Thursday, July 19, 2007

Hungarian Politician Coming Out Speech

Hungarian Socialist Gábor Szetey, a state secretary at the Prime Minister's Office since last July, became the first elected political official in Hungary to publicly come out as being gay when he opened Gay Pride 2007 in Budapest on 12 July.

Mr Szetey's announcement came on the same day as junior coalition member the Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ) announced that it would ask for same-sex unions to be legalised.

Below is the full text of Mr Szetey's Speech:

"Dear Friends,

Thank you for inviting me. I would like to talk about myself and yourselves - I'd like to talk about us. About faith, love and change: about our mutual life.

I believe that all people are equal. Not only on paper, not only in principle and not only in words, but here in the real world. In the Houses of Parliament and in Mûvész Cinema, on the grand boulevard and in Cegléd, in the dark and in the daylight. Equal in public life and equal in private life. Equal in rights and in duties, and equal in responsibilities and opportunities. And that being equal is not primarily a legal matter but an emotional matter.

I believe that one cannot be equal while being ashamed and scared. Those who are proud, brave, who have faith and firm belief may be equal. When they do not need to be afraid of being given names. When we can be proud of being Hungarian, Rumanian, Jewish, Catholic, Gay or Straight. If we can be proud of our differences, we will be proud of our similarities.

I believe in God. And I believe that all men and women have the right to love and be loved. Everywhere. Love has no party preference. Neither does happiness or choosing a partner. They have no belief and no sex. Everybody has the right to love. All grown-up people are free to choose their partner. A partner they can love, and spend time together with, a partner they can hug and kiss, with whom they can share their joy and sorrow. Or cuddle if they are scared, tired or weak. Everybody can be weak, and that makes them strong. And nobody should be deprived of asking and getting help or support when they are weak. For this you need a partner who is publicly acceptable, and love that gives the needed strength.

I believe that Hungary has a historic opportunity. That's why I came home from Argentina. That's why I changed from business to politics. History provided the opportunity. But the opportunity is only worth as much as we can get out of it. In the first place it depends on Hungary. On us, Hungarians, and what kind of life we create for ourselves. The budget, the administration and the economy will be sorted out sooner or later. But will our everyday lives, our emotions, our pride, our satisfaction and our happiness would be sorted out as well? We cannot weep if we miss this opportunity. It is our choice to fail or to do it right. We are responsible for all our decisions and for all our actions. As private or public individuals, businessmen or women, employees or public officials.

I believe that we have to break down the walls. Those walls built between us from the outside and from the inside. Everybody who is attacked, abused or despised flees to a place where they are safe. And those who attack, abuse and despise expel those they are afraid of. The walls are built, our everyday world turns into a ghetto and equality and vanity vanishes. We have to break down these walls, both from inside and from outside.

I believe that we can do it. With courage and faith and with true belief we can start demolishing the walls separating gays and heterosexuals. Today is the day of Gay Pride throughout Europe and the world. There are two kinds of worlds. There is a world where the Gay Pride is a great, colourful happy parade, which is joined by families with their kids having a good time, young people listening to good music, gay and straight people standing together to show there is another way to live together. And there is another world, where Gay Pride Day provokes bloody fights, violent emotions, police incidents, and political protest. In the first world gay people are truly equal, they may love, and work, and get married, while in the second world they have to be scared, they have to hide and they have to deny.

I believe we belong to the first world, to the western world. But we have to act. We ourselves have to break down these walls. We have to start, because if we don't start, if I don't start, we never will.

I am Gabor Szetey. I am European, and Hungarian. I believe in God, love, freedom, and equality. I am the HR Secretary of State of the Government of the Hungarian Republic. Economist, HR director. Partner, friend, sometimes rival.

And gay.

Like you. Like hundreds of thousands of people in this country who I hope hear these words.

Wow. I did it. I said it out loud.

And I will say it out loud everytime it is needed to be said, so that others may say it. And then gay pride will be what we made it to be. And Hungary, my homeland, will be as much as can be. A free country where this morning there is one more who is equal.

Once more. I am Gábor Szetey. A faithful Hungarian-European. Citizen, public official, member of the government. And gay. I live together with somebody who I love and who is here with me tonight. And without whom I would not be here at all. Just like with everyone else here and elsewhere when something important is happening.

I believe it is time to start. We have to say it out loud - me, you, all of us. With pride, with power, with faith, with true belief. Or softly, just as one fact of life, happily and peacefully. For me that is what Gay Pride Day is all about. And the other 364 days of the year, every day of every year from now on.

I believe that being gay is not a question of choice. Many times for many people it is difficult to accept. It was difficult for me too. It took me 28 long years. Parents, children and adults are escaping from it. It is not your choice whether you are gay or not, but it is your choice to accept it. I know already that not accepting who we really are leads to hiding, lying throughout our lives, and to consequences which are hard to predict.

I believe in truth and I am sick and tired of lies. God created what we are. So different in every way. There is nothing to be ashamed of. I had to realize it first so that my environment could accept it.

I believe in love. In the love of friends and collegues, but most of all the love of families and parents. Always, every time. Acceptance is the word of love, denial is the word of turning away. Parents can give the most to their gay children by loving them caressingly. Simply loving them. Like every other child.

I believe I could have said it out loud earlier. When my mother was still alive. There are not too many things in my life that I regret, but this one thing for sure: I never told my beloved mother. Although she must have known it anyway. I still remember our last conversation, when she said: "I don't care which road you choose, how and with who, I only care for your happiness!" It happened almost 10 years ago.

I believe she knows what am I doing right now and she smiles at me. I know she would be standing here beside me today and she would be very proud of her son. Just like she was lovingly proud of me everyday of her life. We do not choose our destiny but we do choose our decisions.

I believe that we can and we have to break the culture of silence. I have to say out loud who am I, so that finally my own decisions direct my destiny. We have to say it out loud so that we take control of our lives. So that we can be what we are meant to be. What our talents, hard work, chances and the avoided dangers make us to be. So that we don't have to live two different lives. One public life and one secret life. So that we don't need to use coded language to talk about the most important things in our lives. About our partners, about our family. So that we can be proud of who we are. Simply, softly, easily.

I am gay. And I am happy. And I am proud to be here with you tonight.

I hereby officially open Gay Pride Day, 2007.
Thank you for listening."

Thanks to The Budapest Sun

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