Gary, Episcopal Priest, Cleveland, Ohio

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

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

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

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

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

Jenabi, Architect, Singapore

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers to uncertainty, spontaneousity and love.

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

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

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

He is more than just a friend.

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

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

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

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

I’d experience love and being love.

I matter to someone and respected .

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

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

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

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

Simon, Sales Director, Montreal, Canada

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

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

photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong

photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
Simon, in his own words: “Être homosexuel, bon ou mauvais ou les deux ? Le plus difficile est de l’accepter pour soi-même. Après l’acception il reste à l’intégrer, une fois intégré on y trouve du bon, on grandit et on se dit qu’il y a pire que ça dans la vie !

Ça débute par faire le deuil de notre idéal de vie que l’on c’était imaginé dès le jeune âge, d’un modèle de famille qu’on croyait facilement réalisable. La frustration et la colère s’emparent de nous et nous fait regarder en l’air pour envoyer chier le bon dieu de nous imposer un tel défi. On voudrait négocier avec lui un cancer, voir même une amputation en remplacement de ce mal étrange et intense qui nous habite. On cherche à qui s’identifier dans ce nouvel univers d’hyper sexualisation auquel on n’a pas envie d’adhérer malgré la pression qui nous y pousse. On est confronté à nos propres préjugés, on se déconstruit pour retrouver une nouvelle identité, on tente de se trouver de nouveaux repères, non sans peur, angoisse ni vertige.

Puis on se dévoile au grand jour, on cesse de se mentir et de mentir aux autres, sauf à sa grand-mère trop vieille pour comprendre, on fait face aux préjugés, les nôtres et ceux des autres, on a peur d’aimer, de s’ouvrir, on se le reproche et on renvoie chier le bon dieu, on s’achète un pantalon trop serré et on le rapporte au magasin. L’ambiguïté s’installe entre ce qui est normal et malsain, on avance et on revient sur nos pas.

Et puis un jour on aperçoit la lumière au bout du tunnel, on respire une bonne bouffée d’air. On se regarde dans le miroir et enfin on aime assez ce qu’on y voit. On regarde derrière sans avoir envie d’y retourner. Finalement on se reconstruit dans une authenticité qui nous réjouit et on se rend compte qu’on ne le déteste pas tant que ça ce Christ. On prend conscience que ce détour obligatoire nous a fait voyager à travers nous-même, nous a permis de s’ouvrir aux autres, de s’ouvrir à la différence, on se sent entier et enfin libre. Alors on desserre les poings et on trouve que tout ça en valait la peine.”

In English:

“Being gay, is it good, bad, or both? The hardest part of being gay is accepting yourself. Once that’s done, you can integrate your sexuality into your daily life, you grow, and you realize that there are worst things in life than being gay!

As a child we have this ideal of what a family is, and we assume that we’ll easily attain that dream, but the realization that you’re gay turns that notion on its head – in the beginning. We lose ourselves to anger and frustration, cursing a god that would impose such a harsh life on us. We try to negotiate with him, maybe a cancer, or an amputation, anything to rid ourselves of these strange feelings that have taken hold. We search for someone to identify with in this new hyper-sexualized world, a world we want no part of, despite the pressure we feel to conform to it. We face our own prejudices, and in the process we deconstruct ourselves to find a new identity, and new support systems, without fear or anxiety.

Then the big day comes, we stop lying to ourselves and to everyone else, well, maybe not grandma, she’s too old to understand; we face prejudice, both our own and those of others, we’re afraid to love, or to open up, and we blame ourselves, and again, we curse god, we buy those skinny jeans that are much too tight, only to return them. Ambiguity settles in between what is right and wrong, we take one step forward and two steps back.

Then one day, we see the light at the end of the tunnel, and we can finally breathe. Our reflection in the mirror is finally one that we can tolerate, more than that, we see someone that we finally like. We look back on the past without longing to return to it. Eventually we find happiness being our authentic self, and acknowledge that maybe we were a little hard on God earlier. We realize that this detour was necessary and forced us to examine ourselves, it let us open ourselves to others, it helped us to accept our differences, and we finally feel free. We can now let go of all that tension we held, and we find that it was all worth it.”