Jirka, in his own words: “I rather appreciate the process of becoming gay and deciding about that, than being “gay”. It is some work label I use more for other people than for me myself. I’d better avoid expectation that comes from the label. As if you would be a jar of raspberry jam. But I am also the blueberry one. I see myself as non-heterosexual. It feels less determining for me. And for me, that all means great opportunity. I am the lucky one. Grateful for being pushed out of my heteronormative limits and comfort zone. I would not have enough courage otherwise. To realize a little bit more, how the world, relationships, and life work, not how I was told it is. To be more myself, not what I think is expected from me to want, feel and be. And after all, it is more fun…
Until last year I thought that coming out was the greatest challenge. Yes, it took some time, till I was ready to become gay (and later leave this label a little bit), but after all it was fun and I enjoyed that. I confess, I thought it would be so easy and everything is solved now. From last year the greatest adventure is being single as I left my partnership after eleven years. I never thought I would come to this. Now it fits, we are friends and yet we share the same home. But I wasn’t on my own for a decade.
I would never imagine anyone else than my (former) man. And still I can’t. I can’t figure it out I could feel with somebody else so natural, safe, open, loyal and trustful. He was like a car and I was a motor. He provided home and security. He was attentive and helpful. I provided inspiration, movement, life and emotions. Quite traditional scheme. We both nourished our home and relationship in our way. I was aware that he wasn’t giving me the needed gasoline back. And finally my heart was running on empty, motor went dry. And still I couldn’t imagine getting out of the car… family. And we were becoming estranged; he was losing his dignity in my eyes. I wasn’t aware how much I was losing my own dignity in my eyes…
“Look around just people, can you hear their voice, Find the one who’ll guide you to the limits of your choice” (The Gravity of Love) So as always I needed to find someone else to ignite me. We had always an open relationship. It wasn’t anything new to meet somebody. But this time, thanks to that dragon, I found a well in a desert. I didn’t fall in love and leave my man because of somebody else. I just realized what I’ve been missing. How much I am thirsty and how much I have eroded.
I realized that there is another fear than being lonely. I am more frightened to find myself with a strange man in a strange room. Buried alive. I needed a revolutionary road… And finally there was a moment of survival and breaking up, though it brought another personal crisis. Till then my partnership was the main source I clung to. So when I took it as a china figure and smashed it against the floor, my life was shattered. I was at point zero, even eleven years back, lonely, numb, without any strength, resources or self-esteem. But I knew that was the only way: first to break everything into pieces to be able to put it together newly.
So after eleven years I am like a boat once again out on the sea. Sometimes lonely, uncertain, tired, scared or hurt, but at least I am aware I am living. Though it is safe to be a boat in a harbor, that’s not what the boat was built for. Now I have to learn a lot of things, recall things and skills I’ve forgotten and reinvent myself. I’ve learnt how not to bark at the wrong tree. (If it’s the right tree, you don’t need to bark at all.) How not to let others waste your time. (You have to appreciate yourself first.) Slowly I am putting together pieces of my self-esteem on my own. I am inspiring, source of inception for others. Though I am not always self-confident, I substitute it with my passion(s) and determination. I am not brave to travel alone, but I am brave enough to be open, brave to closeness, to look somebody in the eye. And I don’t want a man. I want man and love.
I was always gender nonconforming. In a hetero-normative and gender stereotypical society I always failed the test to prove myself to be a man. I loved gymnastic or volleyball, but my schoolmates loved football and basketball. I loved broccoli, but I was told I am supposed to love chili. I love HBO, but I was supposed to like Eurosport. Everything was gendered. When I was a child, the main male heroes were Stallone or Schwarzenegger. Movie role models cut somebody’s hand and slapped him with it in the face. And I would rather touch and care. So I couldn’t find any male role model and only women were inspirations for me.
It was the same at home. I was close to my mum, but though my dad loved me, we were somehow strange for each other. So my dad didn’t support me either. Actually it was the other way round. He was feeling insecure and he was shaming things me or others liked. And I was sensitive about that and of course it made some mess with my self-esteem as a man.
When I was in puberty, I was always aroused just by male elements. But I was learned to be romantically involved with women. I resolved it, that men and boys I quite exotic for me, so it made sense to be sexually aroused. I kept my heterosexual identity… and was more and more lonely. I felt, I was not free to explore myself. Because of shame. And I didn’t like to be told I should be gay, because a feel or like this, or if I was gay a should feel like this and like this. I was eager so much to decide about me myself.
Some personal crisis was needed, to shake me. I was over twenty studding psychology at college and one week we were visiting different social and psychological institutions in Prague. I was confronted with the topic homosexuality all the week. I felt like a water surface under rain. My heart, body and mind were completely disconnected.
But it was a first step and few months later, I was 22 and I was finishing my college and started to be open to myself and others, to socialize more. I was ready to be open to explore, whether I could be gay. I was brave enough and hungry (lonely) enough. And the funny part was, I wouldn’t mind being gay after all, but I don’t know how to find out. I even knew it would be OK with my parents. I met some gays before and I admired them for their openness, but I didn’t realized, it could have anything to do with me. I was shy and introvert, let somebody else be gay, who knows how to work it out!
I remember dreams from that time. About houses and travelling, finding direction and destination. It all started with a house with a scaffolding around, that was demolished inside and all the dust went out. The house was me. Build inside according heteronormativity. Now I could start all over according to my own self-determination. And in one dream I finally got to a colorful place. It was almost like in The Wizard of Oz. Also in my life it finally seemed I got from black and white into Technicolor.
I wanted to consult it with some professional, but I realized even before I got there. That could be chance how to tell my mum, I was dealing with something like that, because I needed money for the professional care. But my mum asked me few hours before. She wrote me a letter, we were sometimes exchanging at home, as I was leaving for college, and was worried whether I would feel hurt by her suggesting I maybe could find a boy for myself.
So I was free to explore myself and have support from my family. I just was not used to feel romantically for a man. Hence I switch on a TV program with a gay I liked and tried just to imagine… And it worked out. It was possible. Finally I realized it could be this way, because I felt natural. I could socialize with other people; after all I found friends – gays and my partner pretty soon as well. And in family it was also an explanation (even for my grand mums), everything fitted in place and my relationship with dad was much better.
Gay communities in Prague should be quite diverse. I try to be aware about all the colors of the wind. I am member of a LGBT+ community organization and some of us are radical (I need some real change, not just to cut grass on the ground.) and some conservative. I have a lot of friends who are faithful, some are Catholics. What I appreciate the most is how people are developing and changing their attitudes. My friend made some TV program I took part in and another friend of mine I appreciated very much was inspired by that to meet me after years. He was never a sympathizer of Prague Pride as some unnecessary carnival. But after all he found a partner and wanted to get registered with him. And he was stroke, that it all began once again with his parents that were OK with him being gay and with his partner. But now they were worried about neighbors. My friend was finally sitting in railway station hall and suddenly he got it. He wanted to scream: “I am gay and I am here so just get used to it.” Now he has nothing against any carnival or gay pride because it doesn’t work just to be a good boy.
I would surely not give any advice to my younger elf. I wouldn’t listen. I need to find myself and in my time. Just with some support and inspiration of others. But I choose myself, what’s tasty. There is only one thing I would tell myself. Simply: “I love you.” That boy deserves to know it and it’s all he needs to know.”