Mussa, Outreach Worker, Cape Town, South Africa

photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
Mussa, in his own words: “Being gay to me, means being who I am. I don’t see any strange thing in being gay as a human. Because in this world people are not the same. We should just respect one another as God’s creations.

In this world people face a lot of challenges but when it comes to a gay person, it is another issue. Discriminations, stigmas etc…but all of those things you should challenge them in accepting yourself first then you will have full access in dealing with other issues. Like family, friends, communities etc… the moment people stress you, and you allow stress to stress you, you will be stressed the entirety of your life. I believe that any one can have goals to achieve in his life, but so long with grace of God I am coping with any kind of situation which I never thought of. The success it is good thing in life. I can not say that I achieved everything in life needed, but what I can assure you is that I made a peace inside of myself.

My coming out story is so complicated. As I’m telling you, I am 37 years old but this year 2014, that’s when my family knew about my sexuality.

Coming out is not an easy thing, but I always believed that nothing was wrong about me, where by I never felt owing anyone an explanation of me being homosexual or gay. People talk a lot of things about the bible, but what I know is that homosexuals have been there from the start of creation. And I believe that again God is not a killer.

The gay community in Capetown is more broader (generally than in South Africa ). Having a government which recognizes human rights is a big step in keeping your nation at peace. Out of that, South Africa’s law, allowing marriage to the same sex couples even though there is still a lot to do for the community to feel it as normal life, but at least same saxes couples fill protected by the law.

The advice I would give to youths is that in life people love one another and people hate one another. So, they should be prepared for those kind of challenges and they shouldn’t fill ashamed or offended because of criticism, stigmas hate, will be always there until Jesus comes, if it will happen. And they should know that God loves each and every person. However he look like. God loves everyone and they should not keep themselves away from churches or public services which would uplift them for their daily life until a person dies.”

Markus, Student, Lucerne, Switzerland

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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
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
Markus, in his own words: “Today, being gay means the same to me as having blue eyes. So there’s nothing special about it, I’m just born this way.

Challenges: to know what I want to work, saying: “I’m gay”, moving from Berne to Lucerne, dealing with a narcissistic boyfriend. Successes: finding great friends to live with, having the best people in my life, saying: “I’m gay”, working in a psychiatry, being happy.

I’ve always known I’m gay but didn’t tell anyone, because I was too young. With 12 I heard it’s not normal being gay, so I definitely didn’t tell anybody. With 19 I understood what it’s about to be gay and that I’m not the only one in this world. That’s the reason I came out to my family and my friends. Everything went alright! Short story to tell, but it was a long way to go!

(With regards the LGBTQ community in Lucerne) I don’t know it. I’m not much of a community-guy.

(Advice to my younger self) Don’t worry.”

Andrea, Activist, Budapest, Hungary

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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
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photo by Kevin Truong
Andrea, in his own words: “(Being gay) means not lying to myself.

(With regards to successes) my activism, which is starting to be heard internationally. I have always been very critical towards both the conservative views of the Church and the violent ways of the homophobic far right. Starting from last year after a provocative performance at Budapest Pride I have been receiving tons of death threats, my personal data including home address and workplace were published in nazi forums and I had to move apartment several times fearing for my safety. Now I’m waiting for authorities to finally start investigating my case. I believe it will be a long and intense trial.

Of all my coming outs, the funniest one is probably the one I had with my mother. I was home in Italy visiting, and told my mom I had found a new flat for rent in Budapest. Then I added I was moving in with a friend. Then I told her this friend is a very special one. Then I told this friend is a guy. And then I told her that we are a couple. Last but not least, I also told her that he was downstairs, waiting to come up and introduce himself. We were having lunch, and I still clearly remember how she basically froze with the spoon full of soup in front of her mouth, her eyes staring into nothing. Not one word (or movement) for a very awkward minute. She knew I had some things with guys, but until then she also saw me with girls, so she thought my gay “thing” was just a phase. She refused to meet him that day, but did see him one day later. By the third day she bought us gifts for the house and told me she liked my taste in men.

There are tons of things to do in Budapest for the LGBTQ community – parties, festivals, sports groups and cultural events. I just wish the community were more courageous and would speak up against bullying, in addition to the fact that I think we should impose ourselves a lot more in the political debate.

(Advice to my younger self) I wish I would have started being an activist sooner.”

Boban and Adam, Belgrade, Serbia

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Boban (left) and Adam (right) photo by Kevin Truong
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photo by Kevin Truong
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
photo by Kevin Truong
Boban, in his own words: “(Being gay means) the ability to perceive the world from the perspective of the unprivileged and make your life as best as possible.

Although I think that the fight for human rights are some of the largest (challenges), I realized that the fight for our own happiness is an even bigger fight. I’m happy because I’m happy: I live how I want, do what I want, love whom I love and it’s the greatest thing I could do for myself.

Generally I don’t have (a coming out story), I never hid that to my friends. If we talk about coming out in front of my family, it was when my parents saw me on television at the Pride Parade in Zagreb. My mother called, said she always knew, concluded that I was sleeping with all my male friends, she would get cancer and behold ten years ago we haven’t been in touch.

I always maintain that the gay community in Serbia and east Europe does not exist. Community implies recognition of a common history and a desire to us as a community to be better. It includes support and action, but that in this part of Europe is almost nonexistent.

(Advice to my younger self) Things what you dream can be said in words. And if there are words, it means to dream what is realistic.”

Adam, in his own words: “(Being gay) is a complex question. Labels come from outside. I am everything that I am.

My greatest success is that I live my life the way I want.

I always knew I was different. I remember when I was little, adults always asked: When are you going to marry? I have always been puzzled and said: But my girls are not interesting. I think nobody realized that I was gay.

(The gay community in Serbia is) the group of terrified people are afraid to come out into the street and fight for their rights.

(Advice to my younger self) be persistent and keep right.”

Aniket, Student, Mumbai, India

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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
Aniket, in his own words: “The time was magical when I had started unknowingly noticing the beautiful men around me, they were always there but something good had changed in me. It was neither a secret nor something I wanted to share with everyone; the experience was too personal for me. Probably it is the same for all the teenagers.

Eventually when my friends started to share similar experiences, I could not completely relate to them. I started slowly unfolding the fact that I was not attracted to women but I was too young and naïve to speculate the ongoing experiences.

I can say today that I was always different while growing up than most of the kids; but it was the time I had started feeling the difference.

Around the same time, I had to go away from home for studying in another city. It was challenging to juggle life without family and the unarticulated secret; I could clearly see the projection of it on my academic performance.

The chaos around my sexuality and poor academic performance were pushing me into my hardest years, I was diagnosed with depression. Nothing seemed so blurred and heavy before, I thought I would be sucked into it. Pretending that the cause of the misery was not the unarticulated sexual attraction but the poor academic performance, I confessed about the depression to my parents. With family and medical support, I could get out of the depression to an extent. I had completely locked the doors of my sexual dilemma and I had focused on my academic performance, fortunately I could make it to the desired university that year.

I never could articulate my own sexual behavior as I had never seen or read anyone like me when I was growing up so ‘coming out’ was never into the picture for me. Apart from chaos around my sexual behavior, I knew that I was different (in a shameful way) so I was scared even thinking about it. Watching gay porn for twenty minutes in a day was the only time; I had to confront the truth. 


In the first semester at the university, an article written by a student talking about his homosexuality went viral. It was first time someone had spoken so loudly about his/her sexuality, everyone did not seem very receptive at once but this event was going to change the lives of many like me. I sneaked the newsletter in my room and read it making sure that no one caught me reading it. This was the first time someone had told me that I was okay and there were people like me in the world. I was thrilled to read it but afraid to face it. The same guy who had written the article had founded an LGBTQ resource group in the university campus with the help of a few professors and students. (It was one of the first LGBTQ resource groups in any Indian universities). The resource group was creating a positive space in the university and I was accepting myself bit by bit every day.

Almost after two years in the university, I met a fellow student on Facebook and we started dating. When we kissed for the very first time (yes, my first one!! ;)), I confronted the truth nakedly and told myself that there was no way to go back from the truth. It was just a month after that I had told my parents, my friends and the life seemed much lighter after taking it off my shoulders. (And I also volunteer for the LGBTQ resource group in the university from last two years!! yay!)

Mumbai is the most cosmopolitan city in India and yet most of the people in Mumbai do not even acknowledge the fact that homosexuality is part of the society around them. Homosexuality is not very visible in the crowded city; everything is behind the curtains here. Before the internet era, secret cruising spaces were the only way to meet other guys. Currently, Internet is providing safe space for all queer people to explore the possibilities.

The exposure to the liberal western policies regarding queer issues through social media is helping the younger generation of India to acknowledge and accept the queers around them.

Despite the fact that the post-colonial law against homosexuality still exists in India, there are a few organizations which are working hard to address the queer issues in Mumbai/India to normalize the stigma related to homosexuality. In response to it, Mumbai has the largest gay community in India which indulges in different events like yearly LGBTQ pride, queer film festival, protests and obviously parties.

I am very lucky that I am one of the very few people who have got the opportunity to be open about their sexuality in India. In a country like India where homosexuality was de-criminalized in 2013, merely living here openly as a queer person is considered to be heroic. With this privilege, I feel the responsibility to help the younger generation to be comfortable with them.

I have gone through the phase where I used to hate being gay but today, I say that it is one of the best things that happened to me. It was not the easiest time while dealing with sexuality but the time has shaped the way I think today. Most of the beliefs, I had been raised with were challenged and reformed on the way. I think my sexuality has been a spiritual accelerator which has helped me to understand my own depths.

As I said earlier, sexuality was one of the pioneering things which taught me to challenge my unjust beliefs, I am continuing on the path of restructuring my beliefs to make myself more comfortable in my own skin and in the world around.

And advice to my younger self: Be authentic to yourself.
”

Martin Naef, Member of Parliament, Zurich, Switzerland

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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
Martin, in his own words: “(Being gay) is my life, I can’t imagine not being gay actually. That’s what I am.

(The LGBTQ community in Switzerland) is a very old one, it’s a traditional one, it’s a tiny one. Switzerland, being in the heart of Europe, has lots of tourist coming here. Zurich, especially, and Geneva are very liberal cities, it’s nice for gay people here.

(There are still) political challenges, we want total equality. We don’t have it, we almost have it, but that is the biggest challenge, but in the normal daily life it is quite good.

When I think of the last twenty or thirty years there has been a lot of changes (in Switzerland). (LGBTQ) people used to be in a sort of ghetto, which was the community, now it is mixing up. Society has changed a lot. It is quite a liberal society, nobody has a problem even when you are at work and tell them you’re gay or bring along your boyfriend. That’s changed a lot. I think that wouldn’t have been possible twenty years ago. And so in Switzerland we had a public poll about gay rights and gay marriage and more than 64% saying yes to this, which is amazing.

20 years ago when I came out and started working as a politician it was quite sensational. But now even the mayor of Zurich is an open lesbian and it’s nothing special anymore. Even from the conservative parties, there are now some openly gay people in the Parliament, some colleagues of mine, this wouldn’t have been possible just ten years ago.

I still think that it is important to talk to people, not just going to the internet. I’m working for several gay organizations and we have lots of phone calls and personal discussions, that’s what people really need now, when they’re 16 or 17 years old and coming out, to have contact and speak with people, not just to chat on the internet.”

Patrick and Thomas, Graphic Designer/Musician and Social Worker, Vienna, Austria

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(left)Patrick, (right) Thomas, photo by Kevin Truong
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photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
Thomas, photo by Kevin Truong
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photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
Patrick, 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
Thomas, in his own words:“(Being gay means) simple as the word gay was meant to be, being happy! It wasn’t always like that and I could have never imagined that when I was 16. So guys out there: “it gets – so much – better!”

I have been very lucky in life so far! As challenges in life, I would call for sure my coming out and the loss of people I was close with. Having a longterm-relationship is a challenge too, and will always be.

I never aimed for a big career. Having a relaxed life, lots of spare time, a roof over my head, trustful friends and on top off all that a partner is making me pretty happy. Off course working is part of it too, I like what I do, as long as I work in a great team. Beside all of that traveling around gives a luxury I wouldn’t want to miss a challenge for..

When I found out I was gay, it felt like it was the end of the world. There were no gay role models or education in school about and no internet, guess I am old. So I had been struggling alone, watching my friends making out on parties and falling in love with my best friend. My first coming out was to my cousin. She was/is a very openminded and smart girl/woman, we were pretty close – I mean she put me in her dresses. Everything should have been clear back then. When I opened my heart to her she was just like “Aha, yeah, and?” I was a bit disappointed but at the same time relieved. Than my closest friends, schoolmates – although I was more an outsider, but I felt it was important to tell everybody. Everybody beside my parents. When I started dating a guy in Vienna, I can remember my mother asking me, if I do any drugs because of my mysterious behavior. When I answered very annoyed, that I am just experiencing sexually with some guy, she remained silent. I was expecting her to tell my father, but when he came towards me one year later confronting me with a phone call he got from some guy of mine, we had a pretty tough fight. It took a few weeks or months until he could “deal” with it and another few to accept it. Today he’s not getting tired of saying, “it doesn’t matter who you love.”

If I look back in 2002 when I moved (to Vienna) there were almost no alternative parties. Just two regular clubs. But it slowly grew: the queer student party “versus” the oriental party “homoriental” made my nightlife more diverse. Not to forget to mention the underground club Subzero, where the first queer parties “G.spot” and “Fmqueer” started to change the party life.

Today, Vienna is full of parties from “queer to bear” but still has a lack of good gay bars. At the same time I see more diversity in “regular” parties. Vienna is getting more arty-farty-berlin-hipster-like, which is fun but sometimes annoying too.

I wish for the future that the gay community will be more a mixed crowd. Until now the scene is still separated more or less. Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transgenders should stand up together for their rights and values – equalization, acceptance and love. As corny as it sounds is as simple as it hopefully is.

(Advice to my younger self) Quit smoking and start with sports!

No seriously, if I would give my younger self advice it would be that it’s totally fine to be gay. I guess it’s one of the most important things you need to hear from your environment before you start struggling with your sexuality.”

Patrick, in his own words: “In my own, chosen environment (being gay) means being myself/being accepted by all my beloved ones. It is for me also a very special way of life that feels totally right for me.

Outside this environment it means being different , unrepresented (like in ads or in politics) and/or discriminated (adoption/marriage).

Being gay in the countryside of Austria (and the lack of internet) was pretty hard, since there was no one I could talk to about my feelings. It took me a long time to figure it out, what was happening inside me and that my feelings towards boys were totally normal. My biggest success: moving to Vienna with 17 years and kind of starting a “new life” as a young, openly gay person, finding friends and being honest to everyone about my sexuality. (no secrets! no lying!)

Things were happening very fast, when I moved to the city. I started dating a cute boy and we were texting all the time. When I visited my mother for Christmas, she noticed I was sending messages every single minute. So she asked me about this particular person. Within a few minutes, she’d figured it out. First of all she was in a state of shock. I have to say that my mom is a very liberal, cool person and she always was talking to me like “oh, once you have a girlfriend – or a boyfriend – it will be like this or that…” – so I was shocked by myself about her reaction.

I went back to Vienna the next day and we didn’t talk that much. after a week, we met each other again and she explained me, that she was not shocked about my homosexuality but about the “confirmation” of her expectations/suspicions. She also felt very worried about all the troubles I would have in my life as a homosexual (discrimination, violence). Since my mom and I always had a very good relationship I would consider this as my official coming out – it was very important for me to let her finally know and afterwards our relationship was getting better than before.

I have the feeling that the gay community in Vienna is organized in a lot of small groups. I think, that this is a good thing, because it seems like – if you found the group that fits you best – you can get a lot of support.

(Advice to my younger self) Don’t worry about what people might think about you all the time. You don’t have to start a family in your life. You will soon explore that there are other ways of life – not just wife/children/house. And you can tell dad, that you are gay. he is totally cool about it.”

Brian, Communications, Nairobi, Kenya

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photo by Kevin Truong
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
Brian, in his own words: “In a few words (being gay) is liberating, being my own self, inspiring,

Challenges, living with limited means, living in society largely homophobic and conservative, low self-esteem which perpetually broke my spirit.

Successes – Coming to terms with my sexuality, getting an education despite prevailing circumstances. Learning to love and defend myself against everyone and everything.

(My coming out story is) a story of strength, resilience, patience – Was cut off by my parents after a compromising letter fell into the wrong hands, crept back into the closet so I could continue with school and have a roof over my head, broken relationship with family. Recently came out again to family members some of whom expressed unwavering love and support while others….well…

(The gay community in Nairobi is) a community of diverse and brilliant men and women with a big, loving and strong heart, achieving success against all odds. Truly inspirational

(Advice to my younger self) be yourself and proud of it. Embrace who you are and you will be fine.”

Marcus, Network Desk Operator/Animal Activist, Bratislava, Slovakia

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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
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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
Marcus, in his own words: “For me being gay expresses mostly the sexuality and gender that you are attracted most to, and who you choose to love. It also means being yourself, to live life how you want without restrictions, to kiss your partner when you feel you want to, hold his hand, and to love passionately.

Well, there were many challenges (in my life) and I believe that all of them has its importance and moves you forward. When I was a teenager I was pretty curious about sexuality and sex itself, so I had met a few guys to have fun with. But the first one I had met, gave me something that others hadn’t, so we had kind of a relationship. He was a person with some past, so he practically showed me the gay scene. I trusted him, and betrayal happened. It was some time that we were not in much contact. I had to do some checkups, and the doctor also needed to test my partner, so I informed him, but the doctor said he was not coming, therefore I gave her his name. The next information that was given to me was that this man was tested for HIV and his results were positive. The worst thing is that he knew and didn’t tell me anything. It was a really hard part of my life for me and my family. Luckily the tests said I was healthy. I still get tested regularly and I also check and ask my partners about their health.

Now I can say that the success is that I’m healthy and alive (haha) J but it is true. Things at home weren’t as good as I would like them to be at that time, so I was dreaming about living on my own live. The first time I left was when I was 17. I had graduated from high school, while I had a little business with jewelry with my boyfriend. That guy that I had met when I was 17 and I realized that I wanted him so much, that I decided I had to get him, so that was the success no. 2 :) We were together a lot of beautiful and hard times as well, that kind of relationship gives you the experiences you need. And today I live with my friends in Bratislava, and I have job that I love, perfect people around me, am living a vegan lifestyle, and investing my free time in activism for animals and the environment.

My coming out story is long, it is being done as I go. When it comes to the topic, when somebody asks me about my partner I just respond about him in the masculine gender and thats it, sometimes people get it just as we have the conversation. However it started with my mom, when I was watching, or more like staring at Marilyn Manson’s clip (I think it was this is the new shit) actually I was staring at him because of his extravagancy, but she asked me if I was a bisexual so I just replied yes. She wasn’t excited about it, but I didn’t care ;) We just had it hard with each other.

The gay community in Bratislava is.. .hmm thats the hard question. It is colorful like a rainbow I would say. Mostly you find here a lot of hookups like everywhere I think. Then there are the best guys that you don’t find because they already have boyfriends or they are just hidden, pretending to be straight. And then normal guys like me that are waiting for the right one, while working on myself.

To my younger myself I would give advice about being self-confident and to look at the things from a higher perspective. Every time. And mostly in hard times. Also to know that everything will always be okay, and if it is not, it is not the end. Everything happens for a reason and has its purpose. Always think with your head, don’t let others think for you! Live like a party monster, don’t dream it, be it!”