Jason and Sheening, Future Stay-at-Home Dad and Clinical Psychologist, San Francisco

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

Jason, in his own words: “When I was 15, I started suspecting I was gay, and I was terrified of people finding out about it. Growing up in the suburbs of Maryland, I never had any exposure to any gay people or culture. The only knowledge I had about gay people was that there was AIDS, being called “gay” was a derogatory term, and that gay people would never have a good ending in life. For years I felt like I carried this deep dark secret that I could never tell anyone that I was close to, and this fear delayed my coming out for many years. I felt hopeless about my future, and thought I was going to be lonely for the rest of my life.

However, my worldview took a wide turn after I came out and met several gay couples in long-term, loving relationships. Seeing gay people build a happy life together was discordant to my idea of what it meant to be gay, and it enabled me to have a more hopeful vision of my future.

When I first came out, the beginning experience was a bit strange because it felt like I just discovered the 9¾ platform to the gay world (Harry Potter reference there, for those who don’t know). At the time, I was pretty excited, but also felt disconnected because none of my straight friends knew where I was on weekends, as they have never heard of places like Rage or the Abbey. It was a secret world that I shared with other gay people in my circle of friends that my straight friends knew very little about. Through this experience, I have understood that being gay is not one’s whole being, but just a dimension of a person’s livelihood like being a younger brother or a volunteer raft guide on the weekends.”

Sheening, in his own words: “Being gay is just a piece of who I am, albeit an important part….just how important has become clearer as the years have passed, through the gathering of life experience and much self-reflection. I believe this process started with finally coming out to myself, at 24, and then coming out to my family six months later. I came out to my family before I had any real connection with the gay community – I did not have gay friends (or at least none that I knew were gay), had never stepped foot in a gay bar, and hadn’t even ventured online to gay sites. At the time, I believed I had made a pragmatic decision to get the hardest part of the process out of the way – coming out to my immediate family – so that the rest of it would be easy, in comparison. I have a slightly different understanding now, more than a decade later. I believe I came out to my family first because I wanted a true idea of what family means to me – what I have a right to expect of family and what they have a right to expect from me. In order to form that sense of family, I knew I had to start from a place of honesty and intimacy.

It’s with these things in mind that I’ve gradually built another family in San Francisco – my family in the gay community. I truly love the celebration of cultural diversity in this city – whether it be through street fairs, Pride celebrations, or political debate. Open debate and open communication are both hallmarks of life in San Francisco and, as a gay Asian American man, this has provided the perfect space to find both the intersections of my various cultural identities and where more self-exploration might be needed. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet people who are like-minded enough to enjoy shared pursuits and activities, but also willing to challenge and express different opinions. I am grateful to have a family here that supports me, my partner, and our work to build a life together.”

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