Roman, Party Promoter/Cafe Owner, Bratislava, Slovakia

photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
Roman, in his own words: “Being gay is a substantial part of my identity. As a gay I see life differently. It impacts my whole perception of the world, people, relationships, my personal value. It means I don′t accept stereotypes and prejudices, instead I always try to find the real value of things.

An acceptance of my true self in the depth of my heart was a huge challenge for me. I come from a small village where everything different is a big problem. To feel free in that kind of environment wasn′t easy. Living in bigger cities brought more freedom to my life, but it still wasn′t the kind of inner freedom I had longed for. The process of getting free was therefore the key challenge in my life.

And then there were those dark places, strongly connected with my gay identity. Fear, anger and that strange feeling of being sick. To become infected with those kind of thoughts and feelings was as easy as a pie, as there were no information about gays during my childhood, only a number of strongly homophobic views. Growing up in such a hetero-normative society is difficult for every gay person. It took a lot of my time and energy to understand that it is not me who is the problem here, but the society I live in.

I have always preferred telling the truth and I really don′t lie. It is so hard for me to hide and I never wanted to live like that. So, when I was 16 I came out to my best friend. When I saw she had absolutely no problem with it, I got so much energy and strength. My mother and grandmother were the next I came out to. They were surprised but later really supportive. It was really important for me.

Compared to bigger cities in the West (the gay community in Bratislava) is still too much in the closet and living more in gay online chats then in real life. But it′s changing. I have seen a big progress in the last couple of years. The scene is going to be more colourful. Gay people are more proud. And the majority is also changing, I see Bratislava as a tolerant city.

(Advice to my younger self) Do not hesitate to like yourself.:)”

3 comments

  1. kreemer

    Wonderful comments on your relationship to yourself.

    When I was 21 I tried to kill myself. When I realised I was gay, and what that meant in society, it was too much. It devastated also, initially, my relationship with God. I thought it was my fault…that somehow I had done something so wrong, even God did not want me.

    I am African. It was terrible. I dropped out of University in London and lived on the street. I could not imagine telling my father, yet I could no longer live knowing everything I did and said was a lie. My experience was a deeply religious one. On the day of the attempt, I had a meeting with God, and he was angry. I was surprised. I thought at least, I was making amends. The question I was asked was this: I made you this way and I do not make mistakes. I love you like this. What right do you have to hate what I have made?

    I had not thought of it this way.

    It seems simple now but back then, God’s disgust for me was taken for granted. People’s disgust for me was taken as correct. I was disgusted with myself.

    I immediately started telling the truth to anyone and everyone. I told my father as soon as I could. It destroyed our relationship, and though he tried very hard, we never spoke until he died. I told my mother – she quoted the Bible, but mother’s are stronger. Her love for me was stronger. Today she is my best friend.

    I had mixed results everywhere – but – I made it back to school. I pieced my life back together very slowly and alone.

    Bit by bit.

    I’m still afraid sometimes, that I’m all wrong, certain that I am not as worthy of life as ‘normal’ people, certain that I am not good enough.

    But the freedom to be, set me free to create a life, and an image of myself that at least was real. And being honest and real allowed me to at least be who I said I was. And if I could be who I said I was, I could become who I imagined myself to be.

    I am a very happy 45 year old now. I have a boyfriend and we are serious about the relationship. It is wonderful and I only met him when I was forty. I had almost given up hope.

    My experiences have allowed me to take my life seriously – allowed me to create Happiness for myself and others because that is what inspires me.

    Freedom came when I realized that I can speak.

    I enjoyed reading your story very much.

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