I’d like to change my ethnicity please…

Would it be too drastic to claim that I absolutely detest my country? Would it be treachery on my part to denounce every moral and paradigm my ancestors have graced me with. It might be teenage angst and non-conformity driving my spite but then again, it might not be. My passport is Greek. So are both of my parents and my entire family. But I do not consider myself of Greek ethnicity. I was born in the States. My first ever memories are from kindergarten in Germany. My teen years were spent in Brussels, Belgium.  The rest of my life I did indeed spend in Greece. And now, 22 years of age I am studying in Rotterdam.

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The decapitaded statue of the Winged Victory of Samothrake. Seems appropriate.

I do not plan on going back. I definitely don’t want to go back. I am spiteful of the ancient marbles and the graceful statues. They remind me that the mother of democracy and trigonometry has allowed herself to rot, always relying on former glory to make up for the shortcomings of each generation.

In order to explain my vitriolic sentiments I need to give some background information. One year before I left Greece, I met someone very special to me. We have been together for close to three years now and hopefully we’ll be together for more years to come. I often picture myself sitting with that person, conversing over a glass of beer, getting old together and living happily ever after.  But to do that we have to flee. We cannot stay in Greece, our own country and be together, because we are both male and hence a homosexual couple.  It would be nice to know that I could live freely in any European country of 2015, regardless of my sexual preferences. However that is not the case.

Orthodox Christianity has been taught to me all my years in Greek school, reminding me of what a loving, caring character that Jesus guy was and how he taught compassion and acceptance. Not for me though. Following the death of a famous gay actor and his partner’s outcry for not being allowed to take the body due to homosexual relationships not being legally recognized, Ambrosius, a bishop, wrote a public statement on the 9th of December. In it he claims and I quote: “So then, these deviants should be spat upon. Denounce them. Blacken them. They are not human. They are freaks of nature. They are sick mentally and spiritually”. I would be more than glad to ignore these statements as ramblings of a fanatic outlier but that is not the case. This opinion is dogmatically shared and accepted by the Greek Orthodox Church and most of its spokespeople. Unfortunately it is also accepted as truth by a majority of the Greek population.

It would be very reassuring to know that religious views would be irrelevant to political opinions and that I would be protected by law from bigotry and denial of rights in my own country. But the country’s government has been and still is in a symbiotic relationship with the church. Still there is no legal recognition for homosexual couples in Greece because elected officials are too afraid to even breach this topic in order to avoid an outcry by the church and the god-fearing public.

One could argue that I am expecting too much from a people driven by tradition and theocratic values. And I agree. So right before leaving Greece for my studies in Rotterdam, my partner and I decided to start an e-shop that we would both work on in order to be able to pay the plane tickets to and fro and hopefully put enough money aside to secure a life in a more progressive country. The business, since its beginning, has been doing surprisingly well. Together, we defeated the bureaucracy of starting a business, surpassed our competitors and by now we have the biggest perfume and cosmetics e-shop in Greece. According to the sales, we should be making more than enough money to see each-other constantly. But it is becoming obvious that our dreams should not have been put into action. Time and time again has the government increased taxes on small and medium businesses while at the same time blatantly ignoring and pardoning millionaires that owe entire fortunes to the government.  In the summer of 2015, Greece enforced capital controls, which led to the shutting down of a third of all Greek businesses and the crippling of all the rest according to a report by the Hellenic Confederation of Professionals, Craftsmen and Merchants released in the 2nd of August. For two months all imports came to a halt and the public stopped spending money on most non-essential amenities. After these two destructive months, businesses were called to still pay taxes that did not take into account the damage caused. No true effort has been or is being taken neither in order to alleviate struggling businesses nor to combat tax evasion.

That is strike two for Greece in my book. I guess all that is left for me there at the moment other than my partner is my family. The lovely Greek family, with all its values and ideals. Families in Greece are extensive and everybody from grandparents to cousins gets to have an opinion. In the case of homosexuality kids will be sent away, not because the parents disagree with their child’s sexuality but because they are afraid of what the neighbor or the twice removed aunt will say if they find out. I am constantly nagged by the idea that I will never be able to live with whom I choose because he will constantly have to answer questions as to why he is leaving Greece and why he has no children and why he hasn’t got a wife. Questions that won’t be asked only by parents but by curious cousins and nosy uncles. And the longer these questions remain unanswered, people will gossip and judge and often ostracize the parents for “raising” a different child.

What a rant this is. I submit to my peers and supervisors a text containing my encounters and my experiences as a case against an entire country. But these are my facts and in my world these are the truths that govern my options. Seemingly random anecdotes and opinions are presented here touching upon the very broad subjects of religion, government and family. But not any of these three subjects is my main focus here. I want to be heard out when I say that I detest my roots. I want you to know how for everything I strive for and want, Greece has given me a loud and clear “Fuck you”. The point of this text is to express and explain my hatred for the country of my ancestors. The point is for me to condemn the country that has deemed me unworthy of fulfilling my dreams.

Vasilis.Nikolopoulos

22 years old, proud co-owner of a company, cat-lover, aspiring occultist/mad-scientist and very mad at the world.

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