Luiz, Psychologist, 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
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
Luiz, in his own words: “Ser gay é um dos aspectos da minha vida, não o principal, tampouco o menos importante. Faz parte do que sou, mas não me define, pois a minha vida é muito mais ampla que isso. Mas em um país como o Brasil, com tantos casos de homofobia e violência a ela relacionada, também significa ter restrições para demonstrar carinho em público e nem sempre poder apresentar o companheiro para parte da família ou colegas do trabalho. É um “não dito”, por vezes, uma lacuna social que permanece em certos ambientes e locais.

Creio que me aceitar foi um dos primeiros grandes desafios, já que cresci em um ambiente familiar preconceituoso. Contar para minha mãe, quando eu tinha 21 anos, também foi difícil. Ela demorou a aceitar a situação, perguntou se “ser gay” era “ser passivo”, expressou sua preocupação com relação a doenças e promiscuidade e o medo de eu permanecer sozinho. Para meu pai nunca contei, mas tenho certeza que ele sabia. Ele faleceu em 2007 sem que tenhamos conversado sobre o assunto.
A partir do momento que me senti mais seguro como pessoa, pude definir outros rumos para minha vida, escolher coisas que eu realmente queria fazer, namorar, viajar mais, fazer outro curso de graduação (psicologia), perceber que eu podia ser diferente e fazer diferente do que foi planejado pelos meus pais, ou seja, crescer e amadurecer mais.

(With regards to coming out) Para minha mãe, aos 21 anos, quando estava sofrendo por uma paixão não correspondida. Depois, meu círculo de amigos foi mudando, fiz amigos gays (boa parte conheci pela internet), e também me senti mais a vontade em misturar os grupos nos meus aniversários (colegas de colégio, conhecidos de igreja, família e amigos gays) ou apresentar namorados. Mesmo sem eu dizer expressamente, as pessoas foram percebendo. Com a família não foi muito diferente, pois minha mãe contou para uma tia, que contou para outros parentes e creio que todos saibam atualmente, apesar de não ter sido uma iniciativa minha. No trabalho, alguns colegas sabem, por eu ter contado e outros por que também perceberam. Não são todas as pessoas que fazem parte da minha vida que sabem, pelo menos, não abertamente.

(In Brasilia) A comunidade gay é muito variada. Há cafés, bares e boates Gays, mas não muitos, além de festas que são realizadas eventualmente. Também existem lugares que as pessoas se encontram para sexo imediato, como certos estacionamentos no parque da cidade, saunas, cinemas pornô. Além disso, aplicativos nos celulares ou sites na internet colocam pessoas com gostos e perfis parecidos em contato. Alguns só gostam de ir a lugares gays, outros não vão de forma alguma nesses lugares, mas se sentem à vontade em ir a locais “alternativos”, ou ainda existem aqueles que não se assumem para praticamente ninguém e somente frequentam casa de amigos ou ambientes considerados predominantemente heterossexuais.

(To my younger self) Diria para não dar tanta importância para o que as outras pessoas pensam, que eu consiguirei fazer um bom grupo de amigos e conhecerei pessoas fantásticas, gays e heterossexuais, que irão me perceber como uma pessoa completa, enxergar meu caráter e minhas ações, que gostarão de mim com minhas qualidades e defeitos e que ser gay não é um desses defeitos. Que eu me veja bonito por dentro e por fora, que poderei ser o que eu quiser ser e não preciso agradar a todo mundo.”

In English:

“Being gay is one aspect of my life, not the principal, nor the least important. It is part of who I am, but does not define me, because my life is much broader than that. But in a country like Brazil, with many cases of homophobia and violence related to it, it also means having restrictions to show affection in public and not always being able to present a companion to part of the family or work colleagues. It is “not said” sometimes in a social gap in certain environments and locations.

I believe that accepting myself was one of the first major challenges, since I grew up in a family environment very prejudiced. Telling my mother when I was 21, it was also difficult. She was slow to accept the situation, and asked if “being gay” was “being botton,” and expressed her concern about disease and the fear of promiscuity and that I would remain alone. To my father I never told, but I’m sure he knew. He died in 2007 without us having talked about it.

From the moment that I felt safer as a person, I could define other directions for my life, choose things I really wanted to do, date, travel more, make another undergraduate degree (psychology), realize that I could be different and do different things than from what was planned by my parents, that is, I could grow and mature more.

(With regards to coming out) To my mother, at 21, when I was suffering by unrequited passion. Then my circle of friends changed, I made gay friends (much met through the Internet), and I also felt more at ease in mixing the groups in my birthdays (schoolmates, known church, family and gay friends) or present boyfriends. Even without me spelling it out, people were noticing. With family it was not very different because my mother told an aunt who told other relatives and I believe that they all currently know, although it was not by my initiative. At work, some colleagues know, for I have told others and others have also realized. Not all people who are part of my life know, at least not openly.

The gay community (in Brasilia) is diverse. There are cafes, bars and Gay clubs, but not many, and parties that are held eventually. There are also places that people meet for immediate sex, as certain parking lots in the city park, saunas, porn cinemas. Additionally, apps on mobile or internet sites put people with similar tastes and profiles in touch. Some just like to go to gay places, others do not go at all to these places, but feel comfortable in going to “alternative” places, or there are still those who are not out to just anyone and only attend a friend’s house or social places considered predominantly heterosexual.

(To my younger self) I would say not to give much importance to what other people think, that I will have a good group of friends and meet fantastic people, gay and straight, who will see me as a whole person, see my character and my actions, they will like me with my qualities and defects and that being gay is not one of those defects. That I can see myself beautiful inside and out, I can be what I want to be and need not please everyone.”

Bill, Caretaker, Cleveland, Ohio

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photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
Bill, in his own words:“It was a typical, mystical day living through Cleveland’s weather in late April: a morning of heavy rain, some of it slanted horizontally, and raging winds followed by the most beautiful afternoon of sun and colorful displays of azalea, pansies and Spring buds on trees of all different varieties. Working with a personal trainer, I walked outside and worked inside on several machines that tested my limits, as well as a half circle of wood which challenged my balance ability as I moved my feet from side to side and front to back. I needed a shoulder to lean on, and it was there. Afterwards, I swam laps in a pool bathed in sunlight and got warm in the hot tub. Then I returned to my apartment, to walk again — this time with my dog Oliver, my constant companion who I believe keeps me alive with his need to be walked several times a day. Of course, the rain later resumed.

I was exhilarated! I’m so happy to finally have achieved regular exercise workouts after several years of placing that goal at or near the top of my to-do list, only to find excuse after excuse for avoiding such discipline. But it only took place because someone else enabled me — a nurse that oversees the health of caretakers for residents of the senior nursing home community where my wife of 53 years, Susan, has been living for two years with combined dementia and mobility limitations brought about by Parkinson’s Disease. I told the nurse of my need and failure to act, and she immediately called the trainer and told him to call me and get started. That worked.

Susan’s Parkinson’s was diagnosed more than a decade ago, and I became her caretaker. We moved from our home community in D.C. for nearly 40 years to Cleveland, first to a home and then an apartment. I now live alone for the first time in my life. The changes that have taken place over these last years was very painful, but gradually a new life in me emerged: I recognized that I was gay. As I began what was for me a crucial quest to find companionship I soon discovered that my only desire for connection was with other men. I had not been a closeted gay man during all those years before. I had a wonderful life growing up in rural Maryland, in the 1940s and 1950s, thoroughly involved in all sorts of school activities with lots of friends. At Syracuse University it was the same story. I met my wife at the student newspaper, we got married, and I had the most happy experience of my life — the one achievement that will matter most on my deathbed — being able to live with the three sons we raised. And they still talk and argue with each other and myself, another prime goal of my life. My career in newspapers for more than 20 years never felt like work; I enjoyed my life fully and I had only one partner, my Susan.

My psychiatrist describes my experience as that of a latent homosexual, terminology first proposed by Sigmund Freud, as an erotic inclination toward members of the same sex that is not consciously experienced or expressed in overt action. Some gay activists today dismiss such a notion as hogwash, believing that there was real conscious knowledge that I just repressed. I can only speak for my true self today, and I know Freud’s idea reflects the reality of my two lives — the very happy life as a man married to a woman and my happy life today as an openly, proud gay man with many male friends in the diverse Cleveland communities. I saw an ad in the latest New York Times Book Review for a new book by Felicia Drury Kliment, “The Subconscious.” The ad reads: “Your subconscious is like a compass, always pointing toward your ideal direction…The trick is knowing how to read it.” For several years now I have been gradually reading the compass points, and I can truly recognize in hindsight the men in my past that were attractive to me, the art I appreciated (male nudity such as Michelangelo’s David in Florence, who I visited for an hour, walking around him and sitting on benches, with Susan in her wheelchair near by), the few opportunities I had for the stunning freedom of nude sunbathing and swimming, the magazines I read. My conscious brain was not able to connect the dots and turn on a lightbulb that showed I was gay.

As a result, even though I lived through the 1960s gay revolution as a citizen of Manhattan, and then lived in the Washington, D.C. area that is now a gay mecca, I was not part of those scenes and never suffered the pain and sorrow of being shamed, hated or beaten. The freedom I enjoy today as a gay man was made possible by the sacrifices of so many who exhibited courage after Stonewall, the AIDS plague and the battle today for equal treatment under law. It’s been so easy for me and believe me, I know that in my soul every day rests the nagging question about why was I exempt from the bullying, the hatred, the exclusion. I purchased and wore an ACT-UP shirt, but why not more?

Coming out for me just emerged as I found companionship, love and support among many men hungry for the same. I never had to explain anything to my sons — my oldest son just told me that he and his brothers knew I was gay and they’ve continued to demonstrate love and support for me with their wives and my five grandchildren. I met the most important men in my life through massage exchanges. I’m not a licensed massage therapist but I’ve learned much from them — the simplicity of gentle touch, kind attention to feelings, thorough pressure on aching muscles, sweet hugs (they all had such training and have been licensed). I also enrolled in a Body Electric introductory massage training program and hope to attend more. Right now, I’m concentrated on the coming summer as a volunteer for the 2014 world Gay Games to be held in Cleveland in August, and after that hiking more than 100 miles in Spain for a month with my closest friend Gary on the historic Camino de Santiago — a pilgrimage trek walked by thousands over many centuries. Now that will be a physical and emotional challenge and I’m anxious to prove to myself that it is a feat I can accomplish (again, with support, leaning on the shoulders of Gary, who I’ve been dating regularly for nearly three years).

Even though Cleveland is hosting the Gay Games it is not a gay mecca. There are not a lot of hot nightclubs and shows that appeal to a gay audience. But there is so much vitality here in the world of art and culture, great music of all kinds, important museums and several perennially losing major league sports franchises (I love baseball, especially, and it is difficult to find other gay men interested in sports). There also are dozens of gay community groups, from book clubs, Yahoo/Facebook/Meetup groups and a fine gay men’s chorus as well as naturists groups, naked swimming parties and gay married men discussion groups. Gay men live all over the city and it would be easy to find an event of interest 365 days of the year. I really love this Rust Belt city with its still-active steel mill right next to downtown, a thriving legitimate and independent theatre scene, a resurgent downtown soon to house a major supermarket, a growing tech community, so many ethnic restaurants and neighborhoods, great beer and beckoning train whistles in the night.

I was born in 1936 when life expectancy for men in the U.S. was in the 60s. I’m now 77, and I’m happy to greet each new day with only one expectation: that something will happen that day that wasn’t expected or planned. Given my life to date, I find it difficult to offer advice today to my younger self of the 1940s and 1950s. That was such a different era. I think I’d focus on dreams and quiet time alone — urging my young self not to to get so involved with everything, to set aside time to meditate and find strength in the beautiful person I am, to not work so hard to be accepted as one of the crowd. When I told one friend how much I liked him, he told me in response that I was looking at myself in a mirror.

Being alone, as I am now, need not be lonely. I’m still trying to achieve that goal. It is very difficult. I couldn’t do it without so many friends and supporters whose love for me lets me know it’s one more goal I can reach as long as I keep focused on the truthful points of that compass.”

Itallo, Business Admininstration, Brasilia, Brazil

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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
Itallo, in his own words: “Ser gay para mim significa ser tolerante a diversidade, autêntico, lutador, independente, ter jogo cintura diante da ignorância da sociedade e acima de tudo ser um cidadão que merece respeito independentemente de sua orientação sexual.

O maior desafio que já tive foi morar sozinho em outro estado, pois sou do interior do Maranhão, município chamado de Pindaré-Mirim, que significa em tupi, língua indígena brasileira, peixe pequeno. Desta forma, sai da minha zona de conforto e vim morar sozinho em Brasília, capital do Brasil, sem parentes e amigos por perto, ou seja, foi bem difícil para mim no início, hábitos e costumes totalmente diferentes da minha terra natal.

Minha maior conquista foi em meio as dificuldades financeiras, consegui concluir minha graduação em Administração e atualmente trabalho na área.

Me assumi um pouco antes de me mudar para Brasília, aos 20 anos de idade, na verdade foi uma situação em que minha mãe me surpreendeu, no que diz respeito a reação. Dou ênfase a minha mãe, pois foi ela sozinha que me criou, sendo meu pai e minha mãe, uma mulher independente que sempre correu atrás daquilo que acreditava, uma mulher que admiro muito.

A comunidade gay em Brasília podemos dizer que possui certa liberdade, as ações da secretaria dos direitos humanos voltados para o meio LGBT é mais ativo, mesmo a sociedade apresentando ser preconceituosa quanto a pessoa gay e afins, possuímos certo privilégios/liberdade para nos expô e lutar pelos nossos direitos e respeitar entre nós mesmos os nossos deveres.

Independentemente de ser gay ou não, seja você mesmo acima de tudo e lute pelos seus sonhos, a vida em si não é fácil, e pior ela é muito curta, então, corra atrás, lute, para crescer na vida, ser independente, óbvio que nessa jornada terá que realizar alguns sacrifícios, mas todos nós alguma hora na vida sacrificamos algo para conseguir evoluir e crescer como pessoas e sermos satisfeitas com a vida que escolhemos, algo que acredito ser muito importante, então, acredite em você e se conheça, para poder assumir sua orientação com naturalidade e sabedoria, seja feliz!”

In English:

“Being gay for me means being tolerant to diversity, authentic, a fighter, independent, and above all to be a citizen who deserves respect regardless of their sexual orientation.
 
The biggest challenge I’ve ever had was living alone in another state, for I am from the interior of Maranhão, municipality called Pindaré-Mirim, which means in Tupi, Brazil’s indigenous language, small fish. Thus, out of my comfort zone I came to live alone in Brasilia, capital of Brazil, without family and friends around, i.e., it was hard for me at first, the habits and customs are totally different from my homeland.
 
My greatest achievement was in the midst of financial difficulties, being able to complete my degree in Business Administration and currently working in the area.
 
 
I (came out) a little before I moved to Brasilia, as a 20-year-old, and it was actually a situation where my mother surprised me, with regards to her reaction. I emphasize my mother because it was she alone who created me, was my father and my mother, an independent woman who always went after what she believed in, a woman I admire very much.

 
The gay community in Brasilia we can say has some freedom, the secretary of the actions of human rights facing the LGBT media is more active, even presenting society being prejudiced as a gay person and the like, we have certain privileges / freedom to expose us and fight for our rights and respect among ourselves and our duties.

 
(Advice I’d give my younger self) Whether you are gay or not, be yourself above all and fight for your dreams, life itself is not easy, and worse it is too short, so, chase, fight, to grow in life, be independent, this journey you will have to make some sacrifices, but all of us at some time in life sacrifice something to evolve and grow as people and be satisfied with the life we choose, something which I believe is very important, then, believe in yourself and know, in order to take his guidance and wisdom naturally, be happy!”

Mauricio, Film Maker, Buenos Aires, Argentina

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photo by Kevin Truong
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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
Mauricio, in his own words: “I remember being just 11 or 12 years old and one night going to bed crying; I had spent the afternoon at one of my closest Friends house hanging out with him and some others Friends from school, at one point (I don’t remember why) one of them said I was weird and different because I liked boys, my other friends agreed but none of us really understood what that meant, all I knew was I was being set apart from the rest of my friends and it hurt. That night my mom asked what was wrong and called my dad into my room, I told them what had happened and how I did not understand why being different was wrong, I was so sad…

Without hesitating my dad said that there was nothing wrong with me and that of course I was different from everyone else, that that’s something we all have in common, differences. Then my mom asked me if I knew exactly what those kids were talking about, I said “I think they were saying I’m gay” and she said no one had the right to tell me what I am, and that if I actually was it was only a part of me to be proud of, like my brown eyes and my large ears. I slept like a baby that night.

I never came out, I just never felt like I had to tell anyone that I’m into guys and not girls, my friends and family know I’m gay because they asked and I said yes; at first I think I avoided confrontation fearing rejection, but happily that didn’t last long, the thing is I grew up surrounded by loving people, I know I’m extremely lucky because of this, and thanks to that I’m a proud young man, kind and confident and in the search of true happiness.

I’m not really in touch with the gay community in Buenos Aires, I try to be aware of what’s happening all the time but I keep my distance, because I respect it so much, I’m still trying to understand myself and when I feel ready I know I want to take an active part in it; years ago I decided I wouldn’t let my sexuality define who I am and I know that people fighting for our rights have been responsible for this being possible and I’m so thankful, but I guess the truth was, until a few years ago, I didn’t want to belong to anything, I just wanted to be free. When the night the marriage equality bill passed I decided I wanted to be there to see it, so I stayed up all night waiting for the results in la Plaza del Congresso, happy, knowing that history was about to happen and that many people were closer to equality in the country I decided to call home. That night I discovered that in order to be happily different everybody has to have chances in life.

I think the only thing I would advise my younger self would be to trust more in people, it took me a while to do it and when it happened I started living life at it’s fullest, closer to happiness surrounded by people whom I love and who love me.”

Adrián, Psychologist, Buenos Aires, Argentina

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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

Adrián, in his own words: “Being gay means to me to be who I am and not someone different, like a “Faked Me” or a “Multiple Me”. Before fully coming out of the closet, and depending upon the circumstances and social environments I was into.

Being gay also made me a better person and has brought to me a better quality of life, since I feel psychologically and physically healthier. I can say that once I came out as a gay man, respecting my own personal timing and those of the loved ones around me, I had the chance to integrate my life in such a positive way that I couldn’t imagine before.

During my childhood and teenage years at times I didn’t understand why I was different from others, I felt attracted to girls and also to…boys! Boys finally won the battle! I love women and they are close to me in my personal life but I choose boys to move forward ;-)

Now I try to live my life in peace, since I feel this is the only life I have to live and I fully live it as a gay man.

As most of people, I could say that I faced many challenges in my life. I have succeeded in some of them and I couldn’t make it in some others.

To come out of the closet was among the most important challenges and successes in my life. To be self confident and to remain optimistic about what could come next in life were very important to me. To be honest to myself and to my beloved ones also contributed a lot to being a better person.

To reach a good and safe balance between my personal life, my social life, my work life and my public life has not been less important.

Although I was able to smoothly walk through my coming out process in my personal world, by realizing that I have been a second class citizen for most my life, as most of the LGBT folks around the world, I left my comfort zone and used the streets for something different than walking around. I joined the LGBT pride parades in the cities where I have lived and I live.

Also, I decided to make my contribution to the LGBT community by joining the most important LGBT organization in Argentina: the Argentinean LGBT Federation.

Finally, the fact of being conscious that I want to have my own family, my own LGBT family, makes facing the most challenging and pending “issue” in my life….Hope I can make it someday soon!

I came out in 1994, at the age of 26. Of course, I was aware about a non-strictly-straight sexual orientation before that. At least, I was aware I felt attracted to both men and women. As a kid, I had dreams in which a TV show hero protected me and I felt something more than protection in an affectionate and non-sexual way. But I had a girlfriend with whom I played girly games at the school. Apart from that, I loved and I love cars! As a teenager, things were different…wet dreams came together with “disturbing” images of myself kissing one of my male friends (the cutest one, of course! ;-) ).

Real life wasn’t easy. My confusion left my sexual life stuck until I took the bull by the horns. I met a beautiful girl at the University, felt in love with her and before moving into the sex part, I told her about my not-clearly-defined sexual orientation. That was the first stage of my coming out process. She was OK with it and we had a two-year relationship, with sex and all the stuff included…But the men-oriented-part of me was still there pushing to move further and come out!…So my girlfriend and I broke up, we stayed close and, in a possible way, together. We still love each other and we’re currently friends and family in a way. We stay in contact on a weekly basis since those early years.

Then, coming back to those funny years, one day I met a handsome thirteen-year-older-than-me and openly gay man, in a work-related situation. I had such a crush on him that I couldn’t calm my heart and soul (and my body!) until we had our first date. After that date, my coming out was fully complete! Tested and double checked: I was gay! He was the second man I loved in my life (the first was my dad!). We were into a sort of relationship for seven years.

Regarding my parents, since I had had a quite transparent life for them, I managed the situation to introduce my boyfriend to them when they began asking about “my new older friend” that they have never ever heard a word about before…Once they met him, I could make clear to them that I stayed at his place every weekend and some nights during the week. After my mom passed away, my family and I started to spend Christmas with my boyfriend’s friends and family.

In between, these two important relationships, a back and forth moment took place in my life and I started dating a new girl…Can you believe it?? What was I thinking?? And my ex-girl friend discovered the situation: the three of us hazardously met at the entrance of the building I live in with my parents…. My ex-girlfriend was visiting my family and my-then-new girlfriend was walking me home…They both began yelling at me and I thought to my self: how did I end up here?? I’m gay!! Stop this! But these thoughts stayed in my mind and I just managed the situation to calm everybody down.

This is my coming out story.

The gay community in Buenos Aires is very active and quite visible. Buenos Aires, the city where I was born and raised, was always cosmopolitan and open to different ways of life. Historically, it has been a city of cultural reference in arts and culture in South America. And this is a reflection of how people are.

Life here is quite similar to some other big cosmopolitan cities, at least from the western world, based on my experience. I had the chance to live New York, in Manhattan, in Madrid, in Barcelona and traveled quite a lot, particularly around Europe. Differences come out regarding cultural believes and practices, countries’ economical development and equal legislation for LGBT people.

Argentina has made a tremendous advance in terms of LGBT human rights after year 2010, with the fully-equal marriage law, and the 2012 gender identity law, among others. However, the equal legislation is just the starting point to enjoy a full citizenship status, here and everywhere. We still need to eliminate not few discriminatory barriers and practices in Buenos Aires and Argentina. We need both the equality in the law and the equality in the real life to be fully integrated as a society.

Before these changes in the law took place, being gay in Buenos Aires was a very good experience to me. This city has been traditionally open to diversity, although not free from discrimination or acts of violence. In my personal life I did not face any harmful situation because of being gay. I have freedom to express myself, to openly go to gay bars or discos, meet other guys, and to integrate my social circles when it was possible or convenient. However, it is important to say that being gay is different depending upon where in Argentina one lives or is raised. It is not the same Buenos Aires than the suburbs, or the countryside or the small cities along Argentina. Likewise, it is not the same being gay than being lesbian, bisexual or transgender. Opportunities, chances, discrimination, visibility, among others, are not the same.

I would say to my younger self: no matter how you are, who you feel attracted to or the way you express yourself, I love you just the way you are, the way you were and the way you will be. To be a better person and to love and accept the other persons you have to firstly love and accept yourself. And never lose your self-confidence: you are your best ally to allay your soul, your mind and your heart!”

Daniel, Journalist, Brasilia, Brazil

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photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
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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
Daniel, in his own words: “Na minha vida, ser assumidamente gay significa muito mais do que ser atraído por outros rapazes. É o primeiro passo de uma longa jornada rumo à liberdade. Um caminho cheio de descobertas, possibilidades e experiências incríveis. Mas nem sempre foi fácil.

Tive que lidar desde muito cedo com o preconceito, principalmente dentro de casa. Ao contrário da maior parte dos meninos, eu andava mais com as garotas; preferia ginástica olímpica ao invés de futebol. Era muito criticado por gostar de dançar, de cantar… acabei abrindo mão de muita coisa na tentativa de agradar meus pais. Lembro bem de como me sentia pressionado a ser mais “homem”.

Eu ficava muito triste e confuso com as cobranças. Não conhecia ninguém que fosse abertamente gay. Tampouco me reconhecia com o modelo caricato de homossexual que era mostrado na televisão. Parecia que não havia espaço no mundo para mim.

Com o passar dos anos, comecei a entrar em contato com ideias feministas por meio de artistas como Alanis Morissette, Shirley Manson e Gwen Stefani. Mas foi só no ensino médio que fiz amigos que compartilhavam dos mesmos interesses. Foi a primeira vez que me senti confortável para aceitar a minha gayzisse.

Nessa época, descobri que não estava sozinho; ao contrário – havia muita gente com os mesmos dilemas que eu. Descobri que era OK ser gay. Foi nessa época que passei a ter menos vergonha de quem sou.

Meus pais demoraram um pouco para aceitar essa condição, mas depois ficou tudo bem. Agora podemos conversamos abertamente sobre o assunto. Hoje, posso dizer que sinto orgulho de mim mesmo.

Se eu pudesse dizer alguma coisa para o Daniel criança, eu provavelmente diria para ele ter menos medo. Ser gay não é tão assustador ou “anormal” quanto parece. Diria para ele se divertir mais; ligar menos para o que os outros dizem. Para buscar a liberdade dentro dele, não nos outros ao redor.”

In English:

“In my life, being openly gay means more than being attracted to other boys. It is the first step in a long journey towards freedom. A path full of discoveries, possibilities and amazing experiences. But it was not always easy.

I had to deal with very early prejudice, mainly indoors. Unlike most boys, I walked over to the girls; preferred gymnastics instead of football. Was widely criticized for liking dancing, singing … I was just opening up a lot in trying to please my parents. I remember well how I felt pressured to be more of a “man”.

I was very sad and confused. I did not know anyone who was openly gay. Nor did I identify with the homosexual caricature model that was shown on television. It seemed that there was no room in the world for me.

Over the years, I began to become familiar with feminist ideas through artists such as Alanis Morissette, Shirley Manson and Gwen Stefani. But it was only in high school that I made friends who shared the same interests. It was the first time I felt comfortable accepting my gayness.

At that time, I discovered I was not alone; on the contrary – there were many people with the same dilemma as me. I found it was OK to be gay. It was then that I began to be less ashamed of who I am.

My parents took a while to accept this condition, but afterwards it was all right. Now we can openly talk about it. Today, I can say that I am proud of myself.

If I could say something to the child Daniel, I’d probably tell him to be less afraid. Being gay is not as scary or “abnormal” as it seems. I would tell him to have more fun; care less about what others say. To seek freedom within it, not the other around.”

Christian and Gustavo, Front Desk Agent and Graphic Designer, Lima, Peru

photo by Kevin Truong
Christian and Gustavo, 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
Christian and Gustavo, photo by Kevin Truong
Christian, in his own words: “Para mi ser gay significa ser sincero conmigo mismo, permitirme expresar lo que siento por la persona a quien amo sin importar las condiciones sociales que presionan para que esto tenga que ser algo oculto e incluso visto como algo malo.

Siempre he considerado que una persona gay no es un ser débil, por el contrario, una persona gay que vive abiertamente su homosexualidad tiene mucho valor, ya que no es fácil luchar contra una sociedad machista y de mentalidad cerrada.

Yo me di cuenta que era gay entre los 17 y 18 años, y debo confesar que fue algo extraño, ya que no era algo que en algún momento hubiera considerado como opción. En un principio se lo conté a mis primos, quienes son como mis hermanos y, luego de terminar mi primera relación, se los conté a mis padres. Hasta el día de hoy considero que fue la peor decisión que tomé en el momento, ya que lo hice bajo efectos del alcohol, y creo que tuvo consecuencias que pude haber evitado si lo hubiera hecho de otra manera. Mis padres no lo tomaron de la mejor manera, ya que son personas muy conservadoras, además me educaron bajo la religión católica desde niño.

Luego de confesarles que era gay, mi papá tuvo un ataque cardíaco y mi mamá se echaba la culpa de la situación. Busqué la forma de alejarme de ellos, ya que pensaba que era la solución en ese momento, y busqué la forma de trabajar en el extranjero para poder escapar de la situación.

Considero que eso me ayudó mucho, ya que permitió que la relación que tengo con mis padres en la actualidad haya madurado de tal forma que mi novio ahora sea bienvenido en mi hogar. El hecho de que mis padres lo acepten y acepten la idea de que es mi pareja y sea tratado con el mismo respeto que a la novia de mi hermano, me hace muy feliz.

Considero que la comunidad gay en Lima no es muy grande, pero algo que me alegra e inspira es saber que hay muchas personas que buscan un futuro de igualdad, en donde uno pueda ser feliz con su respectiva pareja. Sé de muchas personas que han tenido que irse a otro país para llevar una vida “normal” sin presiones de ningún tipo, e incluso puedo decir que yo he considerado esa idea ya que hace un par de años atrás era más complicado ser abiertamente gay.

Si pudiera decirle algo a mi yo de hace ocho años, creo que sería: “Tranquilo, todo va a mejorar por imposible que parezca.”

In English:

“For me being gay means being honest with myself, allowing myself to express what I feel for the person whom I love regardless of social conditions that push for this to be something hidden and even seen as wrong.

I have always thought that a gay person is not a weakling, however, a gay person openly living homosexuality is valuable because it is not easy to fight a sexist and closed-minded society.

I realized I was gay between 17 and 18 years, and I must confess that it was strange as it was not something that at the time had been considered as an option. At first I told my cousins, who are like my brothers and after finishing my first relationship, I told my parents. To this day I believe that was the worst decision I made at the time, as I did it under the influence of alcohol, and I think it had consequences that could have been avoided if I had done it otherwise. My parents did not take it in the best way, because they are very conservative people, plus I was raised in the Catholic religion as a child.

After I confessed that I was gay, my dad had a heart attack and my mother blamed me for the situation. I looked for a way to get away from them because they thought it was the solution at the time, and looked for a way to work abroad to escape the situation.

I think that helped me a lot, and that allowed the relationship I have with my parents now to mature so that my boyfriend is now welcome to my home. The fact that my parents accept it and accept my partner and treats him with the same respect as my brother’s girlfriend, makes me very happy.

I think the gay community in Lima is not great, but something that makes me happy and inspiring is to know that there are many people who seek a future of equality, where one can be happy with their respective partners. I know of many people who have had to go to another country to live a “normal” life without pressure of any kind, and I can even say that I have considered the idea since a couple of years ago was more difficult to be openly gay.

If I could say something to my younger self, I think it would be: “Quiet, everything will get better as impossible as it may seem.”

Gustavo, in his own words: “No considero que ser gay sea algo raro, porque yo no me siento raro, no me siento diferente a los demás; sin embargo, considero que ser gay y vivir feliz con eso es la valentía más grande que una persona puede llegar a tener en medio de una situación constante de juicio, desagrado y desprecio que tiene la sociedad ante las personas homosexuales.

Se necesita demasiado valor y una autoestima muy fuerte para poder vivir feliz, ya que la sociedad va a ocuparse de convencerte de que la forma en la que vives es abominable, y van a tratar de cambiarte a lo que ellos consideran que está bien solo por la idea egoísta de que a ellos no les agrada tu forma de vivir, entonces van a tratar de cambiarte a algo que a ellos les agrade. Creo que la gente y la sociedad en general le tiene miedo a lo “diferente”, a lo que no piensa como ellos, entonces por instinto, buscan moldearlo a lo que a ellos les agrade para sentir que todo está en orden.

Realmente nunca me puse a pensar en qué momento me di cuenta que era gay, ya que llegaba a enamorarme fuertemente de la esencia de las personas, sin importarme si eran hombre o mujer, eventualmente desarrollé un gusto mayor por el sexo masculino. Sinceramente no recuerdo cuándo ocurrió exactamente, pero si tuviera que ponerle una edad, sería entre los 20 y 21 años.

Mis padres se enteraron cuando mi madre tomó mi celular y vio una conversación mía con un amigo a quien le contaba que yo ya tenía dos meses con mi pareja y que era muy feliz con él. Inmediatamente me llamó a su cuarto y me preguntó qué significaba toda esa conversación, y le expliqué la situación, se echó a su cama a llorar y a preguntarme desde cuándo era gay, y recuerdo que en mi mente pensaba “no lo sé”, ya que realmente nunca lo había pensado. Luego mi padre escuchó la conversación, entró a la habitación, se echó en la cama al lado de mi madre y con calma me hizo una serie de preguntas más pensadas sin dejarse llevar por la desesperación; sin embargo, no podía dejar de pensar que les había hecho demasiado daño en ese momento.
El sentimiento de culpa es otro factor con el que se tiene que lidiar, porque una persona no decide ser gay, solo es como es y listo. Si se pudiera elegir entre ser gay y no serlo, creo que nadie elegiría este camino tan complicado y lleno de juicios malintencionados, ¿no creen?. Y para hacer mucho más complicada la situación, el mismo día que mis papás se enteran, yo decido cortar con mi pareja llevado por un sentimiento de culpa, ya que pensaba que si seguía con la relación, les iba a hacer más daño a mis padres.

Luego de un tiempo retomé mi relación, y hasta la actualidad no me arrepiento de haber cortado con él en ese momento ya que ese tiempo que estuve solo lo dediqué a pensar si es que es justo que por otras personas yo tenga que sacrificar mi felicidad. Ese es otro factor importante en la vida de una persona, sea gay o no, ya que a veces hay que ser egoístas con los sentimientos de tus seres queridos a quienes ves sufrir, en este caso por tu opción sexual, si es que en verdad quieres ser feliz tú. Con el tiempo se van a dar cuenta de que eres feliz, y si realmente te quieren, ellos también lo serán.

Para terminar, si pudiera decirle algo a mi yo del pasado, le diría que para llegar a ser feliz, primero tiene que costarte unas cuantas tristezas de las cuales siempre tienes que rescatar lo mejor, y aprender de eso. Por otro lado, ser feliz solo va a depender de ti mismo y de la actitud que tengas frente a la situación, ya que si sabes vivir como eres y te aceptas a ti mismo, los demás van a tomar la misma actitud contigo.”

In English:

“I do not think that being gay is something wrong, because I do not feel weird, I do not feel different from others; However, I believe that being gay and living happily with that is the greatest courage that a person can have in the middle of a constant state of judgment, disgust and contempt that society has with gay people.

It takes much value and a strong self-esteem to live happy, and society will take care to convince you that the way you live is abominable, and will try to change you into what they think is right just because of the selfish idea that they do not like the way you live, then they will try to change you into something that pleases them. I think people and society in general are afraid of things that are “different” to what is like them, and instinctively seeks to mold that difference to what pleases them to feel that everything is in order.

I never really got to thinking about at what time I realized I was gay, because falling in love came strongly with the essence of people, whether they were male or female, eventually I developed a greater taste for men. Honestly I do not remember exactly when it happened, but if I had to pick an age, it would be between 20 and 21 years.

My parents found out when my mother took my phone and saw a conversation with a friend of mine who told him that I already had two months with my partner and was very happy with it. Immediately she called me to her room and asked me what all this talk was about, and I explained the situation, she took to her bed to mourn and wonder why I was gay, and I remember that in my mind I thought “I do not know” as I had never really thought about. Then my father heard the conversation, entered the room, sat on the bed next to my mother and calmly asked me a series of questions designed more unencumbered by despair; however, I could not help thinking that there was too much damage done to them at the time.

Guilt is another factor which I have had to deal with, because a person does not choose to be gay, it just is as it is. If you could choose between being gay and not, I don’t think anyone would choose this path so complicated and full of malicious lawsuits, right? And to make things more complicated, the same day my parents found out, I decide to cut out my partner led by a sense of guilt, because I thought that if I kept the relationship, it would do more damage to my parents.

After a while I resumed my relationship, and even now I do not regret having cut him at that time because that time I was just so devoted to wondering if it was fair that I had to sacrifice my happiness for other people. This is another important step in life, whether gay or not, because sometimes you have to be selfish with the feelings of your loved ones who you see are suffering, in this case by your sexual preference, if you really you want to be happy. Eventually they will realize that you are happy, and if they really want to, they will be happy also.

Finally, if I could say something to my younger self, I would say that in order to be happy, you first have to experience a few sorrows of which always you will always be rescued and learn from. On the other hand, being happy is going to depend on yourself and the attitude you have to deal with the situation, because if you know how to live as you are and you accept yourself, others will take the same attitude with you.”

Nico, Filmmaker, 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
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
Nico, in his own words: “(Being gay) Es parte de mi vida pero no mi vida, también fue un problema en un momento hasta que logre aceptarme y entender que era la única forma que tenia de ser feliz . Es parte de mi personalidad y me hace ser quien soy. No me imagino mi vida de otra manera y me gusta que sea así.

Un gran desafió fue contarlo cuando era mas chico y no estaba del todo contento, sentía que había perdido una batalla contra quienes en mi infancia me discriminaban, finalmente era lo que todos mis compañeros de colegio me decían para burlarse de mi. También animarme a contar historias sobre amores homosexuales en mis trabajos fue un desafió. En mi primera película (Últimas vacaciones en familia ) narro una historia de coming out y era muy fuerte para mi mostrarla en la ciudad donde nací y donde fui discriminado en la escuela por ejemplo, pero creo que hoy llevando estas historias por el interior del país pongo mi granito de arena para que otros chicos y chicas puedan ser mas felices allá. Ahora estoy muy reconciliado con la ciudad donde crecí y cada vez que voy me siento muy bien.

Siempre que recuerdo cuando comencé a contarlo pienso que es bueno ya haberlo hecho. Primero le conté a amigas y amigos a los 18 años, a mis padres recién a las 21 cuando sentí que era el momento. Al principio fue difícil pero luego lo aceptaron y me apoyan mucho, tengo mucha suerte de tenerlos. Es increíble como cambia tu relación cuando la gente ya lo sabe y te acepta, se logran armar relaciones mas verdaderas, amigos de verdad, familiares de verdad. No esta bueno tener que ocultarlo.

Vivir en Buenos Aires hace fácil las cosas, para mi que nací en el interior del país fue un gran cambio, nunca sentí discriminación acá. Lo bueno es que lentamente esta cambiando en todo el país la vida para nosotros y en parte es por el gran trabajo de distintos miembros de la comunidad. Vivir en Buenos Aires me ayudo a aceptarme.

Hay que ser fiel a los sentimientos de uno y en lo posible no alejarse de la familia que es muy importante en la vida.”

Últimas vacaciones en familia

In English:

(Being gay) It’s part of my life but not my entire life, it was also a problem at a time until I came to accept and understand that it was the only way I had of being happy. It’s part of my personality and makes me who I am . I can not imagine my life any other way and I like it that way .

A great challenge was when I was younger and I was not entirely happy , I felt I had lost a battle against those who would discriminate in my childhood because I finally was what all my classmates told me when they mocked me. Telling stories about gay love in my work was a challenge too. In my first film (The Last Family Holidays ) I narrate a story of coming out and it was very hard for me to show it in the city where I was born and where I was discriminated against at school, but I think today bringing these stories to the hinterland I put in my two cents for other boys and girls so that they may be happier there. I have now reconciled myself to the city where I grew up and every time I go I feel great.

Whenever I remember I started to tell (people I was gay) and I think it’s good I did. First I told my friends at age 18 , my parents recently at 21 when I felt it was time . At first it was hard but then they accepted and supported me a lot, I am lucky to have them. It’s amazing how it changes your relationship and when people already know it and accept you, you are able to put together more real relationships, real friends, real family . It’s not good to have to hide it.

Living in Buenos Aires makes things easier for me since I was born into the country with a big change, I’ve never felt discrimination here. The good thing is things are slowly changing across the country life for us and partly by the great work of various members of the community. I live in Buenos Aires which has helped me to accept myself.

(Advice I’d give my younger self) You have to be true to one’s feelings and possibly not get away from the family which is very important in life.”

The Last Family Holidays

Gustavo, Writer/Journalist, 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
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
Gustavo, in his own words: “Significa la forma de pararme en el mundo.
(Being gay) Es mi identidad y mi orientación sexual, pero es también mi forma de hacer activismo político. Por que mi visibilidad es política y eso va más allá de mi deseo. Amo y deseo de la misma forma que cualquier otra persona, sin embargo creo que en un mundo donde la homolesbotransfobia impera en muchos países, mi orientación sexual, mi SER GAY, es un campo de lucha.

Soy una persona con algunos privilegios de clase, pero también con ciertos privilegios que tiene que ver con mi profesión. Comunicar también es un privilegio. Sin embargo tengo retos en mi vida, cosas que no manejo voluntariamente que tienen que ver con mi salud y eso es lo que centra mis mayores preocupaciones. Por eso, a veces los privilegios que ostenta que devienen en éxitos no son sólo lo importante. Las dificultades del vivir día a día también hacen que mida muy bien mis acciones.

Indudablemente ((the LGBTI community in Buenos Aires)) es una comunidad en efervescencia sobre todo en los últimos años.
La construcción de esta comunidad se remonta a casi 50 años donde el Grupo Nuestro Mundo comenzaba una especie de organización que luego continuó el Frente de Liberación Homosexual. Después la dictadura del 76-83 borró todo tipo de resistencia hasta 1984 en que se funda la CHA. Después del 2001 la comunidad LGBTI argentina creció y también se diversificó en ideas, ideales, formas de construcción y métodos de activismo. Es muy importante el nacimiento de un activismo nuevo, con la fuerza puesta en el futuro. Pero también fue importante quienes plantaron los cimientos. Hay que saber combinar ambas praxis para seguir pensando el futuro, que sin dudas, estará en manos de las nuevas generaciones.

Salí naturalmente. Seguí mi instinto y casi sin contención lo hice. Siempre estuvo ligado a la lucha, al activismo, y eso lo hizo menos dificil. La gran duda eran mis padres, pero fue tirarles la pelota y que ellos lo digirieran. Hablé con ellos muy joven y fue sacarme una inmensa mochila de encima.
El clóset nunca fue un problema para mi.

(With regards to advice to young people) Qué le recomendarías a la juventud? No me gusta dar recomendaciones. Pero si tuviera que compartir un pensamiento sería: sean libres, felices, aprendan de los errores del pasado y nutranse de los logros que conquistamos en otros momentos donde eran mucho más duros.”

In English:

“(Being gay) Means how to stand in the world.

Is my identity and sexual orientation, but it is also my way of doing political activism. Because my visibility is political and that goes beyond my desire. I love and desire in the same way as anyone else, but I believe that in a world where homolesbotransfobia prevails in many countries, my sexual orientation, my BEING GAY is a battlefield.

I am a person with some class privilege, but also with certain privileges that have to do with my profession. Communicating well is a privilege. However I have challenges in my life, things that do not have voluntarily and that have to do with my health and that’s what I focused my biggest concerns.

So sometimes I have privileges and successes are important. The difficulties of living day to day also make great measures on my actions.

Undoubtedly (the LGBTI community in Buenos Aires) is a community in turmoil especially in recent years. Building this community dates back almost 50 years where the Our World Group began a kind of organization which then continued the Gay Liberation Front. Afterwards the dictatorship of 76-83 obliterated all resistance until 1984 that the CHA is based. After 2001 the Argentina LGBTI community grew and diversified into ideas, ideals, forms of construction and methods of activism.
It is very important to the birth of a new activism, with the force on the future.

But also important was those who planted the foundations. One must know how to combine both praxis to keep thinking about the future, which will undoubtedly be in the hands of the younger generation.

I came out naturally. I followed my instinct. It was always linked to the struggle, activism, and that made it less difficult. The big question were my parents, but that was throwing the ball and they digirieran. I talked to them was very young and take my huge backpack off. The closet was never a problem for me.

(With regards to advice to young people) I do not like to give recommendations. But if I had to share a thought it would be, to be free, happy, learn from past mistakes and Nurture of the achievements that we won at other times when it was much harder.”

Juan, Creative Director, 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
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong

Juan, in his own words: “I think being gay to me has been something normal in my life. As I work with Images and Social Media strategy, I think been gay helped me to be more sensitive for my work, have a different feeling about aesthetic and graphic arts.

One of my challenges is to build a latin american social media company with presence in most of the countries of the region. I am so passionate about human behavior and consumers and I think that in latin america there is a lack of this kind of business, so I work everyday trying to understand brands and connect them with their consumers.

Well as I am not a resident in Santiago, I don’t have much to say (with regards to the gay community in Santiago), but the gay people that I know here, they are very kind and very opened to new ideas, new people and new things. Also the gay community in Santiago is very creative and like to mix with other people, they are just not closed to gay people only.

Well, as I was born and raised in Bogota, Colombia is a very closed minded society. At the first time I told my mom, she just started crying and asked herself some questions about my education at school and home. A month later my mom was still crying but she was more opened to understand my life. I introduced her all my friends with the purpose that they were the same as me. In Colombia certain kind of people think that we as gay people use hills and lipstick. After that everything goes normal, I really have an open relation with my mom, she knows my boyfriend, I talk to her about me and its all okay.

My advice is to be yourself. Being you, is the only way you can achieve objectives, be happy and be a better person!”