When we think of homosexuality, the world had made huge leaps in recent years. Gay marriage is now legal in the US and the UK, protections from discrimination exist in law, gay people are allowed to adopt children — events that we have come to accept as normal, as they should be, but we tend to forget how seismically groundbreaking they were when they happened and also the fact that up until very recently they were not even talked about. Up until 1987 homosexuality was still considered a mental health disease — it was part of the American Psychiatric Association DSM-II (the classification of mental disorders). In England, Section 28, the controversial piece of legislation that banned the “promotion of homosexuality” by local authorities and schools, was not repealed until 2003. Qatar, where the World Cup 2022 will take place, and many other countries in the Middle East still impose the death penalty for gay men and women.
Hannah Cauhepe’s Hors-Jeu takes a look at Istanbul, Turkey. A soccer team had spent months organising the Queer Olympics, a yearly multisport event for everyone who doesn’t neatly fall in the heteronormative societal narrative. Even though homosexuality is not strictly outlawed in Turkey, there is a wide gray area and the Queer Olympix was banned by the police simply for being queer, under the false pretense that it’s for their own safety. As the photographer says, Turkey isn’t the worst when it comes to LGBTQ rights as homosexuality is not a crime, but queer people are neither acknowledged nor protected by the state. Is “not the worst” enough? Should we as a society be content with that? Of course not. Yes, it can be much worse, but the state’s basic and most important function is to protect all of its citizens, no matter who they are or whom they love.
The photographs forming Hors-Jeu depict rainbows, splashes of water, tender caresses, queer women with short hair and confrontation with the police. Cauhepe’s project empowers queer people not only in Turkey but throughout the whole world by giving them the stage. To answer those who still ask “why is there no straight Pride”, it’s because every day is straight Pride — the majority do not need extra visibility or protection because they have it as part of the status quo, they are being taken care of by default. It’s the underrepresented minority, the people who fall on the sidelines who need our support and compassion.
— foreword by Zak R. Dimitrov
This long-term project following a queer soccer team in Istanbul, Hors-Jeu.Back in 2019, a few people were getting ready for the third edition of their yearly multisport event, the Queer Olympix, in an Istanbul public park, when the police came and canceled the event... for being a queer event.
Turkey doesn't actually criminalize homosexuality or transgender people, but they give them no protection either and Erdogan's government called the LGBTQ community terrorists.
In this context, the team still resists and fights to carve out their own safe space, with a soccer ball.