James, Student, Portland, Ore.

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

James, in his own words: “Hmmm, well I don’t like the word gay anymore because this question is derogatory. You wouldn’t ask someone what it means to be black or poor, or whatever. But since you asked, I’ll do my best to answer this question. I don’t think it means anything in particular. I mean, being gay does present challenges and obstacles just like every other minority or in some cases the majority experiences. It’s definitely not easy at all, and it still challenging, but for guys of my age group or older it was a lot harder for us when we were teenagers trying to figure ourselves out then it is for someone who’s a teenager now just coming and trying to figure themselves out. With 19 states now allowing gay marriage, it’s meaning more then it used to. Being gay means that I am just like everyone else. I’m no different then anyone else who isn’t gay, but I feel that it makes me appreciate life more and strive more to achieve my goals than others who aren’t. The way I see it we are just another group of people, that’s it.

Well, I’ve definitely had a lot of challenges in my life and because I’m gay I’ve had more then most straight people from my experience. I had it hard growing up in school and had a particular hard time making friends because I didn’t conform to the gender and valued norms of my time. As I got older I felt isolated which made it hard for me to feel confident to achieve the best I could. I felt limited and held back because I didn’t feel like I was accepted for who I was(before I came out).

After I did I was tied up with discrimination and hate because of who I was. It was hard for me to keep a job or housing because no one(not even my own mother at the time) would accept me, or want to give me a chance because I was gay and stigimized in to being a failure just because I wasn’t living up the expectations that were being shoved in my face. It got better as the years went on and as the laws around the country are changing it’s easier for gay people to be themselves and live their lives. But even with all this new found acceptance, there will always be some degree of challenges and limitations that gay people will face because this world is still full of hate and discrimination. Our fight for equality will be over.

(My coming out) was rough to say the least. I came out 4 months after I graduated high school because I was too afraid to come out during high school. I came home after a long day at work and my mom was in my room on my computer playing games, but had also gone through my search history. She asked me about it and I just said we should talk about it later because I was tired and wanted to rest. The next day we had “the talk” for about an hour and after I couldn’t stall it anymore, I fessed up. After I told her we didn’t speak for about 2 months and I had to deal with my family calling me to confirm, but most of them were very supportive, well my sisters anyway, and my dad only said that he wanted grandchildren. Side note: he passed away in 2009 so he wouldn’t have lived to see them anyway because I don’t want kids anyway.

But my two older half sisters were the most supportive and understanding of me while my mom and younger sister were more closed off. My mom used to write me letters harassing me and telling me how much of a failure I was and that she wasn’t going to allow me to influence my younger sister. I wrote her letters back a few times and then just stopped, and after I stopped, she also stopped. It took about 6 years for her to come around, and we get along now, but I still hold those memories in the back of my mind every time I think about this question.

What advice would I give my younger self? Hmmmm well I would definitely cover my tracks better and then when the time was right and I wasn’t still living with her I would have told her that I was asexual and not interested in men or woman, nor was I interested in having children. Then I would have told here that I was gay, and if she didn’t like it then she didn’t have to, but I wouldn’t be in her life anymore. I would have said that if you can’t accept me for who I was then she never did really accept me and that she’s not a true Christian. I would have said that she failed in being a loving accepting parent and I’m better off alone and to have a nice life. I wouldn’t have yelled or screamed. I would have said my piece and left it at that.

I would also give younger guys just coming out to not go through life always gaining the acceptance if it’s not there to begin with. Always do you and worry about yourself because at the end of the day the only person who has your back is you and even family can stab you in the back. Don’t rely on others to support you if they can’t accept you for who you are. Only surround yourself with people who love and support you.

–Blessed be.”

“”To fear love is to fear life, and those who fear life are already 3-parts dead.”
–Bertrand Russell”

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