Aiden, Jack of All Trades, Portland, Oregon

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

Aiden, in his own words: “Identifying as queer means being open minded and connecting with people from all over the world without ruling anyone out because of gender or gender identity.

This will out me to a *huge* amount of people but I feel like it’s time to let that fear go: Being trans is definitely the biggest challenge I’ve ever had at this point in my life. It’s excluded me from some people’s lives, opened me up to others and people who love me for who I am, of course. I’ve faced a lot of rejection when I’ve told people I am trans, especially in the dating scene since I’ve been told they had no idea I was trans. My rule has been if there is a possibility that pants are coming off at some point then I disclose, otherwise I don’t think it’s anyone’s business, haha.

Portland seems like such a small place and people are very tight knit. It’s been a great boost to my confidence to meet such great people and have such amazing friends in my life. I try my best to not become insular in any one community and love to boast about my good friends from all walks of life.

I’ve always known I was trans so I kind of feel I skipped the whole coming out process but, truth be known, I haven’t “come out” to my mom yet, which bothers me every day but if she were to reject me it would be absolutely devastating! Every time she visits I tell myself to just say the words, it’s totally obvious I’ve transitioned but she’s too polite(or scared)to bring it up. Yikes. Everyone else in my family pretty much knows by now. Maybe I’ll type up a letter and let her process it in her own way then we can talk about it. It’s been over 3 years now, just the elephant in the room, don’t mind him.

I transitioned very late out of fear of rejection by family, friends and lovers, which wasn’t an unfounded fear, by the way.

I would tell (my younger self) not to wait just to make others happy, sometimes yourself is all you really have and living in fear is not any way to live. I still need to take my own advice on this, obviously. I don’t have any regrets about transitioning and hopefully one day I will find someone to share my life with. Until then, stay romantic.

Thanks for reading.”

 

Gary, Episcopal Priest, Cleveland, Ohio

photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
Gary, in his own words: “If I were to give any advice to my younger self, it would be: don’t do what I did. Don’t spend so much effort imitating what society tells you a “real boy” should be like. Don’t try to “pass” as “normal.” And as a variation on those, don’t marry a woman. And (if that marriage ends in divorce), don’t then, for God’s sake, marry another woman!

But just as a friend who is an alcoholic says, “I thank God I was born an alcoholic! If I hadn’t been, I probably never would have discovered how freeing it is to live in surrender to my Higher Power.” I could say something similar.

Sure, I made “mistakes,” lots of them; I still do. But if I hadn’t made those “mistakes,” I wouldn’t be who I am today. If I had not married, for example, I never would have had the opportunity of being a loving father to two extraordinary youngsters. They continue to amaze and delight and stretch me every day of my life. Plus I wouldn’t be “Bappy” to my five-year-old grandson, Jaden, who is such a joy.

So if I were to write a letter to my younger self (or for that matter, to Jaden), I think I’d borrow the words of Dag Hammarskjhold from his book, Markings: “For everything that has been, ‘Thanks.’ For everything that will be, ‘Yes!’”

Those two words: “thanks” and “yes” will take you wherever you need to go. And they’ll make up for any “mistakes” along the way. In fact, I thank God every day for my “mistakes!”

Jenabi, Architect, Singapore

photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
JNB, the Gay Men Project, 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
Jenabi, in his own words: “At the age of 23, I accepted an offer to study in Krakow for a term and that turned my world upside down. I had never felt freer in my life – I knew no one and no one knew me. I allowed myself to be myself and uninhibited which went a little overboard at that time.

All my new friends were probably more shocked by the way I introduced myself as queer then the idea of me being gay.

Imagine, a conservative Asian man who came out with his eyes wide open, not blinking and whispered when I’m about to say the word ‘gay’.

However, it quickly struck me that this whole gay thing wasn’t going to be an issue as I thought! No one treated me or judged my abilities any differently. They probably love me more and are happy that I’m comfortable with myself. Lotsa positive vibes. My time in Krakow was magical and it was then I felt that I finally lived for the first time.

That was the first gift I gave myself after 23 years of living. I like to think I turned 1 y.o. that year ☺ It was my first step of self-acceptance.

When I turned 2, I was given another chance to study abroad in Copenhagen. I wasn’t as excited as last time but this trip I met a guy.

I’m usually very analytical and practical by nature, but with him, with his piercing baby blue eyes, his openness, and humor I could not resist this charming Viking descendant. Knowing that I had an expiry date in Copenhagen I still let myself fall deep into it. My time in Copenhagen was more like a fairy tale, lost in time, exploring the snowy city with him, on the bike by day and in his arm by night.

He was the second gift I allowed myself to fall into.

Cheers to uncertainty, spontaneousity and love.

We decided to make a trip to my hometown when my term ended, as a ‘best friend’.

Before going home, I planned a trip to Germany over Christmas knowing that he would be celebrating it with his family and I should not intrude. Something about Christmas in Hamburg, the Christmas markets, couples holding hands; the snow evokes a strong sense of loneliness in me. I saw Starbucks from a distance and immediately in my mind Starbucks = free wifi, I thought talking to a familiar voice would help until halfway through the conversation I blurted out.

Sis, u know the friend who is visiting next year? ya mum told me about it.

He is more than just a friend.

Dead silence. She was lost of words. What have I done? I assumed that she would be able to accept it. Everything from thereon went downhill and the news spread like a wildfire within my family. I was nowhere near to explain and was left no choice to leave it suspending mid-air. Nobody was happy about it and it was nerve breaking.

So it was official, I came out at the age of 3. Well to be fair, it wasn’t my plan to come out to the whole family. Thanks to my sis, I didn’t need to do it myself. However, coming from an Asian family, we are best in not talking about the issue and it became the taboo topic of the house that thou shalt not speak of!

I had a choice then. Either I could chose to turn away from my family and continue my solitary living or I could put my head down, be there until the wave past. Tough times … We all of us have a choice. But being gay..nope! Not a choice.

Unfortunately not all fairytales have a happy ending. My relationship with the Viking ended before I turned 5. We’ve been through a lot, up and downs, our silly travels and hygge-ing around. Thank you for all the unconditionally love, happy memories you left me with. Thanks for shaping me into a better man and making me believe in same sex love.

I’d experience love and being love.

I matter to someone and respected .

We built a life together in each other’s warmth and embrace.

The only thing is I share all of this with a man.

I am 6 years old now. Now that I am out on the other side, I’m glad I came to terms with myself. I can see the dark times in my early life, the utter confusion, the crippling self- hate moments. I was so upset and wanted to end it all. All is good now and will get better.

I long for the day when my family will accept me for who I am but we shall not linger on that thought too rigidly. We are not defined by our sexuality. We are much more than that; it’s just our natural attraction to a currywurst over a pink taco. Things will come into places over time. Don’t rush it.”