Donovan, Event Production, Portland, Oregon

photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
Donovan, in his own words: “Being queer to me is freedom. Freedom to be myself. Freedom to live, love or not love in the way that I choose. Being queer is dictating my life in a way that suits me and my ultimate health and happiness. Queer is a strength and rite of passage. I had to come here from some other place. I had to arrive at the place of my truest self.

Self acceptance was and is my biggest failure and also my greatest success. I still fail daily at releasing the ingrained moors of a restrictive and religious upbringing, abusive family construct and learned self-loathing. It’s also where my greatest triumph lies because I am learning daily to adore the creature I am, to nurture self-care and to be a solid pliable strength to those who maybe aren’t quite there yet. I learn a lot from falling down hard.

I don’t know too much about the gay community in Portland. It’s a different scene here than coming from the few other cities I’ve lived like Phoenix or Boston where everyone goes to the same bar week after week. Portland has a thriving queer/trans underground that is doing amazing things. In that “scene” I’ve found a family; a community that supports one another and lives each other’s triumphs and sorrows. I suppose it really depends on what you’re looking for what you’ll find. If one can’t understand that they can’t really know what they’re missing.

I did a bit of a peekaboo I think in coming out. I knew very young that I was attracted to men as I developed crushes on my friends and older male figures very rapidly early on in my childhood. I think to this day I tend to fall in love pretty quickly though much more tentatively.

I wrote a pretty graphic letter to my father when I was 13 in reaction to a rather violent abusive episode in particular; coming out to him out of spite I think. My parents ignored the letter and when I confronted them was told in a very stern Jamaican Patois that I wasn’t gay and to go to my room.

It took until I moved to Boston 6 years later for me to begin living as a then identified actualized gay man. I made a point to never sleep with the same guy twice for years and used to keep a black moleskin documenting each of my sexual escapades in the city with a descriptor of the trick, the act, and the date. I stopped when I filled the book.

I ended up re-closeting myself when I got signed to an indie record label in 2003 fresh out of school. They felt It didn’t fit the image and I wasn’t as strong as I am now to disagree. I became incredibly depressed and suicidal and even manic at times. That shame we carry can eat a soul up. I think those were probably some of my darkest days.

When I was dropped from the label and that door closed I moved to Portland to start afresh. I came here to rekindle a music career and ended up finding a community and family that support me in my growth as a spiritual being and decent human. I’m 10 times beyond where I ever imagined I could be as an actualized and accepted queer person of color. Things aren’t perfect but I am constantly growing and evolving. That will forever be my story.

I’d tell my (younger)self that I didn’t have to change a thing. That I was perfect from the get go…that I still am. To relax. It’s seriously all gonna turn out fine. To trust my gut. It’s the strongest asset I have. Most of all, that my strength is in my softness. Cultivate that.”


  1. Anurag

    It was great to share your feelings. The world is never ready for change, but when they will read your article they will start to understand that there is nothing “wrong” about it.

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