Category: City: Lima, Peru

Christian and Gustavo, Front Desk Agent and Graphic Designer, Lima, Peru

photo by Kevin Truong
Christian and Gustavo, 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
Christian and Gustavo, photo by Kevin Truong
Christian, in his own words: “Para mi ser gay significa ser sincero conmigo mismo, permitirme expresar lo que siento por la persona a quien amo sin importar las condiciones sociales que presionan para que esto tenga que ser algo oculto e incluso visto como algo malo.

Siempre he considerado que una persona gay no es un ser débil, por el contrario, una persona gay que vive abiertamente su homosexualidad tiene mucho valor, ya que no es fácil luchar contra una sociedad machista y de mentalidad cerrada.

Yo me di cuenta que era gay entre los 17 y 18 años, y debo confesar que fue algo extraño, ya que no era algo que en algún momento hubiera considerado como opción. En un principio se lo conté a mis primos, quienes son como mis hermanos y, luego de terminar mi primera relación, se los conté a mis padres. Hasta el día de hoy considero que fue la peor decisión que tomé en el momento, ya que lo hice bajo efectos del alcohol, y creo que tuvo consecuencias que pude haber evitado si lo hubiera hecho de otra manera. Mis padres no lo tomaron de la mejor manera, ya que son personas muy conservadoras, además me educaron bajo la religión católica desde niño.

Luego de confesarles que era gay, mi papá tuvo un ataque cardíaco y mi mamá se echaba la culpa de la situación. Busqué la forma de alejarme de ellos, ya que pensaba que era la solución en ese momento, y busqué la forma de trabajar en el extranjero para poder escapar de la situación.

Considero que eso me ayudó mucho, ya que permitió que la relación que tengo con mis padres en la actualidad haya madurado de tal forma que mi novio ahora sea bienvenido en mi hogar. El hecho de que mis padres lo acepten y acepten la idea de que es mi pareja y sea tratado con el mismo respeto que a la novia de mi hermano, me hace muy feliz.

Considero que la comunidad gay en Lima no es muy grande, pero algo que me alegra e inspira es saber que hay muchas personas que buscan un futuro de igualdad, en donde uno pueda ser feliz con su respectiva pareja. Sé de muchas personas que han tenido que irse a otro país para llevar una vida “normal” sin presiones de ningún tipo, e incluso puedo decir que yo he considerado esa idea ya que hace un par de años atrás era más complicado ser abiertamente gay.

Si pudiera decirle algo a mi yo de hace ocho años, creo que sería: “Tranquilo, todo va a mejorar por imposible que parezca.”

In English:

“For me being gay means being honest with myself, allowing myself to express what I feel for the person whom I love regardless of social conditions that push for this to be something hidden and even seen as wrong.

I have always thought that a gay person is not a weakling, however, a gay person openly living homosexuality is valuable because it is not easy to fight a sexist and closed-minded society.

I realized I was gay between 17 and 18 years, and I must confess that it was strange as it was not something that at the time had been considered as an option. At first I told my cousins, who are like my brothers and after finishing my first relationship, I told my parents. To this day I believe that was the worst decision I made at the time, as I did it under the influence of alcohol, and I think it had consequences that could have been avoided if I had done it otherwise. My parents did not take it in the best way, because they are very conservative people, plus I was raised in the Catholic religion as a child.

After I confessed that I was gay, my dad had a heart attack and my mother blamed me for the situation. I looked for a way to get away from them because they thought it was the solution at the time, and looked for a way to work abroad to escape the situation.

I think that helped me a lot, and that allowed the relationship I have with my parents now to mature so that my boyfriend is now welcome to my home. The fact that my parents accept it and accept my partner and treats him with the same respect as my brother’s girlfriend, makes me very happy.

I think the gay community in Lima is not great, but something that makes me happy and inspiring is to know that there are many people who seek a future of equality, where one can be happy with their respective partners. I know of many people who have had to go to another country to live a “normal” life without pressure of any kind, and I can even say that I have considered the idea since a couple of years ago was more difficult to be openly gay.

If I could say something to my younger self, I think it would be: “Quiet, everything will get better as impossible as it may seem.”

Gustavo, in his own words: “No considero que ser gay sea algo raro, porque yo no me siento raro, no me siento diferente a los demás; sin embargo, considero que ser gay y vivir feliz con eso es la valentía más grande que una persona puede llegar a tener en medio de una situación constante de juicio, desagrado y desprecio que tiene la sociedad ante las personas homosexuales.

Se necesita demasiado valor y una autoestima muy fuerte para poder vivir feliz, ya que la sociedad va a ocuparse de convencerte de que la forma en la que vives es abominable, y van a tratar de cambiarte a lo que ellos consideran que está bien solo por la idea egoísta de que a ellos no les agrada tu forma de vivir, entonces van a tratar de cambiarte a algo que a ellos les agrade. Creo que la gente y la sociedad en general le tiene miedo a lo “diferente”, a lo que no piensa como ellos, entonces por instinto, buscan moldearlo a lo que a ellos les agrade para sentir que todo está en orden.

Realmente nunca me puse a pensar en qué momento me di cuenta que era gay, ya que llegaba a enamorarme fuertemente de la esencia de las personas, sin importarme si eran hombre o mujer, eventualmente desarrollé un gusto mayor por el sexo masculino. Sinceramente no recuerdo cuándo ocurrió exactamente, pero si tuviera que ponerle una edad, sería entre los 20 y 21 años.

Mis padres se enteraron cuando mi madre tomó mi celular y vio una conversación mía con un amigo a quien le contaba que yo ya tenía dos meses con mi pareja y que era muy feliz con él. Inmediatamente me llamó a su cuarto y me preguntó qué significaba toda esa conversación, y le expliqué la situación, se echó a su cama a llorar y a preguntarme desde cuándo era gay, y recuerdo que en mi mente pensaba “no lo sé”, ya que realmente nunca lo había pensado. Luego mi padre escuchó la conversación, entró a la habitación, se echó en la cama al lado de mi madre y con calma me hizo una serie de preguntas más pensadas sin dejarse llevar por la desesperación; sin embargo, no podía dejar de pensar que les había hecho demasiado daño en ese momento.
El sentimiento de culpa es otro factor con el que se tiene que lidiar, porque una persona no decide ser gay, solo es como es y listo. Si se pudiera elegir entre ser gay y no serlo, creo que nadie elegiría este camino tan complicado y lleno de juicios malintencionados, ¿no creen?. Y para hacer mucho más complicada la situación, el mismo día que mis papás se enteran, yo decido cortar con mi pareja llevado por un sentimiento de culpa, ya que pensaba que si seguía con la relación, les iba a hacer más daño a mis padres.

Luego de un tiempo retomé mi relación, y hasta la actualidad no me arrepiento de haber cortado con él en ese momento ya que ese tiempo que estuve solo lo dediqué a pensar si es que es justo que por otras personas yo tenga que sacrificar mi felicidad. Ese es otro factor importante en la vida de una persona, sea gay o no, ya que a veces hay que ser egoístas con los sentimientos de tus seres queridos a quienes ves sufrir, en este caso por tu opción sexual, si es que en verdad quieres ser feliz tú. Con el tiempo se van a dar cuenta de que eres feliz, y si realmente te quieren, ellos también lo serán.

Para terminar, si pudiera decirle algo a mi yo del pasado, le diría que para llegar a ser feliz, primero tiene que costarte unas cuantas tristezas de las cuales siempre tienes que rescatar lo mejor, y aprender de eso. Por otro lado, ser feliz solo va a depender de ti mismo y de la actitud que tengas frente a la situación, ya que si sabes vivir como eres y te aceptas a ti mismo, los demás van a tomar la misma actitud contigo.”

In English:

“I do not think that being gay is something wrong, because I do not feel weird, I do not feel different from others; However, I believe that being gay and living happily with that is the greatest courage that a person can have in the middle of a constant state of judgment, disgust and contempt that society has with gay people.

It takes much value and a strong self-esteem to live happy, and society will take care to convince you that the way you live is abominable, and will try to change you into what they think is right just because of the selfish idea that they do not like the way you live, then they will try to change you into something that pleases them. I think people and society in general are afraid of things that are “different” to what is like them, and instinctively seeks to mold that difference to what pleases them to feel that everything is in order.

I never really got to thinking about at what time I realized I was gay, because falling in love came strongly with the essence of people, whether they were male or female, eventually I developed a greater taste for men. Honestly I do not remember exactly when it happened, but if I had to pick an age, it would be between 20 and 21 years.

My parents found out when my mother took my phone and saw a conversation with a friend of mine who told him that I already had two months with my partner and was very happy with it. Immediately she called me to her room and asked me what all this talk was about, and I explained the situation, she took to her bed to mourn and wonder why I was gay, and I remember that in my mind I thought “I do not know” as I had never really thought about. Then my father heard the conversation, entered the room, sat on the bed next to my mother and calmly asked me a series of questions designed more unencumbered by despair; however, I could not help thinking that there was too much damage done to them at the time.

Guilt is another factor which I have had to deal with, because a person does not choose to be gay, it just is as it is. If you could choose between being gay and not, I don’t think anyone would choose this path so complicated and full of malicious lawsuits, right? And to make things more complicated, the same day my parents found out, I decide to cut out my partner led by a sense of guilt, because I thought that if I kept the relationship, it would do more damage to my parents.

After a while I resumed my relationship, and even now I do not regret having cut him at that time because that time I was just so devoted to wondering if it was fair that I had to sacrifice my happiness for other people. This is another important step in life, whether gay or not, because sometimes you have to be selfish with the feelings of your loved ones who you see are suffering, in this case by your sexual preference, if you really you want to be happy. Eventually they will realize that you are happy, and if they really want to, they will be happy also.

Finally, if I could say something to my younger self, I would say that in order to be happy, you first have to experience a few sorrows of which always you will always be rescued and learn from. On the other hand, being happy is going to depend on yourself and the attitude you have to deal with the situation, because if you know how to live as you are and you accept yourself, others will take the same attitude with you.”

Paul, Photographer, Lima, Peru

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
Paul, in his own words: “What does being gay mean to you?

No estoy muy seguro de esto, ósea sé que soy gay porque es la palabra que define mi atracción por los chicos pero más allá de eso me identifico como un ser humano en busca de la igualdad para todos

Uno de los problemas con el que lidio continuamente es la desaprobación de la sociedad que me rodea, vivo en un país represivo y con miedo al cambio que prefiere repetir una historia mil veces antes que intentar hacer algo distinto.
Podría decir que el desafío más fuerte que tengo ahora mismo es conmigo. 
He dejado que muchxs hagan la lucha por mí, lucha por mis derechos, lucha por mi reconocimiento como persona. El año pasado sufrí un ataque de homofobia, fui golpeado solo por defenderme de una burla por usar pantalones apretados, en su momento lo deje pasar pensé que era algo que tenía que suceder de todas maneras solo por mostrarme como quiero. 
Luego me di cuenta que es el pensamiento más tonto que pude haber tenido ¿cómo pensar que ser golpeado es natural, solo por ser homosexual? Cuando vi lo absurdo que era creer esto, decidí hacer un cambio. 
Ahora cada vez que puedo trato de ayudar en algo con esta lucha, cuando alguien suelta un comentario tonto sobre la homosexualidad o hace algún chiste sobre ello, trato de hacer que entienda que no es un tema que se puede tomar a la ligera, la homosexualidad es parte importante de alguien más.

La comunidad gay es muy diversa como todo grupo, hay gente que es más activista, gente que lucha solo cuando les afecta de manera personal y gente que no se identifica con la comunidad. Imagino que todo eso está bien ya es muy personal como uno decide compartir con los demás. Lo que si aún me parece mala onda es cuando algunos homosexuales dan la espalda a otros solo por no compartir un mismo status o por no tener un parecido físico a ellos sean marrones o blancos. 
 ¿Si todos en el fondo sabemos que somos lo mismo porque no ayudarnos?

Siempre he sabido que soy homosexual, hasta cuando no sabía que existía una palabra con la que me pueda definir, sabía que soy gay. 
Desde niño las personas han asociado mi feminidad con mi orientación sexual, por lo tanto nunca tuve que salir oficialmente del closet, hasta los 16 que fue cuando termine el colegio y se lo dije a mi mama, por que sentí que era algo que necesitaba decirlo con todas sus palabras. Fue algo complicado porque ella ya me había preguntado sobre mis gustos cuando tenía 14, yo conteste de manera muy general sin una afirmación o una negación. Mi papa no toca mucho el tema por temor a decir algo que me incomode pero cada vez que yo tengo la oportunidad de compartir algo con él lo hago, porque quiero enseñarle que no tener miedo de lo que su hijo es.
Igual aun a veces se me complica cuando tengo que aclarar mi orientación sexual con ciertas personas, sobre todo con las mayores porque están cerrados en una sola idea del homosexualismo, entonces hacerles comprender algo nuevo es medio difícil pero ahí voy, haciendo lo que está en mis manos para ayudar con la causa.

El consejo que me daría a mí mismo, es que no existe una manera correcta de hacer las cosas, solo tú puedes hacer que el camino que estas tomando sea el mejor para ti. Que disfrute el momento porque no todos los años tendrá 22 para hacer las cosas que solo puedes hacer a los 22.”

In English:

“What does being gay mean to you?

I’m not sure about this, I know I’m gay bone because it is the word that defines my attraction to guys but beyond that I identify myself as a human being in search of equality for all.

One of the problems with continually feeling the disapproval of the society around me, I live in a repressive country that is afraid of change and prefers to repeat a story a thousand times rather than trying to do something different.
I would say that the strongest challenge I have right now is me. I let many thing make me fight, fight for my rights and my struggle for recognition as a person. Last year I suffered a bout of homophobia, I was beaten and mocked and made to defend myself simply for wearing tight pants, at the time I thought it was something that would have had to happen anyway. Then I realized that’s the dumbest thing I could have been thinking, how could they be beaten naturally, just for being gay? When I saw how absurd it was to believe this, I decided to make a change. Now whenever I try to help in this fight, when someone drops a silly comment about homosexuality or makes a joke about it, I try to understand that it is not an issue that can be taken lightly, homosexuality is an important part of somebody else.

The gay community (in Lima) is as diverse as any group, there are people who are more activist, people who struggle only when it affects them personally and people who do not identify with the community. I guess being gay is very personal and one can decide whether or not to it share with others. What I think is not cool is when some gay individuals criticize other just for not sharing the same status or not having a physical resemblance to them, for being brown or white. Everyone deep down knows we are the same.

I’ve always knew I was gay, even before I knew there was a word that could define me I knew that I am gay. Since childhood people have associated my femininity with my sexual orientation, so I never had to officially coming out until around 16 when I finished school and I told my mom that I felt it was something I needed to say. It was tricky because she had asked me about my interests when I was 14, I answered very generally without an affirmation or denial. My dad does not play much with the issue for fear of saying something that bothers me but whenever I have the opportunity I share something with him about what I do, because I want to teach him not to be afraid of what his child is. Sometimes it troubles me when I have to clear my sexual orientation with certain people, especially the elderly because they are stuck on one idea of homosexuality, I hope to make them understand something new is kind of hard but there I go, doing what is in my hands to help with the cause.

The advice I would give myself is that there is no right way to do things, only you can make the path you’re taking, and decide what is best for you. Enjoy the moment because not everyone has 22 years to do things you can only do 22.”

André, Administrative Assistant, Lima, Peru

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
André, in his own words:“Pies, ¿para qué los quiero si tengo alas para volar?” – Frida Kahlo.

“No me gusta nombrarme como gay, prefiero ser marica, maricón, cabro o rosquete, porque esos términos me colocan en una posición marginal, no blanca, no masculina, sin dinero e irrespetuosa con la sociedad, y desde ahí empiezo a construir mi discurso y activismo.

Para mi fue bastante fácil salir del closet, lo hice a los 14 años cuando mi mamá me preguntó “¿Hay algo que me quieras contar?” y respondí “Sí, me gustan los hombres”. En ese momento me sentí libre y podría decir que empecé a ser completamente yo. Luego entendí que todo esto sucedió después de la muerte de mi padre, porque él era muy machista y homofóbico, esas eran unas de las razones por las que yo seguía en el closet.

Tengo desafíos todos los días al transitar por las calles de Lima, esperando no ser insultado o violentado por vestirme y comportarme como se me antoja, pero le agradezco a las maricas que lucharon para que yo pueda transitar, ahora nos toca a nosotras seguir construyendo un país donde se respeten nuestras vidas y garanticen nuestros derechos.”

In English:

“Feet, why do I want them when I have wings to fly?” – Frida Kahlo

“I hate to identify myself as gay, I’d rather be a fag, fagot, queer, goat, because those terms placed me in a marginal position, not white, not male, penniless and disrespectful to society, and from there I began to build my discourse and activism.

For me it was quite easy coming out, I did it at age 14 when my mom asked me “Is there anything you want to tell me?” And I said “Yes, I like men.” At that moment I felt free and I could say that I became full. Then I realized that all this happened after the death of my father, because he was very macho and homophobic, those were some of the reasons why I was still in the closet.

I’m challenged every day to walk the streets of Lima, hoping not to be insulted or violated by dressing and acting in the way that I want, but I thank the fags who fought for me to move, now it is up to us to continue building a country where our lives are respected and our rights ensured.”

Giancarlo, Historian, Lima, Peru

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
Giancarlo, in his own words: “Ser gay para mí es buscar lo que realmente me hace feliz. En Lima creo es un desafío constante, sabes que te vas a enfrentar con grandes retos, pero hasta hoy creo que es la mejor decisión que he tomado. Tienes que entender que amar a una persona no depende de su género, ni es una elección. Lo único que puedes elegir actualmente, es la forma como lo vives, en mi caso, decidí no esconderme porque siempre he buscado ser honesto conmigo mismo.

No puedo negar que el camino es difícil, tuve la suerte de encontrar personas que me quieren por como soy, pero reconozco que algunas personas antes de conocerme juzgaron mi forma de vivir mi homosexualidad. A pesar de eso debo valorar a las que se quedaron y me conocieron, que vieron más allá de la diferencia, reconociendo que era un amigos más. Por esto, creo que una de las labores que hacemos los chicos abiertamente homosexuales hoy, es que los demás entiendan que no somos extraños o enfermos, que no somos menos que ellos.

Sabemos que todo está cambiando, la gente habla de la homosexualidad, así sea en contra porque esto hace que la gente no tenga miedo a decir existen personas gay. También es notable que el activismo en Lima ha crecido, se nota que hay un esfuerzo por visualizar nuestros problemas y buscar soluciones. Aunque aún no tenemos todos nuestros derechos podemos decir que se discute los derechos gay, cosa que diez años atrás se veía como un imposible.

Salir del closet es un acto de madurez y de valentía, sobre todo con tus familiares por las expectativas que tienen de ti. Cuando tome conciencia de mi homosexualidad, rápidamente supe que para lo único que quería mi closet era para mi ropa. Poco a poco fui abriéndome con mis amigos; la experiencia fue liberadora, a pesar de las dudas y el miedo. Contarle a mi mamá fue una experiencia muy fuerte, en un primer momento no lo tomó tan bien, pero después entendió que soy feliz así y a pesar de no entenderlo, me respeta.
Viendo en retrospectiva sigo pensando que ha sido una de las mejores decisiones que he tomado. Sé que hay muchas personas que tienen temor, pero lo que puedo decir, a pesar de todas las dificultades que supone, lo vale. Sé que puede sonar muy cliché decir que todo mejora, es mas podría decir que a veces parece todo lo contrario. Lo que puedo decir es que mejora cuando entiendes que el error esta en las demás personas por juzgarte y que si no pueden vivir con ello, pues es su problema no el tuyo.”

In English:

“Being gay for me means finding what really makes me happy. In Lima I think it is a constant challenge, you know you’re going to face major challenges, but so far I think it is the best decision I ever made. You have to understand that loving a person does not depend on gender, nor is it a choice. All you can choose now, is the way to live, in my case, I decided not to hide because I always wanted to be honest with myself.

I can not deny that the road is hard, I was lucky to find people who want me as I am, but I recognize that some people judged me before meeting because of my way of living and homosexuality. Despite that I value those who stayed and who saw beyond the difference, recognizing that I was a friend. Therefore, I believe that one of the tasks we do today is to live openly as gay guys to show to others that we are not strangers or ill, that we are no less than them.

We know that everything is changing, people speak of homosexuality, and it makes it so people are not afraid to say there are gay people. It is also notable that activism has grown in Lima, and that there is an effort to display our problems and seek solutions. Although we still do not have all our rights we can say that we have gay rights that ten years ago were seen as impossible.

Coming out is an act of maturity and courage, especially with your family by the expectations that they have of you. When they were aware of my homosexuality, I quickly learned that all I wanted in my closet was my clothes. Little by little I was coming out with my friends; the experience was liberating, despite the doubts and fear. Telling my mom was a very powerful experience, at first she did not take it so well, but then realized that I am happy and despite not understanding, respects me.

Looking back I still think it was one of the best decisions I ever made. I know there are many people who are afraid, but I can say, despite all the difficulties, it is worth it. I know that may sound very cliché to say that every improvement is more I could say that sometimes seems quite the opposite. What I can say is that it improves when you understand that the error is in other people judgements and if they can not live with it, it is their problem not yours.”

Gabriel, Explorer, Lima, Peru

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
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
Gabriel, in his own words: To be gay/lesbian/bi/transgender in Lima is a challenge. A challenge with your family, with your friends, and with yourself. Here it is very dificult to be free.

My first challenge in my life was tell my mom that I’m gay. The successes was her approval.

(With regards to coming out) The last year I put in scene the play “P.A.T.R.I.A”, in that play we talked about, what does it mean to be a Peruvian? And I talked about to be a gay man in Peru. A few years ago I was talking to friends and mom about my sexual orientation, but never felt free to talk about it in this way with everybody.

The gay comunnity in Lima is like Peru: Diverse and fragmented

My advice (to my younger self): Feel free to be yourself and don’t be afraid.”

Carlos Bruce, Congressman, Lima, Peru

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
Carlos Bruce, in his own words: What’s the condition like for LGBT individuals in Peru?

Bruce: It’s difficult, but changing. It used to be more difficult in the past, but still Lima and Peru is a very conservative country and a conservative society, but things are starting to change. The effort to put the issue of LGBT rights on the national agenda has stepped forward. I’m the first openly gay politician, which is also showing that things are starting to change. Maybe it’s late, but it’s starting anyway.

How did you get to that decision to come out and has it been difficult?

Bruce: I presented this bill for civil unions for LGBT people and there were a lot of stupid arguments being said and I thought it was useful to see that one can be a minister, one can be a Congressman, and your sexual orientation has nothing to do with it, so I think it was a good moment, and it was a good cause to do it and so I did it, and I’m still alive (laughs).

What was the response when you came out?

Bruce: In the internet there were all types of insults, but I have to say that in the streets, in person, I haven’t received one expression against me because I’ve said publicly my sexual orientation. Not even one. It’s very strange because we Congressman are not very popular here in Peru, you’re used to receiving some types of not so good comments, but since I made public my sexual orientation (there has been) not even one expression against me and I think that’s a way of people saying ‘Ok, I respect what you have done.’”

And what is your hope for LGBT individuals in the future?

Bruce: What everybody wants as human beings, just to be treated equally, and I hope that Peru is going to be in that position soon. I think we have to put the issue on the national agenda, I don’t know if my bill is going to be approved or not with this Congress, but I’m sure in the next presidential campaign the issue is going to be on the table and all the presidential candidates will have to have a position on this issue and I’m sure that the next Congress will probably be a Congress that will be more sympathetic to pass some legislation to assure rights for the LGBT couples.

If you could give advice to a young kid around the world who is gay, what would you say?

Bruce: Don’t lose hope. It’s very difficult, we all have to pass through this process when you discover you are different from your mates, and you try to fix it so that you can be the same as them and you discover that it cannot be fixed. What I’m trying to tell these young people is that there’s nothing to be fixed. We all tried to fix it but there’s nothing to be fixed because there’s nothing wrong. There’s a future for you, you can be a Minister, you can be a Congressman, and who knows, you can be a President.

Alonso, Economist, Lima, Peru

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
Alonso, in his own words: “Ser gay para mi significa ser consecuente conmigo mismo, es decir, pensar, sentir y actuar de la misma forma. Sin duda es lo mas difícil, pero si lo logras te liberas de cargas muy pesadas. Ser gay para mi también significa ser libre e implica una realización personal en todos los aspectos de mi vida.

Mis mayores logros en la vida tienen que ver por un lado con mi vida personal y por el otro con mi vida profesional: Por el lado personal, el hecho de tener una familia unida desde niño junto a mis padres y mis hermanos y el hecho de que me acepten como soy tiene mucho valor para mi. Por el lado profesional, el hecho de haber obtenido el titulo profesional de economista, a pesar de tener una discapacidad física, no muy notoria por cierto, haber concluido la maestría en Bélgica.

Vivi en Bélgica un poco mas de dos años en la universidad de Lovaina lo que permitió conocer a personas de muchos países y una sociedad completamente distinta a la peruana, especialmente en materia de los derechos LGTB. Una sociedad donde todos tienen los mismos derechos. Esta experiencia me ayudó mucho a aceptarme cuando regresé al Perú.

La comunidad Gay en Lima es grande, pero la gran mayoría se encuentra dentro del closet (a veces la mitad a fuera y la mitad adentro), especialmente por miedo al rechazo a la familia o creencias religiosas. (la iglesia tiene mucha influencia en la educación y las decisiones políticas en el Perú). La comunidad esta conformada por mucho grupo y organizaciones con diversos fine y objetivos. No es una comunidad unida, existe mucha discriminación al interior de la mima, lo que no permite dar un mensaje común que represente a todos y todas cuando se hace incidencia política por la lucha de nuestros derechos. Sin embargo, debo señalar que que a pesar de las diferentes opiniones y formas de hacer activismo, la comunidad LGBT la comunidad se muestra unida cuando hay que defender nuestros derechos. Eso es lo mas importante después de todo.

Mi historia para “salir del closet” no tiene nada de espectacular porque mi familia nunca me atacó por ser como soy. Fui yo quien tenia un miedo exagerado de hablar. Decidí hablar con mi madre luego de terminar una relación hace mas de cuatro años. Mis padres sabían que tenía una relación “especial” con un chico y fue cuando mi madre me vio casi llorando que decidí hablar. Fue muy simple, mi madre solo me dijo: Siempre lo supe, ya conocerás alguien especial”. Desde ese día mi madre apoya la lucha por la igualdad de derechos y está muy al tanto de mi trabajo como activista.

El consejo que le daría a los mas jóvenes es que no tengan miedo de lo que sientan. Toda persona pasa por un proceso de aceptación, el cual mucha veces es duro, especialmente cuando hay rechazo por parte de nuestro entorno inmediato, es decir, la familia, la escuela, etc. Creo que es muy importante hablar con alguien, ya sea con un amigo o alguien de confianza en la familia. Ahora existen mucho grupos y organizaciones que brindan apoyo donde uno puede conocer amigos. Lo importante es una persona no se quede callado o no se aisle.”

In English:

“Being gay to me means to be consistent with myself, that is, to think, feel and act the same way. It’s definitely the hardest, but if you succeed you free yourself of heavy loads. Being gay to me also means being free and involves a personal achievement in all aspects of my life.

My greatest achievements in life has to do on one side with my personal life and on the other with my professional life: On the personal side, having a close family as a child with my parents and my brothers and the fact that they accept me as I am is very valuable for me. On the professional side, the fact of having obtained a professional degree in economics, despite having a physical disability, not very visible indeed, and having completed a masters in Belgium.

Living in Belgium a little over two years at the University of Leuven which allowed me to meet people from many countries and experience a completely different society than Peru, especially in the area of ​​LGBT rights. A society where everyone has equal rights. This experience helped me to accept myself when I returned to Peru.

The Gay community in Lima is great, but the vast majority are in the closet (sometimes half outside and half inside), many especially fear rejection by family or religious beliefs. (the church is very influential in education and policy making in Peru). The community is made up of very diverse groups and organizations with fine objectives. It is not a united community, there is a lot of discrimination within the spoils, which does not allow us to represent a common message to everyone when advocacy is the struggle of our rights. However, I must point out that despite the different opinions and ways of doing activism, the LGBT community stands together when we have to defend our rights. That’s the most important thing after all.

My story for “coming out” has nothing spectacular because my family never attacked me for being me. It was I who had an exaggerated fear of speaking. I decided to talk to my mother after ending a relationship over four years ago. My parents knew I had a “special” relationship with a guy and when my mother saw me almost crying I decided to talk. It was very simple, my mom just told me, I always knew, you know someone special From that day my mother supported the struggle for equal rights and is well aware of my work as an activist..

The advice I would give my younger self is not to be afraid of what you feel. Everyone goes through a process of acceptance, which many times is hard, especially when rejection from our immediate environment is a possibility, i.e., family, school, etc. I think it’s very important to talk with someone, either a friend or someone you trust in the family. Now there are a lot of groups and support organizations where you can make friends. The important thing is a person does not remain silent or isolated.”

Eduardo, Social Media/Educational Projects, Lima, Peru

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
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
Eduardo, in his own words: “Ser gay para mí significa entender que todos somos diferentes y que el mundo no es como te lo pintan las convenciones sociales. Es muchísimo más. Es algo que sabemos todos los gays desde que somos niños. Y es una gran lección.

Uno de mis principales obstáculos ha sido enfrentarme a una sociedad tan represiva como la peruana. Pero es lo que me toca y le doy la pelea todos los días siendo yo mismo.

Sigue siendo muy difícil ser LGBTIQ en el Perú pero hay progresos. Creo que la coyuntura de la Unión Civil contribuyó con la visibilidad de nuestro colectivo y además colaboró con la apertura gradual de la sociedad civil en general. Hay grandes desafíos hacia adelante pero las transformaciones sociales toman su tiempo.

Les dije a mis papás que era gay apenas terminé el colegio pero al igual que yo, siempre supieron. Ellos están bien. Solo quieren que sea feliz. Es la misma apuesta que tengo yo en la vida: ser feliz.

¿Qué consejo me daría a mí mismo? Pasa más tiempo con tu familia. La voy a cagar muchas veces y está bien que sea así, pero tengo que aprender de cada error. Se que suena difícil y que el mundo parece un gran problema cuando eres más joven pero me diría que todo va a mejorar. El mundo se ve mejor a los 33. Disfruta de tu vida sin responsabilidades, mientras puedas. Sé una buena persona. Relájate. Dile a ese chico que te gusta. Se feliz.”

In English:

“Being gay to me means understanding that everyone is different and that the world is not only as you paint it in social conventions. It is much more. Being gay is something that we all know since we were children. And it’s a great lesson.

One of my biggest obstacles has been to confront such a repressive society like Peru. But it is what touches me and I have to fight every day just to be myself.

It remains very difficult to be LGBTIQ in Peru but there is progress. I think the situation of the Civil Union contributed to the visibility of our collective and also assisted with the gradual opening of the civil society in general. There are great challenges ahead but social changes take time.

I told my parents I was gay just as I finished school, but I always knew. They are fine. They just want me to be happy. It’s the same desire that I have in life: to be happy.

What advice would I give my younger myself? Spend more time with your family. I’m going to mess up often and rightly so, but I have to learn from every mistake. I know it sounds difficult and the world seems like a big problem when you’re younger, but I would say that everything will improve. The world looks better at 33. Enjoy your life without responsibilities, while you can. Be a good person. Relax. Tell that guy that you like. Be happy.”

Hans, Doctor, Lima, Peru

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
Hans, in his own words: “Being gay means to me being able to enjoy my sexuality in all aspects. I like to have interests, points of view and a sense of life that is different than other people, BUT it doesn´t mean that i deserve less human and civil rights than straight people. It´s unfair. What I do in my bed doesn’t define me, I´m more than that: I´m A PERSON.

The challenges I have had in my life was to be openly gay among my family, some friends and at work (at first instance it was difficult, but you have to show that you deserve respect like any other person) and the fight to get equal civil rights in my country …we´re still fighting….

The gay community in Lima is so varied and different between their members, from gays who are openly gay and support LGTBI rights, to those who think and fight against their own rights (many of them are politicians and members of the catholic clergy who have strong religious beliefs ). Fortunately the young LGTBI generation and some straight people support equality and fight against homophobia, but we have a lot to do.

(With regards to coming out) I was studying medicine at university and liked to go to gay clubs. When I was 22 years old my mother asked my about my sexual preferences, and I lied: I said ” I like both men and women”. My mother was confused. The next year I decided to come out. I invited her to dinner out and while we were eating I told her : ” Do you remember when you asked me about my sexual preferences? Well, I like men, I have always liked them.” My mother’s first reaction was to say: :You have to study in a foreign country, I don´t want people to hurt you.” We came back home and didn’t talk about the issue for about two months. By that time I usually liked (and still like) “Will and Grace.” One night I was studying in my bedroom and she yelled: “Hans, come to dinner with me, Will and Grace is going to start”… and since then I knew she was changing her mind. That sitcom helped me so much, showing a positive image of gay people to my mother and all audience….

The advice I´d give to my younger self would be: “Don´t give up on what you think you deserve, always study and be nice with people who need your help.”