Emil, in his own words: “Being gay means everything to me – far more than just the fact that I am a man who prefers to have sex with men. Being gay shapes every part of my life, from my body to my mind to my relations with friends and people in general. Everything I do is gay. I work out and keep in shape because I’m gay. I have mental issues because I’m gay. I have the most fabulous friends because I’m gay. And although being different is sometimes difficult, I wouldn’t have it any other way – I love being gay.
Coming out was quite challenging for me. My mother is deeply religious and she had a hard time accepting that I was gay. Eventually she got over it and now everything is peachy, but it was a struggle. What’s really quite interesting is that I used to be so grateful for her acceptance of me as a gay person, whereas now I’m more like: well, it’s actually your duty as a mother to accept your children the way they are. Why should I be grateful for being accepted when my straight siblings are not? That is BS. Don’t get me wrong – my mother is absolutely amazing and I love her with all my heart, but I don’t love her more just because she accepts me for who I am.
Successes? I’m a meticulous perfectionist and I’m never satisfied with anything I do, so I don’t really do successes. But I guess speaking five languages fluently and receiving an all-covering scholarship from the Japanese government to do my master’s degree would – in the eyes of some people – count as successes.
I was about 21 and I was living in Tokyo. On New Year’s Eve, I met a guy from the UK and I fell in love with him (or so I thought, at least). We kept in contact for a while and I finally decided to go and visit him in London and then bring him back with me to Sweden for a week. Since I didn’t have an apartment in Sweden, we were supposed to stay with my mother, so I had to tell my parents. And I did. Via e-mail. Heh. I thought that the big problem would be my dad, so the e-mail I sent to him was of epic proportions. It basically said that if he couldn’t accept me for who I am, then he might as well get out of my life. To my mother, I just wrote a short message saying something like: “I’m bringing a boyfriend back and we’re staying at your place. Deal with it.”
My dad wrote me back and told me that he had known for quite some time and that he was super offended that I thought he couldn’t accept me as I am. My mother was shocked and went Old Testament on me and asked what would happen after death when she would be in heaven and I would be in hell. I suggested that there probably would be payphones both in heaven and hell, which she didn’t find as amusing as I did. In the end, I never brought the guy to Sweden. We had a fight on the third day and I burned his tickets and stormed out of his apartment Zelda Fitzgerald-style. But I was out and that was that and now it’s all good.
(The gay community in Bangkok is) Amazing. The whole city is very gay-friendly and the gay scene is big, vibrant and fervid. It’s absolutely fabulous and I recommend everybody – gay, straight, bi, trans, queer – to visit Bangkok and explore this celestial city.
The first sentence sounds cliché, but this is what I would tell my younger self: just be yourself and the rest will work itself out. Don’t worry about what others think and get out of that small city as fast as you can! And learn how to fight – you’ll need it. Oh, and go to the gym as often as humanly possible – the gay scene is not very flab-forgiving.”