Category: City: New York City

Zachary, Learning & Development Manager/Improv Performer, New York City

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
Zachary, in his own words: “I have always been observant.

I could easily spot wildlife long before anyone else while hiking in the mountains of Utah. As for rules, their inherent purpose was to be observed, so I implicitly complied. As for people, in social settings I was keenly aware of what they did while always asking myself, “Why?”

Ultimately, these observations have led me to succeed in my HR career and serve as fuel for my character work in improv. However, before it was a triumph, I could hardly even see it as a silver lining.

Being 6’6” it was (literally) hard to fit in, but that’s all I’ve ever wanted. Add being gay, and I was acutely aware of how different I was while growing up as Mormon in Utah. It’s a weird paradox going through school desperate to set yourself apart by being the best with a perfect GPA, with a lead in the school play, with the sweater of a Student Body Officer, and yet to remain being part of the group. Balancing these conflicting desires ultimately came down to not gaining undue attention. Give me attention, sure – but when it’s on my terms. So, I teetered back and forth always testing what was socially acceptable, toeing close to the line, but always sure to keep a safe distance away.

Awareness was my protection, my defense.

But despite my keen observations, there was a lot I didn’t see. It wasn’t until I moved to New York and later came out that I started to recognize the world for what it truly was. Mind you, coming out doesn’t magically make life better. A fairy drag queen of a mother doesn’t plop down, shower you with glittery rainbows, and whisk you away on a unicorn of dreams with fat-free thin mint girl scout cookies. You don’t suddenly become best friends with Nate Berkus throwing perfectly decorated rooftop brunches. Nor at that brunch does someone invite you to “summer” at their beach house next year.

Life still exists. It will be hard at times. And people, gay or not, are still people with all the emotions and bias that come along with being human. Friends will rush in and out. Morals get challenged in ways never previously imagined. God’s existence may come into question and surprises await on the other side of that pondering. Memories of past hardships will begin to fade. New talents will emerge. Confidence finds its way back into existence.

Nowadays, I love my life! Through it all, I have started to notice changes within myself. As a gay man, I have been able to expand my capacity to love and understand others. I connect with others in new ways and have deeper insight to the human condition. This would not have happened otherwise. My greatest trial has become one of my greatest blessings.

I will continue through life taking time to observe the world as it is, trying to find ways in which it could be better, and asking myself new and challenging questions. Luckily, one thing will no longer be rattling around inside for I now realize that while being gay isn’t inherently easy, it’s the only way I know how, or would ever want, to be.”

Roman, Digital Media Executive, New York City

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
Roman, in his own words: “I have come a long way in understanding and accepting myself as gay. Coming from Moldova, a small and socially conservative Eastern European country ruled by an unstable quasi-Soviet political regime and a highly homophobic society, my road to acceptance has not been simple. For 22 years of my life my family, neighbors and countryman compelled me to live in a society with rigid understanding of traditions imposed by religion, patriarchic social customs, superstitions and old-fashioned rules of acceptable behavior. Being gay in Moldova is nothing short of a life sentence to constant fear, loneliness, rejection, blackmail and torture. Gay people in that country are abused, beaten, raped or killed without getting any protection from local police, media or courts. Homophobia in Moldova is so widespread that gays are considered sub-human and not worthy of mention. After I had my share of bad experiences, I left Moldova and found myself in the United States.

The past three years have not been easy. Years of fear and abuse left a deep imprint on me, yet for the first time in my still rather short life, I found strength to admit to myself and my new friends that I am gay. Now I live in New York. After a multitude of new experiences, I am working on my professional career, feel liberated to seek gay friends and partners and joined a group that provides help to those who, like I, seek freedom to safely live as who they are. I currently volunteer for an amazing not-for-profit organization called No More Fear Foundation based in New York City. It allows me to help other LGBT asylum seekers who run from their native lands to the United States filled with fear, threatened and abused by their countries’ regimes, homophobic societies and their families. Notwithstanding all the pain and fear, I escaped and survived and I am grateful that I am given a chance to help others do the same.

So now I’m happy. I can finally live, breathe, speak and express myself freely without fear. I still have a long way to go, but I am sure that my future is safe and bright.”

Hadar, Photographer, New York City

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photo by Kevin Truong
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photo by Kevin Truong
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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
Hadar, in his own words: “Honestly I have never really thought about what being gay meant to me, overall I find being gay to be my sexual preference.

The challenges facing me has been more the stereotypes presented against me and also coming out was a huge challenge.

The gay community in New York City is really like a plethora of all different kinds of gay people, it is refreshing how much exists here.

My coming out story pretty much was actually fairly simple, I found that my family was mostly accepting, I think the hardest person to really accept it all was myself. I felt all my life being called gay was a negative thing and treated as a negative thing, so I was afraid to be this thing if it was negative.

If I could go back I would give my younger self the strength to come out earlier, be bolder and be braver. The fact is it held me back from growing into myself and accepting myself fully.

I think one thing about being gay that I want to put out there, is being gay has not been something that needs to be emphasized about my life or my art. Has it contributed to both of course, but I find for me that I want to see the world fully and not exist hidden inside a gay created environment solely. I do go to gay orientated places much more, but at the same time I fear that whenever you put the gay label on something it deters people from being a part of it. I at the same time think being gay can be a rebellion of sorts, not having the same pressures and pathways that straight people get pressured upon them. For me being gay is a part of me but not the only thing so I think that is always what I try to communicate.”

Adam, Writer, New York City

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
Adam, in his own words: “I wrote an essay for The Gay Men Project in 2012 about the importance of setting one’s own benchmarks and expectations. I was and still am an impressionable young man living in a very dynamic city, so I continue to stress over this principle each day: How will my encounters and experiences affect my priorities? Can I set new, ambitious goals without discrediting a humble and sincere foundation?

My project The Prospectives is an attempt to exorcise some of these concerns. It is a serialized story about a group of friends, most of them succeeding professionally and feeling comfortable in their own skin. Despite having sound minds and direction, each person’s identity is affected by many variables: ambition, romance, family, friends, expectations. Motives evolve and peace of mind feels elusive.

I hope you find The Prospectives as relatable as The Gay Men Project. At its core is the examination of identity and the celebration of hard-earned happiness. I write it to remind people that we have as much potential as we allow for ourselves, and that peace of mind is far less elusive when our feet are planted on the very foundation from which we grew.

You can get daily chapters of The Prospectives on Instagram or sign up for weekly episodes via email at TheProspectives.com.

Han, Marketing Director, New York City

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

Han, in his own words: “For me, being gay, especially in this generation, has a very specific meaning. I have to constantly remind myself that the only reason why I am able to walk down 9th avenue holding my boyfriend’s hand is because of those who came before me, the gay men who fought the fight in hopes that one day, other gay men can show affection in public without being worried that they might get arrested or beaten up. Most NYC gay men in my generation do not have to deal with any of that. We don’t need fag hags standing next to us at clubs. We don’t need to have sex in secret worrying that if we were caught, our pictures would be all over the news. So for me, being a gay man living in New York City, it’s a balance of understanding where we came from and appreciating those who came before us, but also enjoying what we are able to have and remembering that we are the ones now that have to continue this fight and this march so that hopefully the generation after ours will have even less to worry about.

For a long time, I resented being a gay man in this generation. When I first started learning about the gay culture in the 60’s and the 70’s, I felt incredibly out of place. I felt like I had missed out on the “gay golden years”, missed out on the sexual revolution, the riots… I mean it was the height of the gay liberation movement, and it felt like I had missed out on an important experience as a gay activist. I wanted to be there leading the march, fighting the police, cruising the west side piers…. Then one day, I was having this conversation with a good friend of mine, and she reminded me that despite how meaningful and glorious I think those years might have been, I have to remember that it was incredibly difficult being a gay man, far more than it is today. She reminded me that those men fought for my rights, fought hard so that one day people like me didn’t have to go through what they had to go through. Larry Kramer’s story wasn’t a play back then, it was reality. So sure, there are parts of gay culture that I wish I could’ve experienced, and that’s a shame, but some of it… we shouldn’t ever have to see again. And for that, I am grateful. The fight is far from being over, but the history that we get to write today is far less painful than it was 40 years ago. A lot of it is actually quite beautiful.

I would tell my younger self two things: 1. Get out there and love hard. 2. Stay away from tequila.”

Jeremy, Actor, New York City

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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
Jeremy, in his own words: “To me, being gay has always been about a connection I’ve felt with men. It’s not that I’m not physically attracted to women. It’s just that I know that I can understand men in a way that I can’t understand women. It’s entirely possible that I just haven’t given myself the chance to even try, but we’ll cross that bridge when it comes to it!

The biggest challenge was growing up in rural Minnesota. The amount of ignorance that I’ve encountered in my life is crippling. People fear what they don’t understand, and I was something that Hutchinson, MN could not wrap their minds around.

The gay community in New York is scary. I can’t walk down the street without seeing a buff dude strutting his perfectly toned body with his perfectly toned boyfriend. When I first moved here I was worried that it took the washboard abs to thrive as a gay man in New York City, but I’m beginning to realize that even if it’s true I just don’t care. I really love myself at this current juncture of my life.

I don’t really have a coming out story. I never struggled with my sexuality. I’ve always known I was gay even before I knew what being gay was. Although, I do remember when I was little I was playing video games with my mom’s boyfriend, and I told her I was going to marry Captain America, and she responded “Yes you are baby!”. That’s probably the earliest conversation I had with my mom about my sexuality!

(Advice I’d give my younger self) Flaunt it! Flaunt it like you don’t give a damn because in most cases you really shouldn’t. Also buy a pair of leggings right now!

Lemuel, Student, New York City

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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

Lemuel, in his own words: “(Being gay) means that I’m happy and don’t feel bad that I am a man that likes men.

It used to be a challenge to socialize in gay scenes because I was not 21 yet. Now that I’m 21 that challenge is over!

I first came out through a very close friend at the time, during my senior year of high school. She made me feel comfortable to explore my sexuality.

I don’t have much expertise in the gay culture of NYC. I’m just now beginning to live in it as a 21 year old. What I can say though is everyone wants to feel free and comfortable living their lives socially, just as any straight person.

(Advice I’d give my younger self is to) Take chances, be safe, and don’t be so defensive.”

Kevin, Medical Biller/Writer, New York City

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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

Kevin, in his own words: “The most important thing I’ve come across so far is to allow. For a long time, I was denial about being gay because it wasn’t in my plans – it totally obstructed the life I thought I wanted. But it was true. Unlike every thing that I thought I needed to make my life (and my self) complete – the girlfriend, the traditional family, the ‘being normal’ – me being who I am is true. If being gay is anything to me, it’s the acceptance of your self in a way that isn’t necessarily easy. Getting rid of my old ideals and getting to see myself on daily, moment by moment basis as I am and will become has been unlike anything. With sexuality becoming as political as it has, there often times seems to be risk in that allowance. But I’m seeing that that risk makes it even more fulfilling. To stand for your life and your self when there still is a normal that sometimes stands against you instead of with you, is such an opportunity to build a type of courage that will bode well for any venture you take. Being gay is really one of the best gifts I could’ve gotten, in that way.”

Torrey, Artist/Entertainer, New York City

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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

Torrey, in his own words:” I definitely see being gay within the context of a broader identity as a Queer person. I see it as a history, both forgotten and hidden, triumphantly emerging from the shadows, drumming and dancing a present and future sown with compassion and conscious of our existence as a collective bound to the lonely orb upon which we sit. Iconoclasts, enigmas, renegades, eccentrics, artists, healers, spiritual leaders, and so much more, across the body of this Earth, throughout humankind’s presence here. Essentially, in my opinion, it means we’re a marvelous and absolutely essential gift to our societies and communities, as powerful archetypes and as individuals embodying those roles as ancient as life itself.

At risk of sounding like Miss New Age America, one matter I encounter daily and expect to until the last, is how to love myself better so I am capable of greater love, in intention and action, towards all of humankind, our fellow occupants on the Mothership and the big blue and green lady herself. I feel as a Queer Person of Color who occupies space and has been conditioned within a racist, hetero-cis-sexist, patriarchal culture, my never ending journey in self-love and liberation, unlearning fear, stigma, shame and self-hatred, is both my greatest enduring challenge and endless opportunity for success, wisdom, and joy. “

Brian, Dogwalker, New York City

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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

Brian, in his own words: ” Being gay to me means being FAAAAABBBBULOUUUS!! This is a tuff question for me, I’ve never really thought about it before. It’s just a perfect fit, I tend to think to myself quite a bit ” Damn I’m happy I’m gay”. Corny, I know, but true.

Ive been pretty lucky in my life to not have many challenges. I like to live my life as stress free as possible and surround myself with people who do the same. On the success side, I did just start a dog walking company with a good friend of mine here in NYC . We have been working hard on getting that off the ground and pretty excited to see it grow.

I love the gay community in NYC. The diversity is obviously extraordinary and the amount of creative gay folk I have met up here just blows my mind. Its also big and strong, just like I like my men:) That’s a joke, I like all kinds of men.

I came out to most of family/friends when I was 20, shortly after me and my first boyfriend got together. And everyone was very accepting of the fact that I was gay, and welcoming to my gay friends. Most had a “feeling” I was gay. Haha.

I would tell my younger self to start taking Lexapro earlier! Oh, and to take piano lessons.”