Alexander, in his own words:“Being gay is a part of my identity. I did not choose to be gay as well as I did not choose my skin colour, body shape or mother tongue. I would love to say that it as simple as having blue eyes for example, but things are more complicated when it comes to your sexual orientation, of course. I understand it as an integral part of me nowadays. I am not ashamed of being gay nor do I take pride in it, because it does not make me any special, better or worse than others.
It has not, however, always been like this. It took me a lot of time to come to terms with my own sexuality. Most of the challenges of being gay I have faced in my life were only in my head. I spend my growing up years living in self-denial as I unconsciously separated my fantasies and desires from the unreal picture I had of myself. It was a foolish mistake. What you long for will always eventually find you, so I gradually learned to embrace who I am. Even though I did not come out to my parents until last year, my hardest coming out was coming out to myself.
The society has not helped me much with my feelings of insecurity. Although it is true that the Czechs are tolerant and Prague is a gay paradise compared to the most parts of the world, this tolerance comes with a price. It is rather ignorance than acceptance. I feel that this is a deeper issue connected to disappearance of ideas and values from our modern democracy. It is easy to tolerate something unusual by overlooking it, but to genuinely embrace something strange is another story. It involves leaving your prejudices, which, I am afraid, cannot be enforced by any law.
Gay marriage or adoption is not on the table here right now and the limited public discussion which we have is carried out quite poorly. LGBT rights do not establish any special privileges for a small group of people as some media or even activists claim. On the contrary, their purpose is to eliminate a shameful discrimination against minority which is legally in force now. LGBT rights are universal human rights and therefore we must fight for them at any cost, because we are human, after all. Some of us just happen to be queer.”
Jany, in his own words:“I hope (being gay) still means the same to me what it did when I came out to myself. The great possibility of finding a guy for me. The hope that my sexy teenage dreams can actually come true! The luxury of enjoying true love, or at least chasing it. And the excitement from all of it.
I come from a small town in South Bohemia where being gay simply did not exist in the 90’s or early 00’s. My parents are teachers and my older brother is a miraculous science geek. I think both these facts made me strive for other people’s praise more than is right. I dreamt “dirty dreams” about boys since my teens but it took me more than 10 years to acknowledge being gay is a purer lifestyle than pretending to be hetero. Now I’m proud of being able to listen to my own inner voice. Life seems so much less planned and more dramatic. It actually feels like living in a movie. Now I know I want to enjoy men more!
My girlfriend and I had been together for more than five years when I started thinking about my coming out. The relationship we had was just great and even stronger. And yes, we also had lots of great sex. There was just the problem: I tended to think about boys and could not help myself. I felt so ashamed of not being able to get it under control. After few hookups that pushed me so down, I wanted to figure out how I could overcome my feelings towards men. And while studying human sexuality, I realized I couldn’t do anything about it while staying honest to myself. The only way to fix my desperate mind was to say the truth. My girlfriend was the first one that I told. Three exhausting weeks later, we both decided to be friends. I’m proud we managed to sort it out in a good way. I’m proud and thankful of my girl, one can’t say how much. We’re still close and she found a new boyfriend.
After my coming out, I fell in love with a boy for the first time and it brought me feelings I never felt before.
Obviously, boyfriends fix everything.
I wish the (LGBTQ) community (in Prague) would be stronger. There are maybe 50 activists and then random groupings of friends. Few cafes/ bars, few clubs. But at least men have everything what they are supposed to have. So it’s good.
(Advice to my younger self) Sexuality will not change after you grow up. Nothing that you feel is wrong if it doesn’t harm anyone. You must learn to listen to yourself. Our feelings are the most precious experiences, don’t let anyone or anything steal it away from you. Being attracted to boys is so cool! And being physical with them is the special sweet spot that you not only can but should enjoy if you feel like to!”
Josef, in his own words:“From early childhood I knew I liked boys more then girls. For me personally it was absolutely normal. The only trouble was to deal with people around me. I grew up in 80’s and 90’s in eastern Slovakia and I had so little information about what it meant to be gay. But I never wanted to change it, I felt special.
I think my whole life is a challenge. I was always very interested in art. When I was 26 I started to study photography at the University. I finished my Master degree with a very personal queer music project Mušnula. You can check it on youtube. I think is very important to express the queer side of my personality. The funny thing is that I am also a yoga instructor. And I am very conservative about yoga. That’s good balance.
I came to my mother the night before I left my parents flat. I was 20 and decided to move to another city to live with my boyfriend. I think my mother was sad not because I told her I was gay, but because I left home. We always had a very strong relationship.
My partner was director of a queer film festival in Prague for 4 years. So we are a part of queer community here. But I am not a party person, I do not drink alcohol and I don’t visit gay clubs or bars. So I really don’t know. I think I know more about yoga community.
I try not to look back. But I am 35 now and sometimes I feel I would like to have more friends. During my life I had just a few really strong friendships. Many of them do not last until today. And I think it is my fault. I don’t know if I can change it. Maybe it’s too late.”