André, Administrative Assistant, Lima, Peru

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
André, in his own words:“Pies, ¿para qué los quiero si tengo alas para volar?” – Frida Kahlo.

“No me gusta nombrarme como gay, prefiero ser marica, maricón, cabro o rosquete, porque esos términos me colocan en una posición marginal, no blanca, no masculina, sin dinero e irrespetuosa con la sociedad, y desde ahí empiezo a construir mi discurso y activismo.

Para mi fue bastante fácil salir del closet, lo hice a los 14 años cuando mi mamá me preguntó “¿Hay algo que me quieras contar?” y respondí “Sí, me gustan los hombres”. En ese momento me sentí libre y podría decir que empecé a ser completamente yo. Luego entendí que todo esto sucedió después de la muerte de mi padre, porque él era muy machista y homofóbico, esas eran unas de las razones por las que yo seguía en el closet.

Tengo desafíos todos los días al transitar por las calles de Lima, esperando no ser insultado o violentado por vestirme y comportarme como se me antoja, pero le agradezco a las maricas que lucharon para que yo pueda transitar, ahora nos toca a nosotras seguir construyendo un país donde se respeten nuestras vidas y garanticen nuestros derechos.”

In English:

“Feet, why do I want them when I have wings to fly?” – Frida Kahlo

“I hate to identify myself as gay, I’d rather be a fag, fagot, queer, goat, because those terms placed me in a marginal position, not white, not male, penniless and disrespectful to society, and from there I began to build my discourse and activism.

For me it was quite easy coming out, I did it at age 14 when my mom asked me “Is there anything you want to tell me?” And I said “Yes, I like men.” At that moment I felt free and I could say that I became full. Then I realized that all this happened after the death of my father, because he was very macho and homophobic, those were some of the reasons why I was still in the closet.

I’m challenged every day to walk the streets of Lima, hoping not to be insulted or violated by dressing and acting in the way that I want, but I thank the fags who fought for me to move, now it is up to us to continue building a country where our lives are respected and our rights ensured.”

Jorge, Writer, Santiago, Chile

photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
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
Jorge, in his own words: “Ser gay es una legítima forma de vida, cuestionada por más de un siglo por la sociedad heterosexual, lo que hizo en el pasado que los gays vivieran en una especie de realidad paralela. Una realidad ligada con la criminalización, la enfermedad y la inmoralidad.

En las últimas décadas se abrió una posibilidad de que los homosexuales viviéramos como seres normales, enfrentando finalmente nuestros sentimientos, nuestros valores y nuestras debilidades. Pero veníamos tan dañados por tanto prejuicio acumulado, por tanta negación de nosotros mismos, que este proceso de inserción en la sociedad heterosexual ha sido un proceso muy difícil. Agreguemos a eso el terrible flagelo del Sida que nos diezmó en la década del 80 y generó un nuevo estigma en contra de la comunidad gay a lo largo del mundo.

He sido toda mi vida gay. Desde adolescente tuve la película muy clara. Siempre me gustaron los hombres, me he enamorado de hombres toda mi vida. Por ello me cuesta hacer una diferencia entre lo que era mi vida en épocas más oscuras, cuando en Chile no se podía casi hablar de nuestra homosexualidad, hasta el día de hoy en que, aparentemente, todo el mundo puede salir del closet con cierta facilidad.
Por ello, no mido mis triunfos en función de mi homosexualidad. Eso estuvo ligado a toda mi actividad como ser humano. He amado, he escrito, he vivido toda mi vida en esas condiciones, por lo que, en definitivas, mis triunfos y fracasos se miden como otro ser humano más.

La comunidad gay en Santiago de Chile, es un poco como en todas partes en el Hemisferio Occidental. Se vive en guettos marcados por diferencias sociales, culturales, de edad. En los años 70 cuando yo era un muchacho, logré tener muchos amigos. Esas relaciones se fueron desgastando con el paso de la vida y ahora los miro con cierto rechazo. En esta última década surge con fuerza una generación mucho más preocupada de sus derechos, con fuerte intromisión en la vida pública, capacidad de visibilidad y atentos a sus derechos. Yo espero y ansío que estas generaciones jóvenes rompan finalmente todas las barreras y se hagan cargo de sus vidas, aprendan a convivir en parejas y a crear sus propias familias. Quizás solo en ese momento la estigmatización y la homofobia que existe fuertemente en Chile pueda comenzar a acabarse.

Mi salida del closet no tuvo nada de espectacular. Insisto. Fui gay toda mi vida. Tal vez lo interesante sea que fui capaz de tomar las riendas de mi vida desde muy jovencito. A los 22 años me enfrenté con una madre muy posesiva y dominante y dejé mi casa. Nunca más volví a vivir dentro de una familia heterosexual. He vivido solo, he vivido con pareja – una larga relación de más de 20 años – que desgraciadamente se terminó. Un consejo para los muchachos de hoy: salir de sus hogares, hacer sus propias vidas, no desaprovechar ni un solo minuto porque la vida se pasa rápido y después no sirven de nada los arrepentimientos.”

In English:

” Being gay is a legitimate lifestyle, questioned for more than a century by heterosexual society ,which he did in the past that gays live in a kind of parallel reality . A reality linked to the criminalization, disease and immorality.

In recent decades a possibility that homosexuals live as normal human beings, eventually facing our feelings, our values ​​and our weaknesses opened. But we were so damaged by both cumulative prejudice by ourselves so much denial that this process of insertion in heterosexual society has been a very difficult process. Compound this with the terrible scourge of AIDS that decimated us in the 80s and created a new stigma against the gay community throughout the world.

I have been gay all my life. Since I was very young I have clear the movie. I always liked men, I am in love with men all my life. So I find it hard to differentiate between what was my life in darker times, when in Chile there could almost speak of our homosexuality, until today that apparently everyone can come out fairly easily.

Therefore, I do not measure my success in terms of my homosexuality. That was linked to all my activity as a human being. I’ve loved, I have written, I have lived all my life in these conditions, so that in final , my triumphs and failures are measured more like another human being.

The gay community in Santiago de Chile, is a bit like everywhere else in the Western Hemisphere. We live in ghettos marked by social, cultural, age differences. In the 70s when I was a young, I managed to have many friends. These relations were wearing over life and now look with some reluctance. In the last decade a much powerful emergence of rights more concerned with strong interference in public life, visibility and capacity aware of their rights generation. I hope and look forward to these younger generations eventually break all the barriers and take charge of their lives, learn to live in pairs and create their own families. Perhaps only then stigma and homophobia that exists heavily in Chile can begin to end.

My out of the closet had nothing spectacular. I insist. I went gay all my life. Perhaps the interesting thing is that I was able to take control of my life since very young. At 22, I was faced with a very possessive and domineering mother and left home. I never again live in a heterosexual family. I lived alone, I have lived with a partner – a long relation of more than 20 years – which unfortunately ended. A tip for the boys today: leave their homes, making their own lives, not wasting a single minute because life passes quickly and then they are of no regrets.”

Cristóbal, Student, Santiago, Chile

photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
Cristóbal, in his own words: “Well, To be gay you need courage to face many things, like bullying from people you know or you don’t, the way they look at you. But, the most important one is to tell your parents you are gay, this one was the most difficult to me, also, being gay is to be my self, it’s not a big change, just the people you feel attracted to. Besides, being gay means to me to let the people know that you are not different between them, and make them know your point of view of the life with respect, if you are aggressive or not very kind, people won’t feel respect or anything for you. The idea is to let them know the way you are and why you chose to live being gay. In some cases, being gay is an option, but in others it is stronger than an option and most of the people or the world don’t understand.

The most challenge was to tell to my parents and my friends, but it was not as horrible as I thought, because they still love me the way I am. Also, I’m studying at the University and that was one of my challenges, continuing my studies, I almost am finishing my career which is of the most beautiful one, to be a teacher. However, being a teacher with different sexual condition is going to be a big challenge of my life, to be accepted into the educational institution, but if you are good at what you do and love it, I think it will be less challenging. Either way I will be ready to face it.

The gay community (in Santiago) Works very hard for the acceptance, also for rights that everybody has, but, gay people don’t. I think it is wonderful, because everybody moves for one cause, to be respected from the others to us. However, there exists an institution called MOVILH, which fights for this, making it happen.

When I was at high school, I realized that I was different to others. My likes were different too. But, I did not put too much attention on that changes, because I thought it was part of my growing up process. During the days, weeks, This changes were too strong, then, I began to look at the boys or my classmates with other sight. I began to like boys! Due to that I felt terrible, because I did not have a good education about gays. Also, just the things I heard, which it was not good. During those years, I had felt guilty, so I never told this to anybody, but one day, I told to my mom that I found cute a boy from another grade, she felt terrible and a little guilty too and she told me, “that feeling is going to disappear some day” . I trusted her word. Years later, something happened to me, I was working with my mom in the summer, one day I had to bring some papers to a company, and the receptionist guy started flirting with me, I was so nervous that I just did my job and tried to leave the building as soon as I could, but at the entrance he was waiting for me. He stopped me and asked for me cellphone, I gave it to him and he began to call me, and then we met each other. He was my first gay experience besides he was 7 years older than me, We decided to have meetings after that we started a kind of relationship. Next year, I met another boy, he just was a sexual experience for me, also I was the same for him. Nonetheless, I had been dating with both guys at the same time at least 2 years. In 2010 I decided to tell my sexual condition to my parents, the fist one was my mom, when I told her she cried, but she knew, but it was hard to hear it, then she hugged and kissed me and told me she will love me at the same way she did. Later that day, I told my father, he was a little strict, but he accepted to me, but as I live with him, he put some rules to me. During the time, my whole or most of my family found out I am gay, they did not have problem. Then, on 2012 I had a boyfriend, who lasted 2 years and 4 months with him, my family met him and they loved him. He was my first love, but we broke up on september 17th, we are still talking, and maybe we will back together one day, because I still loving him.

I’m proud of myself to face all this, and also being brave in this life is the only way to survive, I’m responsible, good son, good brother and I will never change the life, the family and friends I got. I say to myself, thanks for being who you are, never change and keep working hard, the success is nearer than you can imagine.”

Hadar, Photographer, New York City

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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
Hadar, in his own words: “Honestly I have never really thought about what being gay meant to me, overall I find being gay to be my sexual preference.

The challenges facing me has been more the stereotypes presented against me and also coming out was a huge challenge.

The gay community in New York City is really like a plethora of all different kinds of gay people, it is refreshing how much exists here.

My coming out story pretty much was actually fairly simple, I found that my family was mostly accepting, I think the hardest person to really accept it all was myself. I felt all my life being called gay was a negative thing and treated as a negative thing, so I was afraid to be this thing if it was negative.

If I could go back I would give my younger self the strength to come out earlier, be bolder and be braver. The fact is it held me back from growing into myself and accepting myself fully.

I think one thing about being gay that I want to put out there, is being gay has not been something that needs to be emphasized about my life or my art. Has it contributed to both of course, but I find for me that I want to see the world fully and not exist hidden inside a gay created environment solely. I do go to gay orientated places much more, but at the same time I fear that whenever you put the gay label on something it deters people from being a part of it. I at the same time think being gay can be a rebellion of sorts, not having the same pressures and pathways that straight people get pressured upon them. For me being gay is a part of me but not the only thing so I think that is always what I try to communicate.”

Giancarlo, Historian, Lima, Peru

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
Giancarlo, in his own words: “Ser gay para mí es buscar lo que realmente me hace feliz. En Lima creo es un desafío constante, sabes que te vas a enfrentar con grandes retos, pero hasta hoy creo que es la mejor decisión que he tomado. Tienes que entender que amar a una persona no depende de su género, ni es una elección. Lo único que puedes elegir actualmente, es la forma como lo vives, en mi caso, decidí no esconderme porque siempre he buscado ser honesto conmigo mismo.

No puedo negar que el camino es difícil, tuve la suerte de encontrar personas que me quieren por como soy, pero reconozco que algunas personas antes de conocerme juzgaron mi forma de vivir mi homosexualidad. A pesar de eso debo valorar a las que se quedaron y me conocieron, que vieron más allá de la diferencia, reconociendo que era un amigos más. Por esto, creo que una de las labores que hacemos los chicos abiertamente homosexuales hoy, es que los demás entiendan que no somos extraños o enfermos, que no somos menos que ellos.

Sabemos que todo está cambiando, la gente habla de la homosexualidad, así sea en contra porque esto hace que la gente no tenga miedo a decir existen personas gay. También es notable que el activismo en Lima ha crecido, se nota que hay un esfuerzo por visualizar nuestros problemas y buscar soluciones. Aunque aún no tenemos todos nuestros derechos podemos decir que se discute los derechos gay, cosa que diez años atrás se veía como un imposible.

Salir del closet es un acto de madurez y de valentía, sobre todo con tus familiares por las expectativas que tienen de ti. Cuando tome conciencia de mi homosexualidad, rápidamente supe que para lo único que quería mi closet era para mi ropa. Poco a poco fui abriéndome con mis amigos; la experiencia fue liberadora, a pesar de las dudas y el miedo. Contarle a mi mamá fue una experiencia muy fuerte, en un primer momento no lo tomó tan bien, pero después entendió que soy feliz así y a pesar de no entenderlo, me respeta.
Viendo en retrospectiva sigo pensando que ha sido una de las mejores decisiones que he tomado. Sé que hay muchas personas que tienen temor, pero lo que puedo decir, a pesar de todas las dificultades que supone, lo vale. Sé que puede sonar muy cliché decir que todo mejora, es mas podría decir que a veces parece todo lo contrario. Lo que puedo decir es que mejora cuando entiendes que el error esta en las demás personas por juzgarte y que si no pueden vivir con ello, pues es su problema no el tuyo.”

In English:

“Being gay for me means finding what really makes me happy. In Lima I think it is a constant challenge, you know you’re going to face major challenges, but so far I think it is the best decision I ever made. You have to understand that loving a person does not depend on gender, nor is it a choice. All you can choose now, is the way to live, in my case, I decided not to hide because I always wanted to be honest with myself.

I can not deny that the road is hard, I was lucky to find people who want me as I am, but I recognize that some people judged me before meeting because of my way of living and homosexuality. Despite that I value those who stayed and who saw beyond the difference, recognizing that I was a friend. Therefore, I believe that one of the tasks we do today is to live openly as gay guys to show to others that we are not strangers or ill, that we are no less than them.

We know that everything is changing, people speak of homosexuality, and it makes it so people are not afraid to say there are gay people. It is also notable that activism has grown in Lima, and that there is an effort to display our problems and seek solutions. Although we still do not have all our rights we can say that we have gay rights that ten years ago were seen as impossible.

Coming out is an act of maturity and courage, especially with your family by the expectations that they have of you. When they were aware of my homosexuality, I quickly learned that all I wanted in my closet was my clothes. Little by little I was coming out with my friends; the experience was liberating, despite the doubts and fear. Telling my mom was a very powerful experience, at first she did not take it so well, but then realized that I am happy and despite not understanding, respects me.

Looking back I still think it was one of the best decisions I ever made. I know there are many people who are afraid, but I can say, despite all the difficulties, it is worth it. I know that may sound very cliché to say that every improvement is more I could say that sometimes seems quite the opposite. What I can say is that it improves when you understand that the error is in other people judgements and if they can not live with it, it is their problem not yours.”

Gabriel, Explorer, Lima, Peru

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
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
Gabriel, in his own words: To be gay/lesbian/bi/transgender in Lima is a challenge. A challenge with your family, with your friends, and with yourself. Here it is very dificult to be free.

My first challenge in my life was tell my mom that I’m gay. The successes was her approval.

(With regards to coming out) The last year I put in scene the play “P.A.T.R.I.A”, in that play we talked about, what does it mean to be a Peruvian? And I talked about to be a gay man in Peru. A few years ago I was talking to friends and mom about my sexual orientation, but never felt free to talk about it in this way with everybody.

The gay comunnity in Lima is like Peru: Diverse and fragmented

My advice (to my younger self): Feel free to be yourself and don’t be afraid.”

Carlos Bruce, Congressman, Lima, Peru

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
Carlos Bruce, in his own words: What’s the condition like for LGBT individuals in Peru?

Bruce: It’s difficult, but changing. It used to be more difficult in the past, but still Lima and Peru is a very conservative country and a conservative society, but things are starting to change. The effort to put the issue of LGBT rights on the national agenda has stepped forward. I’m the first openly gay politician, which is also showing that things are starting to change. Maybe it’s late, but it’s starting anyway.

How did you get to that decision to come out and has it been difficult?

Bruce: I presented this bill for civil unions for LGBT people and there were a lot of stupid arguments being said and I thought it was useful to see that one can be a minister, one can be a Congressman, and your sexual orientation has nothing to do with it, so I think it was a good moment, and it was a good cause to do it and so I did it, and I’m still alive (laughs).

What was the response when you came out?

Bruce: In the internet there were all types of insults, but I have to say that in the streets, in person, I haven’t received one expression against me because I’ve said publicly my sexual orientation. Not even one. It’s very strange because we Congressman are not very popular here in Peru, you’re used to receiving some types of not so good comments, but since I made public my sexual orientation (there has been) not even one expression against me and I think that’s a way of people saying ‘Ok, I respect what you have done.’”

And what is your hope for LGBT individuals in the future?

Bruce: What everybody wants as human beings, just to be treated equally, and I hope that Peru is going to be in that position soon. I think we have to put the issue on the national agenda, I don’t know if my bill is going to be approved or not with this Congress, but I’m sure in the next presidential campaign the issue is going to be on the table and all the presidential candidates will have to have a position on this issue and I’m sure that the next Congress will probably be a Congress that will be more sympathetic to pass some legislation to assure rights for the LGBT couples.

If you could give advice to a young kid around the world who is gay, what would you say?

Bruce: Don’t lose hope. It’s very difficult, we all have to pass through this process when you discover you are different from your mates, and you try to fix it so that you can be the same as them and you discover that it cannot be fixed. What I’m trying to tell these young people is that there’s nothing to be fixed. We all tried to fix it but there’s nothing to be fixed because there’s nothing wrong. There’s a future for you, you can be a Minister, you can be a Congressman, and who knows, you can be a President.

Alonso, Economist, Lima, Peru

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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
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.”

In English:

“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.”

Eduardo, Social Media/Educational Projects, Lima, Peru

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
Eduardo, in his own words: “Ser gay para mí significa entender que todos somos diferentes y que el mundo no es como te lo pintan las convenciones sociales. Es muchísimo más. Es algo que sabemos todos los gays desde que somos niños. Y es una gran lección.

Uno de mis principales obstáculos ha sido enfrentarme a una sociedad tan represiva como la peruana. Pero es lo que me toca y le doy la pelea todos los días siendo yo mismo.

Sigue siendo muy difícil ser LGBTIQ en el Perú pero hay progresos. Creo que la coyuntura de la Unión Civil contribuyó con la visibilidad de nuestro colectivo y además colaboró con la apertura gradual de la sociedad civil en general. Hay grandes desafíos hacia adelante pero las transformaciones sociales toman su tiempo.

Les dije a mis papás que era gay apenas terminé el colegio pero al igual que yo, siempre supieron. Ellos están bien. Solo quieren que sea feliz. Es la misma apuesta que tengo yo en la vida: ser feliz.

¿Qué consejo me daría a mí mismo? Pasa más tiempo con tu familia. La voy a cagar muchas veces y está bien que sea así, pero tengo que aprender de cada error. Se que suena difícil y que el mundo parece un gran problema cuando eres más joven pero me diría que todo va a mejorar. El mundo se ve mejor a los 33. Disfruta de tu vida sin responsabilidades, mientras puedas. Sé una buena persona. Relájate. Dile a ese chico que te gusta. Se feliz.”

In English:

“Being gay to me means understanding that everyone is different and that the world is not only as you paint it in social conventions. It is much more. Being gay is something that we all know since we were children. And it’s a great lesson.

One of my biggest obstacles has been to confront such a repressive society like Peru. But it is what touches me and I have to fight every day just to be myself.

It remains very difficult to be LGBTIQ in Peru but there is progress. I think the situation of the Civil Union contributed to the visibility of our collective and also assisted with the gradual opening of the civil society in general. There are great challenges ahead but social changes take time.

I told my parents I was gay just as I finished school, but I always knew. They are fine. They just want me to be happy. It’s the same desire that I have in life: to be happy.

What advice would I give my younger myself? Spend more time with your family. I’m going to mess up often and rightly so, but I have to learn from every mistake. I know it sounds difficult and the world seems like a big problem when you’re younger, but I would say that everything will improve. The world looks better at 33. Enjoy your life without responsibilities, while you can. Be a good person. Relax. Tell that guy that you like. Be happy.”