A short history of Gay Portugal – From Rome to the Inquisition

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The Romans

Much of the early history of homosexuality in Portugal is, of course, intertwined with it being part of the Roman Empire covering parts of the Roman Provinces of Lusitania, Gallaecia and Hispania. Thus, much of the early history of “gay” sexuality is likely to have been similar to that in other Roman provinces. Thus, a distinction was made between Roman citizens – and others. While Roman (male) citizens had the right to practice penetrative sex with other people as the active part, such as with both make and female slaves or prostitutes, Roman morality frowned upon Roman citizens being penetrated. Of course, how this might have been interpreted is subject to many history books, but simply put, homosexuality wasn’t really a sin – as long as the Roman citizen did the penetration. Continue reading “A short history of Gay Portugal – From Rome to the Inquisition”

Learning Portuguese…in London and Lisbon

IMG_6848One of the things that I love about moving to Portugal is that it gives me the opportunity to learn another language. Maybe I’m a bit of a language nerd, but having lived abroad most of my adult life, I think knowing at least some basics is absolutely necessary to integrate into society – at least if you are planning to speak to people. Since I decided to move, I have, therefore, been starting to get to grips with Portuguese. On a personal level, it has been easy in parts (I speak Spanish reasonably well) – but on other levels it is pretty complicated (“How is this pronounced  again??”).  Anyway… here is a bit of a lowdown of my “language journey” – and hopefully some useful hints if you decide to learn the “lusophone” language (geek talk for Portuguese). Continue reading “Learning Portuguese…in London and Lisbon”

Summer Plans

Have you noticed? It is almost summer! Time to make some summer plans… FullSizeRender

Luckily (I guess) I still have heaps of vacation time left before leaving my job. So I’m now making plans what I’ll do this summer… after all, what is a single gay boy (ok, the boy bit is maybe a bit stupid)… so what is a relatively newly single gay guy to do?

Lisbon is obviously high on the agenda. Not least because I have started to learn Portuguese … so it is time to practice those skills. And learn a bit more… more about that in the next post about learning Portuguese! Continue reading “Summer Plans”

How to find information about Gay Lisbon – online

Image-1If you haven’t heard much about gay life in Portugal it may be because it is actually quite tricky to find a lot of information online. Sadly, there isn’t an easily accessible array of magazines such as Boyz or QX in London, or Siegessäule in Berlin (with a well maintained English section). And even local websites are often hopelessly out of date (the local TimeOut website used to have events from three years ago… and now just redirects to their facebook page). So… it is a little more tricky to find out what is going on.

Sadly, a lot of information isn’t available in English. However, the good thing about Portuguese is  that, at least in the written form, you can probably make out the essential words by looking at them.

And for everything else… there is this hopefully somewhat complete and reasonable useful guide… Continue reading “How to find information about Gay Lisbon – online”

Lisbon by Half

What is better than one half? Three halfs! Or at least that is how many half marathons I could find for the next year taking place in Lisbon… All seem to have quite a different flavour – and routes, so it shouldn’t be boring going for all three…. Here is a quick overview:

Lisbon by half (marathons)

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Continue reading “Lisbon by Half”

Eurovision Song Contest – Stockholm

What’s probably more gay then a pride festival? The European Song Contest [ESC]…cult in Europe and beyond (and if you are not from Europe, or are starting to get confused now…  here is a nice introduction).  This year was Sweden’s turn to host the contest… and although I didn’t manage to get tickets to the main, main event, I decided to have a go and try “Eurovision Song Contest – The Party”.

#esc2016

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On Friday I was therefore seated comfortably in a plane bound for Stockholm… and yes, Continue reading “Eurovision Song Contest – Stockholm”

I’m missing it.

running that is. Because of an injury, together with being insanely busy and the injury being a convenient excuse not to get off my bum and run, I haven’t really stuck to any running routine at all so far this year. While, luckily, that hasn’t resulted in a major increase of my waistline (although a little bit more is there, I think) I really have to take this up again – and stop making excuses about why I can’t.

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Last weekend I went with my ex (BF1) to cheer him on while he ran another Half. Yes, while he has always been quite hit and miss with regards to running during the week (largely Continue reading “I’m missing it.”

Decluttering … Moving Madness

I haven’t moved in a while. During my twenties, I moved every two or three years to a different country. So I guess things just got totally organised every now and then. But since settling down in London in my late 20s, I only moved from a smaller place to larger place…

Letters. Lots of letter.

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… and at the time I really didn’t clean stuff out. I know the claims supporting clearing out and decluttering… and I liked the idea for a while. But seriously… just thinking about it made me prefer washing dishes.

Now the good thing is that I will move. No buts, no ifs. So… things have to get tidied up. And I don’t want to move to Portugal with a van-load of stuff. Now for many things this is pretty easy. After a few days of doing it, … I can say throwing out stuff is quite easy. Yes… I still had some jeans from the 1990s, … and those are now on the way to a charity shop. Books… similar. Yes, they were amazing to read at the time. But really, text books from the 1990s about internet are not the most useful stuff nowadays. So… charity shop, too.

But now I have hit a bit of an obstacle. I have a massive box full of stuff from exes. All sorts of stuff. Love letters, letters when we were fighting (we wrote letters!), small things, emotional things. To be honest, I hadn’t looked at them for quite a while. But… it feels strange to think about letting go of them. In a way, they tell stories about the journey I made, or we made (whomever it was at the time).

As a friend of mine is also moving, I asked him for advice. My first instinct was to clear it all out. I thought, what is the point of bringing all this baggage into my “new life”. In some ways, that makes sense, I guess. But he actually came up with a much neater suggestion: Leave it to last. Then take each item and ask yourself: Does it remind you of something happy? If so… keep it. If you don’t remember, don’t really know – or especially if not, throw it away. I think it sounds like the most sensible solution.

Yes, going through the piles and piles of letters and putting them all in one place, small notes and cards brought back some good memories. And also some bad. At the moment, they now sit, as a big pile, in my living room. And I will keep just a few of the items (mostly letters), ones that remind me of a person in a positive way. And all the others,… well… it is time to make space for some new experiences in my life.

Film: The last time I saw Macau

The last time I saw Macau ( A Última Vez Que Vi Macau ) is a “film essay”, following a man’s  return after thirty years of absence to the ex-Portuguese colony – this time to help a friend in need. Co-Directed by João Rui Guerra da Mata together with João Pedro Rodrigues of O Fantasma and To Die Like a Man fame.

A última vez que vi Macau / The last time I saw #Macau – #portuguesecinema … review coming soon

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I always had a bit of a soft-spot for Macau, this little sibling of Hong Kong, that somehow combines the worst and best of (post-)colonial China, that packs together the lure of far East with the traditions of Europe. A place I experienced as strange yet familiar when visiting from Hong Kong. Needless to say, the title of the movie already intrigued me. Added to this that the movie was made by the Portuguese director who directed To Die Like A Man and O Fantasma (review coming soon), just fueled the anticipation (and expectation) I had to finally watch the movie.

Let’s be clear here: It is not a gay themed movie. The only “LGBT”-reference is a transvestite (Candy) who is the  reason for the protagonist (Guerra da Mata) to return to Macau. as far as the story goes, Candy, who left Europe seeking an easier life in Asia, is in trouble – and Guerra da Mata is the only friend she can can rely on to help her. Thus begins the journey of Guerra da Mata to find and help Candy, and his rediscovery of Macau, where he spent his youth.
It is also not a thriller. In fact, the story is mostly the canvas upon which the film builds a portrait of Macau: Away from the glitzy casinos and swish shopping malls – and dives into the underbelly of this “not quite Chinese”, and “never really quite Portugal” city state. A bit like Candy, Macau is something “in between”. What follows is very much a “city symphony”, images of Macau in bright neon light in the run down back streets of the city.

This “in between” is, what made the movie intriguing and fascinating for me: A bit like my experience of Hong Kong: a different place, where nothing is quite what it seems and a different story lurks behind every corner. Seedy, grotty, beautiful, poor and intriguing. That is the impression of Macau I’m left with after watching the movie (and very much like the real life Macau I experienced). Not the sort of glossy place the Chinese Tourist Board would like to portray, but a place with dark secrets, mystery, promises and bright lights in equal measures.

If you haven’t been to Macau, I can imagine the film being quite strange. For me, it resonates a lot with the city. And yes, the story line is holding the film together, but it isn’t the main actor here: the main act for me is played not by Candy or Guerra da Mata, it is the city itself, and the sights and feelings of Guerra da Mata as he tries to find Candy. Overall, the movie reminded me a lot of “London” and “Robinson in Space” by Patrick Keiller,  with a more “exotic” twist. Not just because of the near invisibility of the main character and narrative, but the way the film explores “the other”, unseen side of this Asian metropolis. Definitely a movie I highly enjoyed watching, and I would recommend it to anyone trying to get a glimpse of this fascinating “special administrative region”, stranded somewhere “in between” China, European theme park, glitzy Las Vegas of the East – and the dark sides of sex, crime and gambling.

Film: Aya Arcos

A middle aged writer falls for a young hustler… Both embark on a shaky, mismatched relationship… A highly sexually charged, Brazilian film, with lots of potential.

#AyaArcos #gaymovie #brazil … review coming soon

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Yesterday I managed to watch Aya Arcos, a Brazilian film about a writer (Edu) who falls for a young hustler he meets on the streets of Rio (Fabio). Against the backdrop of the two very different characters, the relationship develops – unsurprisingly shaky. While Fabio couldn’t care less about what tomorrow may bring, Edu, deeply stuck in an emotional and creative crisis, constantly tries to get Fabio to grow up – and become a stable relationship partner. In addition, Edu is terrified about becoming infected with HIV, although he soon finds out he is positive – something that doesn’t seem to bother Fabio.

There is lots of passion in the relationship between the two, but also lots of things that remain unspoken or unclear. Sadly, the film doesn’t always help in this aspect, as it seems to jump sometimes from one topic to the next. The other issue that somehow distracted from the big story line of the relationship was the HIV issue, which somehow seemed to be different and unconnected, though maybe symbolic of what was going on (at least to a point). Overall, I feel more focus could have been given to the emotional turmoil of the relationship, and a clearer development of the characters would have helped the film tremendously.

That said, the film was enjoyable –  not only because it contains some handsome actors/scenes. In some ways the topic of the film is difficult, and given the limited budget and considering it is a first film for the director, I think it is definitely a worthwhile film to watch.