Brandon Brown and the love story that brought him to Budapest
Brandon is an American man originally from Los Angeles who has been living in Hungary since September 2015. Love brought him to Budapest where he has found a new way of living slightly different to the American one.
How did that love story start?
I was born and raised in LA and I was working in mental health running a community integration program for those with mental disabilities. One day I went to the gay beach in Santa Monica with a colleague where I met my current boyfriend. We went on a date the next day and we kept meeting for around a month before he came to Hungary for studying purposes.
When he left, we said good-bye indefinitely around November 2014 but after a month we realized we really missed each other so we met again when I came to visit him for Christmas and New Year’s Eve. I went back to the US and after a while he came to visit me and that’s when we decided that we could work it out. Constant traveling was going to be a very expensive option so we decided to move to Budapest together and planned how to manage it with work and all the other things that it takes for you to move abroad.
What have you been doing the past six months?
The first three months I was intensively searching for a job but I wasn’t really getting many leads. I kept meeting new people and exploring the city despite how cold it wa and I also started playing volleyball until I took a freelance online job back in the States.
What’s that job about?
It’s an office clerical work where you have to keep track of the stocks and investments they have, make expense reports and help them with their selection process for the organizations they give money to as they work with grants. Besides this I work with a guy opening a homeless shelter in Los Angeles and I am putting together some of the documentation and requirements he needs to be able to open it.
How do you find living in Budapest and working in LA at the same time?
It is interesting, in my previous job I didn’t have much supervision from my boss so it is nice to learn to work by myself and to keep myself organized without necessarily being tracked in terms of times and location. I could easily go somewhere for a holiday as long as I keep my online work running. Of course the best part is that I am able to be here with my boyfriend.
How do you cope with it being in a relationship with someone from a culture that is completely different from yours?
He is much more deliberate with his things, what he says, what he does, etc. I am quite the opposite. It is a bit of cultural differences and just two personalities coexisting. He is sometimes critical of Americans and their mentality and it is refreshing to see things from his perspective; of course sometimes I have to clarify that not everyone is like what you see on TV.
How do you like Budapest so far?
I love it! It is very lively; there is always something to do, especially now that the weather is getting better and better. It was hard for me to motivate myself when it was so cold but I like it, as it is so different and diverse from what I am used to. Also the fact that it is so small compared to LA, here we don’t need to have a car to get anywhere.
Do you miss home sometimes?
Yes, I miss the beach and the sun! And my family and friends, of course.
How is life in LA? How is the gay scene?
It is very lively, eventful and open. There are a lot of gay organizations; I played in a gay volleyball league for example. It is just very open compared to here.
What makes you say so?
Comparing Budapest to West Hollywood, the second one is an unapologetic and open place where everything is valid – one of the cultural highlights of Los Angeles. A lot of restaurants, parties, activism, and simply an active life. For example, on Halloween the biggest party is in West Hollywood where they close the streets and you find hundreds of thousands of people and it is just a great atmosphere.
On the other hand, Budapest definitely has a gay community that is, given the circumstances, thriving but it is not as open as what I just described.
What do you think is missing from the gay life in Budapest?
In Budapest, I find everything that I like and I feel there is not much that I would add… except for a beach, which is the only thing I miss but it is not an option. About the gay life, just the climate where people feel comfortable expressing their feelings and love to the person they are with. I really miss walking holding hands and I feel like affection is limited to the time when you are at home.
Would you like to stay in Budapest for a longer period of time?
I would definitely like to have an apartment here but my long-term goal is to have a house in the Italian Alps and living there with my boyfriend.
Closing this interview, what advice would you give to the people who are just arriving to Budapest?
I would suggest them to visit the spas, especially the small ones or to go to the many coffee places around the city such as KicsiZso, where sometimes they have a guitar player while people are having their meal and it perfectly complements the atmosphere. It is kind of a representation of what you can find in the “non-touristic” parts of the city. Also to check out the nature as this city has great places like the Margaret Island and János-hegy.