Category: City: Vancouver B.C., Canada

Jacob, Student/Social Worker, Vancouver B.C.

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

Jacob, in his own words: “It’s tough to say exactly what being gay means to me, but it has certainly changed over the years.

When I first realized I was gay, it felt like a clumsy label, a prescriptive definition that squeezed me in with a group I couldn’t relate to. Admittedly, I still don’t relate to much of the gay community, being recognized as the worst gay ever by friends. However as I grew older, my internalized homophobia died off and I was able to meet a multitude of amazing gay men. This has taught me that what being gay is follows from who gay men are; it’s a descriptive thing. I am part of the definition of what being gay means, and all men who identify as gay make up the whole. Seeing the big definition of being gay as a melange of smaller parts is working well for me.

Coming out was an interesting ride. I was raised in a very religious Evangelical Christian household. I was sent to a private school with prayer and chapel, and was the son of a minister. I was scared beyond belief at the prospect of being found out. Gay men only existed in my mind as phantoms of hollow and depraved lifestyles, with an agenda to destroy all that was good and wholesome. Feeling that those in my Christian community would view me as deeply dysfunctional if they knew I was gay, yet not being able to relate at all to the image of gay men I was presented with, the isolation felt extreme. Thankfully, I grew up as the internet boomed.

When I was 16, I found an online forum that was run for, and by, gay teenagers. This changed my life. I met people in the exact same boat as myself, and realized others were struggling with the same issues, the same doubts, and the same fears. It broke my sense of isolation. A group of friends formed and we supported each other as we came out to our families. I am still close with many of them nearly 10 years later, even though we all live far apart.

Despite the feeling that I was going to vomit before telling people, I am lucky that coming out was mostly positive, though something of a mixed bag. A couple friends’ religious convictions created gulfs that made meaningful relationships impossible. My family members had some initial sadness over what they thought would be a hard life for me, but have ultimately been very supportive. Their love for me and who I am has never been called into question.

If I could give myself a little pep talk before coming out, I would stress how much love there was around me, and how that love would extend to every part of who I was and am. I’d also try to convince myself to loosen up a bit.”

Ian, Accountant, Vancouver B.C.

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

Ian, in his own words: “If I could go back in time and give myself one piece of advice before I came out, I would tell myself “It’s going to be alright.” I’ve been so fortunate in my life: to be born and to live in a country where discrimination against homosexuals is prohibited by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms; to have a family that has been nothing but loving and supportive; and to have made friends that accept me exactly as I am. Many people in the world are not as lucky as I have been, and I am grateful everyday for the life I’m privileged to have.”

Jeremiah, Opera Singer, Vancouver B.C.

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

Jeremiah, in his own words: “I came out quite late to my family. I was 24 and at that point, my family had already been living in Canada for 2 years. Before that, we lived in the Philippines, a predominantly Catholic country where homosexuality, while tolerated to a certain extent, was frowned upon. It was all about timing since at 24, I was already more sure about myself and I was ready for the worst. I wrote a letter to my parents and left home that day before they woke up. I thought that writing down everything was the way to go as it will allow me to put more thought on what I was about to say without the possibility of being interrupted. As well, I thought that it would be good for my parents, as they will give my parents the time to read and process everything. I turned off my phone that day and made accommodation arrangements elsewhere. After a few hours of being out of my house, I got this email from them:

‘We’ve read your letter. Thank you for being honest. Thank you for trusting us.

Papa and I have been praying for you and John every night. You are God’s gift to us and we will love you for what you are. Continue striving and be the best you want to be.

Go home tonight. We will welcome you with our loving and tight embrace.

We love you very much and the whole family will be with you through thick or thin.

Love,

Papa and Mama’

After reading that, I was just a puddle and a mess. I could not think of another event in my life that gave me that much relief and joy. What made it even better was finally going home and getting a hug from my parents. While it was not exactly smooth sailing after that, I have to give my parents a lot of credit for keeping their minds and hearts open as they eventually came to terms with my sexual orientation.

Coming out definitely boosted my confidence in that it made me true to myself – not only in terms of my sexuality but also with my passion and dreams. It made me reassess my life goals and change my mindset from just conforming to other people’s expectations to finding the inner strength to pursue what I really wanted all along. From working in corporate, I decided to go back to school to give my dreams of having a career in music and theatre a chance. I am currently finishing a degree in opera performance at the University of British Columbia and I couldn’t be happier.”