I remember after coming out, I often got questions from people about when I found out I was gay and what my story was. To be honest, I couldn’t answer that question at the time because I had to think about when that realisation began. I know deep down I always felt this way, but it took time to find peace with my surroundings.

I grew up in a town in the north of Serbia. In the 2000’s, being gay was not widely accepted there, but I was lucky to grew up in an open-minded family where, on the one hand, it was not a crime to be ‘different’. On the other hand, we never really talked about it, it remained a neutral topic. When I was in primary school, I always felt more comfortable around girls. Boys usually mocked me for it and said I was a girl. They were wrong, but I never spoke back, I kept to myself to avoid conflict.

Later, in high school, I had a few teenage romances with girls. In most cases the sex just didn’t work out, but even when it did, I always felt like something was missing and it was so unnatural. I remember in those years I was always shy before PE class when I had to change in front of the other guys in the locker room, and sometimes I even blushed. After these experiences, it became clear what I liked and didn’t like, but I still didn’t have the courage to talk about it. I felt pressure from society, which created the fear that I would never fit in. I remember in my first summer job, sometime in the late 2000s, there was an older guy at work who was always talking about his life experiences and sharing his “wisdom”. Once he said, “Listen to me carefully! Do whatever you want in life, but never be a faggot, it’s disgusting“.

I never gave up the hope that I will one day get rid of this fear and live confidently as I am. The real game changer came in 2011 when I moved to Budapest and started my university studies. It was the first time I lived in a big city and met people with whom I shared the same values. I felt so safe that I gradually opened up. I flirted with guys for the first time, I had my first kiss, I had my first sex, and finally I fell in love for the first time, although this love never ended in a relationship. My time in Budapest was a great opening, but the 5 years I spent there made me realise that yes, I was free, but I was only free in my own self-created surroundings. I felt I wanted to take it a step further and make a change, so I moved to Berlin in 2016.

I still live here today and I still really enjoy it. As I look back, however, I would never change anything that happened in the past, it really shaped the person I am now, who has left his fears behind and discovered his confidence. Sometimes I think of the boys at primary school making fun of me, but now I just laugh in my head and think that they were probably super jealous because I was so popular among the girls. But yeah, sometimes I still get the same old question:

“When did you find out you were gay?”

And my answer today is actually quite simple:

“The same time everyone else found out about their sexual orientation. It makes no difference”.