Kristof, in his own words:“1. I think being gay is the pinnacle of the human evolution, no need anymore to procreate according to Darwin’s theory. I feel like being gay is being my whole self, me as an artist and sensitive being. It is the core of what I am. A kind person.
I had to deal with a lot of pain and hurt in my school years. I got bullied as the only gay kid in school. It was horrible. It stopped after school and moving to university. More freedom. Or let us say more anonymity, more people that don’t care because you are not in the same room with them five days out of seven. My successes are basically in the media. I get tons of media coverage here in Belgium and sometimes abroad. I like that, cause I need a lot of attention to feel good. I am content with that. Hopefully, more to come in the near future.
(The gay community in Brussels) can be normal. Depending on the venue. Downtown is a bit marginal, uptown is more snobbish. I don’t feel at home in either places. I am attracted to handsome intelligent funny, blond, muscular gentlemen and there aren’t any in this town…so imagine how I feel…
(Advice to my younger self) Go to South-Beach and see if you can make it there, but don’t trust people too easily. Call me if you run into trouble.”
Nicolas, in his own words:“I guess (being gay is) just a part of me, a part of who I am and whom I can be proud of. Then being gay is also part of my daily life and will influence in a certain way places I go to for instance, people I meet or applications I tend to open on my smartphone when bored.
I worked for 6 years for a gay queer radio show. One guy I knew for not being a “gay community believer” asked me one day if I was part of the show out of militancy. It took me time to figure out the answer but I just said that, having had to go through harsh homophobic moments during my teenage years, having such a free speech show about queer/lgbt matters would have been helpful. So I was mainly doing the show hoping that it would help at least a few people the way I would have wanted to be helped.
As a matter of fact, the show aired its very last episode in June. We received a lot of mail from the audience when they heard it was gonna be over. One of the mail was from a guy explaining that he suffered from homophobia in boarding school and was listening to the show all week long to give him strength. So we helped. And I could not have been more proud than when I read this email.
I come from a small town and discovered homophobia maybe even before I could name what made me feel different. I started to come out to a few friends when I was about 15, I was terrified of their reactions but they were brilliant and really careful. Then, after an argument with her, I decided to come out to my mother. I did not have the guts to tell her so I wrote a letter. I came back home, we talked and she cried. Mainly because the only gay guy she heard of from our town became (apparently) was a prostitute in Paris. We did not talk about it for two years and then, she discovered that I had a boyfriend and realized being gay was not that different from “being anyone else”. I have to say, I was blessed when it came to coming out.
Brussels can be a small village sometimes but when it comes to the gay community, you have a lot happening. Even though we use to have more bars and parties a few years back, you’ll find a lot of good associations from sport to aids-fighting which happens to be very active. At the same time, we all know how gays can be sometimes and Brussels is no exception to this..
(Advice to my younger self) Stop doubting, stop thinking and act. Oh, and get rid of this stupid Judeo-Chistian guilt. Only you can be the judge of your actions. Go live.”
Bram, in his own words:“For me being gay has always been natural. I cannot remember not being gay. It’s a part of me but not all of me, definitely not the most important. I always felt a bit different from the other kids but I liked it and I still in a way enjoy being different.
My relationship is my biggest success. It has sometimes been challenging but we always found a way to deal with our differences. I met Stef when I was only 18, he was my first boyfriend and who would have known that he was the man of my life.
I waited until I left home for university to tell my parents (I was gay). Not that I wanted to hide it but there was very little chance to have a boyfriend so there was no real reason to discuss it. It was very difficult to meet young gay people living in a small town (there was no internet at that time). My parents reaction was immediately supportive and soon after I met Stef.
I have never been a big fan of the gay scene but there are plenty of places in Brussels that are gay friendly. We cannot complain about the acceptance of gays in Belgium.
(Advice to my younger self) I’m happy with the choices I’ve made: be yourself and enjoy your life!”
Stefan, in his own words:“The importance of the gay part of my identity has changed a lot throughout my life. When I was a teenager it felt like a curse, the bullying at school didn’t really help. Once at university it became a positive and important part of my life and I became active in the LGBT movement. Once settled the importance became less and less as nobody made an issue about it. Bram and I are now 18 years together and we always got the support of family, friends and colleagues. Since two year we live together with another guy and it made me think more about the meaning of being gay again. His family doesn’t accept it, he still struggles with it and it now makes me more aware of how lucky I am to live my life in Belgium and in a culture, where people don’t make a big fuss about being gay.
What I consider as my biggest succes in my life so far is my relationship with Bram. I still feel blessed that after 18 years we are still so close and in love and are even able to share our love. I can’t say I had a lot big challenges in my life, my biggest challenge is my own psyche. I guess I am full of contradictions. At work I used to be always bored and in need of more challenge, but at the same time more responsibility scared me off. The day I got promoted at my last job was one of my saddest days. Now I am quite happy as a houseman, it’s nice to take care of your loved ones and to create a nice welcoming home.
The first time I told somebody I was gay was at 14. He was a classmate on whom I had a crush. He didn’t react badly, he just said he wasn’t surprised. After that it took me another 3 years to tell more people. I came out to my parents when I was 17. I struggled with it a lot and was often in a bad mood. When I had a fight with my mum she asked me why I was always moody. I just threw it out and shouted that I was gay. My mum was afraid and asked me not to tell my dad…but she couldn’t keep it to herself and told him. Once my dad knew it wasn’t an issue anymore, for him it explained a lot and since then we have a very good relationship. I can’t say I had bad experiences, except some bullying at school when I was younger.
I actually don’t know much about the gay community in Brussels. I guess it’s quite the same as everywhere else. I don’t feel the need to go out in gay places anymore. I still go to the Brussels pride parade every year, mostly to meet up with friends and enjoy the festive atmosphere and of course because I feel it is still necessary to support LGBT people in countries that are not really as tolerant.
If I could give one advice to my younger self it would be not to be so afraid and to believe more in myself. Fear has always been a limiting factor in my life. Fear of what people would say, fear of not to be able to succeed, soo much fear, shame.”