Kevin, in his own words:“For all of the challenges I had growing up gay, I can see now the path being laid out for me. Had I not felt so different from others, I may not have felt the need to leave my conservative hometown for college. If things weren’t tough for me as a closeted gay kid, I may not have studied psychology to figure out myself and learn how to deal with others too.
Had I not felt weird and alone I may not have painted as much, started writing, become absorbed with music and design, or any of the other creative pursuits that I love… If not for all these things combined, I may not have been comfortable eventually coming out to my friends and family, something I was terrified about at the time but was the single best decision I’ve ever made for sure.
Being gay has made all the difference in my life. Though it’s funny to write, I realize now how fortunate I was to grow up feeling weird and awkward… It gave me a unique point of view and forced me to explore the world. In the process of doing so, I developed my confidence, creativity, and capacity for understanding others. Above all else, I formed a really great circle of friends and met the love of my life too. So as tough as it may have been for me to be gay at certain points in my life, I wouldn’t take back any of the challenges I’ve had. They made me who I am and I’m happier for them, definitely.”
Brad, in his own words:“I love being gay. I almost feel bad saying that, because I know there are still many people who face serious prejudice, hatred, and danger because of it. But, part of the reason I love being gay is because I feel like I can help pave the way for others, just like others have done for me. While I’m a lot of different things—including a marketer, crossfitter, cyclist, runner, actor, volunteer, husband, son, brother-in-law, and uncle—being gay is at my core and I think it’s important to be out in every aspect of my life for my own happiness and truth, and to support others in theirs.
When I think about the nearly 20 years since I came out, a lot has changed. To me, the most poignant demonstration of that change is actually through my parents’ journey. When I came out to them in 1994, they were scared for me. They were afraid I’d be ostracized from my friends as we got older and they went off and had “normal” families. They didn’t want their friends to know because they didn’t think they could ever understand or look at them or me in the same way. They thought I’d be limited in my choices of where I could live, where I could work, and what I could do with my life.
Fast-forward to our wedding in 2006 and the joy my parents had as Allen and I got married in front of them and about 150 of our friends and family members. All the people who they were worried would desert me were there. Their close friends, who they never thought they could tell, were there. The evening was filled with laugher, some tears, lots of hugs, and lots and lots of dancing.
We now happily live in Boston, in the state that was first in the nation to legalize same sex marriage over nine years ago. While I’ve heard some lament that the gay “scene” here is pretty limited, I think that’s largely due to broader acceptance and more people being open/out in every facet of their life. It results in less of a need for gay people to have as many places that we can call only “ours”. I have gay and straight friends at work, at crossfit, who I cycle with, who I know from theater, in our neighborhood, etc., so I don’t usually feel a need to go somewhere to be with gay people, as I’m with them all the time. “
Allen, in his own words: I knew I was gay at a really young age, but I was convinced that I could live a ‘normal’ life, that the feelings would subside. But they didn’t no matter how hard I tried – and I’m a pretty determined person.
It wasn’t until I completed grad school that I decided to deal with my sexuality. I was 31, had my dream job, a great group of friends and a loving family, but I wasn’t that happy something was missing. So I decided it was time to come out. I was initially concerned with telling people…probably less so because I was gay, but because I felt like I’d been living a lie and had been dishonest to my friends and family. So, to make sure I didn’t back out – I did what all good consultants do – I read every book on coming out, identified ‘best practices’ and made a timeline – a project plan of sorts, with milestone dates to tell my friends and family.
My friends and family were incredibly supportive and happy for me. And, I have to say, if I could choose between being straight and gay, I’d choose gay. I’ve met the love of my life and married my best friend and I’d not have it any other way.”
Noam and Daniel, in their own words:“Tel Aviv is quite a liberal place within a not-always-liberal country. It is a bubble, in many ways parallel to how NYC is viewed within the US.
Gays are an influential part of the society in Tel Aviv: in politics, in media and in culture. Before moving to Cambridge, we both worked full time as journalists in Ha’aretz Newspaper’s culture section, covering arts and architecture on a daily basis. We were one of the only couples there, and perhaps the only gay couple. Personally we can’t say being gay had any negative influence on how we were viewed, it never created any special challenges. We never hid our sexual orientation, quite the contrary.
Though we are pretty new in Boston / Cambridge, we can already say that it is very very different in terms of gay community when compared to Tel Aviv. First of all, Tel Aviv is smaller and everyone knows everyone. Then, of course, Israel is a Mediterranean country: it’s hot, temperamental, edgy, alive all year round and it’s extremely sexual. These things are different in Boston, which is way more introverted and quiet, more educated and calm, more homogeneous in its gay population. It seems sometimes that maybe because gay marriage and being gay has been OK here for a pretty long time, the character of the gay community here has become very institutional.
As for a coming out story. Both of us went to arts high schools and studied classical music (Daniel-piano, Noam- tuba). For our parents, our coming out was not such a big surprise in hindsight. There were phases of therapy in both cases, but today our parents are super accepting. And both parent-pairs are friends with each other too, which is great. They are our family and we think that they see we love each other, they see how we develop and flourish together, and they trust us that we’re OK and that they don’t need to be worried for us.”