My name is Tolga and I’m from Malatya, Turkey. It’s a small, conservative town and we are all raised conservative as well.
I remember every time I was going to school, some of my friends, they were talking about the girls that they saw in their dreams and all that as we were growing up. I was always feeling left out because – and questioning, because – I never saw a girl in my dream. I was seeing guys. And it made me utterly uncomfortable as well because, number one, I cannot share that with anybody, and number two, it was not okay for me either.
I moved to New York City when I was 19 for college and the feelings were still inside. And I was not happy about it because, not only I wanted answers, but also I did not want to associate myself with being gay. I assumed that it was just an urge and once I experienced that, I told myself that that feeling is going to be gone.
So I picked up a Village Voice magazine on the way to school. And on the back pages, I chose the right ad for my taste, I would say. I called the number from a pay phone and I was very polite and diplomatic, actually.
I dialed the number and I was like, “Hello. Good evening.”
And the guy responds, “Yo, where you at?”
And I was like, “Excuse me. I would like to make an appointment please.” The person gave me the address and the time where to meet up. So I went back home. I took a long shower. I did take care of myself very well. I did my hair super well. I put cologne on and a very nice outfit as well, as though I were going on a super important date.
So I got over to his place and I was turned off already as soon as I saw him because he was wearing shorts and a tanktop and the house was messy, so I wasn’t feeling anything to begin with.
I laid down and after having an initial talk, I already told him that I was inexperienced and wanted to know more about it. He literally just got down to business. He was right in front of me and he took off his clothes. He asked me if he put two condoms on. It ignited panic in me again because, wait, right in business and I’m not sure if that’s what I wanted or I don’t know what I wanted.
He was just about to make a move to get inside. I actually told him to please step back. Then, of course, he asked me if everything was okay and all, so I told him that it had nothing to do with him. I was just not feeling it. As I was about to leave, actually, he, I think he got the idea that he thought that I was going to move on, so he actually told me that this is something that is going to stay with me so I should embrace it any time soon. I can’t run away from it.
I was so infuriated by it, so I ran crazy and I just was lost. The urge didn’t go away but the questions were still there so it was truly infuriating. I still had to find out more.
I came across Gay.com. One day, I ended up chatting with this guy from Texas called Justin. The conversation went very well and he said that he wanted to meet me. I was very excited about it because he was very attractive, beautiful, and for me, he was like a Greek God.
The time comes and we meet and things were so smooth and so friendly and genuine and sincere. I went over to his place and we ended up watching “iRobot.” Then he laid down and put his head on my lap.
As we were continuing on the movie, he gives me a look and he says, “Can I kiss you?”
I paused but with a shy look on my face I say, “Sure.” As if he was reading my mind, he was telling me it was okay not to know anything and it’s okay if something makes me uncomfortable. He gave me the right to stop him, even. It was one of the most romantic experiences I ever had. That was the night that I did lose my virginity.
I was in the beginning of my path. Apparently he wasn’t. Obviously. It was so much on him to take as well. So it didn’t work out.
Then I met another person. Kelly. I think the initial meeting with Kelly, in my head, was a date. We had a very good date. We went to a restaurant. We had a few talks. There was nothing about sexuality or anything. It was just a smooth hangout. He was very respectful. He took me home and he went back to his home. As time goes on, he didn’t make a move on me and neither did I. Something happened in me that I realized that this is just exactly what I need right now. What I needed was a friend and he was the friend I was provided.
Having questions is actually the beginning of the stage, which means you are aware that there are things that need to be answered.
Now looking where I am today, I can say wholeheartedly that I am Muslim and I’m gay and I’m totally okay with that. It’s totally okay to keep your belief system as well as your own identity together in peace and continue your own life, and I’m the living example of it.