Zdeněk Jelen

* 1964

  • “I was on the Ukrainian border and saw the people, freezing... Poor things – I can’t understand how people can be so selfish these days. Virtually everyone here is doing basically fine, and when they see someone’s got a problem, they start claiming theirs is bigger. How can anyone’s problem be bigger than having bombs dropped on you, and having to hide in the cellar and sleep on a mattress. They have nothing. Ukrainian hryvnas have no value at all. They’re just worthless pieces of paper that you might as well throw away. We drove two girls [across the border] who were separated from their mum. They had the hryvnas and a little bag with ten Euros. Ten euros won’t buy you anything. We gave them some money. We drove food there and drove other people as well, and we gave them money to have something for the start, two thousand [crowns]. We just gave them money.”

  • “There was always fun. You couldn’t say it wasn’t funny. Things happened all the time. It was really good. We did discos there. Sometimes, the lesbians got really rowdy – you see, we had to find male strippers for the boys and female strippers for the girls. The girls would often get impatient and couldn’t wait for ‘their’ stripper, so they shouted at the male stripper to cut to the chase and show the penis. We had to speed things up and get the female strippers on stage. So, sometimes lesbians ‘went on strike’ and clamoured for the guy to finally strip and go. It was always a lot of fun. Actors would drop in too. Ondřej Vetchý would come by – he and I go back a long time – and Pavel Liška and Gabriela Ježková came regularly.”

  • “The period society did not approach us very well; it considered gay people deeply perverted and sick, and many believed it was a disease that could be treated. They mocked gay people, but I think many gay people never even came out. Judging by the statistics that I saw, there were quite a lot of unexplained suicides, which were actually often due to this reason because the society didn’t accept them and condemned them instead. So, when it became known about someone or, God forbid, someone came out, sometimes they couldn’t handle it afterwards.”

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    Brno, 19.03.2022

    délka: 01:46:48
    nahrávka pořízena v rámci projektu Příběhy regionu - JMK REG ED
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I was never indifferent to the developments around me. Never!

Zdeněk Jelen, 1997
Zdeněk Jelen, 1997
zdroj: Archiv pamětníka

Zdeněk Jelen was born in Brno on 27 August 1964. He obtained a baker/waiter vocational training. He never had the ambition to study at a grammar school because he believed he would never be admitted due to his family’s ‘poor cadre profile’. Zdeněk Jelen’s granduncle Miroslav Antonín Liškutín fought the Nazis on the western front as a member of the 312th Fighter Squadron of the RAF during World War II and chose to leave the country for the UK after the 1948 coup. Zdeněk Jelen served in the military in Žatec in the 1980s; the local political officer reminded him of his family history. Luckily, he did not know Zdeněk’s different sexual preference, or his military service could have been much more difficult. Being a gay in communist Czechoslovakia was a huge social stigma. When his military service was over, the witness returned to Brno. There were not many options to meet people or reveal one’s true identity without asking for trouble. Exceptions existed, including the Korso hotel and a private club that Richard Sehnal ran for his gay friends in his own cellar. The witness did not speak about his preferences openly until after the fall of the communist regime. After 1989, he successfully operated Áčko, a restaurant frequented by the LGBT community as well as Brno’s bohemians. At the time of the interview (2022), he was teaching cook/waiter apprentices in Mikulov.