Sheldon, in his own words:“Being gay means you are given special permission to be your truest self. The challenge was finding those few that you aspire to who share your architecture. Once I found out I shared the design of Baldwin, Rustin, Hughes and other countless greats, I embraced that as a gift. I find DC to be an affirming place, a rare space in this world, where who I am, doesn’t challenge what I do. Coming out started as an internal process. Once you’ve worked yourself through the mire of sexuality, you’ll have the infrastructure to support yourself once you start sharing your genuine self with the world.
Thanks again for this opportunity to share. I am intrigued to hear more of your story sometime too.”
Chris, in his own words:“Being gay to me means simply that I am open to an emotional and physical relationship with someone of the same gender as me. It also means that I choose to live that life openly and publicly in all facets of my life.
I have been very gifted to have a family that loves me for me, and that includes my being gay. This reality was never an issue for them and it is a testament to the genuine and authentic love that we share as a family. My friends and especially my work colleagues have always appreciated my forthrightness and honesty though it has never been “my burning issue.” My burning issue is Public Education and the support of it and that includes supporting LGBTQ youth as they travel on their evolving journey.
The gay community (in Phoenix) is very diverse and spread out but it also reflects the larger social community of Phoenix and its surrounding areas. The expansive spread of the Valley (thats how we refer to the area of Phoenix) causes there to be a lack of community feel at times like other older American cities. The challenge comes in making sure that we can come together over issues that affect us all as gays and not allowing those looking to bifurcate us as a way to keep us suppressed.
I was convinced for many years (pre-teen and teen) that the feelings I was having were a phase or something that I could compartmentalize. I dated girls and women, but always saw my sexuality as something that I could turn on or off. It wasn’t until I realized that there was a very supportive and vibrant community in Chicago (where I lived until 28) and that I did seek to have more than a physical bond with a man, that I chose to come out at 23. I think one needs to come out to oneself before they come out to others, something others need to realize is that the coming out process is personal first, and public second.
(Advice I’d give my younger self) Chris, you did things correctly and the way they should have occurred for you. I am not sure I would advise differently, since I cannot change the past, but in hindsight, I’m quite proud of the path my life has taken, and I not about to start to eulogize myself! :)”
Pablo, in his own words:“The way I see it, being gay is just another part of my personality. I don´t follow a so-called “gay lifestyle” and I usually don´t like things gay people like. I´d like to think of me as a guy who likes guys.
Being gay in Argentina doesn´t mean hiding all the time. Gay marriage is legal here and being homosexual is not frowned upon, as it is in many other more “civilized” countries. It´s just OK to be gay. You won´t be rejected in a job interview for being openly gay, and cases of homophobia are quite uncommon. I don´t see any challenges or successes that I got from the sole act of being gay. I personally think that these challenges and successes are part of our everyday life, our social circle, our community and, most important, our attitude. We have to live with it. That´s all.
To be honest I haven´t come out yet. I know that my mother and my sister know something about my sexuality but we don´t talk about it. My father doesn´t know anything. I don’t know if he is blind or if he is just not accepting it. Anyways, I feel that I am stuck with this because I don´t want to hurt him.
(With regards to the gay community in Buenos Aires) I would say that it is very active. Buenos Aires is a big city, so there are parties almost every weekend. Being gay is accepted and normal.
(With regards to advice to my younger self)I would probably tell myself not to be afraid to come out. The sooner, the better.”