Category: City: Huntington Beach, California

Jeffrey, Special Ed Teacher/Swim Coach, Huntington Beach, California

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

Jeffrey, in his own words: “My version of being gay means nothing more than the sheer fact that, at the end of the day, i’ll probably end up with a dude (sorry ladies!).

Over the years, it’s been a challenge to find solid friendship (in the gay community, at least) and cultivate healthy romance (also in the gay community, obviously), but I’m proud to say that my greatest challenges have ultimately resulted in some of my greatest successes as a grown up.

For the majority of my adulthood, I attributed being gay solely to dating, and avoided navigating the waters of friendships with other people who were gay. In all honesty, I’m not sure that I even realized that I needed gay friends, and struggled to make platonic friendships with other gay men outside the circle of people that I casually dated. All I know is that as I entered my mid-twenties, I looked around at my life and found myself awkwardly surrounded by a small handful of gay friends that I had either dated or had romantic history with at some point. To make matters worse, my dating history lined up as more of a rogues gallery that one of my friends summed up perfectly in stating that I “tended to seriously involve myself with sociopaths”.

It was at this point in my life that I made a concerted effort to seek out friendship before partnership, free of romantic strings and entanglement. Looking back, I still can’t pinpoint whether it was overall insecurity or my inner-middle aged single woman (that feared I would never find someone) that drove me to be so romantically consumed, but it was only when I let go of the search for “the one” that I was able to generate true friendships and (waduya know!) find someone to love.

That (all that!) being said, my greatest success is finding and connecting with people who love me and who I love, both platonically and romantically. Platonically, I’ve been lucky to meet a few “lifers” (friends for life) over the past few years who, from near and far and always with laughter and good times, continually inspire and encourage me through the journey of life that we share. Romantically, all I can really say is that there’s nothing more special than seeing the world and sharing a laugh and a smile with the man that I met under the stars by the crashing waves.

The short story of my coming out involves a tumultuous time period after my dad died (my own version of the roaring 20’s!) that consisted of rampant and uninformed trial and error that either shaped my character or scarred me for life (jury’s out, I still haven’t quite figured that one out yet). Although I currently try to live life unapologetically and without regrets, my early days of exploration included a variety of instances and experiences that I would probably take back if I thought about them long enough (which is probably not unlike the journey that most people lead at some point in their lives).

Ironically, I don’t think that I actually ever came out officially to the world (unless a public blog/photo feature on a website that’s very subtly titled “The Gay Men Project” counts). My personal view is that coming out is a personal journey of self-acceptance that led me to gradually get over the notion that I am letting people down by being who I am and loving who I love. It’s been a tough learning curve, but I’ve slowly been able to let go of the guilt and feelings of let-down that go along with leading a life that defies societal norms, traditional convention, and pretty much everything my parents raised me to be. In this sense, I guess I’m still very much in the 7th inning stretch of my coming out process, and in spite of a good number of people knowing that I’m gay, I’m still a work in progress, learning daily what it means to be gay and find satisfaction in life.

(With regards to the gay community in Orange County) There’s a gay community in OC? They don’t call it the Orange Curtain for nuthin!

(Advice I’d give my younger self) On friends, family, and acceptance: realize that acceptance takes time, and sometimes requires one to be generous with grace in the face of those who aren’t quite ready to adjust their understanding of who you are. People won’t always be ready for the truth (and will sometimes, surprisingly, be surprised!), but time heals wounds (sometimes lots of time!), and oftentimes brings about understanding. Don’t give up on lifelong friendships because of a bad knee-jerk reaction.
On love, friendship, and relationships: a younger version of me would probably benefit from being told to worry less about finding “the one” and worry more about building friendships with solid people that will be there through the thick and thin, unconditionally. Love and partnership will come when the time is right, but good friends make the world go ’round.”

Chris, Event Manager, Los Angeles

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
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
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong

Chris, in his own words: “Being gay to me means being very comfortable with myself. I think from a young age that became part of my personality, due to growing in suburban Atlanta where at the time (and not to mention still today) being gay is not always accepted as widely as it is in some parts of the world. It also means that I think I have grown a thicker skin and that has not only helped me in my personal life but by professional life as well. I don’t live each day thinking that “I am gay” I live each day as myself. And having done that so long I don’t see the difference of sexual orientation between each individual that I come in contact with. I look at each person as an individual and often forget that it is still as large of an issue in the world as it is due to the amazing group of family and friends that I surround myself with.

I think when I was younger I felt that I needed to conform to what society said I should be doing. Meeting a girl, getting married, having kids that I would force myself into dating girls, when in the end they were great people but just were not what I needed to make me happy both mentally and physically. I felt that I was not only doing myself a disservice but them as well for even wasting our time in that manner.

I have also had my fare share of haters and you have to learn how to escape those situations and move on and protect yourself from getting hurt emotionally and physically.

The Los Angeles community is one of the most diverse I have ever experienced. There are people from almost every race, nationality, and orientation. I find that growing up in the south there was not a large amount of diversity and that is I think what has kept me living here for so long. The scene in Los Angeles to me is very diverse and ever changing. If there is a certain type of guy you are interested in you will find it in Los Angeles. Being a global city definitely has it’s advantages with many people passing though or relocating here for work/ family. I feel like I did not truly find myself until I arrived in Los Angles and was able for the first time in my life to be “me”. I have now lived almost half of my life here and the community here has made me who I am today. From friends that I will have for a lifetime to the men I have dated, this city has been the best thing that has ever happened to me.

I can’t really say when I really first “came out.” I knew at a young age that I was attracted to boys and was not sure why at first but it never really scared me. I had my moments when I tried to change who I was to fit in but always knew that was not me. I remember my first year of college having a small group of gay friends that were older then me and I kept them a secret from everyone I had grown up with and my family. My sister I think had to have been the first person to approach me and ask me “Hey, you know that guy that I work with? If you are interested he told me he would like to go out sometime.” I was totally taken back as I had no idea that my sister had any idea that I would even have an interest in men. I did end up going out with him. And still, for a while I kept it from my family and friends. It was not until college ended that I had the chance to move to Los Angeles with family to take a break and thought to myself… Why not? I would give me a chance to explore the world and not have the fears of all the friends that I had grown up with. I thought it would give me a chance to make sure I could be myself with out having the repercussions of people I knew finding out.

Eventually after about 4 months (I know, not long) being gay was nothing to me. My best friend at the time one night jokingly asked, “Are you gay?” and I simply answered “Yes”. From that point forward I knew I could be myself. I then became the guy that seemed to attract guys that were still shy about coming out and learning the scene and made many new friends that I still have to this day because people felt comfortable enough to give me that chance to be the friend that helped them come out. Soon after that I told my aunt that I was staying with, as I had only been openly gay with my friends in Los Angeles, and some of my friends worked for her. So only moments after I told her I got a phone call from my mom asking me if there was anything that I wanted to tell her. I told her and she said “I know, I have always loved you and always will”. I have been very fortunate that I have had a family that has always accepted me for who I am and such a great group of friends that support me. With all the negative things that happen in this world I have always felt like the luckiest guy for being able to be me.”

photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong