Gary, Virtual Receptionist, 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
Gary, in his own words: “For me, being “gay” means I am a man attracted to men. It’s indicative of my dating life and many of the social circles I find myself in. Being “queer,” on the other hand, means that I am different from the mainstream. Insofar as my sexuality and gender expression don’t fit into the dominant culture, I am queer. I didn’t realize how interconnected your gender and sexual identities are until I came out. Coming out as gay and embracing my sexuality also meant accepting who I am as a man. I always felt I was different from other boys; I was often deemed a little “feminine” or made fun of for being sensitive or not as into sports like many boys were. I hated my differences, but over the years, and ultimately through coming out, I have learned to love myself for all that I am. I am a gay, queer man and I couldn’t be more proud.

I grew up with a loving father, but he struggled with alcoholism for the better part of my childhood. He carried so much shame, which inhibited his ability to be an even better father. Growing into manhood and figuring out what it meant to be a man was a solitary journey. I count that as a success though; of course it was hard, but it made me stronger and has shaped me into who I am today. Another life challenge was losing my father in a car accident when I was 15. It forced me to grow up quickly, as the oldest man in the house and a source of strength for my mom and brother. I count overcoming that challenge a success too. Other successes I’m proud of include being a first generation university graduate; coming from a family with little financial means, I attended a private university and got my Bachelor’s degree. Immediately after college I spent a year and a half living in a slum in Bangkok doing community development work. I came out during that time, brought about by being away from home and being able to process things more clearly. Growing up in a religious household, not everyone in my life was receptive of it, and it’s certainly been a challenge learning how to love them or draw boundaries where necessary. The struggle is worth it though. Overall, my time in Thailand was difficult, but it made me stronger and I grew so much from it.

My coming out story is an interesting one. I grew up in a conservative, Christian world and I sincerely loved the Church and the ways it enriched my life. My views on queer people began to change my junior year of college when one of my professors came out as transgender. For the first time in my life I was challenged to think through my beliefs and figure out why I believed the things I did. It was through that time that I became affirming for LGBT people. Interestingly enough, I still thought I was straight and merely dealt with “same-sex attractions,” as it’s often called in the Christian world. Years later, while living in Thailand, I was so ashamed over my attractions that I couldn’t bear it any longer. I realized the only way to be free was to call my sexuality for what it is; I initially came out as “bi,” because that was the next safest step for me. Eventually though, I realized I’m solely attracted to men and began identifying as “gay.” Over the course of six months I came out to my closest friends, immediate family, and extended family, as we’ve always been close. I wanted to be transparent with everyone in my life, even if it meant potentially losing relationships.

There’s a decent queer community here in Portland. When I moved here I really wanted to be a part of a church that accepts queer people, so Portland being the inclusive and welcoming city that it is, that was easy to find. There’s a group of us queer people who always sit together at church and we often make jokes about the queer section we’ve established. It’s been a healing and restorative thing, being able to bring every part of me to church without hiding anything; I wish there were more churches like that. I’ve only experienced a little bit of the gay nightlife here, but it’s been more than welcoming. From my work place to walking around town, I never feel threatened or the need to hide my sexuality. I feel like I can be myself everywhere I go.

If I could give my younger self advice I would encourage him to think for himself, not to blindly accept the beliefs of others, and to think about why he believes the way he does. Ultimately, I would tell him not to fear others or what they think of him.”

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.”

Joffrey and Panya, with their sons Reaksa and Khemara, Kep, Cambodia

photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
Joffrey, in his own words: “(Being gay means) being a Dad – being a Husband after all.

Having my family which is my husband and our 2 kids. It is my best achievement. I am so proud of who we are. Being a Dad, is a real job and I am loving it. We both take it seriously as we do not wish to fail. It is quite hard to describe the happiness of having a family through all those mixed emotions.

I remember having a job interview and being asked: “what is your best achievement in life?” and I answered naturally: “My family, my kids”…oh well I did not get the job by the way!

Today, we both work hard for them, to make sure that their present & future time is secure. But to be able to work hard – I do source myself into their energies. I get my strength to work hard & be a good employee through their joy & happiness. It is all connected in a way.

(With regards to coming out) I left my home country (France) when I was 19. So it was for me easy to be myself in the UK. Therefore – when I had my first long term relationship I emailed my mum and my older sister (The younger one knew it already) Not a nice way to tell them (not very brave of me to do so). I expected them to be upset. I guess I just did not know them very well – weird to say but realistic. I was wrong. It has never been for anyone living around me/us an issue.

(The community in Kep, Cambodia is) Very gay friendly.

(Advice I’d give my younger self) Be happy when other people are happy. Be yourself. Show to others your happiness of being who you are.”