I just wanted to give a big thanks to everyone who has faithfully followed and supported the Gay Men Project. In less than a week we’ve reached almost half of our goal. We still have three weeks to reach the rest! Kickstarter is all or nothing, meaning if we don’t reach our goal we lose all the money (don’t worry, you’re not charged if we don’t meet our goal.)
As many of you know, this is something that I’ve financed entirely on my own for the past two years because I deeply believe in the importance of this work. And I love doing it.
If you hadn’t had a chance, it’d mean a lot of you spent three minutes and watched this video where I discuss why I do this work. If you could donate, anything helps, but of course you can also share the link!!!! xoxo kevin
Dwayne, in his own words: “I am the only boy out of Nine older sisters, and the baby at that. Being gay was just the way I was born. At 11, I was watching a beauty pageant and I remember saying to my sisters that the host was very beautiful, and they just looked at me and said men are not beautiful they are handsome, and I said no he is beautiful.
Growing up in Venice, California and being raised Southern Baptist, I thought it was not okay to be gay. That’s when my mother and my sisters said to me it does not matter who you are or what you are, we love you and god loves you.
I still have friends that I grew up with, one in particular named Bo. Bo and l loved to play flight attendants on the Santa Monica Bus line. We would board at Mark Twain Jr. High School with our scarves and our Pam Am bags and proceed to drive the bus driver crazy as we ran up and down the aisles of the bus calming down the passengers. This was really something that had to be seen.
My first actual relationship was at 32 with Jon M. Buhek. I had never felt the way I felt with him. That was love and we were together for seventeen years, but unfortunately we had to part ways. I still miss him, but life must go on.
My life now is so wonderful. I have the greatest group of friends and I just love when we get together and just have fun. At 48, I now know what I want and that’s to be in love again and in a life-long partnership. “
Duc, in his own words:“I’m Tri Duc, 30 years old, half Vietnamese half Chinese guy. I was born and raised in Ho Chi Minh city, Vietnam. Being a gay was a meaningful thing which was shaped me. Maybe I could look different from others in behavior, thinking, and lifestyle. However, I always tried my best to make contribution, to do everything help my parents and to be a useful child in my family even when I was ten.
I came from a poor family. My parents had nothing after 1975. They had to create everything from zero with no support. My mother was a Vietnamese typical woman: work hard; sacrifice her whole life to her children, to her husband and be a faithful wife. My mom had to manage anything in my family without helping from my dad. He made no care on what happen to his children and let them survive by their own ways. I had father but I had no looking after from him. I lived with two older sisters and one youngest sister. Hard living made us stronger and be more responsible for our family. From a weak, timid, reserved boy; I become an open, strong, confident, independent gay boy today.
When I was a teenager, I could recognize something different in my mind but I couldn’t explain what it was. You know, I had no knowledge about LGBT, had no internet, no means of media at that time in order to find out who I was. I had ever felt fearful of being a gay because I always thought that no one looked like me and it was disgusting if someone identified me. Until now, it becomes history and I feel more comfortable, happier when I know that is natural. The life of Vietnamese gay community is better nowadays. Some Vietnamese people have accepted us and consider us as other men. They don’t laugh at or don’t distance us from. Because they know that one of us can be their relative as well. We have club, bar … are only for gay and some organization fight to protect our benefit but they are small. Same-sex marriage in my country is still illegal.
Some gay men here have come out their nature to their family, friends. Some have sympathy and support, some have nothing and they may face to many difficulties for coming out because of their parents. The rest is not open gay. They look like straight and some of them may get married with girl to hide their real sex. To me, coming out is a tough decision. I can’t show this now because I don’t want to let my mom be sad and don’t want to see her cry. She will be extremely shocked if I tell her the truth. Coming out my matter now is a sin. I can’t. If I have a chance to go to another country where same-sex marriage is legal, I may change my mind because I can keep hiding my mom and find a relevant reason to persuade her.
Eastern society is not a place for gay community having a pleasure life as any gay life in Western one. Nowadays, we have Canada, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, England, Some states of USA, Australia… have accepted LGBT. However, I can’t state a name from Asian countries that accept LGBT as well. I hope one day, Vietnam will turn our dream come true.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” (United States Declaration of Independence)
I look forward to a new future with full of hope, full of happiness to LGBT, our gay community.”
“We met in late 1993 thru a mutual friend at a dinner party. Our second “date” was a New Year’s holiday stay at a friend’s condo in Provincetown, MA with 6 other men. Paul was 43 at the time and Duane was 37. We moved in together 8 months later in an apartment in Providence, RI. A year later we purchased our first home together in Smithfield, RI. In 2001 we moved to Albuquerque, NM and explored the southwest – new culture, new cuisine, new friends, and new experiences. Paul changed from Human Resource Management to Floral Design and started his own business. Duane landed a perfect fit new job at the University of New Mexico. In 2006 we exchanged our Pueblo style home for a Victorian mansion in the Pittsburgh, PA area. Again, new friends, new travels, new experiences. In 2011 we decided to return to the southwest and this time landed in sunny and warm Tucson, AZ, where we are today. Duane was fortunate to be able to keep his job at UNM by telecommuting and Paul is now retired. In August 2013 we were fortunate to be able to elope to Palm Springs, CA and be married in an intimate but romantic civil ceremony witnessed by a good friend.
We feel that the secret to our success is respect, communication and mutual consideration. It helps that we were already mature when we met and ready for each other. We lead an entirely normal life, dining, traveling, hiking, and hosting Dungeon & Dragons each week at our home with 4 to 5 straight guys & girls. Our family is supportive and friends with each other. Now all we want is for Arizona to recognize our marriage. Life is good.”
Michael, in his own words: Michael Martin is bi-coastal, soon to be global. He has performed in film, television, and stage. He’s a published writer, and his twin Michael Bright is also a published writer in Hong Kong as well as the USA. The Michaels write for Reductress, I.T Post, television, and film. Michael Martin is an accomplished songwriter as well. He’s been paid to do comedy for 20 years.
“I don’t identify as Gay, Straight, or Bi, but I’m LGBTQ for sure. Even straight people have days when they feel queer.
I’m a performer, so sometimes I get to put on dresses .People always laugh. I don’t like wearing them because my goodies get cold from the wind.
I think the season for challenging who I am is almost over, or, more to the point – the season for me paying attention to naysayers is coming to a close. The gay scene in New York is supportive, judgmental, warm hearted, bitchy, uplifting and mean.
Mean is a math term that means average. I’ve always tested above average. Just slightly, I’d say.
I went through a phase in high school. People threw rocks at me, so I made them laugh a lot. Then I practiced. I sang, played instruments, spoke languages, invented languages with my brothers, and lovers.
I don’t want to paint myself a victim. I won acting and writing awards. I was class president. Swim team captain. By the end of school I had lovely, wonderful friends.
My teachers were supportive or cruel, depending on my classes. Sometimes they were both supportive and cruel.
My favorite teacher ever was a man named Jose Quintero. He directed the first runs of many Tennessee Williams plays.
I kept a diary in high school. I still do.
I like Vonnegut and French existentialists. I want to ruminate on the Tao.
Together As One.
I’m learning to meditate so I can forgive myself for the voice in my head that says I’m not good enough.
Kito, in his own words:“Qué significa ser gay para ti?
Sacrificio. Los homosexuales son discriminados de tantas maneras y yo sólo me propongo convertirme en el mejor hombre que pueda ser, para no ser víctima de ningún tipo de discriminación y no caer en estereotipos. Ser tan, o más, hombre que muchos heterosexuales que conozco. Demostrarle a la comunidad que no hay nada malo en ser gay, que únicamente es una particularidad del ser humano como la raza o la altura o el color de los ojos. Pretendo ser un ejemplo para mi familia, amigos y profesionales.
Cuáles han sido los retos que haz enfrentado como un hombre gay?
Para muchos no es el caso; pero, socializar e identificarme con hombres a diferentes edades fue algo difícil para mí. Requirió de mucho esfuerzo y sacrificio; y supongo que llevar una vida amorosa en familia tampoco es una cuestión sencilla; pero, al final me siento afortunado porque no he sufrido tragedias por violencia o discriminación. La vida ha sido buena conmigo.
Cómo es la comunidad gay en Panamá?
Panamá es un país con un poco menos de 3,000,000 de habitantes. En, la ciudad pueden haber 1,000,000 de habitantes, es una ciudad muy chica y la comunidad gay en Panamá es más chica aún. La mayoría trata de ser, aunque abiertos consigo mismos, muy discretos. El resto de los ciudadanos simplemente ignoran la situación; no existe un real temor por violencia o crímenes de odio aunque si los ha habido. Sin embargo, cada año se ve más apoyo en medios, para la no discriminación en contra de los homosexuales. Hay que recordar que Panamá es un país mayormente católico; pero, con tantas ideologías y culturas viviendo en el mismo territorio, Panamá ha aprendido a respetar y tolerar diferencias poco a poco. También gracias a la “Organización de Hombres y Mujeres Nuevos de Panamá” que ha sido partícipe en la comunidad “hetero” con eventos sociales y culturales en pro de nuestra causa.
Es por eso que en Panamá no es tan difícil vivir siendo un hombre homosexual. De igual manera, hay que ser muy cauteloso al vestir o expresarse porque sí puedes ser víctima de discriminación a la hora de conseguir empleo o negarte la entrada a algún establecimiento o la prestación de algún servicio.
Cual es tu historia al salir del closet?
Realmente pensé que era el único gay en mi país, estaba tan aislado de la comunidad y de mi mismo, de mis instintos; no fue hasta que conocí a dos hombres gay que estudiaban conmigo en la universidad que empecé a inquietarme respecto a mi orientación. Fue como una bomba que reventó desde adentro, consumiendo todo a su paso; ya me era inevitable revertir mis pensamientos, era un corriente confusa de emociones: odio, excitación, angustia, esperanza. Era en lo único que pensaba. Viví una segunda vida por un tiempo hasta que algunos años más tarde, en una época muy difícil en mi familia, lo único que se me ocurría para alivianar la tensión y mis preocupaciones era decirles que era gay.
Preferí decirlo en mi cumpleaños, de esa manera lograba dos cosas: que nunca se me olvidara la fecha y tenerlas, a mi madre y hermanas, suficientemente contentas conmigo como para no odiarme en el momento. Tenía las manos heladas! Decir: “Yo soy gay” duró mucho más tiempo del que hubiese imaginado jamás, fue eterno.
Felizmente, todo salió bien, a parte de las lágrimas y cuestionamientos, los cuales eran esperados y extensos. Mi mamá al saber que este hecho ya conocido no me iba a cambiar como ser humano, como hijo o hermano, la tranquilizó algo. “No mamá, nunca me he vestido ni me vestiré de mujer”… Ese era su mayor temor supongo. No la culpo, es el único tipo de gay que conocen los heterosexuales, es lo que vende la TV y los medios. No les interesa ningún otro tipo de gay y por eso el gran temor de los padres y amigos. Es todo parte de una inocente ignorancia.”
Shannon, in his own words:“Being gay means that I get to define my role in society, create the relationships I wish to have, and redefine family and community. Being gay has given me the opportunity to do things differently. I didn’t need to follow the norms I witnessed as a child because they would obviously not work for me. If I were straight, due to the stratification of my family history, I would have had kids way too young and I would have settled close to home. Instead, I’ve travelled to many parts of the world and have been able to decide what is right for me based on my interests and desires. I’ve not had a formula to follow – which has been scary and trying at times, but has ultimately been freeing and empowering. I have the relationships I have because I’ve put effort into them and chose them for me.
(With regards to challenges) I’ve often felt like “the other.” Growing up in Cambridge I heard things like, “That’s Shannon, he’s gay – gross!” Or “That’s Shannon he is gay but, he’s okay.” (As if my lifestyle was not okay, but somehow I was acceptable – just acceptable.) I am more than acceptable, and it took me years of evaluating my own self-esteem to come to that conclusion.
(With regards to the Gay Community in New York) Well, there is a lot of it that’s for sure. The community/scene in NYC seems somewhat fractured like other places I’ve been. There is a focus on body image, buffness, and cliques. I don’t really fit into the muscle scene, I don’t fit the pretty boy scene, and I’m not that into pop culture so it’s been interesting. The greatest advantage of being in New York is that there are endless opportunities to be a part of anything I want. There is a robust art scene and limitless activities and events in this city. If something I go to doesn’t feel right, there are 100 other events that night to get involved in.
There is also a strong sober scene and lots of community centers and places to make connections. In the new year, I plan to get more involved in groups like Front Runners and other athletic organizations, which is something I did while living in Seattle.
I came out with a bang! It was 1992, I was 16 years old and on national TV. Back when Maury Povich was still a real journalist, and not this crazy shock television host, he did a segment on violence in public schools towards LGBT students. I was a guest on that show during an hour long special. I discussed the violence I experienced and witnessed at public school and I gave my opinions on what had to change. Most of my family and friends found out I was gay by watching that show. It changed my life, made parts of it worse and a lot of things better. One positive outcome was being able to move from the horrible high school I was attending to Cambridge Rindge and Latin, a school that was more open and had a strong arts component.”
Ryan, in his own words:“What does being gay mean to you?
“We have self-esteem today.” –Gayby.
The short answer: second-class citizenship, micro-traumas, courage, forgiveness, education, and freedom fighters.
The long answer: Being gay means second-class citizenship. Every social setting each day involves a political act: holding my husbands hand as we walk to the car that needs to be re-parked, kissing him on the subway as one of makes a transfer from the F, and when I was teaching, coming out to students and injecting queer history into the standard curriculum. I make quotidian choices that I label as courageous because I need them to be.
Second-class citizenship means a daily dose of micro-traumas the reinforce heteronormativity, the gender binary, and other socially constructed norms that bruise and outright stab our identity and therefore our self-worth and dignity.
Whether I want it to or not, my attitude and therefore my actions and therefore my world-view are informed by this daily barrage of our culture’s habit of inequity and unequal cultural portrait: I have to translate at least 90% of current events, cultural productions, and social dynamics. I ask “Where are my people?” “What do these lovely people know about queer identity?” “Are they haters?” It gets exhausting; to the point where most of the time, I just assume everybody is queer unless they tell me otherwise. Let others “come out” for a change.
I, as a gay man, as a queer person, need to have my daily vitamin of courage AND forgiveness: forgiveness to myself and in other folks, especially in my queer community. It’s not easy to make the right choices all the time under a second-class citizenship status. We experience shaming, loneliness, and depression and I need to recognize how that can manifest in others and myself. I need to be radical in my respect to all of my LGBT family. I think some of the divisions within our QUILT BAG family are a result of these micro-traumas, where we would do anything to be thought of as normal (to not be ashamed, alone and sad) and that includes isolating from other queer folks and where sexism, classism, and racism can become heightened.
Enter forgiveness with education.
Being gay with second-class citizenship means we need to be informed and inform. It is thankfully better for young folks (at least in our country) today, but when I was a tween, I was starved of images and writings about being queer and I ran to independent book, music and video stores to see myself reflected back to me. That’s where I met Harvey Milk, Audrey Lorde, Walt Whitman, James Baldwin, Bayard Rustin, Gregg Araki, and The Gossip. This translated into majoring in history and becoming an educator. This is the piece that I hold up to change habits and to complete that diverse human portrait.
I see racism in the same way. Kevin, during the shoot we talked about growing up in the Northwest and how it seemed like we didn’t really experience any blatant acts of racism against us. I argue that what is most damaging and insidious about racism is that it is systemic/institutional and socialized. Schoolmates and the police never bullied me, but I lived in segregated neighborhoods of Seattle with gentrification, redlining, wrongful incarceration, and unequal education. We may not experience homophobia or racism daily on Capitol Hill, Chelsea, or Park Slope but we are all made sick because we experience micro-traumas from a culture and institutions that reinforce inequity–and because we know at any point (because we have accounts of violence from others) that, one day, it may be us. That is what it means to be gay.
Enter courage again with laughter, art, joy, community, family, friends and a dose of freedom fighting.”
“I’m Niko, 25 years old, born in Lyon, France. I currently live and work in Santoña, Spain. From childhood I’ve been between cultures as my mother is greek and my father french, I think this gave me the will to learn languages and travel or live aborad, discovering new horizons.
Being gay for me has been quite a fight, as after my coming out, I suffered a strong rejection from members of my family. So now that this stage belongs to the past I’m proud to be gay, which is not worse or better of being heterosexual, and I really think that everybody, whatever his sexuality, should be able to live and affirm it freely without fearing rejections, insults or law penalties in some countries. That’s why we have shouldn’t hide our homosexuality because if you don’t accept yourself how do you want other people to accept and consider you?”
Marc-Antoine, in his own French words:« Ce qu’on doit chercher à savoir, c’est de quelle façon on doit vivre sa vie pour qu’elle soit la meilleure possible. »
«…et cela s’applique à tous, dans toutes les cultures et tous les pays. Je suis très choyé d’habiter dans une ville où les gens sont ouverts d’esprit et conscients des droits et liberté de chacun. À Montréal, être gai est assez bien accepté, très bien accepté même. Il n’y a que très peu de discrimination et la communauté homosexuelle est très présente. J’irais même jusqu’à dire qu’ici, les homophobes sont jugés bien plus sévèrement que les homosexuels!
Pourtant, même ici, faire son « coming out » n’est pas toujours simple. J’ai fais le mien à 20 ans. Aujourd’hui, avec du recul, je me demande pourquoi avoir attendu si longtemps?
Évidemment, j’étais très anxieux de la réaction de mes proches. Originaire de Lévis, j’ai décidé qu’en déménageant à Montréal, il était temps de me débarrasser du fardeau de ce secret. J’ai décidé que le meilleur pour moi était d’être fidèle à moi-même. J’étais gai.
Peu importe combien j’aimais les gens autour de moi, je me suis dis que mes vrais proches m’accepteraient comme je suis. Et ils l’ont tous fait, ils m’ont tous aimé autant et parfois même encore plus, sans exception.
Je souhaite le meilleur du monde à tous et aujourd’hui particulièrement à tous les homosexuels, qu’ils soient « out » ou non. Trouvez le meilleur pour vous, la vie est belle et la liberté existe.»
“What we need to know is how to live a life to make it the best possible.”
… And this applies to everyone, in every culture and every country. I am very fortunate to live in a city where people are open-minded and aware of the rights and freedoms of everyone. In Montreal, being gay is pretty well accepted, even very well accepted. There is very little discrimination and the gay community is very present. I would even say that here, homophobic are judged more harshly than homosexuals!
Yet even here, to “come out” is not always simple. I came out at the age of 20. Today, in retrospect, I wonder why I waited so long.
Obviously, I was very anxious for the reaction of my family and friends. Originally from Levis, I decided when I moved to Montreal that it was time to rid myself of the burden of this secret. I decided that the best thing for me was to be true to myself. I was gay.
I was scared of losing friends or family, but I knew that those who really love me would love me as I am. And they all did, they all loved me as much and maybe even more, without exception.
I wish the best to the entire world today and particularly to all homosexuals, whether they are “out” or not. Find the best for you, life is beautiful and there is freedom.”
Laan, in his own words: (Being gay) means my inner self, my freedom. My biggest challenge was to accept myself the way I really am. Success for me was to be able to live as a gay man, to be happy with it and have lots of friends. Comming out was quick, practical and scary at the same time. (If I could give myself advice before coming out) : go slow kid, the world is big.”