Budapest is getting more gay every year – Interview with Mateusz Kłosiński
Before his first visit, Mateusz from Poland did not know much about Hungary. But now he is really jealous of everyone who is just starting to discover our beautiful country and its capital. Let’s meet Mateusz!
How was your life before moving to Budapest?
Before moving to Budapest I was studying Ethnology in Poland. It was a crazy year because I just moved to Cracow to start my masters and right after that I moved to Prague with an Erasmus scholarship. I had a great time, full of crazy parties and new people. I enjoyed living abroad so much that I decided not to go back to Poland but to find another place in Europe to live. I was already crazy about Budapest and I decided to find a way to move here. I was very lucky, because right at the end of my stay in Prague I was invited to participate in a European Voluntary Project in Budapest, so I moved here in autumn 2015.
Can you tell us a bit about your hometown?
I’m from Łódź. It’s the third largest city in Poland situated in the center of the country, just one hour by train from Warsaw. It’s called ‘the city of four cultures’ because until World War II it was equally inhabited by Poles, Germans, Russians and Jews. As it was built as a city of manufacturers in the 19th century, it has a very rich industrial history. When visiting Łódź you can feel this industrial vibe and find lots of places which used to be factories transformed into restaurants or clubs. The city has changed a lot in the past few years as it became more of an artsy place. The Urban Forms street art festival where artists from all over the world come and create a gallery of huge murals is becoming quite popular and well-known. Right now there are at least 50 murals, it’s actually pretty amazing.
What did you know about Hungary before moving here?
Until my first visit in Hungary I didn’t know much about your country. I have heard of a few famous Hungarians and I knew that our countries are connected by the historical friendship (Lengyel, magyar két jó barát…). And of course I knew who Viktor Orbán was. But in general, Polish people don’t know much about Hungary. It seems like an exotic place for us, even though it only takes one hour by plane from Warsaw to come here. But everything changed after my first visit, because I fell in love with Budapest. I quickly became an expert of Hungary among my friends.
What brought you to Budapest?
I came to Hungary for the first time a year before moving here. I was participating in the Youth in Action project in Vásárosnamény. I enjoyed that time very much and on the way back home I spent one day in Budapest – it was love at first sight. I remember that when our Hungarian friend took us – me and my friends – to Batthyány tér and I saw the Parliament from the other side of the Danube I had only one thing on my mind: “I want to live here!” I started to read up about Hungary. I visited Budapest on a number of occasions and I kept looking for opportunities to come here. I even started learning Hungarian back in Poland. Finally, I was invited to take part in a one-year project of the European Voluntary Service (EVS) as an English teacher for an NGO located in the heart of 8th district. I was lucky enough that my professors at university let me spend the second year of my masters here in Budapest because I also wanted to do research for my master thesis here.
What are your favorite things about living here?
Budapest is like home for me. I love its monumental architecture that makes you feel so tiny, especially when walking by the Danube. The nightlife here is great, too. I attended lots of great parties and I love to drink a ‘hosszúlépés’(a type of wine spritzer – ed.) in the ruin pubs in the evenings (I actually can’t even choose my favorite of those). People here are amazing. I’m spending time mostly with Hungarians and someone told me that when a Hungarian becomes your real friend, he (or she) will stand by you whatever the situation may be, and that’s true. Budapest has a magical vibe that you can’t find anywhere else. Every time I am away from Budapest, I just can’t wait to be back.
What are some things that you really dislike?
Unfortunately there are still lots of homeless people on the streets and some places in Budapest just stink. As I have said, I spent my first year in the 8th district – it is a neighborhood that is getting better and better, but still it’s not my favorite place in Budapest.
Have you had any cultural sock?
Maybe it’s weird but not really. I have found that Hungarians are very similar to Polish people. We have the same sarcastic and a bit abstract sense of humor. I immediately felt like a member of this community. The only weird thing was the Hungarian language, but I got used to it very quickly. I don’t mind not understanding people in the metro.
What do you think is the main difference compared to your home country?
Poland is much larger than Hungary and you don’t really need to cross any borders if you want to swim in the sea or climb the mountains. On top of that, Poland has plenty of huge cities, so your options are not as limited as here if you want to study or build your career.
What do you think of gay life in Budapest? Do you take part in it?
I enjoy gay life in Budapest, especially Friday evenings in Ankert, at the Vibe or Garcons parties, and sometimes in the Why Not Café. It’s not the gayest city in the world, but it’s getting better and better each year and everyone can find something for themselves. I still don’t feel that you can be openly gay here, walking with your boyfriend hand in hand on the streets, but I hope sooner or later it will become the next Barcelona. I’m happy that the Pride festival is growing each year and I think Hungarian society is becoming more open-minded.
How is gay life back in your home country?
In Poland, it depends on the city. My hometown has almost no gay life at all: there is only one gay club and I definitely won’t suggest going there. But in Warsaw you have plenty of gay bars, clubs and parties similar to Garcons. You can find great parties there. In general, I find Poland less open to the gay community than Hungary, but there are exceptions like Warsaw, Poznań or Wrocław which are quite open-minded cities.
What kind of hobbies do you have?
In my free time I’m studying UX design which is an amazing link between design, technology and psychology. I’m fascinated by the way people think and I love to figure out solutions for their everyday problems. My second hobby is photography. A few months ago I bought a camera and now I’m learning how to capture my memories. I enjoy architecture, city and portrait photography, mostly in black and white. I also enjoy going to the cinema – it’s always the best idea for a good date!
What do you think of Hungarian men?
Hungarian men are absolutely my type. Guys here are handsome, hot and have a great sense of humor. My friends are always laughing at me because when we travel and go to a party anywhere in the world and I start talking to some nice guy, there is 90% chance that he turns out to be Hungarian. That’s just my luck!
What do you miss the most from home?
I miss Polish food and Soplica, a very tasty vodka-based liqueur. It has a number of flavored variants with walnut, lemon and cherry among them. My Hungarian friends are also crazy about it, so each time I go to Poland I have to bring some for them, too.
Any message you would like to share with the newcomers who are just arriving to Budapest?
If you are going to spend a part of your life in Budapest, be prepared for meeting amazing people, having great parties and having the best moments of your life. And trust me, you will always be coming back here, because Budapest will become your new home. I’m really jealous of everyone who is just starting to discover this city.
Bali V. Gergő