tolga and sexuality

Tolga & Sexuality and Religion ‘It’ll Be Better Once You Embrace It What Defines You’ [Video]

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We recently caught up with Tolga, who updated us on his life since we filmed him and dove deeper into the intersection of his sexuality and his faith.

Growing up in a conservative town in Turkey, Tolga felt as though being gay and Muslim were incompatible. He would later move to the United States, where he would eventually learn to reconcile his religion with his sexuality. We recently caught up with Tolga, who updated us on his life since we filmed him and dove deeper into the intersection of his sexuality and his faith.

Transcript provided by YouTube:

00:06

story update today we’re going to be

00:08

speaking with toga who shared his story

00:10

with us several years ago

00:11

but before we speak to tolga let’s take

00:15

my name is toga and i’m from malatia

00:18

it’s a small conservative town and we

00:20

all raise conservatives as well

00:22

i remember every time i was going to

00:26

friends they were talking about the

00:28

girls that they saw in their dreams and

00:30

all that as we were growing up

00:32

and i was always feeling left out

00:35

and questioning because i never saw a

00:38

i was seeing guys and it made me utterly

00:40

uncomfortable as well because

00:42

number one i cannot share that with

00:47

it was not okay for me either i moved to

00:49

new york city when i was 19 for

00:51

college and the feelings were still

00:54

and i was not happy about it because not

00:57

only i wanted dancers but also

01:00

i did not want to associate myself with

01:03

being gay i assumed that it was just an

01:05

and once i experienced that i told

01:08

that that feeling is going to be gone

01:11

so i picked up a village voice magazines

01:16

on the way to school and on the back

01:20

chose the right ad for my

01:25

taste i will say i uh called the number

01:32

was very polite and diplomatic actually

01:35

and i dialed the number and i was like

01:39

and the guy responds yo where are you

01:43

i would like to make an appointment

01:46

the person gave me the address and the

01:49

time where to meet up so i went back

01:52

i took a long shower i did take care of

01:56

i did my hair super well and i put

02:00

and very nice outfit as well as if i was

02:03

going on a super important date

02:05

so i got over his place and

02:09

i was turned off already as soon as i

02:11

saw him because he was wearing shorts

02:13

and tank tops and the house was messy so

02:15

i wasn’t feeling anything to begin with

02:17

i laid down and after having an initial

02:20

talk i already told him that i was

02:23

inexperienced and i wanted to know more

02:26

and he literally just got down the

02:29

right in front of me and he took off his

02:32

and he asked me if he put two condoms on

02:36

and it ignited panics in my as in me as

02:41

wait right in business and i’m not sure

02:44

that’s what i wanted or i don’t know

02:46

what i wanted he was just about to

02:50

make a move to get inside i actually

02:52

told him to please step back

02:55

and then of course he asked me if

02:57

everything was okay and also i told him

02:59

it had nothing to do with him i was just

03:00

not feeling it as i was about to leave

03:02

actually he i think he got the idea that

03:06

uh i he thought that i was going to move

03:09

actually told me that this is something

03:11

that is going to stay with me so i

03:13

should embrace it any time soon i can’t

03:14

run away from and i was so inflated by

03:17

so i ran crazy and i just was lost

03:21

the urge didn’t go away but the

03:23

questions were still there so it was

03:26

i still had to find out more and i came

03:34

i ended up chatting with this guy from

03:38

the conversation went very well and

03:42

he said that he wants to meet me i was

03:44

very excited about it because

03:46

he was very attractive beautiful and

03:49

for me he was like a greek god the time

03:54

meet and things were so smooth and

03:58

so friendly and genuine and sincere

04:01

i went over his place and we ended up

04:11

laid down and put his head on my lap as

04:15

continuing on the movie he gives me a

04:20

can i kiss you and i pause

04:23

but with a shy look on my face

04:27

and i said sure as if he was reading my

04:30

he was telling me that it’s okay not to

04:33

anything and it’s okay if something

04:36

makes me uncomfortable he gave me the

04:39

it was one of the most romantic

04:43

and that’s that was the night that i

04:47

did lose my virginity i was in the

04:51

apparently he wasn’t obviously and

04:54

it was so much on him to take as well so

04:58

then i met another person um kelly

05:01

i think initial meeting with kelly in my

05:06

and we had a very good date

05:10

we went to a restaurant and we had fifth

05:14

there was nothing about sexuality or

05:17

anything it was just a smooth hangout

05:19

and he was very respectful he took me

05:22

went back to his home as the time goes

05:24

on he didn’t make a move on me neither

05:27

something happened in me that i realized

05:31

exactly what i need right now what i

05:34

needed was the friend and he was the

05:38

was provided having questions is

05:40

actually the beginning of the stage

05:42

you are aware that there are things

05:45

that need to be answered now looking

05:50

i can say wholeheartedly that uh i am

05:54

and i’m gay and i’m totally okay with

05:58

it’s totally okay to keep your belief

06:02

as well as your own identity together in

06:06

and continue your own life and i’m the

06:11

okay so welcome toga to our story update

06:15

i’m well thanks nathan how are you doing

06:17

it’s nice to see you again

06:19

doing very well thank you um it’s great

06:22

um so i want to kind of jump in and talk

06:24

about one thing that really stood out to

06:25

me in your story which was

06:28

kind of the profound statement

06:31

that the escort that you saw had on you

06:34

what i perceived the the impact he had

06:37

when you were leaving he told you that

06:39

you can’t run away from who you are

06:41

and that really seemed to be a change

06:44

can you kind of reflect on that and let

06:48

that felt to you or how you look at that

06:52

like an earthquake in a way because

06:56

it’s something that young you know is

06:59

truth but you are in denial still but

07:02

personally in denial is something that

07:06

and how you’re gonna the fear the

07:10

everything it was just all piled up

07:14

and suddenly it’s all we’re

07:17

working against you in a way and you

07:20

feel powerless and you don’t know what

07:23

it was all about embracing and accepting

07:27

and it was something that too

07:31

hard for me to comprehend because

07:35

i just did not know where to start with

07:39

even um so it was it was a challenge

07:42

and it was just like you said it was a

07:48

i learned to embrace everything about me

07:52

what i mean to say is like

07:56

past is part of me and the present is

07:59

already part of me as well

08:00

so where i came from how i lived through

08:04

or or was in different group of people

08:08

or uh raising different culture

08:13

just because they are or they were

08:15

different from my current life standards

08:17

doesn’t change the fact that um

08:22

they are not part of me so when i look

08:26

at my past from this perspective

08:30

i i still receive some questions and

08:38

a lot of people around me every time we

08:44

be for instance muslim and gay

08:47

considering they would not like you and

08:50

but it goes through the same circle when

08:53

is in the past i was trying not to

08:57

and now people are judging me or

09:00

i am having i did have difficulty

09:06

looks like it’s never ending story it’s

09:11

i did tell myself that you need to

09:12

embrace both sides because

09:14

because of that i became more liberal

09:17

because of that i became more

09:18

open-minded and considering what we go

09:20

through right now in the world is

09:23

we do need to accept everyone just the

09:26

are and embracing them and

09:30

without without any judgments whatsoever

09:37

that some cultures might have rougher um

09:41

situations towards lgbtqi members than

09:46

it doesn’t matter the level of pain it

09:49

just matters what matters is that

09:51

goes through that challenges no matter

09:55

but just because it is that you don’t

09:59

you embrace your past and

10:03

you if you are good at it

10:06

if you approaching the right angle you

10:10

ways how how you can make the change how

10:13

you can make the better impact

10:15

what contribution you can make so others

10:17

would not go through the same

10:19

so tolga there was something you said

10:22

liked you said that your past is a part

10:25

who you are and as well as your present

10:28

at the end of your story i remember you

10:32

you are gay and you are muslim and

10:35

so what would you want to say to people

10:39

gay and muslim and struggling with that

10:40

right now or another way to think about

10:42

that is what do you wish someone told

10:45

when you were younger and going through

10:48

identity whether it’s challenging or not

10:55

and we do live live by it

10:58

and when i said i am muslim and gay i’m

11:03

does merely meant it mean that

11:07

i accepted my both sides and i

11:11

it is no matter what whether it was

11:16

or not you do not want to wipe out

11:20

there are some memories in it good and

11:23

and i was raised in a conservative

11:28

am still damn proud of it it’s just

11:32

different perspectives as well and it

11:36

approach career problems better

11:39

um if this i can strike a conversation

11:42

for those who are opposing who i am

11:53

faith system religion it’s just it’s

11:56

it’s just personal there is no one shape

12:00

and the way i was raised was the verse

12:03

uh of a uh one of the verses

12:07

in quran basically it was saying my love

12:11

if it wasn’t for you i wouldn’t have

12:15

this statement itself always will stuck

12:22

if you think about it the creation of

12:25

universe the existence of the entire

12:28

is love a product of love

12:33

and it’s breaks my heart that a lot of

12:37

faith or religion or not even don’t see

12:41

and we talk about love in

12:45

every religion everyone and still we do

12:50

force each other to make choices

12:53

considering that we all are product of

12:56

um and for those who struggled

13:02

uh muslim and being gay or who still are

13:07

it’s not my place to give you any

13:10

direction for sure but the only thing

13:12

i can say is another verse that i can

13:20

god says i’ll treat you

13:26

this itself is good enough for you as

13:30

know him full of love and full of

13:34

you know embraces everyone he’ll do it

13:38

because that’s how you know him

13:41

and uh don’t we do you like that too in

13:43

our social life too we treat each other

13:45

the way we want to be treated

13:48

same thing goes that and that’s why i

13:51

always oppose the idea of

13:53

forcing one another making choices i am

13:57

going to be judged based on certain

14:00

but i am going to be judged my one way

14:03

or another in social life even

14:05

how i contribute to society how

14:13

i mean there is so much to be done as a

14:16

we should not focus on making choices

14:20

faith versus who you are and

14:22

all that it’s just we have enough

14:25

discrimination already going on we don’t

14:30

i hope that’s good that was your

14:32

question absolutely i did yeah i think

14:34

that’s really beautiful about

14:36

um how to live your life and how you see

14:40

you know view that and how that affects

14:43

personal life um is there anything else

14:47

your life we filmed your story several

14:48

years ago and like what’s what’s changed

14:51

uh in your life since then um

14:55

well now i live in los angeles

15:00

it was time i guess new york city and i

15:02

we decided to break up after 20 years

15:05

um but now it’s been a year

15:09

but unfortunately i’ve been locked down

15:11

for the past six months because of code

15:13

but i of course did change my career

15:17

um i’m a user experience designer now

15:24

which is good actually it’s a good time

15:28

there’s not much to do you just lock

15:30

down uh so i guess blessing in disguise

15:33

what i’m doing during this time frame is

15:34

that is trying to motivate myself as

15:39

and see how much i can improve indoors

15:41

because what else would i do it’s just

15:44

um so i just write down the things that

15:48

during this time and i’m i think on the

15:50

right track was there anything else that

15:52

you wanted to share with people that we

15:54

right now um not really um

16:01

were clear and straightforward and i

16:04

really hope it did not cause any

16:07

and what would it toga if you could boil

16:10

uh clearly one more time like just

16:14

what would that be what do you want

16:15

people to know that your message is

16:17

whether it’s painful whether it’s right

16:20

whatever that is that define you

16:24

you it will be better once you embrace

16:28

you’ll solve the puzzle so much faster

16:32

and basically to also boost your

16:36

without caring what others think you

16:38

live your life the way you want to

16:40

and it’s important you had enough

16:43

insecurity in life already being gay and

16:46

in the beginning long time ago you don’t

16:53

you have to leave the burden and embrace

16:58

great all right well thanks so much toga

17:01

um i will ask that i’m sure people will

17:02

leave comments so maybe you can check

17:05

respond to people so if anyone watching

17:08

has any questions or comments for toga

17:10

leave them in the comments and maybe

17:13

uh join us next week for our next story

17:15

update and thanks for watching

tolga and sexuality

This post was previously published on YouTube and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

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