Athens is one of the few places in the world that can claim continuous occupation since the Neolithic Age. Today it’s a modern city of 4.5 million inhabitants bustling with life and excitement. Visit the
Acropolis, follow the steps of
Socrates in the ancient market place, the
Agora, or go to one of the modern market places and take advantage of the great shopping and entertainment opportunities the city has to offer. And the nightlife! Do not be surprised if you get stuck in traffic at 4 o' clock in the morning!
Although there is an honorable history of
Gay and Lesbian Culture in Greece, the Modern Greek Man presents a masculine and macho appearance. There is a huge amount of flirting going on although Greeks are hesitant on openly expressing their homosexuality. Greek society is not that tolerant, compared to other European countries.
The reason we were in Athens was because we were dancing at the Mr Gay Greece competition. The competition is fairly new, this was only its 2nd year and was held in Athens (last year it was Mykonos). Five contestants made it through to the final, which was laid on in a grand scale. Strippers and singers were flown in from America (including Niles Thomas, the Queer as Folk theme singer) as well as 12 gogo boys from around Europe. Clearly a lot of money was spent on the show. The contestants were all very nice; it was a big day for them. They were clearly nervous; one unfortunately dropped out just an hour before the show started, after he saw all the camera’s and press, he bottled it. Apparently he didn’t want the publicity because he wasn’t fully out of the closet!
The show went well, except for a little problem with one of the contestants who was supposed to be 18 years old. The following day we learnt that the guy who came second, Alexandros Pappas, admitted to actually being only 17 years old. The organiser
Paul Sofianos, was clearly upset over it, but said “he was in contact with the boy’s parents and sorting out a letter of parental consent”.
One thing we learnt in Athens is that the police are tough and don’t like unusual behaviour… When I talk about unusual behaviour I mean 3 boys playing around in a water fountain. It was across from our hotel, in the morning and we were just wearing swim trunks, pretty normal if you ask me! Several armed guards surrounded us and marched us off to their van, “where is your passport” they demanded. Judging by the expression on their faces it did not seem appropriate to say there was no room down the fronts of our Speedos. They called for back-up; it arrived quickly with blue flashing lights. We could see them laughing at us between themselves. They were being very rough with us even though we weren’t doing anything wrong or causing any problems. Apparently its law to carry your passport with you at all times.
They then bundled us in the back of the van to take us to the police station. At first they wanted to separate us and take me in a separate van to the others. I wasn’t having any of that. To be honest I was a little frightened, they were very aggressive and heavy handed towards us, had big guns and looked very ugly, doggy looking men. All I had on was my black Speedos. I started getting aggressive back when they tried to separate us; luckily the back-up policeman could see a situation brewing and quickly stepped in. We were allowed to travel together.
When we got to the police station we were told to sit down. So we did. “Not there, over there on the bench” the sergeant yelled. There was this old looking wooden bench at the back of the room with a few dodgy looking people sat on it. It was the bench for the criminals to wait for their punishment, beside the bench was the prison cell. The door was opened several times while we sat there. I’ve never seen such a horrible sight inside. The room was dark and dirty and full of ill looking, creepy characters laid out on the floor and benches. It was a prison cell you’d expect to see in a third world country, not one that’s part of Europe and a city that’s hosting the Olympics next year.
We must have been in the police station for an hour while they checked our details with the hotel. Then they just chucked us out of the station and onto the street. It was in the morning; all we had on us were our speedos and miles from the hotel. Some how we managed to find our way back. I can see why the crime level is low in Greece!