Ilari, in his own words: “Being gay to me means to be a member of a minority group, which I consider a privilege most of the time. It defines who I am for a minor part though.
My challenge in life still is to let my heart speak more and my brain babble less. I cherish some very close friendships with people I have known since I was four. They know I keep my spices in alphabetical order. Career wise I am doing well as a voice-over talent with my own studio. It still amazes me, my vocal chords are making money for 25 years now, allowing me owning apartments in Amsterdam and Berlin.
I had girlfriends for the longest time, until I fell for a Lufthansa steward in Frankfurt. I didn’t feel the need to come out before I turned 39, having my first serious relationship with a man who reminded me of Sean Penn. Telling my parents wasn’t a big deal. Today I still remain quite private to the outer circle of people.
Like in many Western cities the need for typical gay clubs and pubs has diminished. Bar Prik (in Amsterdam) however is still going strong and I consider it to be an extension of my living room.
(Advice to my younger self) Trust in yourself, confide in close friends, and mess up your spice rack.”
Bobby, in his own words: “Being gay means to me being myself. Being gay is just part of me as being straight is what’s part of straight people.
My biggest challenge and also success was my 6 month trip to South Africa. It was my first trip all by myself. It was both exciting and scary. I had the most amazing time there and met some amazing people, but I also learned a lot about myself.
My coming out story is a bit different than others’. I was dating this guy and I told some friends. In a week the entire school knew I was dating a 6 year older guy. So I didn’t really come out by choice.
To my parents on the other hand: I came out during a fight. I had a date with that guy, but didn’t tell my parents anything, so they were waiting for me for dinner. Once I finally came home they just started and (of course) they were angry at me. So we were arguing about stuff and I just blurted out that I was on a date with a guy.
The gay community (in Amsterdam) is quite small actually. I’m not talking about numbers, but it’s almost like everyone knows each other. A colleague once told me about this guy I dated a year before. He didn’t know the guy and I only told a few friends about that guy and somehow he knew about us. I’m always surprised if I don’t have mutual friends with guys. Sometimes I think it isn’t even possible anymore.
I think we can learn a lot from Cape Town if it comes to acceptance. Amsterdam is placed as a place where everything is accepted and yes of course we can’t complain. However, if I’d walk through Amsterdam holding hands with a guy, people will call names or look back (in my experience). In my first two months in Cape Town I’ve seen more guys holding hands on the streets than in one or maybe two years in Amsterdam. Plus nobody seemed to care. In Cape Town there’s (just as in Amsterdam) a lot of diversity. Different religions, origins and so on and people seem to have respect for one another in the form of minding their own business.”