Victor, in his own words: ”
1. What does being gay mean to you?
2. What challenges have you faced?
3. What’s the gay scene/community like in Los Angeles?
4. What’s your coming out story?
1: Male income, no kids And having much more fun.
2: Not many, big hair in humid climates, and unruly cats.
3: Very diverse, in my scene, very supportive and friendly.
4: Not too dramatic, I think when my parents watched me leave the house at age 17 in platform shoes, maternity top and a Afro wig, and my brother wearing our mothers teddy…… the cat may had been out of the bag.
All kidding aside, I’m very blessed to have been surrounded by lots of support and love, as a child and an adult.
My being Gay has never really been a big deal, it was just part of who I am.
Joe, in his own words: “What does being gay mean to you? That question implies that I know any different. Like, I was straight once and now gay, so I know what the two worlds of sexuality feel like. Even before coming out, I felt something different, something denied, and so my experience as a “straight” man was very much based on what I thought being straight looked like from my gay man’s perspective. So, being gay to me isn’t really any different from what any other person feels like about their sexuality internally, it just is, and nothing more.
I have (knock on wood) been very lucky in terms of challenges because of my sexuality. My lovely parents, had a small difficulty when I first came out, mostly relating to not understanding gay life. My mother thought I would get AIDS and die (not just HIV, but full blown AIDS) and my father thought that I just wasn’t giving women a fair chance, and if I just kept trying, I would find the right lady! I think mostly they were also concerned about legacy. To this day, neither of their children have created a grand child, and although they act like it’s alright, I know a part of them mourns that both of their children are not in relationships where grandchildren are possible (okay, before you queens all stomp around telling me how many options are available for me to have kids, note this, when I first came out, my parents didn’t see those options, and now; I don’t WANT children).
Though they had a lack of understanding, there has always been a very important lesson that they taught me; be myself! I stood out in school and social life not only because I was more effeminate than the other boys, but because I didn’t care to be any other way. I wasn’t going to be fake, because I wasn’t taught to conform. I was taught to experience life on my terms, and I’m grateful to my parents for that, because it’s very confusing to people who live in a bubble of repression and denial. Sure, I have my repressions and denials and longed to belong to the “cool kids” in school, but because I refused to be anything but myself, they had NO idea what to do with me, and left me alone for the most part.
Having said that, I suffered greatly at teasing, I have lost job opportunities as a result of my sexuality (thanks San Diego Unified School District), and have confused the hell out of people to a point where they called me names, but that is other people’s problem. I’m not an advocate for change, I’m just trying to live my life. My sexuality is second to my personality, and although sometimes I forget that and cry when someone calls me a name, I never stop expressing myself as a person and start just living within my sexuality. I hope that makes sense.
The community in Los Angeles that I see is a split one. I can tell where someone lives geographically in this city by the clothes they wear or the length of their beard. So, it seems like there are two distinct gay cultures, and neither of them really enjoys the company of the other or understand what the other actually does. Within those two cultures, there are a lot of similarities. We still get to choose our families, we still get to go out with the boys to a bar on a Saturday night (much gay culture revolves around bars, not because we are all heavy drinkers, or know how to party, but because it’s a safe space for us to express who we are…even if who we are differs by the street we live on). We are all surprisingly alike, but refuse to conform to the non-conformity of the east or west side depending on where we live. I don’t enjoy myself in West Hollywood. I am looked at as old (I’m 34). I’m looked at as out of shape, my beard is too long, I don’t wear enough tank tops, I have untamed hair on my chest. But, the funny thing is is that we are all sharing in a very similar experience. I guess straight people judge different groups of straight people as well, so we are not special in terms of our separation as a community. We all work together on the things that matter. They can have their Weho bars, just don’t forget that we are fighting for the things that matter together, like equality and acceptance by the broader community!
My coming out story isn’t grand or dramatic. I told you my parent’s reaction about their challenge as parents. But, I came out when I was 15. I was at summer camp for a month and had an epiphany that the feelings about men that I was experiencing were real and okay to feel. I didn’t have my first sexual experience until later that year, and there was no weirdness about it. It all felt right. My greatest challenge actually revolved around religion. I was a catholic (an alter boy even), and I enjoyed religion so much. I struggled with God’s love and if God would still love me. But, knew that what was more important was my love for myself. I met some older gay men at my first job (older meaning in their 30’s when I was in my teens), and they helped me to understand how normal of a life I can live as a gay man. That was important! I didn’t know I could live a normal life, and I do, and I’m grateful for all the other gay men before me who weren’t able to, so that I could live one. Like I said, it wasn’t grand. It was just a (and continues to be) a search for an ability to live a quiet life where I don’t have to worry about unacceptance while still getting to be myself.”