Turkish men kissing?
August 31, 2007 11:59 PM   Subscribe

culturally normal for turkish college-age men to kiss before bed?

I recently got a new college roomate, and he is from turkey. He has a friend here with him, also from turkey. The other night when his friend left our room, he gave my roomie a big kiss (probably on the cheek, i didn't see it real well 'cause i was behind them) goodnight. Is this a normal cultural thing, or could my roomate be homosexual? Note that he does have two luis vuitton bags, although I know that isn't really weird for men to be so stylish in most parts of europe.

So, if anyone familliar with turkish, or just general european culture and customs could enlighten me as to what's going on with my roomie and his friend, I would appreciate it. PLEASE NOTE that i'm not trying to discriminate or anything here, I wouldn't care if he was gay, but i'd just like to know.

posted by kraigory to Society & Culture (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Ask him?
posted by awesomebrad at 12:20 AM on September 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

Best answer: There is an interesting thread on a Turkish forum here that will probably help you. Kissing a friend on the cheek is a common way of greeting or saying goodbye to a good friend in Turkey, as in many countries. I wouldn't get too hung up on the Louis Vuitton bags, either.
posted by greycap at 12:20 AM on September 1, 2007

Turkey isn't part of Europe, nor is it part of Iran, but for what it is worth, it is in between the two, and my Iranian relatives do the gender neutral kiss goodbye thing.

Honestly, I can never get the ritual right. I always seem to slip either too much tounge, or too little.

joke, its a joke
posted by Good Brain at 12:34 AM on September 1, 2007

Response by poster: hah, thanks for the clarification- good to know!
posted by kraigory at 12:47 AM on September 1, 2007

Response by poster: heh good to read about the snapping and fist-slapping habit on that forum too- i do that all the time lol.
posted by kraigory at 12:51 AM on September 1, 2007

Geographically, Turkey is both in Europe and Asia. It became an EU candidate country in 1999.
posted by missmagenta at 12:52 AM on September 1, 2007

And 'um', the sound Americans make when they're hesitating, is Turkish for c*nt. That might be good to know too.
posted by eritain at 1:17 AM on September 1, 2007 [4 favorites]

A long discussion in Turkey about the European/Arab thing led to the following : "They're not as European as they think they are" "Yeah, but they're more European than you think they are".

It's perfectly normal in Turkey to see people kissing hello/goodbye, or even men holding hands. Why not ask your roommate about the custom and whether there's anything else noticably different? He obviously knows it's not the done thing in uptight christian lands otherwise he'd be kissing you. Could lead to an interesting conversation, you could both learn stuff.
posted by handee at 3:37 AM on September 1, 2007

Having lived in turkey and living in a turkish part of Berlin now I can say it's custom to kiss on both cheeks for a greeting, but as far as I can say, not as a goodbye or good night kiss. I could be wrong though.
It's also always two kisses, one left one right, while usually shaking hands. One big good night smooch seems different from the custom.
posted by kolophon at 4:25 AM on September 1, 2007

In southern European cultures, kisses on both cheeks are common between women or between a woman and a man, and among Greeks at least it is also common between men who are close friends or haven't seen each other for a while. In Turkish and Arab circles on the other hand the gesture only exists between men. I've definitely seen young Turkish and Arabic rowdies, who I guarantee to be homophobic, kissing each other goodbye on both cheeks. Seeing it as a "goodnight kiss" makes it sound different, but it was probably seen by them as a goodbye kiss. Also in my experience all of these Mediterranean cultures, whether Christian Jewish or Muslim, are more touchy, for example the men will stand next to you with their arm around your shoulders when talking to you for no apparent reason; at least my Greek friends do this. So if the guy grabs your shoulder when he says something to you that doesn't have to mean anything either except that he has affection for you.
posted by creasy boy at 7:33 AM on September 1, 2007

Eh, I should say that I mean "touchy" like they touch you, not like overly sensitive.
posted by creasy boy at 7:34 AM on September 1, 2007

Another thing that I noticed in Turkey, in particular when I was in Cappadocia, was that some men actually butted & rubbed foreheads with eachother when they parted, while grabbing eachother's heads and pulling them into eachother. It seemed really odd to me at first, but then someone did it to me too so I realized it's a normal form of greeting for some people. It's definitely a lot more intimate than most acceptable greetings... at first I kinda flinched away at having someone I barely know grabbing my head semi-forcefully like that.

So I'd honestly not assume he was gay. Personal space issues aside, to be honest, muslim cultures tend to be very sexually segregated and most of the time men spend time with men, women spend time with women. Even after marriage, most bonding time is with people of your own sex. Often it's much less scandalous to hold hands in public with someone of your own sex than with someone of the opposite sex. Which, yeah, is very counterintuitive. Depends on the region, but the more conservative the area the more that's the case.

A long discussion in Turkey about the European/Arab thing led to the following : "They're not as European as they think they are" "Yeah, but they're more European than you think they are."

Yeah, that really just about nails it.

Geographically, Turkey is both in Europe and Asia. It became an EU candidate country in 1999.

The city of Istanbul (not Constantinople) is literally located in both Asia and Europe, with just a ferry ride across the Bosphorus from one side to the other. As for them being in the EU, the quote above is really really good. I don't see Europe ever accepting Turkey as it stands right now... no matter how much they may want to follow Ataturk's modern visions. The fact is, you can fill a place with European cafes, but when there are still only men sitting in those cafes during the day it's a clear sign that the culture still has a long way to go.

posted by miss lynnster at 7:45 AM on September 1, 2007

There was a great, very comprehensive post somewhere on here about this - gender roles and touching/kissing in other cultures. I think it got started from a mefi post about photos from the 1910s and how there was a different view of masculinity. Can't find it, but someone else might remember it.

When I visited Turkey a few years ago, I was amazed by the casual cuddling, handholding, kissing, of the Totally Straight Dudes there. Things men in the US could never, never do. These guys were like middle-school girls in the US -- sitting on each other's laps, absentmindedly playing with each other's hair, etc. All these signals that read "gay gay gay" to a US audience, but these guys were very actively looking for lady love.

You might tell your roommate that some of these body-language things will look different to Americans and that other people at school might give him a hard time over it. Most Turkish men I met there would have been shocked and angry at the suggestion that they might be gay, so better it come as a tactful tip from you, than as a laughing accusation from a stranger who he might then get in a fight with.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:54 AM on September 1, 2007

here we go
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:57 AM on September 1, 2007

I thought this something common to Muslims throughout the world.

I remember seeing Shaq (a Muslim, although not very public about it) kiss the turkish NBA player Hedo Turkaglu during pregame introductions, much to the confusion of the announcers, who commented: "it seems like they REALLY have a lot of respect for each other."
posted by drjimmy11 at 11:36 AM on September 1, 2007

Of course, he could be gay, but nothing you've provided would indicate it to me. Turkish guys are very physical with each other in ways that would make Americans wonder, but in no way does this necessarily indicate homosexuality. I'm from Bosnia, which has many Turkish cultural characteristics and this sort of thing is somewhat common there too.

Lobstermitten's advice is pretty good, though it's a tough subject to bring up.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 3:52 PM on September 1, 2007

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