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, 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, 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.