Prezi – Hungary’s gay bashing and the move to San Francisco

In 2008, Péter Árvai, Ádám Somlai-Fischer and Péter Halácsy founded Prezi, an innovative software company in Budapest. They wanted to create a new type of presentation software that people could use to share and tell their stories in a memorable and engaging way. They succeeded, and today Prezi is a competitor to Microsoft PowerPoint.

Seven years ago* the Budapest-based company quietly opened an office in San Francisco and Árvai moved to California. He started to hire people and today they have more than 100 staff members.

What attracted Árvai to San Francisco?

Árvai on the roof garden of Prezi's San Francisco office.

Árvai on the roof garden of Prezi’s San Francisco office.

In San Francisco, Árvai quickly found StartOut, an organization for gay high-tech entrepreneurs. “It was very inspiring as a gay entrepreneur to have the opportunity to go to events that are targeted for others like me,” he said.

“I grew up with no LGBT role models to show me how I could combine my professional interests with my queer identity.” Árvai feels that StartOut was powerful “because I could actually be in a room with people who had similar backgrounds and we could all joke about pop culture and still talk business!” Árvai claims that “we need to become better at showing this so that more people can have to the confidence to tackle their dreams, irrespective of their identity and background.” (Read Árvai’s interview here.)

Árvai feels at home in tolerant San Francisco; California is quite different than Hungary where government officials often berate gays.

President Obama with Péter Árvai.

President Obama with Péter Árvai.

Special advisor to Prime Minister Orbán, Imre Kerényi has called for “stopping the faggot lobby” and Budapest Mayor István Tarlós has talked about homosexuality as “unnatural and repulsive.” But the top prize goes to Deputy Prime Minister Mr. Zsolt Semjén who called homosexuality “a deviance” and “an aberration.” No government official has distanced themselves from these statements.

Hungary’s recently-minted Constitution includes a chapter about marriage, which it defines as strictly between a man and a woman. Even in the 1930s, during the conservative pro-Hitler Horthy regime, government officials avoided attacking gays in the media. They even celebrated the openly lesbian, and virulently anti-Semitic writer, Cécile Tormay.

For those of you who speak Hungarian here is the link to Deputy Prime Minister Semjén’s appalling tirade against gays on Hungarian television! It is hard to believe that Mr. Semjén holds a government position in a country which is the member of the European Union. (Watch Mr. Semjén’s interview.)

In my view, it didn’t help Prezi’s brand to be associated with a homophobic country, and it wouldn’t surprise me if other Budapest startups will also start to look for more tolerant pastures. For example in San Francisco!

György Lázár

*This article initially noted that Prezi moved to San Francisco two years ago, based on a report in the Silicon Valley Business Journal. A representative of Prezi responded to HFP, noting that the presence in San Francisco was set up seven years ago, and adding the company remains active in Hungary as well.

16 Comments

  1. Business and sex? Who cares what business people do at home in bed? That should be a private matter.

  2. I don’t understand the comparison. I have no problem with gays. I have no problem with anybody but when I read …”I could combine my professional interests with my queer identity”.. what the hell is it? If I want to buy a software or anything why should I be informed about whether he is a gay or not. Who cares? I don’t care about anybody’s sexual life or sexual orientation, especially when it comes to profession or business.

    To combine profession with sexuality, specially a software maker? 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Yes, it’s O.K. if he works in the porno industry. I don’t want anybody to give me their family or sexual problems. I just wanna buy a good software. No surprise here if people take it as an indiscreet behavior, get irritated and hostile. I don’t wanna hear about whether he is a gay or a hetero. Be happy and keep your sexual life for yourself.

    Take your sexual identity to the gay bar and when it comes to profession than speak about software. Because it’s my choice whether I wanna hear about sexuality and if I don’t I can avoid it. But don’t bring it upon me if I wanna buy a software.

    I just want to put things where they belong to.

    If I say “he is a gay” in a negative discriminating way, than I am labelled as homophobic. And no one can force him to tolerate it. And what if he comes ostentatiously and positively bragging with being a gay? Isn’t it the same intrusive bothering discrimination in the opposite way, cannot he be labelled in best case a nagware, or a homomaniac? It’s public nuisance. Ridiculous.

    “Árvai claims that “we need to become better at showing this so that more people can have to the confidence to tackle their dreams, irrespective of their identity and background.”

    Depends on what your dream is??? 🙂 You don’t have to show everything to the public. 🙂 🙂 Not because you’re a gay, please keep your sexual life for yourself even if you are a hetero. Cause you can dream, but please don’t snore, that’s bothering for others.

    O.K. man. Dream, go dream! I give you a little pleasant present. Find out whether it’s the truth or Byrne is just mocking the believers of dreams.

  3. Robert Szucs says:

    What attracted Árvai to San Francisco?
    Just look at him.

  4. You ‘fight’ for freedom of speech and expression but you censor comments? Hypocrites!!!!!
    What about your lies? You are unscrupulous and shameless manipulators.

  5. You people are all proof enough as to why Peter Arvai, decided to move his business to San Francisco. The fact he is gay is obviously an issue to government officials and with you asswipes here! You all claim you don’t care what his sexual orientation is, yet have a big issue with just the knowledge of the fact. Just imagine in an environment where this meant the difference of your business suceeding or not? Bureaucratic red tape can be used as a tool to discriminate in business opportunities. People are encouraged to not support someones business simply to not bring about negative consequences to themselves or their business by associating. He made a fantastic move because he has set up shop in a community that will support him and he can build a business where being gay doesn’t hinder the growth and success of his company. Unfortunately for many in Hungary it is guaranteed failure in business if people know you are gay.

  6. “You people are all proof enough as to why Peter Arvai, decided to move his business to San Francisco.”

    Yes, why??????

    Let me tell what I witnessed and think about it. Might be a long post please bear with me.

    A./ I have many good and very successful gay friends and previous clients in Hungary. Doctors, artists, businessmen working in the bank sector or elsewhere, they don’t need to leave the country they don’s suffer any discrimination or disadvantage. What is their secret, why one has to move why one can stay?

    i. They are distinguished, well mannered, talented, hard working, tolerant, they live in loving gay partnership so balanced that can be a sample for many hetero couples and they know that bragging with their sexual orientation, provoking and challenging the society, thus creating stir, is not the way for fighting for human rights of any minority, either ethnic or sexual. They know that until they toe the line that heteros must do too they practically enjoy all freedom and human and social rights than any other members of the society. They don’t promote homosexuality, they don’t explain either they sexual orientation or themselves. They know that it is not the hetero society or the government that should handle they different sexual orientation and problems, but they themselves must handle it. And they do it successfully.

    ii. Meanwhile, many hetero couples who ostentatiously displaying their life their sexual habits and are often facing the same problem that many gays have to face if they behave the same way. this is not because they are gays or hetero, that because they expose themselves and suffer the consequences. they act, the society reacts.

    B./ Why they persecute gays? They united in LGBTQ which is not simply the congregation of gays but grew into an international power organization that infiltrates politics, health services, and education. They finance presidential candidates’ campaign and many other social events, they are serious player in the world power game. They are handled accordingly just as competition handled. The difference is, that their uniting cohesive force is not science, ideology, but sexuality. Homosexuality. Therefore in this power game they are attacked through what they have. Breaking down the walls. Power game and they try to pretend the martyr. They are definitely not as the success of Arvai demonstrate it.

    C./ To go to the U.S. and establish a successful business it’s not enough to be talented. It needs a lot of preparation, money and mostly help from the natives in cases of gays the simplest and the best is the local gay community. They help the adventurers and of course they explore them and in return they want their share from the success. At least unity, loyalty, and the further promoting and propagation of homosexuality even if their need to use it, mask it with their business success.

    D./ The world is not that naive. People can see through the gay pride days, their martyrdom and would rather pay attention to those sufferers who are outcast like homeless, victims of domestic violence, child abuse etc. more than shedding tears for successful businessmen whose only bitter pain is that they feel more comfortable in the U.S. gay society than in the Hungarian LGBT.

  7. http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2016/03/08/hungary-blocks-european-agreement-on-lgbt-rights/
    http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2015/01/hungarian-gay-rights-activist-fight-fascism-150125100542416.html
    http://www.refworld.org/docid/4b20f03e2d.html

    The gay utopia you describe in Hungary is obviously only for your circle of “friends” I guess, because they are better at hiding their homosexuality than others.
    The point is Richard, what you claim is a LGBT conspiracy to infiltrate politics, health services and education wouldn’t exist if they were given the exact same rights as everyone else and proper protection from hate crimes and discrimination in the first place. Heaven forbid they unite and work together to improve the lives of their minority.
    As far as paragraph D./, you claim people would rather pay attention to sufferers who are “outcast like homeless, victims of domestic violence, child abuse etc.” but forget that often that is the case with LGBT, but because they are gay should they not also recieve the same help? Or would you say they deserved their treatment because they were too obviously gay? You have no idea what Arvai’ only bitter pain is. He obviously would know better than you why he felt the need to open his business in the US.

  8. I try to make it short as much as possibleas I only have a few minutes to post and not one to proofread. I apologize for the grammar and spelling mistakes.
    _________________
    I agree with the writer and Liz that the government is attacking gays and I don’t think it’s correct to call homosexuality deviant or aberrant. Especially not on governmental level. Meanwhile, obviously many of the gays and lesbians are deviant and aberrant but not because homosexuality equals aberration it’s because they are personally deviant and aberrant. But the same thing can be told about many heteros, too. Let alone politicians 🙂
    _________________
    There is a worldwide protest against the LGBT in many countries, anti gay demonstrations and movements, however Orban’s protest is somewhat different, as he is always searching for enemies to deflect attention from what his regime does and would never put up with any civilian movement or group presence that can contest his power in any ways.
    _________________
    Homosexuality in my opinion is not an aberration rather an imbalance of the soul but obviously unnatural. Just because something occurs in nature it doesn’t mean it is natural and nature herself will nip it in time in her usual hard way. Do it yourself now, better not wait for that, it will be cruel as always when nature steps in. Sexuality was not created for same sex union and speaking about nature, and what nature is, and what is natural, please don’t forget that nature is not the mother, only the carrier of life.
    _________________
    The LGBT is a rude power-enforcement organization, the nicest sample of this when Dolce and Gabbana the world most famous gay couple and successful gay fashion designer raised their voice against gay marriage and adoption it was the LGBT the firs to assault them with zero tolerance and called the gay society for a full scale boycot against their business and products to lead them bankrupt. Is the LGBT homophobe? If the Orban government had done it they possible would have been labelled homophobe for this. If the LGBT then its’s O.K.?

    _________________
    Homophobia. They made the world homophobe with their ostentatious power advancing specifically the gay pride where they don’t even realize that they are only tools for the power elite and are degraded to the levels of animals when they are shepherded down the street naked or half naked (different in many countries) painted to a clown, man wearing ballerina skirts (Budapest gay pride) causing obvious public nuisance and truly disgusting. And they are proud of it.
    Gays have always been used in history and were killed in the end e.g. Hitler, the SA the Operation Hummingbird in Germany when all together with Ernst Röhm were killed. (r0hm was given an option to commit suicide) meanwhile the big boy gays remained in the SS and enjoyed wealth and security. The same will happen in the LGBT in time they will sacrifice their privates and underlings for their safety. It’s an old pattern in history.
    _________________
    In the end, they gay movement is the 7 clause of the Rockefeller world depopulation agenda, to make same sex marriage and homosexuality an accepted life style worldwide, and they use sophisticated methods to realize it. Please read The Kinsey Report: How a Rockefeller Funded Study Laid the Groundwork For Today’s Moral and Cultural Collapse. To mention just one.

    Now. That makes difference that homosexuals are allowed to live in peace or these unfortunate misguided people are used and exploited to serve the purpose of the power elite that will fail and betray them in the end.
    Many intelligent experienced gays know this very well and will never join the LGBT never participate in gay pride days and never cause public nuisance.

    I don’t give links, I should give dozens, please if anybody should be interested in his topic explore it on your own. Will take considerable time, though.

  9. P.s. Anyway, Arvai is safe in San Francisco for the time being but not everywhere in the U.S. as he might learn in due time that although Hungary is not the best place for gays, it might not be the worst. Better be careful. Phil Bryant managed to bring off what Orban only tried to do in attempt to block European agreement on LGBT rights. Looks like he is not the only one.

    “Mississippi’s governor signed far-reaching legislation allowing individuals and institutions with religious objections to deny services to gay couples, ….”

    “The measure signed by Gov. Phil Bryant of Mississippi allows churches, religious charities and privately held businesses to decline services to people if doing so would violate their religious beliefs on marriage and gender.”

    Source Huffingtonpost, nytimes.

    The gay lobby’s strike-back will be intensive but if the legislation works many other states and countries might follow and it will become a wildfire and spread the same quick way as homosexuality and the LGBT movement did.

    What will happen then?

  10. This “great article” spends great efforts to empasize how terrible is hungarian goverment. Falsly suggests that Prezi moved to San Fransisco because of intolerance (probably closer to truth: a tech-startup should have an office in Silicon Valley….). Meanwhile showing current Hungary as the bad (or devil) and California as the good, note that other US states are introducing as intolerant law as free Hungary never had!
    http://us.cnn.com/…/mississippi-governor…/index.html

  11. Liz,

    The problem with Andrea Giuliano the link you gave, was this. He is in priest’s cassock with a cross with the map of old Hungary with a big penis drawn in it.

    He offended too many people with this.

    The sign say, “national dick suckers”

    It is taken very seriously not only in Hungary please see all the pictures.

    http://www.imolaoggi.it/2015/05/20/la-vera-storia-dellitaliano-perseguitato-in-ungheria-perche-gay/

    • So Richard, have you at all looked into why he was so vulgar in his protest at Budapest gay pride? Could it ever be because of the extreme vulgar harassment he and most gay people in Hungary receive from so many Hungarians, even the police, especially from the far right groups that dream oh so much about recreating greater Hungary?

  12. Pingback: Letter to the editor: Prezi responds to HFP article

  13. Liz Aucoin
    on April 6, 2016 at 8:22 pm

    He was vulgar because he is the same vulgar person like you when calling other posters “asswipes” (Liz Aucoin on April 4, 2016 at 5:12 pm).

    He insulted the citizens of a country by drawing a big penis in the map of their homeland and calling them “national dick suckers”.
    He insulted people religious feelings by dressing to a priest, wearing a cross where Jesus died connecting it with his gay activities.

    Little wonder the rest of the world cries out for their human rights and Gov. Phil Bryant of Mississippi signs an antigay law in protection of the humiliated, the insulted.

    You again made a complete fool of yourself calling other people “asswipes” and accusing Hungarians with forcing Arvai to leave the country when Csaba Faix letter proves that this is not the case, they run a successful business in Hungary, and he actually seconds what I said that gays can run successful business in Hungary (Richard on April 5, 2016 at 4:37 am) .

    You are nothing but a zealous offender who is wearing a mask of a emphatic humanitarian only to outvoice even the writer of the pieces, only to insult other people and posters here on this boards.

    I repeat, you don’t want justice you just want someone to hate.

  14. Thanks Richard. Spot on, every word. Congratulations.

  15. You are a funny creature Richard, however, the word “asswipe” is not nearly as vulgar as continual harassment, death threats, and a total betrayal by those such as the Catholic church, the police and the people of Hungary who support the far right groups! Not to mention those who think that gays can only function and be accepted by others when they are quiet about their who they are. I’m not hating anyone Richard, I just sometimes feel the need to remove the filter with some people that only understand harsh words. Just because you try to be oh so eloquent with your insults doesn’t mean that you are any better than I am or anyone else who posts on this site. As for the rest of your drivel, unlike you, I don’t hate anyone, and you are not important enough to hate anyway for me but I also am not going to excuse the blantant arrogance of those who would like to tell people how they should hide who they are just so they don’t bring harassment upon themselves. That they are not allowed to express how they have been betrayed because that offends too many people. I can pretty much guarantee you there is not one single gay person in Hungary who could honestly say that they have never been harassed, or threatened once they reveal they are gay. I would also bet you that most would also agree that when they tried to seek help from police, church or even family, neigbors etc. They were most likely told that they shouldn’t flaunt their gayness and people will leave them alone. That is why Guiliano did what he did. He was making a statement, and instead of getting the message and supporting the message, some choose to use it as a justification instead. That is fine, but it shows what hypocrites people can be.

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