Category: City: Portland, Oregon

Vincent, Graphic Designer, Portland, Oregon

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
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
Vincent, in his own words: “Lately, I identify as queer.

I choose that term because it feels more inclusive and allows me to connect with many other folks in the community going through vastly different experiences, but also because I believe it’s versatility is powerful. Queerness gives me the reigns of my own identity — rather than being defined for me by politics or other peoples perceptions. It’s something that always rests in my own hands, and can be molded to serve a better me at any time. Like a lot of folks in my generation (maybe), I feel a freedom in my queerdom, not unlike a talisman or amulet of sorts.

This image of power and even magic contained with queer identity is something I’ve carried with me since coming out as a teenager. Early on I was very taken with the Native American (My grandfather was born in the Navajo reservation) term Two-Spirit. I liked it immediately because it seemed to suit me. It allowed for how I could dream of myself as a mother, express myself with a softness and emotional intelligence, and also be comfortable in my body. I generally refrain from using words like masculine or feminine, because I don’t think they exist, and question their role in how we define ourselves. But in those limited terms, I have always connected with both, and feel incredibly blessed to be queer so that I can dance between them without any self-doubt.

Of course, the years I’ve spent “out”, could be measured in degrees of how comfortable I am in that very thing. It can be challenging to know if one’s limits are self-defined or made by society. Am I disinclined to wear a dress because it isn’t in me? Or is it out of fear? In those instances lately, I’ve been choosing to do it anyway and evaluate afterward. Charge into the fear, as my roommate puts it.

Queer as I am now, I first came out as gay, though not quite in the traditional (if coming out can be seen as traditional?) sense.

I was lucky enough for my parents to find some incriminating evidence (**cough** porn) on my laptop when I was about twelve, and so I was thankfully spared having to come out to my entire Christian family and church for that matter. Looking back, I can safely say it didn’t go well. Having to answer questions of faith and heaven and hell (neither of which I believe in) early on, was far from fun and nothing I would have chosen for myself. The upside was that going through it all relatively young, allowed me at seventeen to casually say to friends “oh yeah, this is my boyfriend so-and-so.” I trusted that they could fill in the blanks for themselves. I had no interest in self-identifying myself for anyone and still don’t to this day. But I make a point of being open about my life — which includes my relationships and even sexual experiences — at all times.

This is relatively easy I’d say in Portland, so I am extremely grateful for that, knowing that in most of the world this is not the case. Though it’s true, Portland very much still lacks in diversity in terms of color, I can’t really say I’ve lacked for a moment queer connection of all sorts. I moved here just two years ago (new years day 2015) and it’s the first time in my life that I struggle to think of one friend in my personal life that isn’t queer in some way. Which is surprising to me, given that I spent the last decade in San Francisco. I’m not sure why it is but Portland to me has held a welcome sign for me that no other city’s queer community has.

If I were to speak to my younger self, I would tell myself not to give too many fucks about what anyone else thinks, to follow my own path, make mistakes without fear and above all not to get too debilitated by comparing myself with other people’s successes.”

Thomas, Writer, Portland, Oregon

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
Thomas, in his own words:“Queerness is creativity; it’s curation. There’s an artistry and a poetry required to define yourself by your own terms. If you are told that everything you find to be beautiful or desirable is wrong, a path is forged to a certain freedom, to decide what you think is right, and true. I know that for so many of us this creates a constant anxiety, it can be really draining emotional work. But I know that for myself, it’s what saved me. The liberating revelation that my love and my life were to be entirely my own creation. It’s inspiring.

I didn’t always feel so empowered. I grew up going to Catholic school in the Midwest. When I told my parents I would be attending a demonstration for gay rights at the Kansas State House, my mother–she’s Italian–she grabbed the kitchen counter and burst into tears, repeating, “I just want to have grandchildren.” I was fourteen. Coming out, then, seemed impossible. It would be a part of myself that I would keep hidden, I figured.

I was lucky, though, because it was at my all-boys Catholic high school that I met my best friends: the Gay Lunch Table, we called ourselves. We were young and in this ostensibly repressive environment, but it never felt like that when we were together. We had our own lingo; we made each other laugh. If anyone ever tried to give us trouble, we made a game of it, coming up with unapologetically effeminate ways to make them uncomfortable. We felt tough, and not in spite of our homosexuality, but because of it.

I try to remember that every day. I’m older now, and less afraid of who I am. But it’s a good reminder: let your confidence be a shield. I read a lot of gay authors, try to follow gay artists, and there’s such a resilient beauty that runs through our history.There is both elegance and endurance. I find it very motivating. I feel the power of a family line, like I am from a long tradition of dreamers forced to reinterpret their world. So that’s what I try to remember, and what I try to put into my own work: queerness presents an opportunity to imagine a more beautiful world. Feel the power of that, wear it like armor, and embrace the grace of being gay. “

Dylan, Painter, Portland, Oregon

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
Dylan, in his own words:“I identify as gay, but for most of my life I didn’t know what that meant. I think that’s a newer term. I grew up just knowing that I liked boys and I always thought of girls as friends.

Everyone knew I hung out with the girls and I think girls thought of me as a girl. They would would say, “no boys can play with us,” and the other boys would be mad, because I was allowed to, and the girls would say, “only Dylan. Only Dylan can play with us.”

Then as I got older another boy would ask to kiss me, or would ask what it was like to kiss another boy, so I would show them.

It was just easy being gay. That’s the way it always was. It wasn’t until I got older and had to explain it to older people, or tried to fit in with guys that thought I was strange that I became more closeted. I became closeted for a while, because I wanted more male friends, but I think the guys I was friends with knew and would probably have been open minded if I’d known why I was different or how to describe it.

I never really came out. I think everyone just knew how I was. I was with older boys from a very young age and it was just natural. One time, after my first real boyfriend and I had moved in together, my mom sat me down and asked me if I was gay. I said I didn’t know. I guess. Something like that, and then they just started letting my boyfriend come to Christmas dinner and my family learned to love him too.

I don’t really feel like there is a gay community in Portland. I think that that’s why gay people like it here, because we can just be gay and nobody really thinks about it. I did go to a lesbian bar that happens once a month, and really there were only about 5 gay guys and no straight men there, and the lesbians kind of had us on the outskirts of the group, like “we’re not going to put up with any of your gay shit. Tonight’s our night.” It really shocked me, because I’ve never had lesbian friends and I was surprised by the diversity of women that were there. It was about 200 women and most of them didn’t fit any one stereotype. They dance different than gay guys was my biggest observation.

I think I would rather take advice from my younger self than give it. I was much more bold and excited about things when I was younger. I think I was very excited to be, to do, and to have. I’m kind of focused on my future self at the moment, because I don’t want to get stuck in too much of a routine and I want to be able to afford a comfortable lifestyle. Maybe I would tell my younger self, “Good job! You’re doing great! Keep going!”