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LGBTIQ+ List 2024: Buğra Davaslıgil, Charmenko

Continuing a series of interviews with this year's queer pioneers, IQ speaks to the Türkiye-based senior booker and talent buyer

By Lisa Henderson on 06 Jun 2024

The LGBTIQ+ List 2024 – IQ Magazine’s fourth annual celebration of queer professionals who make an immense impact in the international live music business – has been revealed.

The ever-popular list is the centrepiece of IQ’s fourth Pride edition, sponsored by Ticketmaster, which is now available to read online and in print for subscribers.

To get to know this year’s queer pioneers a little better, we interviewed each of them on the development of the industry, the challenges that are keeping them up at night and more.

Throughout the next month, IQ will publish a new interview each day. Catch up on yesterday’s interview with Ary Maudit (they/them), a multi-instrumentalist and sound engineer at Strongroom Studio/Saffron Records in the UK.

The series continues with Buğra Davaslıgil (he/they), a senior booker and talent buyer at Charmenko in Türkiye.

Born and bred in İstanbul, Buğra has lived in Türkiye’s largest city all his life except for a two-year period spent in London as an au pair. Though they spent two years as an architect after earning a Bachelor’s degree from İstanbul Technical University, Buğra returned from London determined to pave their way in the music industry. He was inspired after various freelance opportunities and a stint at Kod Müzik, and has now worked at Charmenko since 2006.

Tell us about the professional feat you’re most PROUD of in 2024 so far.
Having booked The Smile to perform in the Baltic States, Poland, Czechia, former Yugoslavia, Romania and Bulgaria.

Tell us about the challenges of living in a country ruled by an anti-LGBTIQ+ government.
Although homosexuality has never been illegal in Türkiye — it has not been illegal since 1858 so even during the Ottoman Empire period – the predecessor of the modern-day Republic of Türkiye — and gender reassignment surgery has been legal since 1988 and we do have lots of queer NGOs, university clubs and activists, an anti-LGBTIQ+, the government wants it all to be kept under the rug and doesn’t want you to take it as an identity and be seen out and loud. It doesn’t do anything to give you the legal rights to be protected from any kind of discrimination, abuse or harassment; therefore it is a struggle in all forms (social, economic and sometimes even life-threatening), and only way is the local as well as the global solidarity and do not let those lose your hope for an equal and brighter future.

“I am optimistic that [new leadership] might bring a wind of change, and we could have more support and freedom from the cities in cultural life”

Pride events and marches have long been banned, how do you tend to celebrate Pride month?
We do celebrate Pride month with queer parties, picnics, gatherings, panels and film screenings, and even do our own guerrilla Pride Parade. The parade is declared by the Istanbul Pride March Organising Committee to be on a specific street, but it actually takes place on another street so that the cops cannot interfere as they aren’t aware of the location change.

What are the current challenges in Türkiye’s live music business?
The economic crisis in Türkiye: very high inflation and Turkish Lira’s weakness against foreign currencies.

How do you see the country’s business developing in the next few years?
Since we have just had the local elections at the end of March and the opposition party CHP (The Republican People’s Party; social democrats) have won a majority of the cities and become the leading party in Türkiye, I am optimistic that it might bring a wind of change and we could have more support and freedom from the cities in cultural life.

“We still have a lot to go to support, especially non-binary and trans rights”

Name one thing the industry could do to be a more equitable place.
I would say please stop the ‘orientalism’ and try to be more inclusive in gender, sexual orientation, and ethnicity. And please do mean it, and not just tick the box.

Do you have a favourite queer space?
I have a favourite party called ‘Dudakların Cengi’ where all local drag performers take the stage in İstanbul.

Shout out any LGBTIQ+ cause(s) you support.
I believe we still have a lot to go to support, especially non-binary and trans rights.


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