two men, because the essence of it spoke to me. Good works of art must be able to transcend any boundaries, and we must not limit ourselves because of prejudices.

Plus I believe it would be an insult to my intellect to ostracize a certain type of person and their art just because of their sexual preference.

If we did that we would have to lose half of modern civilisation's talent.

It's a shame that our entire human family has a terrible past record in the way it treats minorities of any colour or persuasion, due to religious orthodoxy or prejudice - and I am no part of that.

I welcome such developments when I hear that one of my most respected film directors Ang Lee can direct a movie about homosexual love. The news didn't disappoint me. I might not watch it, as the genre is outside my field of interest, but that such inroads are being made in independent American movies will no doubt affect Hollywood and will be worthwhile to the whole of the film industry.

Developments in my own field, that of UK law, have also for far too long delayed the inevitable of balancing out the protections and rights of same-sex couples. In the UK union ceremonies known as "civil partnerships" have only just recently come into effect.

My only criticism is that this form of legal union is only for homosexuals. The law in this respect is discriminatory and should be changed. As a heterosexual, especially if I marry a woman from a different faith or no faith, this type of ceremony is more suitable for me. It is much more modern and in keeping with the times.

I am a traditionalist in certain terms - but only in regard to topics that enhance life and are connected with respect toward other living things. My close friends know my opinion on marriage; I think it is an outmoded institution and should not be equated with love. My parents created a stable family framework because of who they are and how they loved me, not because they were married. No religious ceremony can protect a wife from a bad husband, or a child from bad parents. In my opinion, this type of partnership is ideal for everyone, not just homosexuals, as arguably it removes the religious dogma attached to marriage.

Want to read other views from my life? >>

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New Year Resolutions
A few readers are interested in my new year resolutions. I don't have any, as I prefer to better myself constantly, not just in the first few weeks of January - but here are some that sound good:

1. Work smarter, not harder.
2. Expand further knowledge.
3. Spend more time with family.
4. Tell a person a day you love them.
5. Keep a healthy body and a healthy mind.

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For Part Two of this post, click here.

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