Arden: "Just my existence as part of the LGBTQI+ movement makes me political here. And that's just because of who I am."


Arden is in their mid-thirties and born in Istanbul, they are non-binary. As a DJ and music producer, Arden is active in Istanbul's queer nightlife. Arden is experiencing the government's openly practiced queer-hostility. Even though they feel comfortable in their neighbourhood and places of work, Kadıköy and Beyoğlu.

Arden Illustration

Arden was born in Istanbul in 1984 but has also lived in Hatay in Southeastern Turkey for a while, as well as in France, Spain and Cambodia. Since 2001, Arden has been living in Beyoğlu, but continues to work in their old neighbourhood of Kadıköy: as a DJ, they play at a queer club on Friday nights: "There is no other place in Istanbul where respectful coexistence and openness are as pronounced as here!" Arden is non-binary and uses the pronouns they/them. In Kadıköy they feel safe.

Nevertheless, "Just my existence as part of the LGBTQI+ movement makes me political here. And that's just because of who I am. The government's anti-queer policies make me oppositional. My clothes and my appearance as part of my individuality, stand out and are often perceived negatively when I take the metro, for example. In addition, the nightlife where the community comes together is severely restricted - clubs have to close as early as 1am!

Because I look more masculine than some of my trans friends, I am more accepted and can participate in society more easily than others. But I can only live 50% of my life the way I want to live it", Arden says and strokes their short hair with a sigh.

Besides performing on Fridays in Kadıköy and Saturdays in Beyoğlu, Arden produces new music, organizes events and works as a graphic designer. They studied media studies but did not finish the PhD. Besides music, Arden's friends, his cat and yoga are important to him. "I am very productive right now, I am doing better than during the pandemic. Still, the political hurdles and inflation make my work difficult." Right now, Arden is working on his own AV live show.

In the meantime, they are temporarily renting out a room in their flat in Beyoğlu to make ends meet. The prevailing inflation forced Arden to take this step. "Renting through AirBNB secures me financially a little bit better now, but I still can't buy everything I want: everything got so expensive! I always have to consider now if I can afford to go out or buy something new."