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A Brazilian New Year in Hong Kong

STORY: 1999 – For New Year’s Eve 1998, I found myself in Hong Kong, visiting my best friend from grad school and his family. I stayed with him, his wife, and his daughter in their fancy three-bedroom ex-pat apartment, which was a huge cost-saver for me in that ultra-expensive city.

On New Year’s Eve, my friend accompanied me to a cocktail party thrown by a gay ex-pat couple I knew there. After the party, he left to go home, while I decided to stop by Propaganda, the island’s long-time gay disco. In the bar area, I noticed a handsome, built, 30ish man who stood out noticeably among the primarily Chinese crowd. I introduced myself to him and learned his name was Jean Carlo. He was a Brazilian model, lived in London, and was visiting Hong Kong with a friend. Our mutual attraction was immediately evident. All that remained was to figure out where we could go to have sex. Unfortunately, Jean Carlo was sharing a hotel room with his friend, so he couldn’t bring me back there and I couldn’t bring him where I was staying, for obvious reasons. I didn’t think we could find an affordable room to rent at 2 a.m. So, in a moment of passion, I set aside my usual high moral standards and decided to sneak him into my room in my friend’s apartment. After all, it was New Year’s Eve!

We stealthily slipped into my guest room, which abutted my hosts’ master bedroom, and quietly engaged in some rollicking gymnastics. Afterward, I snapped a couple of photos to remember him by and silently escorted him out of the building. We stayed in touch for 6-9 months by e-mail, but eventually, we fell out of contact, the memory preserved in my few snapshots.

In 2018, I posted Jean Carlo’s photo on my Instagram page of vintage gay photos with an abbreviated account of our meeting, mentioning how fondly I remembered him. Within an hour, someone in his Brazilian hometown tagged him on my Instagram page. Within a few more hours, Jean Carlo contacted me, excited to reconnect. He'd moved back to Brazil five years before, had recently been partnered again, gave up modeling, and had become an artist. He told me I henceforth have a reason to visit his city. I thought I might manage to get there for one of the next couple of New Years holidays and thought he might be able to stop in NYC (where I lived) en route back to visit old friends in London, but neither has happened yet. I am pretty certain I'll make it there eventually, once COVID's lockdown on travel has lifted.

A coda to my indiscretion in Hong Kong: my straight married host still lives there, but came out around 2005, shocking me and everyone else. He divorced his wife, met a younger local Hong Kong Chinese fellow, fell in love with him, and eventually moved in with him. In 2015, I was his best man and their only witness and photographer at their civil wedding at NYC’s City Hall. I subsequently stayed with them several times in Hong Kong, though, out of embarrassment, it took me twenty years to disclose to him how I’d used their guest bedroom so many years ago.


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