Terry, in his own words: Terry Lim is a classical musician, an avid portrait photographer, and a dog lover. Terry is the executive and artistic director of a newly formed chamber music series, “Project ∞” where he presents innovative and unusual programs showcasing many emerging young composers and musicians.
“I am all about being open minded and appreciating everyone’s differences. Being gay means accepting others for who they are and being genuine with one another to build up meaningful connections.
I grew up in Vancouver where most people are very open minded and have chill personalities (typical West Coast style). Coming out to my friends was not so eventful. No one seemed to care or think it was a big deal to begin with, but I knew that all of them were my friends because of who I am, not my sexual orientation. I personally thank all of my friends for always being supportive and appreciating who I am. That’s why I can be me all the time and I feel comfortable being me.
Moving to NYC from Vancouver was definitely a huge change in my life. I had a very comfortable and amazing life in Vancouver but I wanted a change and I wanted to go for something quite drastically different from Vancouver. That’s how I ended up in NYC. Typical city life style, fast pace, constantly moving and stressed out people all over. The gay community in NYC is filled with endless events every single day and so many gay men from all over the world, no doubt about that. While I appreciate meeting and being surrounded by many different types of gay men, I also face challenges within this community. This is something I hadn’t really felt until I moved to NYC (or the States for that matter)- racism within the gay community. It almost came down to the point where I felt like many people think of gay Asians as the bottom of food chain. I know there are probably a variety of reasons why they have come to that conclusion whether it’s cultural, environmental, or social. It’s something I hadn’t experienced until I moved to NYC. As much as I am comfortable in my own skin and am secure with who I am, I want my community to be more open minded and learn to appreciate and love each other for the difference.”
Patrick, in his own words: “I’m glad I’m a gay man. And I’m proud to have been out for 7+ years now! Being gay is a natural and beautiful part of who I am. Embracing this part of myself has allowed me to live a full and authentic life and has brought me so much freedom and joy. I am a more whole person and have more to give the world and those around me because I’m out and proud.
It was not an easy process for me to come out. For 10 years, I was misled to believe my sexual orientation was wrong and sinful and that I could be straight through prayer, “therapy” and dedication. I started seeing an “ex-gay” “therapist” when I was 11. I shared some of that story in a YouTube video a couple years back, in hopes of preventing others from having to go through similar things.
I’m lucky to live in a time where I am free to daydream about one day having a legally-recognized wedding and husband and all the things I thought I had lost when I realized I was gay. I feel a deep gratitude and connection to the many brave LGBT folks and allies who have come before me and who have risked much for the many causes related to LGBT equality.
I wish the 11 year old version of myself could see me now – he wouldn’t believe life could be this good!”
Eric, in his own words: “In my study of music, I struggle to rid myself of a lifetime of fear and constructions in order to build a real connection with others. In the same way, I feel like all people, no matter what identity, struggle to break down these same walls in an effort to be themselves.
I struggle with societies definitions of masculinity and of homosexuality. After I came out, I didn’t want to identify with any definition. Participating in this project is special to me because for the first time, I feel like I am contributing to the larger gay experience and connecting to a community by simply being myself.
My career has given me the opportunity to travel and make music in many parts of the world. I feel thankful to be able to live here, freely, as myself. Expressing myself the way that I need to, striving to live the way I want to and being able to love who I want to.
I grew up a Mennonite in central Pennsylvania. My 86 year old grandmother is a conservative Mennonite and grew up immersed in dogmatic Christian theology. When she found out I was gay, it was difficult, but our relationship has come a long way since. She voted for the first time in her life, for Obama, in part for her change of heart on gay rights issues. The love of my family astounds me. Even when they don’t agree or understand where I am coming from, everyone is open to conversation in an effort to reach common ground. This is a beautiful thing.
A favorite quote of mine:
“In a word, we must create our own essence; it is in throwing ourselves into the world, in suffering with it, that – little by little – we define ourselves.”
Stephen, in his own words: ” Being Gay to me has always felt like I have the best qualities of understanding men and women and being empathetic toward everyone.
Coming out was exceedingly easy though the phrase “coming out” did not exist when I did it…I was a kid actor doing summer stock, and realized that I was more like a lot of the men I was meeting rather than like my Pop and his pals…I had an easy time of assimilating it as all the older actors were exceedingly supportive; I never felt compelled to hide who I was, but just existed in my comfy world.
My challenges have been to make a living, to continue in happiness, when so many friends in my generation died when AIDS arrived, and to try to be a positive presence on the planet…. I miss so many people no longer on Earth, yet do honor them daily in how I choose to exist here. I adore kids and have helped raise 9 god children over the years, and have always shared life with animals who are constant blessings.”
Michael, in his own words: Michael Martin is bi-coastal, soon to be global. He has performed in film, television, and stage. He’s a published writer, and his twin Michael Bright is also a published writer in Hong Kong as well as the USA. The Michaels write for Reductress, I.T Post, television, and film. Michael Martin is an accomplished songwriter as well. He’s been paid to do comedy for 20 years.
“I don’t identify as Gay, Straight, or Bi, but I’m LGBTQ for sure. Even straight people have days when they feel queer.
I’m a performer, so sometimes I get to put on dresses .People always laugh. I don’t like wearing them because my goodies get cold from the wind.
I think the season for challenging who I am is almost over, or, more to the point – the season for me paying attention to naysayers is coming to a close. The gay scene in New York is supportive, judgmental, warm hearted, bitchy, uplifting and mean.
Mean is a math term that means average. I’ve always tested above average. Just slightly, I’d say.
I went through a phase in high school. People threw rocks at me, so I made them laugh a lot. Then I practiced. I sang, played instruments, spoke languages, invented languages with my brothers, and lovers.
I don’t want to paint myself a victim. I won acting and writing awards. I was class president. Swim team captain. By the end of school I had lovely, wonderful friends.
My teachers were supportive or cruel, depending on my classes. Sometimes they were both supportive and cruel.
My favorite teacher ever was a man named Jose Quintero. He directed the first runs of many Tennessee Williams plays.
I kept a diary in high school. I still do.
I like Vonnegut and French existentialists. I want to ruminate on the Tao.
Together As One.
I’m learning to meditate so I can forgive myself for the voice in my head that says I’m not good enough.
That’s all I have to say about that.”
Adrian, in his own Spanglish words: “Well I can start by saying that I’m really proud of two things in my life: first is being gay y Segundo de ser latino. Yes, because being gay and being a latino gay man is not the same. I’m from Colombia, un hermoso país lleno de cultura, alegría, sabor y gente linda. On the other hand it is a religious, macho and homophobic country. Being gay there wasn’t easy for me. Siempre supe lo que era de hecho estaba feliz de serlo, that is why I always knew that being gay wasn’t synonymous with being sick, as many people there think. I had the fortune to grow up in a pequeña, trabajadora y unida familia. My mother taught me the respect for God, without bibles or restrictions, just respecting everybody and trying to be a great human being, taking care of the small things and nature. Sin embargo decir “Soy gay!” en un país donde el color rosado, el cabello largo es cosa de mujeres no fue facil. Coming out wasn’t easy, at least not for me, not when I was 17, not when I thought I wasn’t prepared for that (who is?), not when I hadn’t told anyone, though they could have figured it out probably. Yes, because I was never the kid who played soccer with his friends, nor the strongest, nor did I like cars. I was bullied in school just because I seemed different, indeed they were also different in my eyes: They couldn’t dance like me, they couldn’t paint or draw like me, they weren’t excellent students like me, they didn’t dream like me, y sin embargo siendo un niño no los odiaba, solo me parecian ignorantes nada más. I didn’t talk about this with anyone. A phone call from my first boyfriend that wasn’t answered by me was the beginning of this “gay life out”. I thought everything came down when all my family knew I’m gay thanks to one of my uncles answering the phone instead. In the next few days (including Christmas eve), my home seemed like a funeral home. I mean no one spoke to anyone, some of them cried, some of them looked at me with sadness and disappointment. My brother (2 years older) held my hand and told me “en unos dias todo estara bien.” And he was right. The topic of being gay wasn’t mentioned again. My mother and my brother were always supportive, also my best friend, Adriana. Cuando digo que soy afortunado de tener la familia que tengo es por que hubiese sido todo diferente si no tuviera esa madre y ese hermano que la vida me dio! I went to the capital Bogota to study. It was another story, experiences like living alone, having a wallet with money on a Saturday night and crazy friends, I mean gay friends, falling in love (well it was what I though at that moment) and discovering myself were simply amazing. Hoy en día soy un Fonoaudíologo, Especialista en Audiología, y Master en Patología de Habla y Lenguage, feliz de mi vida. Yes, being a Speech & Language Pathologist in the U.S., speaking English, dancing ballet and having a diamond ring on my finger (left hand) that means I’m going to get married soon are just some of the amazing things I now have in my life as a gay man.
In this point of my life and after all the things I have been through I can say being gay is simply great! I have an amazing fiancé; we have a beautiful present and a desired future. Extraño mi familia, I miss my family a lot. They live in Colombia and I visit them once per year. They are ok there, and I’m ok here because this is my life. I moved to New York three years ago. Im very happy here I have the life I wanted, the life I dreamed before. Last winter my fiancé and I visited them (just like a friends) they respect me a lot but I know they are not interested to know everything about my gay life. That is a beginning of acceptation, they don’t ask too much but it doesn’t mean they disapprove that; it is just the way they perceive life. Few days ago I told my brother (Who is military) that I’m engaged. Su respuesta literalmente fue “Adri, yo no soy nadie para juzgar eso y sabe que Adri pense nunca decirlo pero Dios me lo bendiga y si es su decision que sea la mejor y que sea muy feliz por que eso es lo importante oyo chino feo”. He just expressed and wished to me happiness and good wishes just like a real brother can talk to his brother that he loves. My mom is still working in that, I mean she prefers not to ask and I respect her position, every night I call her and she hasn’t change her beautiful and warm greeting to me, then that “Hola hijito hermoso” fill my body and my soul, make me feel that just don’t talk about my sexual orientation is an act of respect, acceptation from the bottom of her heart but with the carefulness that do not make me feel susceptible to the critics of the ignorant people.
I don’t have enemies, but homophobic people can think I’m their enemy by the mere fact of being gay, to them I just have thanks, thanks a lot guys because they make me give the best, in a world that is changing and that is more “open mind” and respectful today, but that still need more love not only toward LGBT community but also for the other person. Poco a poco voy cambiando la mente de las personas que creen que no se puede ser feliz y exitoso siendo gay. In this way I’m happy changing the way that some people think wrong about gay couples, we are the example that it is possible to match the words success, happiness and gay.
Then If my words didn’t answer the question… well in a short, being gay is indulge yourself with simple details such as gym membership, shopping (specially bags and shoes), beauty treatments, party, drinks, Halloween, study, work, great vacation, good food, amazing friends, and other things but especially love yourself, accept yourself as you are and be happy. That’s the key.
What getting married means for me?
That is simple; I feel that with my future hubby I have everything in life, what I have dreamed of, what I love, what I need.
What is the trick?
Mutual support, honesty, trust and understanding are important, but also are making an effort, responsibility and seriousness.
Yalman, in his own words: “When I came out in the early 1990s, it only meant one thing for me (and for many other gay men and lesbian women at the time I believe): the freedom of being who we are and to love whom we please. It didn’t mean having a family, a husband, kids and all the other things my straight friends started dreaming about when they got into their 20s or 30s. But over the last few decades, my thoughts, along with our community and the society-at-large, have evolved to include these dreams as part of my identity. So getting ready to wed the love of my life and have kids with him through a surrogate feels normal now — well almost. I still sometimes catch myself being amazed at how far we’ve come along since the Stonewall riots in 1969, and how much distance I’ve traveled in my journey.”
William, in his own words: “Being gay means being a person. A person with as much love as any other. A person who shares his or her love with whomever deserves it just the same as someone who is straight because being gay is no different than being straight in the sense that we all are from the species and we all are capable of the same things in one way or another.
I’ve faced many hurdles along the way during my life. People have questioned my sexuality and made it their business as early as 4th grade. Which is sad. That people will snoop and fight to get things out of you before you even know it yourself. I’ve been pushed and belittled because of my sexuality by men and women for no reason because they have this feeling inside that I will negatively effect them due to my sexuality. It’s been a struggle but I choose to ignore things because these things have no effect on me and don’t harm me in anyway because these people’s are so sad and so uncomfortable with who they are themselves.
The gay community in New York is inconsistent and slightly creepy. In a sense that you adore it like that crazy aunt who takes in stray cats and calls them her children. You love it because you have to. Because you’d be a little lost without It.
(With regards to coming out) People figured it out before me. I was an open box. Nothing to hide. I never felt the need to just explain myself and label myself. Instead, I chose to just experiment and learn about myself as a person and find myself. It’s been an easy process and everybody knows and is fine with it. It’s been an easy road on that topic and I’m blessed with that.”
Christopher, in his own words: “In a lot of ways I’ve rejected the idea of coming out. At first due to the self imposed pressure of finding or creating the ideal moment to share my sexuality. But later, after making major progress in my own self-acceptance, I found myself questioning the usefulness presented by the culture and dichotomy of being “in” or “out” of the closet. Originally a form of activism and personal emancipation, I questioned whether coming out serves the same role in a contemporary context.
Without discrediting the importance coming out can play in the lives of many gay people especially gay youth – in many ways, I see coming out as a part of a “routinized gayness,” invariably connected to race, class, and gender privilege and assimilation into the dominant mainstream heterosexual culture. In the current dialogue on the closet and coming out, there is little consideration of the multiple dimensions of race, class, religion, capital, and gender & how they can impact one’s process of self-disclosure. We should remind ourselves the closet is not universal or consistent.
It’s my hope that by being part of this project I can encourage my community to focus less on a normalized gay experience, shaped by heteronormativity, and instead begin to define our own expressions of queerness and gayness once again.”
B.G. 1.0 + 2.0, in their own words:
a journalistic nickname for New York City
a village proverbial for the foolishness of its inhabitants
How appropriate then that we all are a part of a gay volleyball league in the great city of New York. Once a week we battle on the court for glory, medals, and – most importantly – the chance to say “suck it!” at the nearby bar afterwards. It’s an immensely fun experience: the friendly competition, the silly emails, the awesome photos, and the creative team names– everything from punny to honorary. But for most of us, being part of a gay sports team is anything but frivolous.
As most gay men will attest, it’s difficult to meet people outside of bars, clubs, and websites, and how often do any of those relationships develop into rewarding friendships anyway? As part of a gay sports team, you become part of a society filled with people from all sorts of occupations and of all lifestyles and ages. Sharing a mutual affection for a sport is a solid foundation for a friendship to develop, and the team camaraderie generated by the competitive drive to win is an instant catalyst to those relationships. Reveling in victories, sharing defeats, witnessing your teammates making incredible plays and learning how to work as one makes being on a team something that can’t be replicated and provides a social experience that we all cherish.
In every sense, the environment created by being a part of a gay sports team is a healthy place. Volleyball is an athletic sport, and once a week you can work up a sweat, abandon your stress, and step outside of yourself in an arena where drugs and alcohol are not needed – a rare commodity indeed. For some, it’s a place to abolish their own internalized homophobia. For others it’s a place to face their childhood fears of gym class and develop a strong identity in an athletic setting that is safe and supportive. Some use it to redefine for themselves what masculinity means – whether that means embracing gay stereotypes, or shattering them. For some it’s as simple as getting a chance to be active every week or to flex a creative muscle when designing the team logo or uniform. Some just want to show off, some just want to meet guys and some just want to win. It can be as uncomplicated as you want it to be, and as meaningful as you make it.
Being a part of a gay sports team gives us something to look forward to each week, something that makes us smile when we think about it, and most importantly, a sense of belonging. In a predominantly heterosexual society it’s easy to feel like we are alone. Our team represents how we are many, we are different, we are present and we are awesome.
Ultimately, celebrating our community in an active, healthy, and engaging way is the foremost reason why being on a gay sports team is important to us.”