Niklaus, in his own words:” I have always seen my sexuality as only a part of my being human. Defining myself only through my sexuality seemed limited and restricting and didn’t feel right. So being gay means to me that I have a deep sense of respect for other people and I probably have a better understanding of feeling different from the rest. Therefore I’m trying not to discriminate or judge people for their choices and I am grateful to have been born into a family that taught me to treasure and respect the opinions of others.
Life is a continuos maelstrom of challenges and successes, I guess. My answer is: A lot and hopefully many more…
(With regards to coming out) Was 16. Told my mother and brother first, my father later the same night. Everybody was supportive and proud that I was able to come out to them. Boring, really.
The gay community in Zurich is as multifaceted and colorful as a rainbow.”
Fabrice, in his own words:“Basically, being gay means I am sexually attracted to men.
It also means I had to go through moments I hadn’t been prepared to live (I was born in 1980, did my coming out in France in 2001). I now really truly believe it has been a chance for me to be considered, or to consider myself at that time, as «different». It makes you think much more about who you are and what you want.
Being gay doesn’t make me different from other people. Nevertheless, all the questioning I went through because I am gay might make me different. I feel like I know myself pretty well. Which is a chance.
The biggest challenge I had to face was accepting to myself being gay. All that happened after that was a consequence of it. I actually didn’t choose to be gay. But I choose to assume it.
My coming-out was kind of very classic: I first told my friends (most of them accepted very well). I then told my family: reactions haven’t been easy to handle. I’ve been relieved, but I also put a lot of stress on people I love. It took a long time, a few years to be precise, for everybody to calm down. And finally, everybody understood that homosexuality isn’t bad. That I am happy the way I am. That my relationship with my husband (we married in 2013) is viable. And of course, the more acceptance I found, the more self-confident I was. I can now say «I live with a man, he is my husband» just as I would say «I am married to a woman». Being gay isn’t better or worse. It’s a way of life, among others.
The gay community in Phnom Penh is growing. It’s not dangerous to be gay here. But still, tradition is everywhere, and most of gays don’t trust themselves to get out of the closet. They don’t fear being rejected by society, but by their families. In Cambodia, the idea that a gay man is a «woman in a wrong body» is still very common. The next step is to make people understand that a man can love a man, and a woman can love a woman.
(Advice to my younger self) Go and visit http://thegaymenproject.com/. You’ll see how diverse gay people can be. And be yourself.”
Gilles, in his own words: “Je ne suis pas certain qu’être gay signifie quelque chose de particulier. C’est comme répondre à la question : “Qu’est-ce que ça signifie pour toi d’être hétérosexuel, arabe, chauve ? » Encore une fois l’homosexualité fait partie de moi sans que je ne l’aie choisi. Je suis très heureux comme ça maintenant, et c’est tout. Je ne me suis jamais interrogé sur la signification de cela. Par ailleurs, nous sommes ce que nous sommes par nos expériences, notre parcours, nos choix de vie, notre éducation, notre entourage, etc. Et non pas parce que nous sommes gay ou hétéro.
J’ai eu beaucoup de chance jusqu’à présent: à une exception près, je n’ai jamais rencontré la moindre hostilité à propos de mon homosexualité, où que ce soit, avec qui que ce soit. J’ai la chance d’être né dans un pays, la France, où les gens sont plutôt très ouverts sur la question et où l’on a désormais (presque) les mêmes droits que les hétérosexuels. Si l’on met de côté une minorité bruyante dont raffolent les médias, être gay en France, c’est devenu banal, à tel point que désormais, l’homosexualité n’est (presque) plus un sujet.
Par ailleurs, ici au Cambodge, les immigrés occidentaux, dont nous faisons partie, jouissent d’une grande tolérance sur la plupart des sujets. De façon générale, nous pouvons nous permettre de faire des choses que les Khmers eux-mêmes ne peuvent pas se permettre. Par exemple, dire ouvertement que l’on est gay, et même marié avec un homme, ne pose aucun problème. Au pire, les personnes vont s’interroger et nous poser quelques questions, dont la plus récurrente est: « Mais, lequel de vous deux joue le rôle de la femme ? » Ce n’est pas du tout une question agressive ou méchante. C’est simplement que beaucoup n’arrivent pas encore à conceptualiser le fait que deux hommes puissent s’aimer et faire l’amour ensemble. Il faut forcément que l’un des deux « fasse la femme ».
Lorsque nous avons décidé de nous marier (à l’ambassade de France à Phnom Penh), nous avons voulu un mariage le plus khmer possible. La plupart des invités à la cérémonie étaient khmers. Nos témoins aussi. Nous avons fait notre dîner de mariage dans notre famille khmère, qui habite un petit village dans la campagne à 1h de route de Phnom Penh. Nous la connaissons depuis longtemps et nous y allons régulièrement. Tous les voisins proches, et même éloignés, savaient que nous étions là pour célébrer notre mariage. Beaucoup se sont joints à nous. Ça n’a posé de problème à personne. Même si nous avons eu droit plusieurs fois à la même question dont je parlais plus haut (« Qui fait l’homme ? ” « Qui fait la femme ? » ). Nous avons même eu la surprise le lendemain matin de croiser le chef du village (et son éternel uniforme militaire) avec à la main, un des berlingots de mygales grillées (une spécialité locale dont raffolent les Khmers) que nous avions offerts aux invités durant la cérémonie à l’ambassade…
En réalité, mes challenges en tant que gay ont été d’accepter d’être gay, de le cacher au mieux tant que je ne l’assumais pas, puis de l’assumer.
Je me souviens parfaitement du moment où je l’ai dit à quelqu’un pour la première fois. J’avais une vingtaine d’année. J’étais avec l’une de mes meilleures amies (qui l’est toujours). Nous revenions d’Aix en Provence, la nuit. Elle conduisait. Je me souviens très bien de nous deux à l’intérieur de l’habitacle, de la lumière tamisée. J’ai cette image encore dans la tête. Je ne sais plus pourquoi je lui ai dit à ce moment là. Ça faisait un bon bout de temps que j’en avais envie. J’étais terrorisé. Le lui dire ne m’a pas soulagé sur le moment, je n’étais pas bien du tout. Elle s’est arrêtée sur le bord de la route. On est sortis de la voiture pour prendre l’air. Elle a été adorable. Je n’ai vu aucun jugement dans son regard, ses mots, sa voix. Ça m’a beaucoup rassuré et j’ai commencé à me sentir bien.
Mais ce n’est pas pour autant que ça a été plus facile de le dire à d’autres personnes plus tard. Comme pour beaucoup d’entre nous, c’est d’abord les amis qui ont été au courant. Tous. Puis la famille.
Ma mère d’abord, qui m’a beaucoup aidé à le lui dire en me tendant des perches énormes !
Puis ma grande soeur. Puis mon p’tit frère. Puis des années après, mon père. Je regrette maintenant de ne pas le lui avoir dit plus tôt. J’avais très peur de sa réaction, même si au fond de moi je savais que tout se passerait bien: il connaissait Fabrice depuis pas mal de temps, s’entendait très bien avec lui, l’appréciait beaucoup. Et en plus c’est quelqu’un de très généreux, qui ne ferait pas de mal à une mouche. Donc il n’y avait pas de raison de ne pas lui dire. Mais je ne sais pas pourquoi, j’avais un gros blocage.
Une fois mes amis et ma famille très proches au courant, j’ai encore mis beaucoup de temps à assumer pleinement mon homosexualité. Cette “chose” qui faisait partie de moi. Même si je m’étais rendu à l’évidence depuis longtemps que je ne pouvais plus lutter contre, je ne l’avais pas choisi et je n’en voulais pas. C’était comme si c’était un corps étranger à l’intérieur de moi, avec lequel je devais composer ma vie.
Mes amis, ma famille et Fabrice m’ont énormément aidé, chacun à leur tour, chacun à leur façon (la plupart du temps sans qu’ils ne s’en rendent compte), à des moments différents de ma vie. Leur amour, leur tolérance, leur absence totale de jugement m’ont été d’une aide précieuse. Et avec les années, sans m’en rendre compte, sans en avoir conscience, j’ai fini par me sentir à l’aise avec ça, à me sentir épanoui en tant que gay.
L’homosexualité n’est pas du tout réprimée ici. Si bien que les homosexuels ne sont jamais inquiétés. Nous pouvons donc vivre notre homosexualité librement.
Il y a une toute petite poignée de lieux gay ou gay friendly, qui ont pignon sur rue. Dans la plupart de ces endroits, les Khmers, les immigrés, les touristes, les hommes, les femmes, les gays, les hétéros s’y côtoient, ce qui me plaît.
Cette liberté n’est cependant le privilège que des immigrés. Elle n’est malheureusement pas accessible à la plupart des Khmers pour le moment. Très rares sont ceux qui ont le courage d’assumer ouvertement leur orientation sexuelle. Pour certains, au mieux les amis (voire exceptionnellement la famille proche) sont au courant, mais ils ne se sentent pas prêts à l’assumer en dehors de ce cercle privé. Pour l’immense majorité, ils cachent cet aspect de leur vie. En tout cas ils essayent tant bien que mal. Certains ont une double vie: ils sont mariés avec une femme et ont des enfants. Et parallèlement ils essayent de mener leur vie gay comme ils le peuvent, en allant dans certains clubs ou saunas (qui eux, restent très très discrets) ou via les réseaux sociaux. Il y a des histoires très tristes. Un jeune de 30 ans avec qui je suis allé boire un verre un jour m’a expliqué que personne dans son entourage n’est au courant de son homosexualité. Il ne veut surtout pas que ça se sache. Il a donc du mal à rencontrer des hommes et n’est absolument pas épanoui. Son rêve absolu est de partir vivre très loin du Cambodge et de sa famille afin de pouvoir vivre normalement son orientation sexuelle…
Dans un pays comme le Cambodge, où la tradition est encore très marquée et où l’homosexualité n’est pas encore acceptable pour beaucoup de gens, l’arrivée des réseaux sociaux et leur essor spectaculaire ont été une véritable bouée d’oxygène pour certains homosexuels khmers qui ont ainsi la possibilité de vivre leur homosexualité tout en restant discrets.
Trop facile de donner des conseils après coup ! Tout ce que j’ai fait, je l’ai fait dans un certain contexte, dans certaines situations particulières.”
I’m not sure that being gay means something special. It’s like answering the question, “What does it mean to you to be heterosexual, Arabic, bald”? Once again, homosexuality is a part of me that I’ve not chosen. I am very happy like that now, and that’s it. I’ve never wondered about the meaning of that. Moreover, we are what we are by our experiences, our journey, our choices in life, our education, our environment, etc. and not because we are gay or straight.
I have been very lucky so far: with one exception, I have never encountered any hostility about my homosexuality, anywhere, with anyone. I am lucky to be born in a country, France, where people are rather very open about this issue and where we get now (almost) the same rights as heterosexuals. If we’re putting aside a noisy minority that the media love, being gay in France has become banal to the point that now homosexuality is (almost) not a subject anymore.
Moreover, here in Cambodia, Western immigrants, including us, are enjoying a great tolerance on most subjects. In general, we can afford to do things that Khmer people can not afford themselves. For example, saying openly that we are gay, and even married to a man, is not a problem. At worst, people will wonder and ask questions. The most recurrent is: “But which of you plays the role of the woman? « It’s not an aggressive or a nasty question at all. It’s just that many people are unable to conceptualize the fact that two men can love each other and make love together. One of the two must « be the woman ».
When we decided to get married (at the French Embassy in Phnom Penh), we wanted a wedding as Khmer as possible. Most of the guests at the ceremony were Khmers. Witnesses too. We made our wedding dinner in our Khmer family, who lives in a small village in the countryside 1 hour drive from Phnom Penh. We have known this family since a long time and we visit it regularly. All neighbors knew we were there to celebrate our wedding. Many of them joined us. That has not been a problem to anyone. Even if we got several times the same question I mentioned above (“Who is the man?” “Who does the woman?”). We even had a surprise the next morning to meet the chief of the village (and his eternal military uniform) holding in his hand, a roasted tarantulas carton (a local specialty that Khmers are delighting) that we offered to the guests during the ceremony at the Embassy …
In fact, my challenges as gay were to accept being gay, to hide it the best as long as I didn’t assume. Then, to assume it.
I remember quite well the moment I said it to someone for the first time. I was twenty years old. I was with one of my best friends (who still is). We were returning from Aix en Provence at night. She was driving. I remember the two of us inside the car, dim light. I still have this image in my head. I do not know why I said that at that time. It’s been a long time that I wanted to. I was terrified. Telling her didn’t relieve me at the time, I didn’t feel good at all. She stopped on the roadside. We went out of the car to get some fresh air. She has been wonderful. I didn’t see any judgment in her eyes, her words, her voice. I was really reassured and I started to feel good.
But it doesn’t mean that it was easier to tell it to other people later. Like many of us, it is primarily the friends who have been aware of. All. Then the family.
My mother first, which really helped me many times to tell her that! Then my sister. Then my little brother. Then years after, my father. Now I regret not telling him earlier. I was very afraid of his reaction, though in my heart I knew that everything would be fine: he’s been knowing Fabrice since a long time, got along very well with him, liked him a lot. Plus, he is very generous and would not hurt anyone. So there was no reason not to tell him. But I do not know why, I was blocked.
Once my friends and very close family knew, I still took a long time to fully assume my homosexuality. This “thing” that was part of me. Although it has been obvious since a long time that I could not fight against it, I did not choose it and I did not want it. As if it were a foreign body inside of me, with whom I had to live my life.
My friends, my family and Fabrice helped me enormously, each in their turn, each in their own way (most of the time without knowing it), at different times of my life. Their love, tolerance, their total lack of judgment were a great help to me. And over the years, without realizing it, I finally felt comfortable with this, felt good being gay.
Homosexuality is not repressed here. So that homosexuals are never troubled. So we can live our homosexuality freely. There are a small handful of gay or gay friendly places, that are easy to find. In most of these places, Khmer, immigrants, tourists, men, women, gays and straights can meet all together, which I like.
This freedom is, however, the privilege of immigrants. It is unfortunately not accessible to most of the Khmer currently. Very few of them have the courage to openly accept their sexual orientation. For some, the best friends (or exceptionally close family) are aware, but they do not feel ready to assume outside this private circle. For the vast majority, they hide this aspect of their life (in any case, they try somehow). Some of them have a double life: married with a wife and have children. And in parallel they try to live their gay life as they can, by going to some clubs or saunas (which remain very very discrete) or through social networks. There are some very sad stories. A 30-year-old I got a drink with, told me that no one around him was aware of his homosexuality. He did not want anyone to know. So it’s hard for him to meet men and he is absolutely not fulfilled. His ultimate dream is to leave far from Cambodia and his family in order to live normally his sexual orientation …
In a country like Cambodia, where tradition is still very strong and where homosexuality is still not acceptable for many people, the arrival of social networks and their spectacular growth are a great opportunity to some gay Khmers who can now live their homosexuality while remaining discreet.
(Advice to my younger self) Too easy to give advice after the fact! Everything I did, I did it in a certain context, in particular situations.”
Alonso, in his own words:“Ser gay para mi significa ser consecuente conmigo mismo, es decir, pensar, sentir y actuar de la misma forma. Sin duda es lo mas difícil, pero si lo logras te liberas de cargas muy pesadas. Ser gay para mi también significa ser libre e implica una realización personal en todos los aspectos de mi vida.
Mis mayores logros en la vida tienen que ver por un lado con mi vida personal y por el otro con mi vida profesional: Por el lado personal, el hecho de tener una familia unida desde niño junto a mis padres y mis hermanos y el hecho de que me acepten como soy tiene mucho valor para mi. Por el lado profesional, el hecho de haber obtenido el titulo profesional de economista, a pesar de tener una discapacidad física, no muy notoria por cierto, haber concluido la maestría en Bélgica.
Vivi en Bélgica un poco mas de dos años en la universidad de Lovaina lo que permitió conocer a personas de muchos países y una sociedad completamente distinta a la peruana, especialmente en materia de los derechos LGTB. Una sociedad donde todos tienen los mismos derechos. Esta experiencia me ayudó mucho a aceptarme cuando regresé al Perú.
La comunidad Gay en Lima es grande, pero la gran mayoría se encuentra dentro del closet (a veces la mitad a fuera y la mitad adentro), especialmente por miedo al rechazo a la familia o creencias religiosas. (la iglesia tiene mucha influencia en la educación y las decisiones políticas en el Perú). La comunidad esta conformada por mucho grupo y organizaciones con diversos fine y objetivos. No es una comunidad unida, existe mucha discriminación al interior de la mima, lo que no permite dar un mensaje común que represente a todos y todas cuando se hace incidencia política por la lucha de nuestros derechos. Sin embargo, debo señalar que que a pesar de las diferentes opiniones y formas de hacer activismo, la comunidad LGBT la comunidad se muestra unida cuando hay que defender nuestros derechos. Eso es lo mas importante después de todo.
Mi historia para “salir del closet” no tiene nada de espectacular porque mi familia nunca me atacó por ser como soy. Fui yo quien tenia un miedo exagerado de hablar. Decidí hablar con mi madre luego de terminar una relación hace mas de cuatro años. Mis padres sabían que tenía una relación “especial” con un chico y fue cuando mi madre me vio casi llorando que decidí hablar. Fue muy simple, mi madre solo me dijo: Siempre lo supe, ya conocerás alguien especial”. Desde ese día mi madre apoya la lucha por la igualdad de derechos y está muy al tanto de mi trabajo como activista.
El consejo que le daría a los mas jóvenes es que no tengan miedo de lo que sientan. Toda persona pasa por un proceso de aceptación, el cual mucha veces es duro, especialmente cuando hay rechazo por parte de nuestro entorno inmediato, es decir, la familia, la escuela, etc. Creo que es muy importante hablar con alguien, ya sea con un amigo o alguien de confianza en la familia. Ahora existen mucho grupos y organizaciones que brindan apoyo donde uno puede conocer amigos. Lo importante es una persona no se quede callado o no se aisle.”
“Being gay to me means to be consistent with myself, that is, to think, feel and act the same way. It’s definitely the hardest, but if you succeed you free yourself of heavy loads. Being gay to me also means being free and involves a personal achievement in all aspects of my life.
My greatest achievements in life has to do on one side with my personal life and on the other with my professional life: On the personal side, having a close family as a child with my parents and my brothers and the fact that they accept me as I am is very valuable for me. On the professional side, the fact of having obtained a professional degree in economics, despite having a physical disability, not very visible indeed, and having completed a masters in Belgium.
Living in Belgium a little over two years at the University of Leuven which allowed me to meet people from many countries and experience a completely different society than Peru, especially in the area of LGBT rights. A society where everyone has equal rights. This experience helped me to accept myself when I returned to Peru.
The Gay community in Lima is great, but the vast majority are in the closet (sometimes half outside and half inside), many especially fear rejection by family or religious beliefs. (the church is very influential in education and policy making in Peru). The community is made up of very diverse groups and organizations with fine objectives. It is not a united community, there is a lot of discrimination within the spoils, which does not allow us to represent a common message to everyone when advocacy is the struggle of our rights. However, I must point out that despite the different opinions and ways of doing activism, the LGBT community stands together when we have to defend our rights. That’s the most important thing after all.
My story for “coming out” has nothing spectacular because my family never attacked me for being me. It was I who had an exaggerated fear of speaking. I decided to talk to my mother after ending a relationship over four years ago. My parents knew I had a “special” relationship with a guy and when my mother saw me almost crying I decided to talk. It was very simple, my mom just told me, I always knew, you know someone special From that day my mother supported the struggle for equal rights and is well aware of my work as an activist..
The advice I would give my younger self is not to be afraid of what you feel. Everyone goes through a process of acceptance, which many times is hard, especially when rejection from our immediate environment is a possibility, i.e., family, school, etc. I think it’s very important to talk with someone, either a friend or someone you trust in the family. Now there are a lot of groups and support organizations where you can make friends. The important thing is a person does not remain silent or isolated.”
Mike, in his own words: “Being gay to me means that I’m able to be completely free and comfortable with who I am without feeling any shame, condemnation or judgement.
The greatest success/challenge in my life so far would definitely have to be coming to terms with my sexuality and realising that there was nothing wrong with who I truly was.
I knew I was gay ever since I was 8 or 9, but growing up in a strict conservative Vietnamese family meant that coming out was never an option in my mind. So from very early on, I learned to suppress that side of me and made sure that no one would ever question my sexuality. For years and years I tried to convince myself into thinking that I could live the straight life, fall in love with a girl, get married, have kids and have that house with the white picket fence; but that delusion wouldn’t last for long.
My teenage years were filled with curiosity and experimentation, which meant I had a lot of discreet experiences with other guys. Even through those experiences, I still considered myself to be straight if not bi. My later teenage years would soon get even more confusing due to me discovering the Christian faith. For years I had committed myself to the church and decided to live my life for God, and through that I was taught that living a homosexual life was a big sin. As the years progressed I knew in my heart God loved me no matter what and wasn’t concerned about my sexuality. I felt accepted by him and no one could tell me otherwise.
In my early 20’s I met a great man who would eventually become my first partner. We started out as friends with benefits and the more time I spent with him, the more I grew to like him. He helped me realise so much about myself and the LGBT community and helped me come to terms with my sexuality. For so long I had all these preconceived ideas of what it meant to be gay and after meeting so many of his friends, it showed me that homosexuals weren’t really all that different. They were human, loving, caring and different to how they were being depicted in the media.
I had reached a turning-point in my life and was certain it was time to finally free myself from feeling condemned, trapped and confused. That would mean that I would have to be honest to myself and to the people around me.
Coming out was honestly the most liberating thing I’ve ever had to do. As frightening as it was, the feeling of not having to hide and watch over my shoulder is something that I could never describe.
I think the LGBT community in Melbourne is very large and diverse. We all come from different walks of life and are all just trying to figure out life for ourselves.
The advice I would give to my younger self is to stay true to who you are, love yourself, know that things will work out in good time, and be bold and courageous during the toughest of times.”
Lavunte, in his own words:“Being gay to me means being happy. Happy with who I am in life, and the life I live.
One challenge I have overcome is my fear to be myself. I was always a shy person around people. Most people wouldn’t have even known I was there. Lol. But quickly I went from a caterpillar, to a beautiful butterfly. Letting the wind catch my wings as I soar… Living each day as the last….
Being in Waxahachie for just about a year, I have grown quite acquainted with the town… There are only a few guys I’ve met who are openly gay. But Im sure I’ll get to know more guys.
Coming out was not really what I expected. The first to be told was my best friend of 5 years. In which she already knew. My Dad oddly was accepting. My Mom on the other hand didn’t take it to well.
If anything at all, I would say to my younger years and other lgbt kids and teens, just live your life. Don’t hold anything back. You are what you are, an amazing star in the sky, and that’s the best you can be. Don’t let anyone tell you different cause only you can decide what clothes you are gonna wear.”
Predrag, in his own words:“I have, maybe a conservative definition of being gay – having emotional and sexual feelings towards men.
But queer is something totally different. Queer would be everything that is violating the heteronormative standards and gender roles, from sexual behavior, clothing, acting…
My father died when I was young (14), and after a while the war started, and we lost the head of the family and food provider. It was on to me to be the next head of the family, without any money. It was a very tough times. But that made me the man I’m today, responsible, independent and a fighter.
I’m a editor of the only gay magazine in the region, “Optimist”, director and selector of a multinational queer film festival “Merlinka”, I’m in a serious relationship for six years, I think I can be happy with that.
I never came out in that standard way. I never told people, I’m gay. I only started acting as a gay person. I started talking about boys that I liked with my girlfriends, and after a while everybody knew. In that time we didn’t use the word gay, and I wouldn’t use a word like fag to describe myself. That was in high school and I didn’t have any problems, because I was best friends with popular girls, and they protected me.
Many would say that the gay community in Serbia is non existent, but that’s not true. We have a small gay community, but mainly focused on partying and having sex, of course discrete sex. Many ignore activist events and because of that our community is weak. We need more out, brave people.
(Advice I’d give my younger self) Have more sex, don’t be a prude, be a slut!”
Ray, in his own words:” Live the wonderful life that is in you. Be afraid of nothing.” Richard Halliburton ( 1900 – 1939 ).
I wish I had read this quote when I was growing up as it would have been so inspirational. Richard Halliburton was the first man to swim the length of the Panama Canal. He traveled the world and wrote wonderful travel books. He was only 39 when he died. His boat was lost in a Pacific Ocean storm. Halliburton was a gay man who lived life to the fullest. He is a great role model for everyone.
I really never had any horrible experiences growing up. I did feel very lonely at times and felt that I didn’t fit at some events, but for the most part high school and college were great times for me. I knew I was gay from a very early age. I had gay relationships all through high school and college. My biggest challenge was becoming a teacher and worrying about someone outing me. I loved teaching. As a gay teacher, I tried to connect with all my students as I knew what it was like to be an outsider. Students can always tell if a teacher likes their job or is just putting in the time. So I had a great career of 39 years. I was lucky enough to receive many accolades. My favorite three were being named Teacher of the Year at David Douglas High School in 2001, the Portland Trailblazers Educator of the Year in 1987, and having the Palm Valley School ( Rancho Mirage, CA )Yearbook dedicated to me in 2009.
So my advice to all gay people coming out is to find a career that you are passionate about and that will make your life much more rewarding. I would encourage a college degree for everyone although I know it is not needed for every career. Also, I would recommend that you take care of your health. Most gay people are very social and that usually involves eating and drinking so practice moderation.
Being gay is a gift in many ways. You meet so many wonderful people through parties, clubs, dinners, events, and other social situations. Some of the most talented and creative people in the world are gay. Be happy that you were born gay and accept it as part of the plan for the universe. One last bit of wisdom about relationships. Steve and I have been together for 41 years. We are not perfect. Three phrases should be repeated in any relationship often: “ I am sorry, Thank you, and I love you.” If you say the first two phrases often, you will hear a lot more of the third one! It may sound dorky, but I like having a partner, a house, and two dogs to come home to every day. It just feels good to have a home. Last, but not least, communicate with your lover, partner, or husband. Do not assume anything about your relationship…….talk, talk, and talk some more. Most relationships fail because guys don’t sit down and express themselves. We have had many, many great highs in our 41 years, but also some tragic lows, but by having good communication with each other, we have happily survived life’s challenges. So adopt Richard Halliburton’s quote and “ Live the wonderful life that is in you. Be afraid of nothing.”
Steven, in his own words:“When I was young, being gay meant that I was different and did not fit in with my peers or the world around me. It is very different now. I feel very lucky that I was born gay. I have had a wonderful life, been able to travel widely, and excelled at my career. If I had been straight, I don’t think I would have had the money, nor the drive to do the things I have done.
Being gay as a teenager was pretty difficult in the 70’s, but as an adult I have not had any significant challenges that could be attributed to my sexual orientation. In fact I would say that I am blessed to be gay. I think it has made me a more compassionate and loving person. I am very accepting of other people. I see things like bigotry hypocrisy, and elitism in other people that I really don’t like. I don’t think those are a part of my own character and I am thankful for that.
I am a Chiropractor. I spent most of my career as a teacher. I was hired by the College to be the Director of the Outpatient Clinic right after I graduated. At the age of 34, I became the Dean of the College. Those were amazing accomplishments that I will always be proud of.
I don’t really have a “coming out” story. I just assumed that everyone knew I was gay and it was not talked about much. I met my partner at the age of 23 and we have been together for the past 41 years. I think that fact basically let everyone know I was gay and there was no reason to announce it to anyone. I never spent a lot of time feeling ashamed of the fact. Actually, most of my life I have felt very grateful for it.
We live in Cathedral City, California which is next to Palm Springs. It is a very gay friendly community and there is a large gay population here. I love living here because I no longer feel like a minority. I can be myself and don’t really care what anyone else thinks of me or my lifestyle.
I think one of the keys to happiness whether you are gay or straight is to cultivate a group of really good friends. They become your family and it is a family of choice. We have been blessed to have a lot of friends who are quality people and who truly care about our well-being.”
Hugo, in his own words:“I was once pondering on the idea of what ‘pride’ means to me. I am not particularly proud to be gay because that’s only something that came about by itself without me contributing to it. But I am very proud that I was able to accept it, share it with my close ones, while knowing it might hurt them, fearing how I cope with life that is less conventional. I am proud of who I am, because I like it, I’m able to love people around me and I don’t have many hang-ups that would force me to judge how people ought to live their own lives. It’s an internal pride, one I don’t have to demonstrate on the outside.
Accepting that I am gay did allow me to see beyond sexuality and accept the possibility to love people on a more broad level. I think it’s a strength that allows me to be more open-minded and have a greater perspective and to tolerate differences. I myself have a story in which I don’t doubt for one second that my inner path was wrong or twisted. And I know everyone has a story like that, but we rarely take time to listen to the story-telling, rather we take assumptions and judge from our point of view. I do believe that empathy is about the ability to walk a mile in someone else shoes. If I would expect from people to empathise with me being gay and all that…I may as well try to do the same for them. So being gay made me more humble and accepting. But so did living in China for a year…
At one point I had a feeling that I have fulfilled all my life goals slightly too soon – but in a good way. For some period, there was very little I wanted further and life became slightly empty. I think redefining what one wants further is the harder part I am working on right now and that is a challenge. Other than that, I think my life path was relatively smooth and easy and I am grateful for that. Sometimes I do regret I didn’t make it harder from the start, but that’s OK as well. The other day, I was imaging how a badly simplified version of my CV would look like in a lousy magazine. It would go something like this: “He studied in Hong Kong and Denmark. Took care of Hollywood film stars and worked for a foundation of President Vaclav Havel. Then for three years he tried to help young activists in Syria and Iraq. For two years he worked in New York and travelled around the world, trying to find ways of bringing cultures together. Now he works as an Innovation Designer.” When you simplify things, they sound pretty swell and, well, simple…, but this whole path was full of both successes and a challenges and the stories behind them are sometimes pretty incredible.
I came out when I was 27 and my relationship of 7 years with a girl that was also my best friend came to an end. I have decided it is time to act upon something I always wanted to look into, but never really had a reason to. For couple of years, I was confused. It wasn’t until I realised that it doesn’t matter if I date women or men, as long as I’m able to fall in love again. And when I did, with a guy, it was all very simple. I realized that I prefer the energy of sharing my life with another gay man. All my friends and family seem to be happy when I am happy and so everyone just took it the way it was.
I consider myself to be very lucky for growing up in a bubble of the Czech Republic. Prague is a beautiful vibrant and cozy city. But coziness brings about some level of laziness as well. Still, despite Prague’s laziness to open up fully and see beyond one’s own backyard, I have never once been told into my face that being gay is a problem. There are very thin lines between acceptance, tolerance and ignorance. I still can’t see them very clearly, but I am left alone in my own peace and I am grateful for that – for being surrounded by great friends, kind family and creative witty people who perceive me for who I am and not who I sleep with. I have learned to accept that society will continue to learn and unlearn to accept diversity and the more we try to work on the learning side, the better. As for gay community – it is a mirror of that. I think we all know we swim in a tiny pond and we all know each other. Once, a friend said that Prague is a city that acts like a village. I chuckled.
(Advice to my younger self) Vaclav Havel put it very nicely: “Vision is not enough; it must be combined with venture. It is not enough to stare up the steps; we must step up the stairs.”
Daniel, in his own words:“(Being gay) is the real fact which generally covers everything I do in my life. The reality which is mostly so natural to me that I can’t even spot this hidden realness of me. But in the depth I can feel it is important to me and I am happy to be gay.
There are challenges which you have to face everyday and I try to enjoy every moment in my days the best I can. I do my best.
My first coming out was during a late night with one of my best friends. We were both pretty drunk and she was really flirting with me. I came out to my mum when I was watching The Rocky Horror Picture Show, she just came to my room during the scene where Tim Curry is singing the song with the pearls around his neck and wearing a corset. She sat on my bed next to me, looked at the screen and asked me “What are you watching, sweetie?” Then I came out.
I am not a community type a lot I guess, but I think (the community in Prague) is very opened and wide. You can find great gay parties with handsome guys, join a gay sports team, enjoy the atmosphere of LGBTQ movie festivals, public talks and queer art exhibitions. Prague is very tolerant.
(Advice to my younger self) You should enjoy more!”
Ryou, in his own words:“Gay only means this person has a different sexual preference. It doesn’t take away anything from who they are. I’m always looking for somebody who would end up being the same group to me not by skin color or nationality or religion, sexuality, but by lifestyle, sense of value, beliefs and stance and such.I always look pass everyone’s difference. Soon I forget they are gay, bisexual or lesbian because I don’t judge anyone.
Can’t think of (any challenges),but in the next 3 years I have to challenge myself to create my own media.
I haven’t yet (officially) told my mom and dad (I’m gay). When I applied to grad school at the Department of Cultural Anthropology five years ago, I wrote essays about the gay scene in Japan and my parents found it, and asked me about my sexuality. I pretended like it was just a subject and that me myself was straight, and they said okay. They have already noticed, and at the same time don’t want to accept it maybe.
(With regards to the gay scene in Tokyo) I’ve never felt so lame personally. There’re so-so many gay clubs, bars, events. Ni-chōme further distinguishes itself as Tokyo’s hub of gay subculture, housing the world’s highest concentration of gay bars. But that doesn’t mean the city itself is gay friendly.
In the social scene, the dominant trope in mainstream television and journalism is male homosexuality as gender crossing. In other words, male homosexuality is inextricably linked to a form of gender misalignment that results in feminine males. Homosexuality is still a taboo in Japan. Many dialogues are still taking place among queers. LGBT politics in Japan isn’t that simple, but some people are trying to change it.
(this year,Tiga ishikawa<石川大我> aimed to Become japan’s first openly gay parliament member,but he couldn’t.)
(Advice I’d give my younger self) Never try to be somebody who you are really not.”
Michael, in his own words:“For me, being gay really means nothing. I do not like when a person categorizes me because I am gay. The real Michael that the public meets is not defined by his sexuality. It is defined by who I am as a person, what I do as a philanthropist, and where I see my life going over the next 20 years. None of this is defined by being gay.
The biggest challenges have come from bad decisions in my life. Only 15 years ago, I was living in my car and eating out of a Captain D’s dumpster. I was determined not to let that happen again, and in the words of Scarlett O’Hara, “I would never go hungry again.” Now, as a successful businessman, I get to see the results are working hard, being diligent at everything I do, and not letting anything except determination and generosity run my life.
I never really had a “coming out story.” My parents found out at a rough time in my life, but they already knew. My friends have always basically known, but again, my sexuality doesn’t run my life, so it didn’t really matter.
(With regards to the gay community in Sardis) Please??? There is no definable gay community here. Most that are gay, are so far in the closet, that they can’t even see the light of day. Mississippi will be the 50th State to approve same-sex marriage, and that is only if the Federal Government forces them. Sadly, the gay community that is “out,” are mostly drama queens, trashy drug using individuals who have no goals in life, other than having sex with anonymous men.
(Advice I’d give to my younger self) Younger Michael, be true to yourself. Don’t hide behind a veil of “straightdom.” Be who you are. The ones that like you…will love you. The ones that dislike you, will always be against you whether they think you are gay or straight. You are a good person. Let that shine through, and be the greatest person you can be.”