My Carrie Bradshaw Moment.

photo by Sam
photo by Sam

I spent about a decade of my life hiding the fact I was gay from everyone I knew. Everyone.

I used to cruise gay chatrooms on America Online (when that was still a thing) hiding behind an anonymous screen name talking to guys in Alabama, or Michigan, or Rhode Island. I use to buy gay porn at the porn store hiding behind a baseball cap and sunglasses. The first time I attempted to go to a gay bar I drove the 30 minutes to get there, circled the block five times, parked, and then drove off. I was too scared to go in.

But that was a long time ago.

It took a long time to get to the place where I’m at today. It took me coming out to everyone I knew, it took me coming out to my family, it took a lot of trips to a lot of gay bars, and it took me quitting the Peace Corps because I chose to not live in country where it was illegal to be gay. It even took me starting a little blog called the Gay Men Project.

The point is, I don’t hide the fact that I’m gay anymore. It’s kind of all out there.

So when one of my alma maters asked to use me in their newest ad campaign, showcasing my work with the Gay Men Project, I of course said yes. They were going to put me on a bus, and how often do people get to see their face on a bus? Outside the world of Carrie Bradshaw, not often.

I was stoked.

I was excited.

And when I heard my buses were up and running, I scoured the entire city of Portland looking for it.

I spent an entire day sitting downtown, waiting at the bus mall, hoping to see my face drive by. It didn’t. But one of the buses with the same ad campaign, but showcasing a different person, drove by and I got a taste of what my ad was going to look like.

And a funny thing happened. I had a moment of panic. The ad was huge. It was the entire side of the bus. My face was going to be on the entire side of a bus, and the word gay was going to plastered in big white block letters right next to that face. And that gay face was going to be parading on buses all over my hometown.

It’s funny, some things in life stick with you, or find ways to creep back in. And that kid who spent so many years hiding in the closet, well he was starting to panic again.

Obviously, everyone in my life knows I’m gay. And I’m sure a good amount of people I’ve never even met know I’m gay. I take a lot of pride in being the creator of the Gay Men Project. But there’s just something a bit harrowing about having a very public outing to quite possibly the entirety of your hometown.

I didn’t know how I was going to react when I actually saw my bus.

But I was still going to find it.

So the next day, I was on the search again. I was able to narrow down a few of the bus lines my ad campaign was running on, and I set up camp. I sat at the intersection of NE Killingsworth and Albina, and I waited. I sat. I was going to find my bus.

And after an hour and half of waiting I finally did. My bus drove by.

And you know what? The moment I did see my face, and the word gay next to that face, I wasn’t embarrassed. I wasn’t ashamed or regretful. All I could think about was how fucking proud I was. My gay face was on a fucking bus and that’s pretty fucking awesome.

It had taken a lot to get me there, and I was going to bask in the moment. And so I did.

Eat your heart out, Carrie Bradshaw.

13 comments

  1. Jem

    Wow! Wow! Wow! Go! Go! Go! Kevin! This is amazing! Was thrilled to read your blog and my heart was in my mouth over your trepidation and tears were in my eyes at your exhilaration when you finally saw your face and gay together on the bus! What a moment! You are such an inspiration. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  2. Jem

    Ah, there it is. Funny. Until I posted the comment asking to see a photo it only showed you victory signing and the back of the bus, but when I posted the whole bus came up. Great!

  3. Ray Smythe

    Kevin…..I just love the picture. It is so cool and I am so very happy for you. Your high school history teacher is extremely PROUD of you. Enjoy the ride and remember my quote for your project….it is so true.

  4. Manuel Cardoso

    Enjoy the moment, Carpe Diem, enjoy life, you deserve it.
    And your text was quite a thrill to read.
    We have to thank you for this project and I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.
    Manel

  5. Brenda E.

    Kevin – so very PROUD of you.

    Here is the campaign slogan:

    When we are fearless, knowledge has no limits — and neither do our hopes and dreams. We work to be the best, do something bold, make something real. http://www.pdx.edu/fearless/

    Having been a fan of yours since you were in our “Intro. to Business” class over a decade ago, I can say that you embody the idea that knowledge has no limits and that sometime stereotypes are wrong and culture has to change. Individuals often impose their own limits, and construct the bars for their own cage. You don’t do that. Whether it is running for class president, joining the Peace corp, helping after Katrina, or writing a little blog that will help change the world.

    Fearless isn’t about not being scared, it is all about not letting that stop you from moving forward. Safe travels! Love to you!

  6. Luiz Claudio

    Compliments, Kevin…! And Ray (Smythe): you cannot mention your “quote for (Kevin´s) project” without revealing its terms…that´s unfair

  7. Erik Urdahl

    Hey Kevin, Erik here. First time seeing a picture of this bus. Love that you were able to get that shot and am stoked to hear you like the photo. Going into that shoot I was really nervous since I was photographing another photographer, but you were great to work with. Keep up the noble work!

  8. Darren

    This website of yours is one of the highlights of my day. I love seeing your beautiful, thoughtful photos, and reading the very personal stories shared by the subjects. All the best with your project. :)

  9. Pingback: Happy Birthday to the Gay Men Project. | The Gay Men Project

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