Hugo, in his own words: “I was once pondering on the idea of what ‘pride’ means to me. I am not particularly proud to be gay because that’s only something that came about by itself without me contributing to it. But I am very proud that I was able to accept it, share it with my close ones, while knowing it might hurt them, fearing how I cope with life that is less conventional. I am proud of who I am, because I like it, I’m able to love people around me and I don’t have many hang-ups that would force me to judge how people ought to live their own lives. It’s an internal pride, one I don’t have to demonstrate on the outside.
Accepting that I am gay did allow me to see beyond sexuality and accept the possibility to love people on a more broad level. I think it’s a strength that allows me to be more open-minded and have a greater perspective and to tolerate differences. I myself have a story in which I don’t doubt for one second that my inner path was wrong or twisted. And I know everyone has a story like that, but we rarely take time to listen to the story-telling, rather we take assumptions and judge from our point of view. I do believe that empathy is about the ability to walk a mile in someone else shoes. If I would expect from people to empathise with me being gay and all that…I may as well try to do the same for them. So being gay made me more humble and accepting. But so did living in China for a year…
At one point I had a feeling that I have fulfilled all my life goals slightly too soon – but in a good way. For some period, there was very little I wanted further and life became slightly empty. I think redefining what one wants further is the harder part I am working on right now and that is a challenge. Other than that, I think my life path was relatively smooth and easy and I am grateful for that. Sometimes I do regret I didn’t make it harder from the start, but that’s OK as well. The other day, I was imaging how a badly simplified version of my CV would look like in a lousy magazine. It would go something like this: “He studied in Hong Kong and Denmark. Took care of Hollywood film stars and worked for a foundation of President Vaclav Havel. Then for three years he tried to help young activists in Syria and Iraq. For two years he worked in New York and travelled around the world, trying to find ways of bringing cultures together. Now he works as an Innovation Designer.” When you simplify things, they sound pretty swell and, well, simple…, but this whole path was full of both successes and a challenges and the stories behind them are sometimes pretty incredible.
I came out when I was 27 and my relationship of 7 years with a girl that was also my best friend came to an end. I have decided it is time to act upon something I always wanted to look into, but never really had a reason to. For couple of years, I was confused. It wasn’t until I realised that it doesn’t matter if I date women or men, as long as I’m able to fall in love again. And when I did, with a guy, it was all very simple. I realized that I prefer the energy of sharing my life with another gay man. All my friends and family seem to be happy when I am happy and so everyone just took it the way it was.
I consider myself to be very lucky for growing up in a bubble of the Czech Republic. Prague is a beautiful vibrant and cozy city. But coziness brings about some level of laziness as well. Still, despite Prague’s laziness to open up fully and see beyond one’s own backyard, I have never once been told into my face that being gay is a problem. There are very thin lines between acceptance, tolerance and ignorance. I still can’t see them very clearly, but I am left alone in my own peace and I am grateful for that – for being surrounded by great friends, kind family and creative witty people who perceive me for who I am and not who I sleep with. I have learned to accept that society will continue to learn and unlearn to accept diversity and the more we try to work on the learning side, the better. As for gay community – it is a mirror of that. I think we all know we swim in a tiny pond and we all know each other. Once, a friend said that Prague is a city that acts like a village. I chuckled.
(Advice to my younger self) Vaclav Havel put it very nicely: “Vision is not enough; it must be combined with venture. It is not enough to stare up the steps; we must step up the stairs.”
Daniel, in his own words: “(Being gay) is the real fact which generally covers everything I do in my life. The reality which is mostly so natural to me that I can’t even spot this hidden realness of me. But in the depth I can feel it is important to me and I am happy to be gay.
There are challenges which you have to face everyday and I try to enjoy every moment in my days the best I can. I do my best.
My first coming out was during a late night with one of my best friends. We were both pretty drunk and she was really flirting with me. I came out to my mum when I was watching The Rocky Horror Picture Show, she just came to my room during the scene where Tim Curry is singing the song with the pearls around his neck and wearing a corset. She sat on my bed next to me, looked at the screen and asked me “What are you watching, sweetie?” Then I came out.
I am not a community type a lot I guess, but I think (the community in Prague) is very opened and wide. You can find great gay parties with handsome guys, join a gay sports team, enjoy the atmosphere of LGBTQ movie festivals, public talks and queer art exhibitions. Prague is very tolerant.
(Advice to my younger self) You should enjoy more!”