Schoolin’ Life: Beldan Sezen

For today’s Schoolin’ Life, we get to know videographer and graphic novelist Beldan Sezen.

Beldan

Give us a quick bio: who are you, what are you into, and how do you spend your days?

Okay, I’m a graphic novelist and I live in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. I’m into comics, graphic novel, sequential art, cartoons, name it whatever you want, I dig it. I freelance as a videographer, image manipulator and care taker, all jobs which have given me enough space to start my graphic novelist career. My days (and nights) are often spent in the studio.

 

When you were in your 20s…

What expectations did you have for yourself over the coming decade? 

I don’t think I had expectations.

In what ways did society shape your expectations of yourself?

Which society?

What was your first job like?

I started working as lab assistant when I was sixteen. At nineteen, I decided to go back to school so I could apply for a university program. In my twenties, I was studying and had, in addition to a study grant, various side jobs to support me.

What was your first apartment like?

I had a tiny room under a roof in an apartment shared with three other students. It fit a bed, a desk, a closet and bookshelf and had one small roof window. The kitchen was so disgusting that I lived off instant Chinese noodle soups and pizza for quite a while. No, I didn’t feel the urge to clean the kitchen since the other two housemates were fine with it and the third never really showed her face. I was happy and proud to call the room my own.

Did you experience any big life changes?

I came out in my twenties and I moved to a city in another country. I’d say that’s big.

In what ways did your friendships change?

They changed from superficial drinking buddies to more honest and sincere friendships where I could be more like myself. I made some lasting friendships in my twenties.

What did you learn through your romantic relationships?

Languages. And, in the first part of my twenties, through my male relationships, that I really should be with women.

How did your relationships with your family change?

I became more independent and less involved in family matters and expectations.

How do you feel society viewed you?

Oh I dunno, pick a label…

How did you change emotionally and intellectually?

Emotionally and intellectually, my eyes opened to a much bigger worldview and I’m very happy about that. Since then, I no longer feel the need emotionally to belong to a nation or let myself squeeze into an ethnic concept.

In what ways do you feel your identity changed?

I had my coming out in my twenties, as a lesbian and as a woman of color.

Being aware and more importantly admitting to my sexual and cultural identity did change how I take space in general and in my daily life. I went from being defined to defining myself. I was engaging in a life of my own instead of submitting to one dictated by the terms of the societies I live in.

How did your worldview change over the course of the decade?

It broadened. Luckily!

What was the most embarrassing moment?

Asking a police officer in Manhattan where I could find a cab to go to my hostel because I had that cliché in my mind that it wasn’t safe in NYC. He laughed at me, pointing out that it was just a block away and that I could easily walk! Yeah, I felt embarrassed.

Who was your biggest influence and why?

I think being part of an activist women and lesbian scene did shape me tremendously. It gave me acknowledgment and strength. I saw everyday role models who didn’t look and act in a passive, submissive way but did what they wanted. I hardly ever question myself in regards of gender roles, if I can do things or not. I just start doing and see how far I can get.

Is there any one experience that you feel defined the decade? Or one historical moment that changed you? 

Yes, the rise of Neo-fascism in Germany in the early nineties. It narrowed my perspective and shook my confidence. After a year or three of actively working to fight fascism (in the streets, and in theoretical discussions etc.), I couldn’t see anything else and felt there was nothing else for me to do but fight. It was a very narrow minded and claustrophobic, slightly paranoid feeling which was harmful to my well-being.

Do you have any regrets? Are there things you wish you’d done, hadn’t done, or done differently?

Uh-oh, Frank Sinatra lurking around the corner…Regrets: I had a few but then again to few to mention… I had some periods where I was lethargic. It feels like I wasted my (precious) time which I’d rather not have done. Then again, it goes as it goes.

Is there a story that you feel best sums up the decade?

Too many, so I made a book out of all the stories. The final product, Snapshots of a Girl, will be published this fall by Canada-based Arsenal Pulp Press.

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