Ken, Student/Writer, 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
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
Ken, in his own words: “Right off the bat I would like to apologize. I am a terrible human being, but I’ve made my peace with that and I’m learning to love myself as-is. If you suppress needs long enough they sublimate and break free, and once that dam has cracked it doesn’t hold for very long. I was homeschooled for 19 years and I was the son of a part-time fundamentalist preacher. Both of my parents are frighteningly bright and I always thought of myself as some kind of wunderkind (not that uncommon in the homeschooled community). Thanks to this set of initial circumstances, I have always had ludicrously high standards for my own behavior, expecting perfection in more or less everything that I do. This need for perfection has interacted with my spectacular laziness and paradoxically been the cause of some of my most deviant behavior. I fall short of perfection, so I give up. I have often hated myself — and I would like to point out to certain naysayers that it is entirely possible to hate yourself. My former pastor claimed that self-hatred was impossible. People don’t hate themselves, they’re just disappointed. If they really hated themselves they would be glad to see themselves being miserable. Well, I have been glad at times to see myself miserable, and to be the cause of that misery. This is not a cry for attention, it’s just me being realistic about portions of my character that I don’t care to hide anymore. I am learning, slowly but surely, how to love myself right down to my scars. In order to start that transformation though, I had to accept the fact that I really, truly did hate myself, and wasn’t just an all-in-one dom/sub.

Over the years my answer to the question “what does being gay mean” has changed a lot. At first I would have said “not much more than being gay would mean to a gay giraffe,” but lately I’ve realized that it does make my life somewhat different from the lives of others. I find that I sometimes feel like an outsider looking in at the rest of society. It’s a little bit alarming to know that no matter what I write I will always be the gay writer, not the white one or the tall one or the blonde one. It’s one of the first things people mention about me. I’m the gay best friend, the gay coworker, the gay gateway into the gay world. There is a real subculture, although it’s not as separated from the rest of the world as it once was, and I have sometimes acted as a doorway between the two cultures.

It comes with its own bag of problems, too. I’ve met a fair number of other people in the community and the shockingly common trends of depression, suicidal ideations, cutting, rocky romances, and daddy issues (poor parental relationships) have made me ask the chicken and egg question a few times. Does being gay come from being fucked up, or does it contribute to it? In my own life the answer has more often been the second than the first, but there have been moments when I’ve wondered. I think a part of the problem for me has been the lack of dreams. A little straight boy can look ahead and dream (unhealthily, perhaps) of his princess and his 2.5 children and steady job. It’s not much of a dream, but it’s more than a gay person has. It’s only in the last two decades that we have had even the chance of gay marriage, and our community is still figuring out what that kind of marriage can mean and look like.

What little of the gay community I have actually seen in Portland seems to be much like the gay community everywhere else that I’ve lived. It’s small, politically active, and more than a little bit dramatic. It’s also much more intersectional and culturally/racially/ethnically diverse than any other gay community I’ve been a part of. To be fair, thanks to my sexual appetites I don’t usually spend a lot of time dealing with the whiter side of the gay community here, so I can’t speak to it.

I have also noticed that the idea of an in-the-closet gay doesn’t seem to exist as much here. Most of the gay men I have encountered have been openly gay even in their work environment. In the past there were coworkers of mine that I never came out to for fear of the potential reactions. Here in Portland that hasn’t been an issue for me.

I don’t know if this is something that other gay men will relate to or not, but there are, to my mind, two prototypical members of the gay community. The first has or contributes to what Republicans would call the “gay agenda” — they are political, proactive, and intentionally pushing for legal or social change. These are the ones that attend meetings and do the non-sexy things like voting and being on committees. The second type, (and I swing between the two without any real consistency, I’ll be the first to admit that) is the type that joins committees to get laid. They often have a lone wolf aspect, some sexy emotional scars or sexy self-destructive tendencies/habits, and they often seem to have more beauty than they know what to do with. They will fixate on a particular physical type that they want to have sex with, whether that’s a race or a body ideal, and pursue people based primarily on this physical attraction. They hold marriage as some kind of potential down the line but they don’t really see themselves staying with anyone long enough to make that work. It is the latter prototype, incidentally, which I find has the highest rate of emotional damage and self-loathing. Perhaps I’m projecting something of myself and my perceptions aren’t something that others will share, but I’m just trying to describe what I see. I think that a little piece of this might come from the fact that at the end of the day we are still “men” (I’m speaking strictly of the gay male cisgender community here, I can’t speak to the experience of anything else). Men don’t have emotions, right? Men don’t have feelings. Men don’t get fucked up. Men can’t open up or have real connections. That would be too… gay.

I’ll keep (my coming out story) as short and clear as I can.

On the night that I chose to come out to my parents, I had a female friend over (Monica Hay, if you’re reading this, thank you for that night. I’m glad I didn’t end up needing you but the emotional support was much appreciated.) and I had a bag packed. I had already anticipated everything that my parents might say, (so I thought) and what possessions of mine they had a right to take in an attempt to keep me from leaving. I assumed off the bat that they would take the car keys and my cell phone. My plan was to walk to the nearest public institution with a phone — a hotel over a mile and a half away, I lived in a rural area — and call my grandparents. I had a slip of paper in my wallet with all the phone numbers I was most likely to need: my grandparents, my younger brother, my current lover, a few close friends. It’s been almost four years and I still have that slip of paper in my wallet. My parents didn’t kick me out (which was a hell of a shock, frankly).

Saying the words “I’m gay” to my mother remains one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. The willpower required to just open my mouth and move my lips and vibrate my vocal cords and make the noises was almost more than I knew how to muster. But I did it, and she immediately said the most unhelpful thing she could have at the time: “No you’re not.” So I had to prove that I was, which wasn’t difficult. I had denied even to myself the way that I was for years at that point. It wasn’t until I fell in love for the first time and it blew all the petty infatuations of my youth completely out of the water that I realized yes, I really was gay. I could not fall in love with a woman, but I could with a man.

Incidentally that falling in love was what first made me question my religious convictions. It wasn’t the sex, because there’s a lot to sex that can sometimes feel wrong, but falling in love never feels wrong.

After I had her sufficiently convinced, my father came out onto the balcony to join us, and I had to repeat the words. My relationship with my father has always been almost stereotypically not-great, but his respect was always something I craved. He didn’t even respond, he just sat there. I explained to the both of them that I had fallen in love, and that it was the love and not the sex that had made me realize that I really was wired that way. Then, like a coward, I told them that I had not yet decided what I was going to do with this personal revelation. My mother suggested permanent celibacy as an option. We talked about other things. I said, “I haven’t made a choice yet.” My dad said “It’s not a choice.”

At the time, I didn’t understand what he meant. It wasn’t until much later that I realized my father has actually worked closely with a gay man for years at this point, and that this man is one of his closest work friends. My father and I didn’t have a real conversation for almost a year after that, but I’m still not sure whose fault that was. I learned to disappear and be as absent from family life as possible, and as a consequence I wasn’t there as my siblings were developing into interesting people. When I finally came out to my grandparents, just last year, they told me they had known since I was a child, and that they loved me all the same. Both my sisters guessed, the one by being perceptive and the other by reading my diary and finding an entry about someone I was madly in love with at the time. When I told my brother, he came out of his own closet to me and revealed that he was an agnostic. When I came out to my other two brothers… well, let’s just say I wasn’t as tactful about it as I had meant to be. That’s a more personal story than I would like to get into, but it was pretty funny at the time.

(What advice would you give your younger self?)

Oh boy. The big one. Jesus, I don’t know. Maybe something along the lines of “don’t take life so goddamn seriously. It’s ok to fuck up. It’s ok to not be perfect, and it’s hurtful and wrong to try. Try to think of other human beings as actual human beings just like you. Nobody wakes up in the morning intending to be irrational, and everyone’s actions make sense to them. Sometimes the largest part of empathy is being able to understand why someone’s actions or beliefs seem rational to them. You’re never going to be able to change another person with words or fists or music or love or anything else, a person has to change themselves. Don’t waste time loving people who can’t or won’t love themselves — they can’t love you back. Cheating and being cheated on are among the most emotionally damaging experiences, but everything that we are is a phoenix birth out of ashes. We are made of exploded stars. Look it up, it’s true. Even the deepest emotional and physical traumas can be recovered from, learned from, healed from. No, you can’t be the same person again, that person is dead and so is the future they dreamed for themselves. But now you’re alive, because that person died. Religion is a crock of shit. Dig for evidence and logic and you’ll see. That’s not to say that the universe isn’t full of wonder or mystery or awe, because it is. It is full of all of those things. But the truth should always trump a pretty lie, no matter how much we might want to believe that lie, no matter how much sense that lie might make or how many questions it might answer. Don’t settle for less, either in love or in truth.

Huh. I guess I did know.”

Phillip, Writer, 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
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong

Phillip, in his own words: “What I like about being gay is having met thousands of men from all over whom otherwise I never would have met. Gay gives you carte blanche to meet men of different backgrounds. And from this huge variety of men I have built up a great tolerance for individuality, quirks and all. It’s not always easy being gay, no life style is. I’ve found that a sense of humor has saved me, got through terrible times. And since I’m a writer, I’ve David Sedaris-like humor essays to spread the word that funny is saintly.

Also my garden. I’ve had two clinical depressions and a return to my garden every spring has brought me out of those dark times. The darkest time was in the early 80s when AIDS rose its ugly head, and I heard of my friends in the coastal cities dying left and right. So I pulled up my zipper and didn’t have sex for over l0 years—actually I lost count. I was terrified of that disease. Sex was not worth dying for.

Cleveland is great town to raise a family. It’s not so good for gays. The smart, creative ones leave. It seems all I get are married men. So for the dark cold winter months I go to Fort Lauderdale, a paradise for gay men. Men from all over the world descend on Fort Lauderdale for the winter months, and I’ve made life-long friends who come to visit me in Cleveland in the summer in my gorgeous garden. Visit the video of my garden onYouTube.To read more about me go to my Profile on the Silver Daddies site and enter my profile number #398760.”

My Carrie Bradshaw Moment.

photo by Sam
photo by Sam

I spent about a decade of my life hiding the fact I was gay from everyone I knew. Everyone.

I used to cruise gay chatrooms on America Online (when that was still a thing) hiding behind an anonymous screen name talking to guys in Alabama, or Michigan, or Rhode Island. I use to buy gay porn at the porn store hiding behind a baseball cap and sunglasses. The first time I attempted to go to a gay bar I drove the 30 minutes to get there, circled the block five times, parked, and then drove off. I was too scared to go in.

But that was a long time ago.

It took a long time to get to the place where I’m at today. It took me coming out to everyone I knew, it took me coming out to my family, it took a lot of trips to a lot of gay bars, and it took me quitting the Peace Corps because I chose to not live in country where it was illegal to be gay. It even took me starting a little blog called the Gay Men Project.

The point is, I don’t hide the fact that I’m gay anymore. It’s kind of all out there.

So when one of my alma maters asked to use me in their newest ad campaign, showcasing my work with the Gay Men Project, I of course said yes. They were going to put me on a bus, and how often do people get to see their face on a bus? Outside the world of Carrie Bradshaw, not often.

I was stoked.

I was excited.

And when I heard my buses were up and running, I scoured the entire city of Portland looking for it.

I spent an entire day sitting downtown, waiting at the bus mall, hoping to see my face drive by. It didn’t. But one of the buses with the same ad campaign, but showcasing a different person, drove by and I got a taste of what my ad was going to look like.

And a funny thing happened. I had a moment of panic. The ad was huge. It was the entire side of the bus. My face was going to be on the entire side of a bus, and the word gay was going to plastered in big white block letters right next to that face. And that gay face was going to be parading on buses all over my hometown.

It’s funny, some things in life stick with you, or find ways to creep back in. And that kid who spent so many years hiding in the closet, well he was starting to panic again.

Obviously, everyone in my life knows I’m gay. And I’m sure a good amount of people I’ve never even met know I’m gay. I take a lot of pride in being the creator of the Gay Men Project. But there’s just something a bit harrowing about having a very public outing to quite possibly the entirety of your hometown.

I didn’t know how I was going to react when I actually saw my bus.

But I was still going to find it.

So the next day, I was on the search again. I was able to narrow down a few of the bus lines my ad campaign was running on, and I set up camp. I sat at the intersection of NE Killingsworth and Albina, and I waited. I sat. I was going to find my bus.

And after an hour and half of waiting I finally did. My bus drove by.

And you know what? The moment I did see my face, and the word gay next to that face, I wasn’t embarrassed. I wasn’t ashamed or regretful. All I could think about was how fucking proud I was. My gay face was on a fucking bus and that’s pretty fucking awesome.

It had taken a lot to get me there, and I was going to bask in the moment. And so I did.

Eat your heart out, Carrie Bradshaw.

Casey, Communications Specialist/Bartender/DJ, 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

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

Casey, in his own words: “Being queer to me means living the life I was meant to live without reservation. I spent so much time being reserved about myself that I feel like I wasted time. Being queer is kind of a ‘fuck you’ to this big hetero-normative world we live in where you are controlled by expectation.

I’ve had great success at finding a really amazing queer family, but within that I’ve learned to come to terms with the relative narrowness of my own experience and to respect other people more. I only know how to do me, but you know what? I love it. Tight jeans, big hair, and a mild obsession with Tonya Harding. The challenge I think is approaching this diverse community of queens and queers with enough compassion and respect to leave room for everyone to feel totally accepted.

Gay life in Portland is lively but small. I think after spending the last ten years here and being recently single, you realize how incestuous it can feel. For dating, that is. The community is fantastic. There are so many radical and wild people doing amazing performance art and throwing these really avant-garde parties and it’s mixed. Boys and girls. The lesbians and the gays in Portland get along really well and collaborate a lot. I think that’s rare to find in a lot of other cities and it lends itself to creating some really amazing artistic experiences.

When I was a little boy I was very effeminate. Before I even knew I was gay, people would call me a faggot and laugh at me and push me down. That stuck with me for a while and it made me feel ashamed to come out and really embrace myself. When I was a junior in high school though, I spent a year as an exchange student in Brazil. Being taken out of my own element like that really helped me grow. I came back thinking “You know what? Fuck this, I’m gay and I don’t care what you people think”. So I started coming out to people when I was 17. I told most of my family when I was 18, and they were all really cool about it. Actually I’ve never had a bad reaction to coming out to anyone, even as I continue to do so with new people I meet. Maybe part of that is living on the west coast, but people are always fine with it.

If I could give my younger self advice it would be to ignore the expectations of people whose opinions mean nothing. Don’t be afraid to shock or offend just because you’re in women’s clothes or your voice is high pitched. Just keep looking up and being as wild and queer as your heart desires, because that is your truth and it will totally set you free.”

Todd, Realtor, 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
Todd, in his own words: “Being gay to me means being a man who is attracted to and loves men, but also masculinity in its many iterations. I hear many gay men say that they feel like being gay is not that big of deal. For me it is still a fairly big deal, I feel that we are a special variation in the human species and are unique, both biologically and socially.

I feel like I have had very few obstacles as a result of coming out. Quite the contrary, it has opened doors that I otherwise never would have passed though and my life has been enriched as a result.

I came out 20 years ago this year. My parents read a college paper I wrote while I was studying abroad in Germany, in which it was obvious that the author was gay. It ended up being the ideal situation since they had a whole year to process it while I was overseas. They never said a word about it until I came out to them after I returned home to Portland. I felt compelled to come out when I did being that we were fighting one several anti-gay ballot measures that popped up in the 1990s, all of which were defeated at the ballot box by Oregon voters, thankfully. These events, although trying, did have the positive effect of compelling many people to come out. Portland has become more and more gay friendly ever since.

My advice to a younger version of me would be to be patient and enjoy life as it unfolds. It’s important to have goals but ultimately life is a process, not a plan. It’s an awesome journey and everyone has something to contribute that adds value to this world.”

Walter and Kit, Retiree and RN, Portland, Oregon

photo by Kevin Truong
Kit and Walter, 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
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
Kit and Walter, photo by Kevin Truong
Walter and Kit, in their own words: “We have been together for nearly 20 years and we will celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary next month. We were living and working in Boston when marriage equality was passed in 2004. We took advantage of it, even though we were unsure if it would remain legal, as there were many attempts to undo it.

Kit was born and raised in Singapore. He came here to go to college in Texas. We met soon after he took his first job out of college, in Philadelphia. He was just coming to grips with his sexuality. He approached me to be his pen pal on the web and I agreed. We did not meet in person for over six months but once we did, it was clear that we enjoyed one another a lot. Once he got his green card, Kit came to live with me in Boston.

I was raised in a conservative family and married early. By the time I met Kit I had served 23 years in the active Army and was working a second career. I was also out to everyone by then, which provided Kit great support in his coming out journey.

We have both prospered professionally and, as we are both in the same field now, we are able to give significant understanding and support to one another.

Being gay is an aspect of our life, an important one and one that we are proud of, but it does not rule our existence. We lead a pretty normal, home based, lifestyle. We have a nice circle of friends and remain close to our families. We try to be supportive of the local and national gay community in a variety of ways.

If we had any advice to give our younger selves it would be to be proud of who you are and how you live and worry less about what others think. As Oscar Wilde said: “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.”

Rodbernson, Choreographer, 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

Rodbernson, in his own words: “Being gay to me means to be proud and to be unapologetically sorry for being who you are. It means you don’t need anyone’s permission to love who you want. It means having the courage to be fierce.

One of my challenges was finding true love. I’m only 21, but finding love isn’t easy. It takes a lot to open up to someone. It takes trust, commitment, and communication to be in a relationship. I’m in the pursuit to happiness. One thing that makes me happy is dance. Movement is what keeps me going to reach my goals. I’m currently choreographing for local performers and hope to be successful as a choreographer. One day I’ll own my own dance studio to passionately teach dance as my job. Wake up. DANCE. Sleep. Repeat. That’s my dream, and no one can take that away from me.

The gay community in Portland is very small. Everyone seems to know someone through a friend or foe. Seems like everyone is partying on the daily basis.

I came out to my mother through a letter. I told her I was raped at the age of 6. She didn’t believe me. She kicked me out of my home at the age of 16. I had to grow up at a young age. Because of this I learned how to be independent and to trust no one.

Advice I would have given to my younger self: “Don’t cry over boys. Do some squats and make them cry wishin they still had that ass.”

Mic, Banker, Paris

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

Mic, in his own French words: “Pour moi, gay est une personne normale qui vit sa sexualité : la sexualité est privée et doit être épanouie. Il faut savoir se découvrir soi même.
Je pense que ce n’est pas un choix et qu’il faut vivre sa vie telle qu’on la ressent ; c’est aussi vrai pour son travail.

(les chalenges) Ne pas en parler à mon travail sauf à mon assistante ; ce n’est pas facile dans une banque alors qu’il y a autant de gays dans les banques que dans les autres entreprises.

(La communauté gay a Paris) Il y a le Marais et le reste de Paris : suis plutôt du reste de Paris où il y a aussi de nombreux gays que je connais et avec qui je dialogue, partage, sors, …

(l’histoire de ton coming-out) Avec ma famille, tout a été naturel et même ma mère a demandé à mon “mari” de s’occuper de moi. Avec les parents et les frères de mon “mari”, aucun souci
Avec mes ami(e)s, ils ont adoptés mon “mari” et inversement j’ai été adopté par ses ami(e)s.
Avec mes voisin(e)s et entourages et nos compagnons de voyages lointains, aucune discriminations ; nous avons de très bonnes relations et qui durent.

A Note From Szhakti, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia…

“Love

Some people says love was made in heaven, but optimists says love is how we build up our relationships with another person. It’s that moment, that second and that time where u decide this is what you haven’t the most.
But love isn’t easy, it hasn’t being easy.

Today love is more like a need than a commitment, its more to a way of life than living for each other. It’s like you have a steady sex buddy more than too wake up beside the person you love the next day.

I did try to love after Arun passed on to the other world, I did try to love again. Learn to love more preciously, but it is not an easy step as the people I cross through only look at the outer look and not the inner person who eager to fell love again, to feel the warm beat of the heart.

My friends say I never moved on at all and still clinging on my passed. It’s easy to say so but I did move on. It’s just that when I did the people whom I meet on my path only seek for the pleasure of the skin, some even made me a show doll and some even made me think I do still can fall in love but they all proved one thing ‘ Love isn’t easy at all’.

Love is all about understanding, to care and to be care, to share the feelings. To be passion about each other and to feel the Lub-Dub of your heart muscles when the special person beside you.
True love is hard to find.

It can’t be found it is just there when its meant to be it is. Like what oldies will say, ‘Love is made in heaven’, I guess just have to wait patiently for mine even though it has being 12 years im still looking for the lost treasure called ‘Love’.”

photo by Szhakti
photo by Szhakti

Donovan, Event Production/Musician, 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
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong

Donovan, in his own words: “Being queer to me is freedom. Freedom to be myself. Freedom to live, love or not love in the way that I choose. Being queer is dictating my life in a way that suits me and my ultimate health and happiness. Queer is a strength and rite of passage. I had to come here from some other place. I had to arrive at the place of my truest self.

Self acceptance was and is my biggest failure and also my greatest success. I still fail daily at releasing the ingrained moors of a restrictive and religious upbringing, abusive family construct and learned self-loathing. It’s also where my greatest triumph lies because I am learning daily to adore the creature I am, to nurture self-care and to be a solid pliable strength to those who maybe aren’t quite there yet. I learn a lot from falling down hard.

I don’t know too much about the gay community in Portland. It’s a different scene here than coming from the few other cities I’ve lived like Phoenix or Boston where everyone goes to the same bar week after week. Portland has a thriving queer/trans underground that is doing amazing things. In that “scene” I’ve found a family; a community that supports one another and lives each other’s triumphs and sorrows. I suppose it really depends on what you’re looking for what you’ll find. If one can’t understand that they can’t really know what they’re missing.

I did a bit of a peekaboo I think in coming out. I knew very young that I was attracted to men as I developed crushes on my friends and older male figures very rapidly early on in my childhood. I think to this day I tend to fall in love pretty quickly though much more tentatively.

I wrote a pretty graphic letter to my father when I was 13 in reaction to a rather violent abusive episode in particular; coming out to him out of spite I think. My parents ignored the letter and when I confronted them was told in a very stern Jamaican Patois that I wasn’t gay and to go to my room.

It took until I moved to Boston 6 years later for me to begin living as a then identified actualized gay man. I made a point to never sleep with the same guy twice for years and used to keep a black moleskin documenting each of my sexual escapades in the city with a descriptor of the trick, the act, and the date. I stopped when I filled the book.

I ended up re-closeting myself when I got signed to an indie record label in 2003 fresh out of school. They felt It didn’t fit the image and I wasn’t as strong as I am now to disagree. I became incredibly depressed and suicidal and even manic at times. That shame we carry can eat a soul up. I think those were probably some of my darkest days.

When I was dropped from the label and that door closed I moved to Portland to start afresh. I came here to rekindle a music career and ended up finding a community and family that support me in my growth as a spiritual being and decent human. I’m 10 times beyond where I ever imagined I could be as an actualized and accepted queer person of color. Things aren’t perfect but I am constantly growing and evolving. That will forever be my story.

I’d tell my (younger)self that I didn’t have to change a thing. That I was perfect from the get go…that I still am. To relax. It’s seriously all gonna turn out fine. To trust my gut. It’s the strongest asset I have. Most of all, that my strength is in my softness. Cultivate that.”