“Queering Sexualities in Turkey: Gay Men, Male Prostitutes and the City” by Cenk Ozbay— A Country of Multiple Standards

Ozbay, Cenk. “Queering Sexualities in Turkey: Gay Men, Male Prostitutes and the City”, I.B. Tauris, 2017.

A Country of Multiple Standards

Amos Lassen

In the Middle East, Turkey is often seen as more liberal and democratic when compared to many other countries. However, the more conservative elements within Turkish politics and society have made gains over the past decades. As a result, like many other countries in the region, Turkish society has multiple standards when naming, evaluating and reacting to men who have sex with men. Cenk Ozbay claims that self-identified gay men (as well as men who practice clandestine same-sex acts) are marginalized, ostracized and rendered ‘immoral’ in both everyday practices and social institutions most of the time. Here he analyzes the concept of masculinity as central to redefining boundaries of class, gender and sexuality and in particular he looks at the dynamics between self-identified gay men and straight-acting male prostitutes, or ‘rent boys’. Through in-depth interviews with both self-identified gay men and rent boys, Ozbay explores the changing discourses and meaning of class, gender and queer sexualities, and how these three are embedded within urban and familial narratives. Just as a note, this does not so different to what many researchers have done here but the results are sure to differ.

This is also a study of heterosexually-identified young men with rural family origins who engage in compensated sex with middle-class gay clients in Istanbul (in other words, they work as prostitutes). Ozbay brings together ethnography, in-depth interviews, and theory and places it within a cultural and political-economy framework. This is a powerful intersectional analysis with thick description and theoretical depth that shows how a closely studied case illuminates broader theoretical questions that are necessary and central to understanding the key roles of class, the body and heteronormativity regarding the shaping of embodied masculinities and sexualities. As we read, learn of the “shifting dynamics of gender relations, sexual identity and sex work in neoliberal contexts.” We gain a needed focus

on the regional operations of class, gender and sexuality.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Introduction

Chapter 2: Queer Sexualities in Turkey

Chapter 3: Gay Men, Rent Boys and the City

Chapter 4: Virilities for Rent: An Interplay of Masculinities

Chapter 5: Rent Boys as Queer Subjects

Chapter 6: Rent Boys as Neoliberal Citizens

Chapter 7: When Gays Sell Sex

Chapter 8: Conclusion



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