Every year, the question arises as to whether Debrecen Pride could be implemented following in the footsteps of the LGBTQ parades in Budapest and now in Pécs. In a large city of 200,000 people and its catchment area, there would certainly be enough interested and sympathetic people, but the population here is noticeably less open to this. We exchanged ideas about the “heat situation” in Debrecen and many other interesting things with Péter Frajdy, the vice president of the Debrecen Pride organization.
Which letter from LGBTQ do you represent?
The B. I’m about 25 percent gay and 75 percent straight. By the way, I am already a grandfather at the age of 58, and sometimes I like to dress up in women’s clothes – that’s when my transvestite self comes out.
Why is wearing women’s clothes important to some men?
Based on my own example, I can say that it causes happiness. It feels good to walk around in the clothes of the opposite sex.
You see far fewer female transvestites than men…
Perhaps this is because women are allowed to wear pants in the first place, while it is less common for a man to wear a skirt.
How did your family react to this unusual attitude of yours?
My father didn’t care at all. He was president of the Producer cooperative in Debrecen, he was completely absorbed by his work. Around the age of eight, I felt that I liked both genders. At that time I was in love with a girl, and then with a boy as a freshman in high school. I initiated my mother around the age of 16-17. He wasn’t happy about it, but she acknowledged it.
How is the Debrecen parade and its accompanying events now?
We would like Debrecen Pride, but it seems that it will not be possible to organize it. But what is delayed does not pass. Specifically, the organization was created to achieve Debrecen Pride.
When is the first event in Debrecen expected?
Now I think there may be a chance for that in 2-3 years.
Was the 2023 implementation planned at all?
Yes, but the Debrecen city administration is completely dismissive of this matter. I didn’t even go to see Mayor László Papp because I didn’t see the point. Regardless, I will try to sit down and talk about it.
How do the opposition representatives feel about this? Would they embrace the cause of Debrecen Pride?
The two immediate representatives, the two representatives from DK and the MSZP, would support the matter, but this is not enough.
How would this parade go?
We would “tap” Pécs pride and get a truck, for example, the Two-tailed Dog Party offered to help. A DJ would provide the music from the car, and the parade would start from Kossuth Lajos tér (which we call Kósa Lajos tér), and we would either arrive at the Hall via the line Péterfia utca – Simonyi út – Pallagi út, where we would hold an after party . According to the other version, pride would go along the route Hatvan utca – Bethlen utca – Egyetem súgárút – Dóczy József utca, and would end in front of the university’s main building. This would require the consent and possibly active participation of the University of Debrecen. In this regard, it is essential that in order to organize the event planned for two days (Friday-Saturday), we must be able to agree with the municipality and the university in order to be able to use the institutions they operate. Unfortunately, similar to the city administration, it is not possible to agree on such a topic with the current rector of the university.
We are not planning a big pride, but a kind of symbolic one, which would be in the country’s most right-wing and most reliable big city.
Are there any companies that have or would stand behind the cause of Pride?
We have not yet approached companies to sponsor Debrecen Pride, but we will do so later, primarily with regard to large enterprises with an IT profile. According to our calculations, at today’s prices, the three-day Debrecen Pride human rights festival and parade can be organized for a maximum of eight hundred thousand, possibly one million forints, but this is also a rough estimate. If some rental fees can be waived (they give the room or the truck for free), then the amount can be reduced, perhaps even by half. This also requires the help of the Debrecen municipality. We will first discuss the organization of Debrecen Pride with Mayor László Papp, and then with the rector of the University of Debrecen.
What is the situation of LGBTQ people in Debrecen? Should they be afraid of any kind of atrocity? Would you dare to take part in a parade?
Fortunately, we rarely experience homophobic manifestations in Debrecen, and the number of atrocities is negligible. I could also say that Debrecen is an island of peace for gays.
And in my view, there would be plenty of marchers, if only based on the fact that we also experience a significant number of interested people at our LGBTQ film screenings. Those foreign university students who come from a country where a gender orientation different from the majority is not accepted, sometimes prohibited or even persecuted, can feel free here in Debrecen.
How would you explain Pride’s reason to a conservative?
We need it to break the ice. To make society aware that LGBTQ people live among us. 25-30 percent of Hungarian society can be considered affected.
Isn’t this number a bit high?
As far as I know, including bisexuals, this relatively high rate is the real one.
I have not yet come across such high numbers, according to my recollection, researchers write about a maximum of 10 percent.
A maximum of 10 is the proportion of pure gays, in fact, they make up between 4 and 8-10 percent of society. These include those who have changed their orientation, i.e. they used to live as gay, but in their old age, they started leading a straight lifestyle, or vice versa.
“We would accept them, but why are they showing themselves?” – is often heard from the mouths of those who are less accepting.
This is a tradition in the world, primarily in European-type legal systems and cultures. There is already Kassa Pride and Hamburg Pride, but they also organize parades in Polish cities, Wroclaw and Gdansk.
By the way, once there is legal equality here (in terms of gay marriage and adoption by same-sex parents), then pride will no longer make as much sense. It will be like a carnival of flowers and will primarily have a business function.
There are many criticisms and attacks on the marchers because of some marchers who have more free principles and sometimes do scandalous things. If there is Debrecen Pride, will there be a code of ethics for the participants?
We are not planning a sex truck similar to Debrecen, only a DJ and some banners with symbolic messages will announce our goals. We do not wish to enforce rigid rules of conduct against the marchers. I think they will know the etiquette themselves, no one will march naked.
What is your relationship with the churches?
There are tolerant churches, such as the Lutheran, and the other extreme – it is not difficult to guess – the Catholics, among whom there are also homophobic church members.
When should children be introduced to the fact that non-heterosexual people also exist?
Around the time when sexual interest starts, at the age of 13-14.
How big is the pride community in Debrecen?
It is quite difficult to estimate because there are many invisible members. Foreigners have only occasional contact with “native” LGBTQ people. Our moon court can accommodate 120-150 people. There is a slight overlap in this regard to the Cíviscolors, but I calculate that the number of people who would definitely take it upon themselves and participate in the Debrecen parade can be put at around three hundred people.
Along with sympathizers?
The number of employees can even be doubled. In the past few years, it has already been observed in Budapest that almost half of the marchers were straight, specifically, families marched with LGBTQ people, purely out of solidarity. For example, in Pécs, which has a population very similar to Debrecen, three thousand people came together.
How is the gender ratio developing?
We can see an interesting change during the last decades. While at the time of the regime change, gay men were more likely to accept themselves, today the share of girls who accept their orientation and are (also) attracted to their own gender can be increased to two-thirds. In this regard, the situation is similar in Budapest and Debrecen: there are many more lesbian women than homosexual men. Gay men are more likely to live in hiding.
What could be the reason for this?
Primarily oppression and inequality. The persecution of male homosexuality is stronger than that of women. Society in Western Europe is also more accepting of gay women, but in Hungary, the contrast is much greater.
What does persecution manifest itself in?
This is primarily fueled by the instigation of the government. Fortunately, Debrecen is a very calm place in this regard, we have not heard of physical atrocities or crimes for years. That is why we are aware of the “warming up” done by the teacher during the lesson and other things of a smaller volume.
In this case, what did you do?
If the student requests it, we will notify the legal aid service. You can contact us with confidence, but fortunately, this is rarely necessary. There are quite a few tolerant schools in Debrecen. I would highlight Medgyessy, Ady high school and Bethlen.
It was previously reported that the gay bar on the corner of Thaly Kálmán-Péterfia utca was closed due to atrocities.
We have not heard of such a thing, although if it had happened, it would certainly have reached us. Allegedly, the city administration at the time had a hand in the matter, they decided to rent out the premises to someone else. By the way, there were two gay voyeurs and peep shows in Debrecen, but they have also ceased to exist.
What entertainment options are there now in Debrecen for LGBTQ people?
In a bar on Batthyány Street, a disco is organized every month, especially for people with such an attitude, but this is very rare in a city of this size. I suggested to the owner to have more of these, but not sure if it would pay off. The guesthouse on the corner of Sámsoni-út-Acsádi út used to host very famous gay parties, but that place has already ceased to exist.
One of the bars on Kossuth Street is a favorite place for gays from abroad to drink and chat, and on Fridays and Saturdays, you hardly hear a word of Hungarian there.
An interesting question was recently asked on the program of Márton Gulyás, which questioned whether trans women are really women and whether trans men are really men. Where do we draw the line?
I consider the Argentinian regulation to be the best in this area, where gender-neutral ID cards were introduced. There, the citizen himself decides whether he identifies as a woman, a man or something else. In most legal systems, this is not the case, the individual usually has to prove that he has undergone non-restorative surgery.
The late 4024 wrote about the large number of toilets with perforated walls in the main building of the University. What happened to them?
The University’s hot toilets are approx. It was abolished 8 years ago by the new rectorate, but it was not homophobic or with a transphobic purpose, but because of the increased number of thefts in the main building. In many cases, it was not university students, but gay promiscuous boys from the poor standing there, waiting for business. The rectorate considered the phenomenon to be a connection between the increased number of thefts at that time and the presence of gay prostitutes. However, we do not know whether this was a real reason or not. …
An LGBT poster exhibition recently opened in Szeged. Have you planned something similar in Debrecen?
The LGBT poster exhibition in Szeged will definitely be brought to Debrecen after the Budapest presentation – with the cooperation of Cíviscolors – and the pictures will be exhibited in the Malter pub (Baross Gábor utca 16. in Debrecen). There was a similar video poster exhibition there before.
– Translated from Szabolcs Szigágyi’s article on the Debreceni Nap page –