Last night The Gay Men Project website finally reached one million views. Admittedly, compared to the popularity of other websites, this may not seem too noteworthy. But to me, it was an important personal milestone. When I started the Gay Men Project four years ago, I was at the lowest point in my life. A lot of the struggles and conflicts I had had as a young, closeted, gay man had started to resurface. But as an adult. And I was embarrassed. I didn’t understand why these feelings of shame, these feelings of being underserving of love, these feelings of wishing I wasn’t gay, were still being felt at the age of twenty-nine, while living in New York City, and after having lived the majority of my adult life as an openly gay man. One night, at my lowest, I found myself sitting alone on the roof of my six floor apartment building in Greenwich village, not quite sure of why I was up there. I realized I had entered a scary place. And so I reached out for help.
I sought out counseling at the Gay Men’s Health Clinic in New York City. I started reaching out to friends. Specifically, my gay male friends, asking them of their own experiences. And then I started doing what I love. I started photographing. I started photographing my gay male friends in New York City, and asking them to share their stories. And then I went to London to visit my good friend Melissa, and I photographed gay men there. And then I went to my hometown of Portland, and photographed gay men there. And then I went to eighty-seven cities across thirty-seven countries and photographed over seven hundred gay and queer men around the world.
I started the Gay Men Project for inherently selfish reasons. I needed to seek out these other individuals, and immerse myself in their stories, as a way to understand my own story. Every single person in the Gay Men Project I met firsthand. Every single person opened up their lives to me and shared a piece of themselves. Every single person made me feel less alone. It has always been my hope that the Gay Men Project can offer the same level of comfort to others that it has offered for me. And so from the bottom of my heart, to everyone who has participated in this work, and everyone who has supported it, thank you for helping me build what I hope can be a a source of light, from what was once a very dark place in my own life. You all have my gratitude and love. Thanks for the one million views.