Category: City: Phoenix, Arizona

Chris, Teacher/Labor Advocate, Phoenix, Arizona

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 simply that I am open to an emotional and physical relationship with someone of the same gender as me. It also means that I choose to live that life openly and publicly in all facets of my life.

I have been very gifted to have a family that loves me for me, and that includes my being gay. This reality was never an issue for them and it is a testament to the genuine and authentic love that we share as a family. My friends and especially my work colleagues have always appreciated my forthrightness and honesty though it has never been “my burning issue.” My burning issue is Public Education and the support of it and that includes supporting LGBTQ youth as they travel on their evolving journey.

The gay community (in Phoenix) is very diverse and spread out but it also reflects the larger social community of Phoenix and its surrounding areas. The expansive spread of the Valley (thats how we refer to the area of Phoenix) causes there to be a lack of community feel at times like other older American cities. The challenge comes in making sure that we can come together over issues that affect us all as gays and not allowing those looking to bifurcate us as a way to keep us suppressed.

I was convinced for many years (pre-teen and teen) that the feelings I was having were a phase or something that I could compartmentalize. I dated girls and women, but always saw my sexuality as something that I could turn on or off. It wasn’t until I realized that there was a very supportive and vibrant community in Chicago (where I lived until 28) and that I did seek to have more than a physical bond with a man, that I chose to come out at 23. I think one needs to come out to oneself before they come out to others, something others need to realize is that the coming out process is personal first, and public second.

(Advice I’d give my younger self) Chris, you did things correctly and the way they should have occurred for you. I am not sure I would advise differently, since I cannot change the past, but in hindsight, I’m quite proud of the path my life has taken, and I not about to start to eulogize myself! :)”

Adam, Choir Director, Phoenix

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: “Being gay to means to me the same as having brown eyes. Obviously I didn’t take my mother out to Panera to tell her that I had brown eyes, and that I have known for some time, but what I mean to say is that being gay is a part of my identity as significant or insignificant as eye color, hair color, or height. More significantly though, it means that I am gay at a time when marriage equality is sweeping the nation. As more states allow for marriage equality, I find myself full of pride for this aspect of humanity and celebrate simply by being open about it.

The challenges, working in a Catholic Church as a choir director, has been from those who have not yet put a face to a gay man and the hate speech that I sometimes overhear. That is one of the reasons I am so thankful for this project. The success however, has been to find that there are many Catholics who do believe in the dignity of the individual, and though the Church as an institution has not yet come around, the Church as a people seems to have. This gives me hope for my generation, and generations to come.

The gay community in Phoenix is centralized in downtown. There are open bars and clubs and the pride parade is always a success. As you get out to the outlying suburbs, gay communities seem to be more individualized. Honestly, it’s more difficult to find a healthy LGBT community in the suburbs, especially where I live in South Chandler, a suburb 45 minutes south of downtown. In general, its within the younger generations where community, acceptance and celebration of identity occur. Arizona is still very much a red state, but with wonderful flashes of blue from time to time.

I came out in my early 20s. I was actually engaged to be married to a wonderful girl, but who I was kept insisting that I live authentically. Two months before the wedding, I made perhaps the best and hardest decision of my life to live authentically and stop the marriage before it happened. I am happy to say that my ex fiancé and I are still tremendous friends. (Although there was a period of two years where we didn’t speak with one another). I moved from St. Louis to Phoenix to ‘find myself’ and begin anew. Having divorced myself from a conservative upbringing and having been a rape survivor in the gay community, I no longer felt welcomed or comfortable to live who I was in St. Louis, and thus moved. That was eight years ago. My family is more tolerant, accepting, and I believe proud to call me their son.

If I were to give advice to my younger self, I would tell him to follow his instinct and to make difficult decisions that he knows to be the right decision sooner than later. I would tell a younger Adam that he is loveable just as he is, and that the fear he feels will dissipate and only love will remain. It might take time, but eventually, living a life of love and authenticity will always lead to a more fulfilling life, and will more than likely lead others to do the same. And imagining a world where everyone is true to themselves? How wonderful and beautiful that would be.”

To read more of Adam’s story, click here