Alejandro, Political Scientist, Santiago, Chile

photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
Alejandro, in his own words: “Ser Gay no es una decisión, es simplemente una configuración humana que ha sido consuetudinariamente considerada “diferente” y en función de ello objeto de discriminación en diferentes niveles. Esto ha conducido a que el hecho de ser gay pase por un proceso de negación, de no querer ser diferente, porque la sociedad rechaza todo aquello que va en contra de los patrones sociales establecidos por siglos. Los principios de la humanidad están centrados en el respeto al “Ser Humano”, la Revolución Francesa defendía los principios de Libertad, Igualdad y Fraternidad, valores y condiciones que hoy en día son difusas, efímeras y moldeables y manejables, lo cierto es que no son negociables, porque los derechos no son negociables.

Para mí en particular ser Gay significa en primer lugar libertad, mi libertad personal de decidir a quién amar, a vivir mi propia vida respetando las diferencias y siendo responsable de las consecuencias de mis acciones. Esa libertad en sentido positivo, de poder ver y ser consciente que mi libertad termina donde comienza la del otro. Ser Gay para mi es poder ser yo mismo, respetar mis propios valores, porque realmente uno por ser Gay no cambia, no deja de ser hijo, hermano, familia, amigo; no se trata de un trastorno de personalidad, ni es una enfermedad que se pueda curar, se trata de una identidad sexual, no tiene matices.

Por otro lado ser Gay para mí también significa ser tolerante, y luchar por ideales humanos, porque esa igualdad sea realmente una realidad, que la convivencia y la fraternidad sean la orden del día, que no vivamos de la incertidumbre, la discriminación y la intolerancia. Ser Gay para mí significa coraje, significa amor, significa ser feliz.

Mi principal desafío fue enfrentarme a mí mismo, lograr la fuerza y aceptarme. A partir de allí comenzaría un proceso en el cual comenzaría al ser “diferente” en la sociedad, sin embargo no me costó tanto. “Salir del Closet” marcó un antes y un después, tuve la fortuna del apoyo familiar, y es simple se trata de ser felices, es el punto y ese ha sido uno de mis grandes sucesos.

Creo que ser Gay nos pone muchas cosas en perspectivas, vivimos en una sociedad que ha estado acostumbrada por siglos a un estilo de vida conservador en la medida en que promueve una serie de patrones y normas sociales, y fuera de eso genera rechazo. Mi mayor desafío ha sido luchar a diario con los esquemas y con las formas, resulta muy sencillo pensar que se tiene todo cuando tienes al lado a la persona que amas, sin embargo las desigualdades permean esas relaciones y las hacen inestables, las fragilizan. Ese ha sido uno de los principales desafíos tratar de vivir una “vida normal” en un mundo “anormal”, formal una familia bajo los conceptos tradicionales, construir un patrimonio sobre la base de la desigualdad ante la ley. Son luchas constantes, diarias, salir a la calle con la incertidumbre de que no hay garantías conjuntas, es un desafío enorme sentir que no hay garantías.

Creo que no debemos sentirnos minoría, creo que debemos cada día trabajar por sentirnos iguales, por sentirnos incluidos, en esa medida estaremos cerrando la brecha de ignorancia que existe con relación al tema de la homosexualidad, creo que en esta medida no debemos abogar por la tolerancia, debemos apelar por el respeto.

Soy el segundo varón de tres hermanos, de una forma u otra siempre he estado consciente de mí orientación, incluso de niño sentía que habían cosas diferentes. Sin ánimos de reforzar algunos estereotipos, nunca me gustó hacer deportes y me gustaban actividades de carácter más cultural. Siempre he sido muy independiente en lo que se refiere a las decisiones de mi vida, incluyendo lo sentimental. Creo que siempre lo supe, pero muchas veces me lo negué.

Mi adolescencia transcurrió “normal”, tuve de hecho algunas novias de las que incluso me enamoré. Entrada ya la etapa universitaria, comencé a entrar en contacto directo con gays, siendo yo “de closet” y negándome a mí mismo mi preferencia. Acercamientos que se convirtieron en historias, pero lo más importante de estos “experimentos” es que comencé a cuestionarme si efectivamente estaba siendo yo mismo, y cómo eso afectaba todos los aspectos de mi vida. Comencé a sentirme perseguido y presionado familiar y socialmente, confundido y muchas veces contrariado.

Como todo proceso lleva su tiempo, ya conocía en pequeña medida “el mundo gay”, y se sentía bien ser parte de algo, pero aún no estaba listo, y seguía en las sombras de la clandestinidad, escondiéndome como si lo que estuviese haciendo fuese reprochable. Tenía miedo al rechazo, tenía miedo a que me etiquetaran.

A los 23 años (hoy en día tengo 27 años), y sin mucho razonamiento ya que el tiempo había sido suficiente, decidí “salir del closet”, estaba construyendo una vida que me negaba a llevar en secreto, quería respirar eso que llaman libertad, y estar finalmente bien conmigo mismo que es por donde comienza todo. Tuve apoyo familiar y de algunos de mis amigos, con sus excepciones, pero en general el balance fue muy positivo.

Haberlo hecho, sin arrepentimientos, me ha ayudado de manera significativa a valorar lo que tengo, incrementando además mi confianza y me enseñó a creer en mí mismo. De eso se tratar de ser la mejor versión de uno mismo.

Las siglas LGTBI refieren un espacio diverso, todos forman parte de “la comunidad” con sus caracteres y matices propios, donde cada grupo aporta su autenticidad. En función de ello se han generado percepciones colectivas y estereotipos, que no involucran al grueso de la población homosexual.

Soy venezolano, pero actualmente vivo en Santiago, Chile, y hasta ahora ha sido una experiencia muy buena en muchos sentidos. La comunidad gay en Venezuela está marcada por el machismo, y por ende la discriminación es extremadamente marcada, incrustada incluso en el imaginario colectivo en un proceso de feminización impuesta, y eso ha generado muchos estereotipos asociados a la población homosexual. Esa feminización impuesta se repite en mayor o menor medida en diferentes sociedades, y refiere la atribución de cualidades femeninas al género masculino de orientación sexual diferente.

Este elemento ha marcado a “la comunidad” gay a lo largo del tiempo, y es un tabú que seguimos reproduciendo. Es un asunto de ignorancia, de inseguridad y de falta de tolerancia, en la medida en que las sociedades avanzan en estos temas, se vuelven cada vez más libres y más iguales.

La diferencia entre ambas es notable, acá en Santiago se ha logrado una coherencia, una reivindicación desde la visión de los derechos y de la igualdad. Considero que es una sociedad, que a pesar de su carácter conservar, se encuentra en vías de poder garantizar una igualdad sostenida, al menos en lo que se refiere al tema de los derechos extensivos a personas de diversa orientación sexual. En términos cotidianos es una sociedad más tolerante, más respetuosa y cada vez más tendiente al respeto de la libertad personal.

En Venezuela aún nos queda camino por recorrer, instituciones arcaicas por derrumbar y empresas por construir. Es una lucha constante.

Quizás el mejor consejo que podría darle a una versión más joven de mí mismo es que está bien sentir miedo, la incertidumbre no es agradable, siempre se gana aún en la derrota.

Todos somos un pequeño universo en el mundo, y la vida es una sola así que vale la pena vivirla y disfrutarla.

En mi blog, escribo algunas ideas sobre diferentes temas que se me ocurren, les dejo el link Alejorpm.wordpress.com

Carpe Diem!”

In English:

“Being gay is not a choice, it is simply one that has been customarily considered “different” and accordingly discriminated against in human settings of different levels. This has led to the fact of those being gay having to go through a process of denial, not wanting to be different, because society rejects anything that goes against the social patterns established for centuries. The principles of humanity are centered on respect for every “human being”, the French Revolution was defending the principles of liberty, equality and fraternity, values and conditions today that are vague, ephemeral, malleable and manageable, the fact is that they are not negotiable, because rights are not negotiable.
 
For me in particular being gay means first freedom, my personal freedom to decide whom to love, to live my own life respecting differences and being responsible for the consequences of my actions. That freedom is in a positive sense, to see and be aware that my freedom ends where the other begins. Being Gay is for me to be myself, to respect my own values, because really one does not change for being gay, does not become no longer a son, brother, family, friend; it is not a personality disorder, nor is it a disease that can be cured, it is a sexual identity, no nuances.
 
Furthermore for me it also means being tolerant, and to fight for human ideals, because equality is actually a reality that coexistence and fraternity are the order of the day, we do not live in uncertainty, discrimination and intolerance . Being Gay and courage means to me, means love, means being happy.
 
My main challenge was to face myself, achieve the strength and accept it. Since then began a process in which I would begin to be seen “different” in society, however it did not cost me much. “Coming Out” marked a before and after, I had the fortune of family support, and it is just about being happy, it is the point and that was one of my biggest events.
 
I think that being Gay puts many things in perspective, we live in a society that has been used for centuries to a conservative lifestyle to the extent that promotes a series of patterns and social norms, and beyond that generates rejection. My biggest challenge has been struggling daily with diagrams and forms, it is easy to think that you have everything when you’re next to the person you love, however inequalities permeate these relationships and make them unstable, and weakened. That has been one of the main challenges trying to live a “normal life” in an “abnormal” world, formally one family under traditional concepts, building wealth on the basis of inequality before the law. These are constant, daily struggles, to go out with the uncertainty that no joint guarantees, is a huge challenge to feel that there are no guarantees.
 
I think we should not feel like a minority, I think we daily work to feel the same, to feel included, to the extent that we will be closing the gap of ignorance that exists regarding the issue of homosexuality, I believe that this measure should not advocate tolerance, we must appeal for respect.
 
I am the second son of three brothers, one way or another I have always been aware of my orientation, even as a child I felt I had different things. No offense to reinforce some stereotypes, but I never liked playing sports and I liked more cultural activities. I’ve always been very independent in regard to decisions of my life, including the sentimental. I think I always knew, but often I would deny it.
 
My adolescence was spent “normal”, I actually had some girlfriends and even fell in love. Entry at the university stage, I began to come into direct contact with gays, being in the “closet” and denying myself and my preference. I began to experiment, but the most important of these “experiments” is that I started to wonder if I was actually being myself, and how that affected all aspects of my life. I began to feel persecuted and family and socially depressed, confused and often thwarted.
 
As a process takes time, and I knew to a small extent “the gay world”, and it felt good to be part of something, but I was not ready, and remained in the shadows of the underground, hiding as if what I was doing was reprehensible. I was afraid of rejection, fear had me labeled.
 
At 23 (now I have 27 years), and without much reasoning as time was enough, I decided on “coming out”, I was building a life that I refused to take secretly and wanted to breathe this thing called freedom and finally be good about myself which is where it all starts. I had the support of my family and some of my friends, with exceptions, but overall the balance was very positive.
 
Having it done, unapologetically, has helped me significantly to value and I have also increased my confidence and have learned to believe in myself. That is trying to be the best version of yourself.
 
The abbreviations of LGTBI refer to a different space, all part of the “community” with their characters and nuances, where each group brings its authenticity. Accordingly this has generated collective perceptions and stereotypes that do not involve the bulk of the homosexual population.
 
I’m Venezuelan, but currently live in Santiago, Chile, and so far it has been a very good experience in many ways. The gay community in Venezuela is marked by machismo, and thus discrimination is extremely strong, even embedded in the collective imagination in a process of feminization imposed, and this has generated many stereotypes associated with the homosexual population. This feminization imposed is repeated in varying degrees in different societies, and concerns the attribution of female to male qualities of different sexual orientation.
 
This item has marked gay “community” over time, and it is a taboo to continue playing. It is a matter of ignorance, insecurity and lack of tolerance, to the extent that societies progress on these issues are becoming freer and more equal.
 
The difference between the two is remarkable, here in Santiago has been achieved coherence, a claim from the perspective of rights and equality. I consider it a society that despite its conserve nature, is under way to ensure sustained equality, at least with respect to the subject of extensive rights to people of different sexual orientation. In everyday terms it is a more tolerant, more respectful and increasingly tending to respect personal freedom society.
 
In Venezuela we still have a ways to go, archaic institutions and companies are building collapse. It is a constant struggle.

Perhaps the best advice I could give to a younger version of myself is that it’s okay to feel fear, uncertainty is not pleasant, one can always win even in defeat.
 
We are all a little universe in the world, and life is one so worth living and enjoy it.
 
In my blog, I write some ideas on different issues that come to mind, I’ll leave the link Alejorpm.wordpress. com

Carpe Diem!”

Stephane, Director, Paris, France

photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
Stephane, in his own words: “Being gay is part of who I am but it’s just one part. It doesn’t define everything. Being an artist, being a French-Vietnamese: these are also part of who I am and therefore also define my personality. But nonetheless, the gay part is important and I’m happy with it.

I’m lucky enough to live in an accepting environment (family, friends, work) and in a big city, so I don’t really think about it very often. I don’t make such a big deal of it, at least at this stage of my life.

But if I’m lucky enough to be accepted here, I know it’s not the case everywhere. I’m very worried when I read reports on homophobia all over the world (including France). There is still a long way to go.

I think that for most people, one of the biggest challenges is to accept who you are and embrace it. Accept your differences whether it’s being gay in a mostly straight world, or whether it’s being Asian in a Western country. My challenge was to find my own balance. The challenge is perpetual but as I’m growing old, I learn to care less.

(With regards to coming out) It happened when I was a bit more than nineteen and still a student. I was living with my parents in the suburbs of Paris. At the time, I was already seeing my boyfriend and staying over at his place, in Paris. My mother was probably thinking that I was spending too much time in the city. More than what my studies required anyway. So she started to have doubts.

When she asked me, I told her the truth. She was extremely upset and for the next two weeks, she barely spoke to me. Surprisingly enough, my father was the one who tried to calm her down. As gays, we are often worry about our fathers’ reaction, but it turns out that, sometimes, fathers understand more, or faster. Go figure why. Anyway, after two weeks, one evening, I came home and found my mother unexpectedly in a good mood. And on top of it, she had prepared one of my favourite Vietnamese meals, one that takes time. In our culture, or at least in our family, we often express our feelings with food rather than words. And there, I could sense something had changed. Indeed, during that week-end, my mother told me that it occurred to her that she had to accept and love her children as they are. And that was it. It wasn’t that bad after all!

I’m not sure I’m an expert on (the gay community in Paris) since I don’t go out a lot and am not totally immersed in the gay community or connected to the LGBT organizations. I used to write for gay media when I was younger and I’m still interested in gay issues but I’m not sure I’m the best person to comment on the gay community. Today, my network of friends is a mix of gay, straight, young and old people from various worlds. That’s my « community » in a way.

(Advice I’d give my younger self) Don’t be afraid to be different. It’s much more fun and much more exciting, after all.”

Jun, Makeup Artist, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong

Jun, in his own words: “Tôi không hỗ thẹn mình là gay, ngược lại tôi hạnh phúc khi nói rằng trời vẫn sinh chúng tôi ra để thế giới muôn màu hơn, vì nhiều lãnh vựt chúng tôi làm được nhưng chưa chắc các bạn làm được và các bạn làm được chúng ta cũng đã có người thành công.
Tôi sống thật với chính bản thân tôi, không vì 1 lý do nào đó để lừa dối tình cảm 1 người con gái, đó là điều tốt chưa chắc 1 số đàn ông làm được…. ^^

Thử thách lớn nhất là tôi phải đối mặt với ba mẹ khi công nhận tôi là gay lúc đó tôi 20t, chỉ biết diễn đạt bằng những lời mình cảm thấy là thuyết phục nhất..
—–”con xin lổi ba mẹ, không không lấy vợ và sinh cháu cho ba mẹ được đơn giản con không muốn tổn thương 1 người con gái nào đó, không đem lại hạnh phúc cho người ta thì đừng cố gắng bên nhau. con đặt trường hợp xấu nhất là cô không chịu được cú shock và chết vì biết chồng mình là gay, thì ai là người gieo mầm tội lỗi đó?”
Mẹ tôi khóc, ba tôi không nói câu gì vì giận. 1 thời gian dài 2 cha con nhiều tranh cãi và ông ấy đã nói câu tôi không bao giờ quên : “tôi sinh ra mày được thì tôi giết mày được”
Tôi hận bản thân mình và càng chứng minh rằng tôi như bao thằng con trai khác,, thể thao, học tập, cuộc sống hằng ngày ….. rất bình thường. vài năm sau tôi nhẹ cả người khi nghe câu nói đùa của mẹ : “con gái không kêu bạn giới thiệu thằng tây nào cho con đi” ^^
tôi không thuộc tuýp người năng động và chinh phục thế giới nên tôi chẳng có thành tựu lớn nào, chỉ biết đừng làm mẹ thêm buồn… ^^

cũng là lúc tôi cho ba mẹ và mọi người xung phải là 1 chứng bệnh là 1 thứ chạy theo hiện đại hay chỉ là 1 trò chơi như mọi người nghĩ. chúng tôi cũng có trái tim cũng yêu bằng chính trái tim đó như bao người. hiện tôi có 1 bạn trai đã quên nhau được 6 năm tuy chúng tôi không chung sống bên nhau được, tôi rất buồn vì điều đó nhưng biết như thế nào hơn khi số phận đã ngăn cách ta giữa 2 bờ đại dương. mọ

gia đình chúng tôi không phản đối nên càng cho chúng tôi động lực để chứng minh cho mọi người rằng gay không có gì là sai trái cả. càng tạo niềm tin về 1 ngày nào đó rằng chúng tôi sẽ vượt qua số phận mà được sống bên nhau

Tôi nghĩ cũng như cộng đồng Mỹ, ngày phát triển và được nhiều người chấp nhận và đồng cảm hơn. nhưng chưa thật sự có những hoạt động tô điểm cho cộng đồng.
Nhà nước VN cũng đã thảo luật về việc cho gay kết hôn.”

In English:

I am not ashamed to be a Gay, in the contrary I am very happy to say that God has given me a life in this world with a different aspect of this colorful universe. Because on many levels with regards to talents, we can do better than others, and some (gay men) are very successful.

I live for myself, there is no reason to fake my emotions to a girl, which is a good thing since others may do something like that.

The big challenge to me was when I had to come face to face with my parents to declare that I am gay, I was 20 years old. I tried to use simple words to convince them “Please forgive me, I am sorry, I can’t marry a girl, I can’t give you grand children. Simply, that I don’t want to hurt that girl, if I can’t bring happiness to her, then I should not live with her. I give you one example: it would be worse for her to find out that I am gay, it would be a shock which could lead to her dying, then who should we blame for causing such a tragedy?”

My mother cried, my father was silent because he was angry. It was a long time since my father and I always argued and quarreled, and he said to me one sentence that I have not forgotten, “I gave birth to you, and I can kill you, too”.

I felt sorry, and tried to prove that I am just like other boys: exercise, study hard, and live a normal life. A few years later, I felt relief to hear one of my mother’s jokes, “My girl, why don’t you call your friend to introduce you to a Western boy.”

I am not the type of person to conquer the world that’s why I don’t have any big success, but I only know how to make my mother less sorrowful.

It’s time for me to let my parents and others surrounding me know that it’s not a disease, or chasing a new style, or playing a game as people thought. We have a heart to love just like everyone else. At this present time, I have a boyfriend, we know each other for six years. Although, we can’t live together. I am sad about that, but what can I do when destiny has separated us between the two big oceans.

Our families do not object, so it’s our motive to demonstrate to every one that being gay is nothing wrong. It’s our hope that someday we can overcome our destiny and live together side by side.

I think that the community in the USA has more progress and many more people have been accepted and sympathetic than in Vietnam, in which there has not been much activities to contribute to our community. Although, Vietnamese government is discussing allowing us to get marriage.”

Anderson, Social Worker, Brasilia, Brazil

photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
Anderson, in his own words: “Ser gay significa ser gente. Ser gay não pode ser maior que nada na vida de uma pessoa. Assim como sou gay, sou branco, sou gaúcho, sou brasileiro, sou estudante, sou trabalhador, sou assistente social, sou ateu. Algumas características podem se findar, outras, como ser gay, não. Mas não podemos colocar a categoria gay como algo acima de qualquer outra coisa. Hoje, eu tenho muito orgulho de ser gay, apesar de não discutir gênero e movimentos LGBT. Mas vou para as ruas quando preciso for para defender nossas causas, não pela militância gay, mas pelo entendimento e comprometimento que tenho com a luta das minorias, assim faria com qualquer outro movimento social, como os indígenas e os negros. Além disso, ser gay, significa ser especial, me sinto especial por ser gay, me sinto especial pode entender na pele o que é o preconceito, o sofrimento, e a dor por sermos aquilo que não tivemos opção de escolher. Não é uma sentimento de pena, ou mágoa, mas sim, uma razão que me faz olhar o outro diferente, com um olhar muito mais aguçado. Consigo não só compreender o gay, mas a todos que passam pela inúmeras formas de preconceito, e isso implica até ao preconceito que ocorre dentro do próprio mundo LGBT. Não tenho então qualquer sentimento ou pensando do que eu seria se não fosse gay, sou gay, e sou feliz e adoraria ser gay se felizmente outra vida existisse…quem sabe em um mundo de mais liberdade.

O primeiro desafio era sair de de casa. Como sair de casa, menor de idade e sem dinheiro? Não tive muitas opções, a alternativa foi estudar e ir morar fora devido ao ingresso no ensino superior. Acho que esse é a primeira vitória. Não escolhi o conforto e o comodismo de casa, escolhi ser independente, pagando o preço que for. Entrei no curso de Serviço Social, e isso é algo que transformou minha vida. Iniciei um processo teórico de discussão sobre política, sociedade, Estado, e que consequentemente irá perpassar por família, conservadorismo, gênero, movimentos sociais e minorias. Durante a graduação em Serviço Social ocorrem dois fatos muito importantes e que mudam minha vida. Primeiro é me aceitar e contar para minha família sobre ser gay, e segundo é começar um namoro que durou seis anos, e confesso, foram bons seis anos, apesar do término. No Serviço Social tive a nítida certeza que pertencia ao grupo de estudantes certo, e sabia que somente através do trabalho eu iria ter a liberdade tal almejada. No ano seguinte após o término do curso de graduação fui aprovado em um concurso público federal, fui trabalhar interior do centro-oeste brasileiro com comunidades de agricultura familiar e indígenas. Ser gay assumido em uma pequena cidade não é fácil, mas confesso, com o namorado assumindo isso, ficou muito mais fácil, tanto para mim quanto para ele, e ressalto, nunca passamos por problema algum quanto a isso. Em 2013 já solteiro sou transferido para Brasília, coloco isso como uma grande conquista no campo profissional, de fato, ser gay não teve implicações, como disse, é só uma característica, assim como minha cor. Nesse mesmo ano me torno coordenador de um curso de graduação em Serviço Social em uma instituição de ensino superior de Brasília, de origem neopentecostal, ou seja, ou fato de eu ser assumidamente gay, não é um problema para assumir cargo e executar meu trabalho, porém, concordo que é um grande avanço na instituição onde atuo. Em 2014 entro no Programa de Pós Graduação em Política Social da Universidade de Brasília no Distrito Federal, e esse é outro ponto que marca uma conquista importante, o ingresso em uma universidade pública e em um programa de estudos reconhecidos internacionalmente. Mais uma vez, minha discussão não entra no campo do gênero, prefiro discutir os movimentos sociais na era da internet, mas tendo ter o mínimo de acompanhamento do que anda ocorrendo nessas temáticas. Em 2014 ainda assumo a gestão do Conselho Regional de Serviço Social do Distrito Federal. E isso marca um posicionamento e a participação em um grupo crítico que trabalha na defesa dos direitos humanos, o que inclui as questões LGBT. Entendo que apesar dos meus 28 anos, já consegui muita coisa, mas o caminhada não para. Não quero o acúmulo, quero o suficiente para uma vida legal, com qualidade e com alegria quero somente ser feliz, e isso inclui a vida mental, sentimental, profissional e familiar. Continuo atrás da felicidade, e de novos desafios, sei que posso ser melhor sempre!

Eu tinha 18 anos de idade. Tinha saído de casa para estudar Serviço Social na Universidade de Passo Fundo no Rio Grande do Sul. Minha família foi me visitar, e minha irmã acabou mexendo no meu celular por curiosidade do aparelho mesmo. Enfim, viu algumas mensagens. Contei para a família que gostava de pessoas do mesmo sexo, e que não iria mudar, que não era uma questão de escolha, eu era assim e pronto. Aos 18 anos decidi que deveria ser feliz, independente da família ou de qualquer pessoa. O primeiro dia, foi horrível, mas também foi a certeza que não tinha mais que esconder nada, chorei muito, pensei que dali para frente, seria eu comigo mesmo, seria a vida longe de casa, sem ter para onde voltar. No dia seguinte, minha irmã e minha mãe me pediram desculpas, e disseram que tinha algo mais importante, que era o amor entre nós, isso foi crucial para eu entender o significava família. Dias depois recebi ligações de vários familiares para me dar apoio e dizer que nada mudava, e o que importava era eu estar bem e feliz. Foi a certeza que eu tive que poderia contar com todos. A sexualidade e a orientação sexual passaram a ser algo cotidiano dentro da minha família, sem discussões relevantes. Depois e mim, vieram outros, e hoje somos m três gays, três primos homens, e confesso que isso ajuda muito. Somos mais que primos, somos amigos todos podemos contar com uma família que nos apóia e que torce por nós. Hoje, se deixar, qualquer tia minha, me arruma um namorado, tenho que cuidar kkkkk.

Brasília é diferente em todos os sentidos, tanto para os gays quanto para os não gays. Brasília é uma cidade moderna, com boa infra-estrutura, e que atende o público gay de todas as tribos. Nunca presenciei nem um ato homofóbico em Brasília, mas é claro que isso também existe, afinal o conservadorismo esta no mundo todo. Mas Brasília vale a pena. Minha escolha por viver em Brasília deve-se muito ao fato da receptividade ao público gay, a aceitação e as possibilidades que temos aqui de andar mais livremente e expressarmos de fato o que somos. Acredito na liberdade, na livre expressão. Não sou um adepto de beijos e carícias ao ar livre, mas também não os nego e não os condeno, expressar algo de bom quando temos vontade é sempre a melhor coisa, por isso digo que é bom viver o amor, os passageiros ou os duradouros em Brasília,

Eu falaria, “guri, o mundo é maior do que você pensa, vá viver, conheça tudo e todos, aproveite e experimente tudo em todos os sentidos, viva a liberdade do ser”. Além disso, diria para o Anderson, guri do interior do Rio Grande do Sul, que ele pode e deve ser feliz. Que ele é gente, que ele pode sorrir, que não deve ser culpar por nada e nem achar desculpas, que que deve aproveitar a vida, diria para ele acreditar mais em si mesmo, ter mais autoconfiança, menos medos, viver sua adolescência como todos adolescentes.”

In English:

“Being gay means to be us. Being gay can not be greater than anything in the life of a person. As I’m gay, I’m white, I’m Gaucho, I am Brazilian, I am a student, I am working, I am a social worker, I am an atheist. Some features may be ended, others, such as being gay, not. But we can not put the gay category as something above anything else. Today, I am very proud to be gay, though not to discuss gender and LGBT movements. But to go to the streets when needed to defend our causes, not by gay militancy, but by understanding and commitment I have with the struggle of minorities, as with any other social movement, such as indigenous and black movements. Also, being gay means being special, I feel special for being gay, I feel special and that I can understand firsthand what it is to experience prejudice, suffering, and pain because of who we are. There is a feeling of pity, or hurt, but it is one reason that makes me look different than others, with a much sharper look. I can not not understand what it is to be gay but to also pass by numerous forms of prejudice, and that means the bias that occurs within the LGBT community. I cannot imagine how it would be if I was not gay, I’m gay, and I’m happy and would love to be gay, it is fortunately another life there … maybe in a world of more freedom.

The first challenge was leaving home. Like leaving home, being a minor and having no money. I did not have many options, the alternative was to study and go live out to enter higher education. I think this is the first victory. I did not choose the comfort and the home of indulgence, I chose to be independent, paying the price for that. I entered the course of Social Services, and this is something that changed my life. I started a process of theoretical discussion about politics, society, state, that consequently will pervade each family, conservatism, gender, social movements and minorities. During my graduation in Social Work occurred two very important facts changing my life. First was me telling my family about being gay, and second was to get a courtship that lasted six years, and I confess, they were a good six years, despite the end. Social Work had a distinction that belonged to a group of certain students, and I knew that only through this work I would be free as desired. The following year, after the undergraduate program was approved in a federal public contest, I went to work inside central-western Brazil with family and indigenous farming communities. Being openly gay in a small town is not easy, but I confess, with my boyfriend assuming this, it became much easier, both for me and for him, to shoulder upon, and we never went through any problem with that. In 2013 already I was single and transferred to Brasilia, I put it as a great achievement in my professional field, in fact, being gay had no implications, as I said, it’s just a characteristic, as well as my color. That same year I become coordinator of an undergraduate degree in Social Work at a higher education institution in Brasilia, of Pentecostal origin, that is, that I am openly gay, is not a problem to take charge and do my work, however, I agree that is a major advance in the institution where I work. In 2014 I entered the Graduate Program in Social Policy at the University of Brasilia in the Federal District, and this is another point which marks an important achievement, enrollment at a public university and a program of internationally recognized studies. Again, my discussion does not go on gender issues, I’d rather discuss the social movements of the Internet age, but having to have the minimum follow-up of walking occurring in these themes. In 2014 I am still assuming the management of the Regional Council of Social Service of the Federal District. And that brand positioning and participation in a critical group working to defend human rights, including LGBT issues. I understand that despite my 28 years, I have gone through a lot, but not to walk. I do not want to accumulate, want enough for a legal life, with quality and with joy I only want to be happy, and that includes mental, emotional, professional and family life. I continue after happiness, and new challenges, I know I can always be better!

(With regards to coming out) I was 18 years old. I had left home to study Social Work at the University of Passo Fundo in Rio Grande do Sul. My family came to visit me, and my sister working on my mobile device, saw some messages. I told the family that I liked persons of the same sex, and that would not change, it was not a matter of choice, and I was ready. At 18 I decided I should be happy, regardless of family or anyone. The first day was horrible, but I no longer had to hide anything, I cried a lot, I thought that from then on, I would be myself, life would be away from home, without being able to return. The next day, my sister and my mother asked me excuses, and said they had something more important, it was the love between us, it was crucial for me to understand the meaning of family. Days later I received calls from several family to support me and say that nothing changed, and what mattered was I be well and happy. I was sure that I had all I could count on. Sexuality and sexual orientation became an everyday thing in my family, without relevant discussions. After me came others, and today we are three gays, three cousins, men, and I confess that it helps a lot. We are more than cousins, we’re friends and can all have a family that supports us and roots for us. Today, if you leave any of my aunts, get me a boyfriend, I have to take care kkkkk.

Brasilia is different in every way, both gays and for those not gay. Brasilia is a modern city with good infrastructure, and serving the gay community of all the tribes. I never witnessed a homophobic act in Brasilia, but of course it also exists, after all there is conservatism worldwide. But Brasilia is worth it. My choice to live in Brasilia owes much to the fact that receptivity to the gay public acceptance and the possibilities we have here to walk more freely and express the fact that we are gay. I believe in freedom, free expression. I’m not a fan of kisses and caresses outdoors, but do not deny them and condemn them, I express something good when I feel it is always the best thing, so I say it is good to live love, passengers or lasting in Brasilia.
 
(If I could give advice to my younger self) I would say, “kid, the world is bigger than you think, go live, know everything and everyone, enjoy and experience everything in every way, live the freedom of being.” In addition, I would say to Anderson, kid in the interior of Rio Grande do Sul, you can and should be happy. You are a person, you can smile, not to be blamed for anything or find excuses, that you should enjoy life, tell yourself to believe more in yourself, have more confidence, less fears, live your adolescence as all teens.”

Richard and Carl, Educator and System Engineer, Cleveland, Ohio

photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong

Richard, in his own words: “Being gay to me means being in touch with my own identity. I am not really into labels, but my gayness courses through every part of my body and every cell in my body so I feel it is a part of my true self, i.e. a child of God who happens to be gay.

The biggest challenge I have ever faced for being gay was when the superintendent of schools where I worked tried to fire me on trumped up charges. It was very devastating to see the kind of bigotry expressed to me all hidden behind obvious lies. Fortunately I prevailed because no one was going to destroy my reputation as a top notch educator. My biggest success I think is an on-going story for it is the spiritual journey of coming to know my true self and trying to live life from that center and not from the false self of ego.

The gay community in Cleveland is like that, I think, in my mid-west cities. It is very diverse from those being very out to those being very closeted. I have felt a tremendous support for a great variety of gay organizations over the past 25 years since I came out including, but not limited to: The LGBT Community Services Center, the North Coast Men’s Chorus, the AIDS Task Force of Greater Cleveland, GLSEN Cleveland, inclusive churches of several denominations.

My coming out story is that it took a long time to acknowledge the person I am even though I knew I was different from the time I was 5. After two marriages to women and three children, I could no longer live pretending to be someone I was not. I was having difficulty with my children, with my work, with my wife at the time, and had to do something. After several months of very good therapy, I came out and have been grateful for the support I have had all along the way. Both of my wives and my children (all now adults) have been incredibly supportive.

(Advice I’d give my younger self) Seek out support and be yourself, not what someone else wants you to be and know that no matter what you are loved!”

Carl, in his own words: “Other than being special as my own person, being gay makes me more special. I believe it gives me a more open-minded view of the world and people. More tolerant, less judgmental, more accepting, more gentle,

One challenge I have had, is to fully and completely accept my gayness, Another was to deal with the guilt I felt about leaving my wife of 25 years, she is a wonderful person. I sometimes put myself down for being gay (sounds strange doesn’t it?) Successes are making many new friends, being less concerned about being myself, I was able to leave a toxic marriage.

Through my partner Rich, I have met many friends that are my age, and some younger ones. All of the men I have met are accepting, kind and generous.

I came out when I was 65. I had been living in the closet all my life. It caused me to hold myself back. Coming out finally removed a heavy burden from my back. I no longer had to pretend and hide. There is more to tell. I found love and acceptance that I never thought I could get.

(Advice I’d give my younger self) Be yourself, take the risk. Don’t pretend to be something you aren’t. Love yourself. Accept yourself. There is only one you. Enjoy yourself.”

Kyungtae, Professor, Seoul, South Korea

photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong

Kyungtae, in his own words: “(Being gay) means surely that I can see the world in different ways more than just having sex with men. I was raised in a very conservative town so if I were not gay, it would be hard for me to care about all the minorities repressed in this society. Ultimately, I hope being gay leads me to invent my own way of an ethical life which doesn’t stick to not only the traditional heteronormativity but also the globalized homonormativity to cope with the contradiction and impasse of neo-liberalist value.

You know, there are very few celebrities who are openly coming-out in Korea. In 2000, a famous actor Hong Suk-chun came out under the unavoidable situation and was soon removed from all the shows he appeared in. So some of the furious gay community made a group to support Hong’s coming-out, in which I attended plucking up the courage. At that time, I was only 21 years-old and I got started my career as a gay activist through this group.

Now I’m writing a dissertation for my Ph.D in film studies. It’s about Korean queer films. Before that, I also wrote a master’s thesis dealing with the same subject and the title is ‘The Ethics of Representation in Korean Male Homosexual Cinema’. When I finished my thesis in 2008, it happened that it was the first thesis wholly dedicated to Korean queer films in Korea.

I have only one sibling who is a brother and a year younger than me. One day, he called me drunkenly and asked me when I was supposed to tell him the fact that I was gay. I was too shocked to say anything for a moment. It might be that he found my writings about homosexuality on the internet. He said he waited with patience for my coming out researching homosexuality everyday to understand me, and was worried about the worst situation caused by my sexuality such as suicide or AIDS. He cared about me just as his precious brother per se so it didn’t matter to him that I was gay. I’m so thankful for his careful concern.

Actually, I don’t know exactly what’s the difference between gay community in Seoul and ones in other Asian major cities such as Tokyo, Taipei and Singapore. I think they are getting more similar to one another with all the bigger circuit parties and pride parade. That’s a kind of global trend in gay scene, but rather I can find the notable difference in the more organized homophobia force based on Christian fundamentalism in Seoul than any other Asian cities.

(Advice I’d give my younger self) Travel a lot and meet more various people! These days, there are many opportunities to communicate with all kinds of guys around the world on social network services like Facebook and Tweet etc. I should have used them more actively for travel and face to face contact.”

Calvin, Cancer Advocate, Alexandria, Virginia

photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong

Calvin, in his own words:“Would love to be a part of this project. Why you may ask? I’m gay and about to be 54 years old and feel I haven’t accomplish much in life but now want to change that.

All my life I have been a victim of spiritual abuse. I say this because I was raised in a religious home but never felt like I was totally accepted. I knew something was different. I felt this at a very young age, and then I found out I was adopted. Nothing wrong with that. I had an amazing adopted mother who had no idea her son was being abused from a very young age and all that confused me. So much now later, in my years I have dealt with depression, shame, anxiety–all because I feel I’m doomed because I choose to be gay. I’m even in a relationship. It’s been 19 years and I love him very much, but my demons of hell haunts me everyday. But I hope there is truly a light at the end of the tunnel, as I’ve heard it said today.

I have been advocating for anal cancer, I was diagnosed a month after we lost Farrah Fawcett to the same cancer and I was blessed to survive this cancer, this rare cancer that many still don’t want to talk about–but I can’t do that. I have to advocate. I so much want to draw more awareness, it’s definitely needed and I do have some support. Now I made my own facebook page titled, Anal Cancer Is a Pain in the Butt Literally. It has 93 followers and I’m so excited about that. This is something I have to do, we must educate people that this cancer is very real and it’s even on the rise. Plus I know this wasn’t a curse from god, nor did I get it from being an “assf*cker” as one so called supporter told me because I used a ribbon for a profile pic that she felt was hers alone. It’s so much more than a ribbon to me. I would love to be featured here and at the same time get more word out about anal cancer.”

Mike, Actor, Paris, France

photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong

Mike, in his own words:“Aujourd’hui, être gay signifie surtout une envie de ne plus avoir à se définir comme tel, à le préciser. C’est aimer quelqu’un du même sexe. C’est mettre un mot sur cette attirance. C’est déjà tellement compliqué de devenir un Homme… Mais s’il faut réellement le définir, je pense que c’est une quête de soi perpétuel, pour s’accepter et être enfin épanoui. S’aimer en tant qu’Homme, gay, hétéro, étranger, etc… C’est la clé pour vivre et faire face à n’importe quel obstacle à venir.

Ma plus belle réussite a été de pouvoir m’installer à Paris, seul et de vivre de ma passion. J’ai une chance inouie de poursuivre mon rêve. Le soutien familial est très important et je les remercie infiniment d’être derrière moi.

Le gros challenge a été de manifester pour le mariage gay. Beaucoup de gens ont milité pour que les jeunes de ma génération soient mieux intégrés, moins rejetés. Ils ont parfois dû affronter pire que ce à quoi nous avons fait face. Le chemin est déjà tout tracé mais il reste des choses à faire, alors si je peux faire partie des prochaines victoires et d’un avenir meilleur, je n’hésite pas.

J’ai annoncé à ma mère très tôt que j’étais attiré par les garçons. Elle est chorégraphe, donc elle a côtoyé beaucoup d’homosexuels. Elle en a même aidé à faire leur coming-out. Mais elle n’a pas réagi de façon très positive avec moi. Elle pensait avoir raté quelque chose en tant que mère. Et puis, elle s’est renseignée, elle a lu des bouquins, elle a fait face à sa peur de l’inconnu. Elle a compris au final que ce qui l’importait plus, était mon bonheur.

Quelques années plus tard, je l’ai annoncé à mon père également. Etant plus mature, j’ai pu amener la chose autrement qu’avec ma mère. J’étais très clair dans mes propos, très sûr de moi. Peu importe sa réaction, ça ne changerait rien à mon bonheur de savoir qui je suis. Il l’a pris avec beaucoup de philosophie et cela nous a énormément rapproché lui et moi.

Le milieu gay évolue pas mal à Paris, on observe une désertion du Marais. Certains lieux ferment malheureusement, comme des libraires, pour laisser la place à de grandes insignes… Plutôt que d’attirer, ça fait fuir la plupart. Il est toujours agréable de s’y balader, d’y boire un verre. Mais les gays migrent un peu ailleurs. Mais ce qui me plaît énormément dans ce milieu, c’est la diversité, tout le monde est différent. Je rencontre des personnes de différents métiers, âges, rangs sociaux. Depuis le mariage gay, il y a une autre énergie également entre nous. Plus de soutien, de bienveillance, moins de jugements entre les gays eux-mêmes.

Si je me trouvais face à moi plus jeune, je m’encouragerais à continuer dans ma direction, sans peur. A continuer de croire en mes valeurs et de ne surtout pas me juger si parfois la vie me fait dévier. Ce n’est rien de mal. Ca fait partie des expériences par lesquelles il faut passer. Et surtout, je me dirais qu’on n’y est pas encore arrivé mais qu’entre temps, il y a eu de très belles choses à vivre et qu’il en reste encore beaucoup à découvrir.”

In English:

“Today, being gay mostly means a desire to not have to define yourself as “gay”, to not have to mention it. It’s about loving someone who has the same sex. It’s about putting a word on this. It’s already so difficult to be a Man…. But if I have to define it, I think it’s a constant self-discovery, to accept who you are and be finally happy. To love yourself as a Man, Gay, straight, or stranger, etc… It’s the key to live and be strong for everything coming !

My biggest success was to live in Paris, alone and for my passion. I am really lucky to purchase my dream. My family’s support is really important and I thank them a lot for that.

The challenge was to fight for gay Marriage equality. So many people did a lot for my young generation, so we can be better in this life. Sometimes they had to go through worse things than us. There is still a lot to do but If I can be a part of the next victories and a better future, I don’t hesitate.

I told my mother really early that I liked men. She is a choreographer, so she has met a lot of gays. She helped a few for their coming-out. But she didn’t react that well with me. She thought she had missed something as a mother. And then she learned, read books about it, she faced her fear of the unknown. She understood that what was most valued, was my happiness.

A few years later, I told my dad. I was more mature, so I handled it better than with my mom. However he would react, it wouldn’t change a thing about my happiness and who I am. He took it with a lot of philosophy and we became closer.

The gay community evolves in Paris. “Le Marais” is deserted by us. A few places are closing, libraries, for bigger spots… And it’s not for the best, it makes us leave! But it’s still nice to walk over there, have a drink. Gays are going in other places.

What I like the most in this community is the diversity, everyone is different. I meet different kinds of people, doing different jobs, different ages, social ranks. Since Gay Marriage equality, there is another energy between us. We feel more together.

If I was in front of my younger self, I would push me to continue in my direction, with no fear. To still believe in my values, and to not be too hard on myself if sometimes I go a little bit far from myself. It’s nothing wrong. It’s part of experiences I have to pass through. And I would mostly tell myself that we are not there yet but there have been a lot of beautiful things and a lot more are coming.”

Mariano, Market Manager, Buenos Aires, Argentina

photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
Mariano, in his own words: “Puedo decir que ser gay es ser quien soy, ya que para mi la sexualidad atraviesa toda la vida de los individuos. Ser gay también es ser político, ya que la visibilización de mi orientación sexual es la mejor herramienta para cambiar la sociedad en la que vivo para que ésta sea mas plural, progresista, justa e igualitaria.

Creo que uno de los desafíos mas grande que tuve en mi vida fue darme cuenta que no podía cambiar mi orientación sexual y que entablar una relación con una mujer no iba a ayudar a borrar mi deseo por los hombres. Otro desafío también fue aceptar que puedo llegar a formar una familia con una persona de mi mismo sexo y ser feliz.

Tenía 18 años y hacía unos meses me había mudado a Buenos Aires desde el sur de Argentina, Santa Cruz. Toda mi infancia y adolescencia se desarrollo en una ciudad pequeña con “alma” de pueblo, cuya sociedad conservadora hacia del “que dirán” un evento social.

Vivir solo, tener nuevas experiencias, conocer otra gente y ser anónimo me ayudaron a descubrir quien realmente era. Un día conocí a un chico que me demostró que el amor entre hombres era posible. El tiempo paso y construimos una relación, pero por el contrario me sumergió a un mundo de mentiras y ocultamiento para con mis amigos y mi familia, el conocido “closet” o “armario”. Mi relación se circunscribía a las 4 paredes de mi casa, fuera de ella yo era un hombre heterosexual.

El tiempo paso, la relación se afianzo y de a poco empece a introducir a mi pareja en mis charlas con mi madre, era un “amigo” que cada día mas tenía mas protagonismo. Todas las historias y las aventuras nos tenía como protagonistas a ambos y de a poco mis señales despertaron la curiosidad y la pregunta del lado de mi madre: ¿A quien extrañas tanto? ¿Tomás es tu novio?. El tiempo se detuvo y el silencio fue eterno. De mi lado solo había lagrimas y tal vez el peso de la responsabilidad de tener una familia y ser hijo único.

Puedo decir que con mi madre pasamos muchas etapas: miles de preguntas, preguntas retóricas de su parte, culpas y llegamos de a poco llegamos a la aceptación plena.

Para concluir les dejo una frase que me dijo mi madre: “Uno como padre siempre intenta aliviar el sufrimiento de los hijos y lo que mas me duele es que, al vos tener una orientación sexual distinta a la de la mayoría, hay muchas situaciones en la sociedad que yo no voy a poder evitar.

La comunidad LGBT en Buenos Aires es ejemplificadora para Latino América y para el resto del mundo. En los últimos 10 años y gracias a la organización y la militancia de muchos y muchas que le pusieron el cuerpo a la lucha se consiguieron dos leyes fundamentales para nuestro colectivo: la Ley de Matrimonio Igualitario y la Ley de Identidad de Género. A su vez esta comunidad es diversa en su diversidad: existen como en toda sociedad quienes luchan por conseguir y reivindicar derechos y quienes tan solo los disfrutan. Lo bueno es que cada vez mas gente se une al primer grupo.”

In English:

“I can say that being gay is being who I am, because for my sex life spans my individual life. Being gay is also being political, as the visibility of my sexual orientation is the best tool to change the society in which I live for it to be more plural, progressive, just and egalitarian.

I think one of the biggest challenges I had in my life was realizing that I could not change my sexual orientation and that establishing a relationship with a woman would not help erase my desire for men. Another challenge was also to accept that I get to start a family with a same sex couple and be happy.

I was 18 and a few months I had moved out to Buenos Aires from a southern Argentina province, Santa Cruz. My entire childhood and adolescence was development in a small city with village “soul”, whose conservative society made news out of “gossip”.

Living alone, having new experiences, meet new people and being anonymous helped me discover who I really was. One day I met a guy who showed me that love between men was possible. Time passed and we built a relationship, but instead I plunged into a world of lies and concealment for my friends and my family, the famous “closet”. My relationship was limited to the four walls of my house, outside I was a heterosexual man.

Time passed, the relationship was strengthened and slowly I started to introduce my partner in my talks with my mother, he was a “friend” who every day got more prominence. All stories and adventures starring had us both and slowly my signs aroused curiosity and questions from my mother’s side: Who do you miss so much? Is Thomas your boyfriend ?. Time stopped and silence was eternal. From my side there were only tears and perhaps the weight of the responsibility of building a family and being an only child.

I can say that my mother passed many stages: thousands of questions, rhetorical questions, she blamed herself and slowly got to full acceptance.

In conclude I would like to repeat a phrase my mother told me: “Parents always try to avoid the suffering of their children and what really hurts me is that as you have a sexual orientation different from straights, there are many situations that I will not be able to avoid from society.

The LGBT community in Buenos Aires is exemplifying for Latin America and the rest of the world. In the last 10 years and thanked to the organization and advocacy of many and many who place their body to fight two fundamental laws for our movement were achieved: Equal Marriage and the Gender Identity Law. In turn, this community is diverse in its diversity: as in every society there are two groups: one who struggle for rights and the other that just enjoy them. The good news is that more and more people are joining the first group.”

Xolani, Outreach Worker, Cape Town, South Africa

photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
Xolani, in his own words:“I’m Xolani Mvula, born in the peri rural area of the wine lands in Capetown. I was born 1980 and had very little knowledge about my own sexuality. Time had come and passed and I did not see any one who was like me, that bored me sometimes and I even questioned myself asking if this was for real. In time I saw that I’m not the only one even though the others did not understand what was happening with them. With very little knowledge we continued about being gay and the life continued. Through times I realized that being gay is beautiful and gorgeous.

I had the most caring family that any gay person could ask for and in my time I obtained my qualification as a bookkeeper but that never stopped me from being gay. Today I spent my life working at the foundation as a community outreach worker. This enhanced my level of opportunity of engaging with people and sharing my own knowledge.

I came out of the closet when I was very young nevertheless did I know at that time I was coming out. There was guy who used to like taking me out and one day he proposed and I fell for him. So he kept on taking me out for almost a year up until the day when he asked me to sleep over. No one at home was aware and I just passed my grade 12. I decided to sleep over, and in the morning the drama started.

Being gay in Capetown is the most humble province ever, where the LGBT group is being tolerated.

(Advice I’d give to my younger self) The most valuable information is knowing your rights and do not allow anyone to take that for granted. Be informed and be educated because it is the best possible weapon that you could have.”