Category: City: Washington D.C.

John and Michael, Editor and Chief and Account Manager, Washington D.C.

photo by Kevin Truong
John and Michael, 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
John and Michael, photo by Kevin Truong

Michael, in his own words: “To me, being gay is an orientation, an the innate truth that guides attraction beyond your control. I think being out is more important than being gay; being out is the choice to own that truth, and that takes courage. Everyone has something to come out about.

My biggest challenge is fighting internal homophobia, the constant split-second judgments I make about how out to be, how to answer questions in the office or for a new job or meeting someone on the bus. My greatest success has been my marriage, which, though similar to many other successful marriages, in many ways had no real template to follow.

I came out in high school and was treated very well by everyone. I sometimes wonder how much of that was the kindness of my peers and teachers, and how much was the way I worked so hard to make others comfortable.

(With regards to the gay community in DC) DC is very, very gay.

(Advice I’d give my younger self) I would tell a younger me to be more courageous and more curious.”

John, in his own words: “Being gay means you’re attracted to members of the same sex. Sex is a very important (and fun!) part of that, of course, but it goes even beyond that. I’m not just a man who likes to get off with guys — I also seek affection, companionship, and love with and from other men, and to give that to them as well. That — and sexuality, of course — is why I identify as gay.

It took me a very, very long time to get over my internalized self-hatred. I was raised Catholic, and very religious at that, so that meant that as I awakened to my identity as a gay man, that realization was accompanied by intense feelings of shame, anxiety, isolation, and guilt. I did everything I could think of — up to and including attempting suicide — to try and not be gay, and it was only once I reached that point that I realized that if I’d been so spectacularly unsuccessful at getting rid of it, then it was probably meant to be there in the first place. I’ve come a long way since then — from a scared, self-loathing gay Midwestern Catholic to an out and proud gay LGBT equality advocate — so I’d say that journey has been one of my greatest successes. But as Michael said, my greatest success would definitely have to be my marriage. Like any couple, we’re both flawed people, and like any marriage, ours has its ups and downs, but at the end of the day, the one thing we can count on is our enduring love for each other. Even if I had nothing else in my life, my marriage to Michael would be enough.

I realized I was different when I was very young — maybe 5, 6, 7 years old — long before I knew that that difference had a name. I came out for the first time during my freshman year of high school, to a friend of mine who I was in plays and musicals with. He was already fully out, so it was his example that inspired me to take that first step. I came out very gradually to select friends after that, even as I was still struggling to make peace with my being gay. It wasn’t until the summer after my senior year of high school that I came out publicly, to my parents, family, and community. Some reacted negatively, but the people who mattered most — including my parents, brothers, and grandparents — embraced me and my truth.

(With regards to the gay scene in D.C.) It’s funny — as someone who’s coupled, my experience of the D.C. gay scene is very different than that of my single friends. They tell me that the D.C. gay scene is cliquish, catty, and can be brutally cutthroat/backstabbing… but that hasn’t been my experience at all. Michael and I have made many wonderful gay friends here. We have many friends in D.C.’s thriving Russian gay expat community, and we also are close with some incredibly amazing lesbian couples. So yeah, gay D.C. is pretty fabulous!

I don’t know that I’d have any advice to give to my younger self, because I really don’t believe in living with regrets; all of my experiences have helped shape me into the person I am today. If I could give advice to kids like my younger self, though — kids who feel alone, who have a hard time accepting and loving themselves because they’re gay, and who struggle under the weight of internalized homophobia and religion-based bigotry, I’d tell them to hold on. I’d tell them not to listen to anyone, whether it’s family, peers, religious leaders, or the voice inside their head, who tells them that they are broken, sinful, evil, or bad. I’d tell them that they are beautiful and that they’re loved just the way they are, and that there’s a whole community of people ready to welcome them with open arms.”

Scott, Writer/Communications Strategist, Washington D.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
Scott, in his own words: “Being openly gay to me means that I’m honoring something within my soul that wants to be expressed. It means I’m being authentic. My awareness of my attraction for men may manifest physically, but like all things that are born of love, it comes from a much deeper spiritual level that too often gets lost or ignored since most religious institutions are/have been slow to recognize that love is love.

I’ve been blessed with a supportive family and amazing network of chosen family in friends from all over. Interesting work and a creative spirit have allowed me to experience parts of life I never really imagined growing up in Kansas just a mile or two from Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church, otherwise known as his family compound and a major tax scam. As a writer, I’m also challenged by my creativity, but for good reason. Each of us has something important to contribute to those around us and that creative spirit will keep nudging us until it is fully expressed and we’ve given what we can from what we know to help others along their journey.

DC has an interesting gay life that is still challenged in many ways by class and race. This always amazes me for a community made of people seeking their own rights and recognition. Our ability as gay people to divide ourselves within our own community has been a constant source of curiosity. Even with that, it is amazing to see the progress we’ve made and DC is a great place to be for the history that is unfolding. And away from “official Washington” DC has a wonderful community that most tourists never see made up of people and families that have been here for generations who have a vibrant culture all their own. Development, rising prices, and the condo-ization of every available inch of real estate threatens to change that. With people coming from all over the country and world to do business here, it makes for an eclectic mix. But losing that mix would change DC in ways I hope we avoid.

My first experience with a man was with a good friend from high school but we were home from college over the summer, after a long night out with friends, back in my basement room of my parents house. It was sweet, silly, romantic –everything you’d want as you come into an awareness that what is within you is shared by others, his first gentle touch, the exhilaration of finally feeling like something is right, not wrong, his lips on mine so natural and perfect, I felt different. For the first time I felt like me, like who I am supposed to be. And for the first time, I understood what all the straight guys I knew were raving about when it came to sex, which up until that point, had been okay, but underwhelming for me. As for family, I started coming out to them, and a few friends, over the course of the next few years as the idea of being gay grew more comfortable for me. I really claimed my sexuality fully when a woman I loved very much was contemplating a life decision about her career based on my move to Washington. The moment I told her to make the right decision for her not based on me because I was working through these issues, she reached for my hand and said words that ring in my heart to this day, “I love you, I’ve always loved you, it appears it will just be in a different way than I’d hoped.” Like I said above, I’ve been blessed with amazing people in my life.

(Advice I’d give to my younger self) Find out who you can trust and start talking to them about how you feel. Come out sooner. Adolescence is a phase of life best lived when it is supposed to be lived and is wholly unattractive on much older men. That is advice I’d like to give to some people my age and older now who haven’t figured that out yet.”

Broderick, Seminarian, Washington D.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

Broderick, in his own words: “Whenever I’m asked when I “came out”, I always wonder, “When am I not coming out?” I wonder this because my own narrative of publicly disclosing my sexual orientation is a process, not an event. I remember being nine years old and asking myself when and how I would tell my parents that I am gay. My fourth grade self could not imagine that it would take twelve years of introspection, conversations, self-discovery, forgiveness, and courage before the day finally came.

As a child and adolescent, I had only one prayer: God, make me straight. I wanted nothing more than to meet a girl, fall in love, have 3.5 children, live in the suburbs, drive a minivan, and own a Sam’s Club card. Over time though, I was confronted with reality of my sexual orientation. The more I resisted it, the more lonely I felt. I wanted to tell other people my “secret”, but I chickened out at the last minute every time. I poured myself into memorizing numerous Bible verses, going to every religious conference I possibly could, and singing louder than everyone else at church. While some people end at “pray away the gay”, I tried to “wash away the gay”. I was baptized four times, with each time proving that no force on heaven or earth could rid me of my unwanted sexual orientation.

In college, I heard a speaker cite a statistic that gay men have an average of forty anonymous sexual partners per year. The speaker’s assertion peaked my curiosity and after just a few minutes of research on Google, I realized the speaker had been misleading. This led me to ask myself whether other things I had heard about gay people were consistent to reality. Somehow, I happened upon the website of gay Christian Bible study group in New York City. I e-mailed the facilitator and asked him if I could Skype in to one of their sessions and he said yes. Sadly, I didn’t go through with my intention. However, I kept that facilitator’s information and contacted him the next summer about the steps I needed to take to begin the process of slowly disclosing to others what I thought I had been hiding for a lifetime.

The next part of the story is a bit fuzzy. Basically, over the next four years – up to this very day – I continued to process of coming out by telling my closest friends and family members. I have been met with nothing but generosity and graciousness. Being an openly gay man is a unique gift. I feel so grateful to live the life that I live, to be loved by friends and family alike, and to be able to follow my passion for church ministry as a student at Virginia Theological Seminary. There is no way my nine year old self could have imagined how tumultuous and at times anguish-filled my life would be. But there’s also no way I could have anticipated the joy of this beautiful journey.”

Mehl and Eddie, Spanish Assistant Professor and Senior Sales Account Executive, Washington D.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

“We are Mehl and Eddie and we met on 04/04/04 playing competitive volleyball in Houston, Texas and we legally married on October 2010 in Washington, D.C., where we live now with our two dogs Calvin and Oscar. Mehl is a Spanish Professor at the university level and Eddie is a Senior Sales Account Executive (for the Latin America market) for a software company.

We live a vibrant and active life – often on the go, but we do find time to explore all the wonders of our neighborhood and the greater Washington area. There is plenty to do where we live, including going to several parks, picnic grounds, taking our dogs to dog parks, biking on Rock Creek Park’s trails, visiting farmers markets, attending music festivals, eating at lots of restaurants, and going to all the museums (most of them are free) and the National Zoo. We love outdoor time, movies, music, cultural and artistic events, performances, sports, and a dazzling variety of cafes and restaurants.

After almost 3 years of marriage, we are pursuing adoption of a new born. Eddie and Mehl will be able to offer a happy and harmonious home for a baby or twins, a place where children can grow and flourish with security and unconditional love. For us the biggest adventure we can take is to live the life of our dreams…and that means to expand our own family. We promise our future kids they will get amazing opportunities in their lifetime.

FOR MEHL: Being gay is just one facet of my person. It does have a huge impact on how I see the world, but it does not determine everything that I think or do. Being gay now is much easier compared to when I was growing up, and I thank all those who have come before me and fought the civil rights battles to make all of us more accepted by society.

FOR EDDIE: Gay is just one other aspect of my persona. It’s like saying that I am a tall, Peruvian- American and educated man. Honestly, we are lucky to be able to be ourselves. We are just gay and it helps a lot as well to live on the East Coast where it is more progressive, more cosmopolitan and we are able to express ourselves and being recognized as a married couple under federal law and DC law. It’s a great feeling!

FOR MEHL: As a gay person, I am constantly having to challenge the sometimes very skewed stereotypes that many straight people have of LGBT people. This includes the professional arena, where otherwise highly educated people think and say things that flabbergast me because of their ignorance. Our challenge as gay people is not to walk away and resent these people, but to show them that we are just humans like them and we are complex and deserving of equitable treatment by them.

FOR EDDIE: For us right now, we are hoping to adopt and we are very excited to become parents. We want for our future kid to become a citizen of the world and be able to learn languages, play sports, travel the world with us, teach him to love and be considerate of the environment, be tolerant and develop his natural potential to the max. You may find more about our story onwww.facebook.com/MyTwoFathers and www.mytwofathers.org.

FOR MEHL: The out gay community tends to socialize in cliques. A person new to the city has to be proactive and outgoing to make friends. The community is fairly small, consisting mostly of professional Caucasian men.

FOR EDDIE: Gay DC is a very small and vibrant and diverse community. We love it here. We moved here from TX 7 years ago and we have met tons of people (acquaintances) but we are very lucky to have very special and close friends that we can call in the middle of the night and know that they will be there for us, and likewise. The census reveals that 10% of DC is gay, so we are very well represented.

FOR MEHL: I came out when I was 24 when I realized that being with a woman was a lie. I told my parents, who had a bit of difficulty with it but who, nevertheless, loved me unconditionally. Because I had a brother who was gay, my coming out process to my family was relatively easy.

FOR EDDIE: I came out when I was 26 and it was not that easy. I faced challenges with family members but most of my friends were cool with it and it was more the idea of rejection in my head. I still have some family members that don’t completely accept my relationship with Mehl and even less the idea that we want to expand our family through open adoption. I respect their comments and way of thinking but I pray one day that they will come around and learn that LOVE is LOVE, no matter the sex of the couple.”

Peace,

Mehl and Eddie”

photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong

Eric, Yoga Teacher and Student of the Universe, Washington D.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

Eric, in his own words: “Fortunately, being gay has less and less of a stigma and is easier to negotiate. Ultimately, its just an identity, which is only a part of who a person is, and is by no means a true self.

My biggest triumph is that I’ve found a new family for myself. Growing up, people called me weird, gay, or both. Maybe I am weird. But that isn’t important. I found an an environment where my authentic nature is not antithetical to those around me. I can I be me every minute of my day.

(With regards to the gay community in D.C.) The irony is that so much of the civil rights movement and the philosophies driving racial integration are pushed out of Washington, DC. I’ve never seen segretation like I see it among gays in DC. Multiracial friendship groups are an anomoly, not the norm. That aside, conversations are always a wonderful back-and-forth of vapid (but fun) kiki-banter and educated, insightful discussions on politics and world events.

(With regards to coming out) My older brother knew I was into guys because we went to the same high school and freshman year I had a boyfriend for 13 days. When my brother flipped his brand new car on a straight road in the middle of the day, he got in trouble. When my parents confronted him about the mystery of his accident he outed me to take some of the heat off of himself.”

Evan, Coordinator, Washington D.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
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong

Evan, in his own words: “When I think of my sexual identity, I try not to think of myself as a gay man, but rather a man that just happens to be gay. For me, to be gay is to be yourself. I like rap music, Mini-Wheats and 19th century French impressionism, collect political buttons and talk about pugs all the time. While there are some things that interest me that some would see as synonymous with being gay, there are many that aren’t. With that, there’s no cookie cutter definition of what it means to be gay and there shouldn’t be; everyone is different in their own unique way.

Figuring out when I first acknowledged the possibility that I was gay is something that’s been an ongoing endeavor. Sometimes I think I’ve always known. Other times I think it was middle school or college when I came to realize it. But what set off my eventual decision to come out was being hit on by another guy for the first time at a party in October of my sophomore year of college. At first, I was embarrassed because others heard what he said. I always thought other people suspected I was gay and for people to hear another guy say something suggestive to me would only intensify suspicions. It was a frightening prospect considering how when I was growing up in small town North Carolina, whenever someone insinuated that my orientation was anything but straight, it was always in some negative connotation. “Fag” and “homo” are two words that instantly come to mind. After that guy’s initial compliment, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It stuck with me for days, which turned into weeks and then months. Initially, I thought it was just a phase, one single attraction. But by February, I began to realize that there were other guys and that’s when with certainty, it hit me: I was gay. In a near instant, I thought my life was over. From rejection by friends and family to an inability to launch a career in politics or possibly hold public office, I had reasons to believe that everything I had worked for and built up over the years was wasted; complete and total rejection and castigation were an imminent reality. I stopped caring about anything and coupled with other problems I was dealing with, I saw almost nothing redeemable about myself. For those that had perceived me as gay and taunted me for it, I didn’t want to come out because I didn’t want to give them the satisfaction of knowing they were right and for that, I said nothing to anyone. By May, I couldn’t take it anymore. When something becomes the first thing you think about when you wake up in the morning and the last thing you think about before you fall asleep, you have to say something. And with that, on May 12, 2011 for the first time ever, I told another person, my friend Erik, that I was gay. It was one of the most emotionally intense moments I’ve ever encountered. It was relief, ecstasy, disbelief and shock all at once. In the following weeks and months, I came out to friends and family one by one. Some were shocked while some told me they knew all along. Regardless of whether or not they knew, the responses from the people I cared about the most were all the same: Love. Coming out was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. If not for peace of mind, for assurance that I’m loved.

Like many people living in DC, politics is an enormous part of my life. I eat, sleep and breath it; I always have and I always will. But what makes me different from many other members of the LGBT community is that I’m a Republican. When I first came out, I found myself not only coming out to my Republican friends as gay, but coming out to my gay friends as Republican. The former was incredibly supportive, loving and accepting of me and told me that I was the same person I had always been. The latter however, responded a bit differently. While some were as compassionate and understanding as my Republican friends were, a surprising number of LGBT people conveyed their discontent. Being a Republican was one thing, but being a gay Republican was another. One person went so far as to tell me that I was sick, a disgrace to the LGBT community undeserving of support; an “Uncle Tom.” Even in the days leading up to me writing this, another gay person (not knowing I was a Republican) told me at a party attended by mostly gay Republicans that most in attendance were “…basically self-hating, clueless people.” Crassness aside, it was insulting to assume that gay Republicans are oblivious to the fact that many Republicans are behind the times on LGBT issues. As a person that works in Republican politics, I know this better than most and it’s one of the mostly profoundly difficult obstacles I face, both personally and professionally. Despite this, I remind myself daily that if I and other pro-equality Republicans leave the GOP on the basis of LGBT rights, then there wouldn’t be anyone left to help change the party from within. Since coming out, I’ve talked to many Republicans and conservatives I previously knew to be unsympathetic to our causes. But after talking with them about the struggles I and others face and a reminder of the Republican Party’s dedication to the principle of limited government, I began to see opinions shift. Playing to their political sensibilities has been key, but what seemed to be the most effective in changing hearts and minds was relaying how, despite being gay, I want the same life that many of them want; one that involves having children, family trips to the beach and the white picket fence sort of life shared with another person that just so happens to also be a man. Essentially, the family values that so many Republicans hold dear are ones that I hold as well. With that, stereotypes are broken. Seeing opinions change, from friends and acquaintances to even my own family members, I’ve learned that though the challenges I’ve encountered have been difficult to bear sometimes, they make you stronger and provide you with the leverage you need to help bring about the change you want to see. The change we’ve encountered thus far has been slow, but slow progress is better than no progress and I’m proud of it.

Last but not least, there’s the D.C. gay scene. It’s a plethora of guys from all sorts of backgrounds from which I don’t know where to begin. The LGBT population is enormous, with nearly one in ten residents identifying as LGBT. Many like myself are from small town America that made the move to the city for work, but many also went to school in D.C. and have lived here for years. Of all the DC gays I know, they’re mostly young professionals working in the private sector and at all levels and branches of government. They’re driven, career-oriented people, but definitely know how to have a good time. Weekend brunch is a way of life and trips to gay havens like Rehoboth Beach and Provincetown are relatively frequent. Relationships happen, but D.C. is a transient city where people come and go all the time; it’s not the most conducive place for a person wanting a relationship. Overall, while the gay crowd in D.C. has some defining features to it, it’s very diverse and within it there’s a niche for everyone. I’m still finding mine and while it’s sometimes a bit confusing and scary, it’s one of the most, if not the most, exciting journeys I’ve ever been on.”

Ryan, Strategist, Washington D.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

Ryan, in his own words: “I often equate being gay to having a heart condition. Our hearts are so big that the extent of the lives we live – our work, our activism, and way we show love to one another is filled with a level of passion and creativity that’s far and beyond most mainstream expectations. Yes, while what makes me gay is my unquestionable attraction to men; being gay is taking this ever growing heart and putting it to good use.

(With regards to challenges) I’d say issues around self-acceptance. Which I’m fortunate to have moved forward and triumphed.

I love living in DC. It’s a big city filled with small towns, and the gay community intersects every neighborhood within – making ours a united and present force in an ever evolving city. DC is large enough to find a community you’re comfortable with, yet small enough not to be overwhelmed. When I arrived as your typical bright eyed intern and later returning for good, the focus was being out in the office – being present and upfront with your colleagues around your everyday life. To see so much change in 15 years – where Supreme Court Justices, cabinet secretaries and members of Congress reference their gay and lesbian staffers in changing their hearts and minds around issues of equality -shows the power of being present. It’s often the advice I give new residents – Be Present. This isn’t a city where the community greets you when you arrive, it’s up to you to reach out, connect and get to know others.

(With regards to coming out) Completing an internship, I was giving a tour of the city to a group visiting from Nigeria. We arrived in downtown DC in the midst of a traffic jam and I was forced to scramble to avoid any delays, so we trekked to Pennsylvania Ave., blocks away from the White House. I had no idea the traffic jam was due to DC’s large and popular Gay Pride parade – a first for me, and certainly the first for 30 West African youth workers experiencing their first full day in the United States.

I guided the group to our destination; awkwardly explaining drag queens, dykes on bikes and PFLAG to DC’s newest visitors. Arriving at our destination and later returning to our tour bus, three members of our party broke out into tears, sharing with me and their colleagues what a fortunate gift they were given in arriving to this country on this day. Seeing the truest form of American liberty, freedom of speech and freedom of assembly in a way no aged document or glowing monuments could every do.

To them, the emblems of Freedom, Justice and Liberty were the PFLAG moms, drag queens and bikers marching with pride and demanding their nation do better. In that moment, and later in quiet reflection, I came out to the most important person in my life…myself. Later coming out to friends and being outed to family actually made the best out of bad situations – in time. Yet, I always go back to that tour as a turning point. One that makes me aware of those who still struggle with coming out, our outreach to them, and this country, ever fighting to become a more perfect union.”

Ernesto, President and Founder, Washington D.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

Ernesto, in his own words: “Being gay has been an organic process. I share similar experiences to other men insofar that in my youth being gay might as well been a curse. Today,”equal” resonates more and more, which is just a validation of what I’ve fundamentally known all my life.

The coming out process happened in a slow and segregated manner for me, on a personal and professional level. Today, I am a married man, and while I often have to correct the assumption I am married to a woman, It’s exciting to be part of the paradigm shift from marriage being between a man and a woman to marriage is the union of two individuals. Professionally, from the days when everyone “knew” and waited for me come out, I am the owner of a gay owned and operated business. It doesn’t make me a better design professional, it speaks to integrity: I do not hide this part of who I am, so by association my clients have more to trust.

The LGBT community in DC is savvy, powerful and influential. I have the honor of serving as President of the Capital Area Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce; The Chamber. It’s been a life affirming experience through the relationships with the individuals I’ve met in the organization, other LGBT community leaders and our Allies. The time I’ve invested in this organization pales in comparison to the bounty of what I’ve received in return.

My coming out story is painful. I fell in love with a wonderful person who didn’t love me in return, but circumstances kept us together for a long time. In many ways it pushed me further back in the closet and when the relationship ended I barely recognized myself. It took many years, but the lesson I learned has empowered me greatly; I have the option to say “no,” and walk away in any circumstance. Perseverance is a virtue, but it can also be a disguise for denial and avoidance.”

Melvin, Government Wonk and Bocce Enthusiast, Washington D.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

Melvin, in his own words: “Growing up as a gay middle class Indian American my struggles were nominal at best, but coming out is universally challenging. My need to make peace with my sexuality, faith, and self-image, along with parental and cultural expectations delayed the full-speed adolescent gay train within. Once I had the courage to come out, I realized I had built walls up between myself and those who unconditionally loved me. It didn’t all change overnight, and there are still periodic awkward conversations and tears, but I embraced my new role as living awareness campaign, educator.

My journey, our journey, continues. With courage, love, and authenticity; we must share our stories, it is how we will make our mark on this world.”

Kevin, Managing Director, Washington D.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

Kevin, in his own words: “For me, the heart doesn’t know the difference in race, sexuality, age, socioeconomic status, religion or really anything else for that matter; the heart only knows how I feel when I am in love. That love starts with loving yourself and every gay man has to go through the process of loving himself in a world where that love is not universally reciprocated. Coming out is a daunting, terrifying process but it is a liberation as well. Like a butterfly emerging from a chrysalis, coming out as a gay man changes everything and you are finally able to truly be whole and know that you are living a life of honesty and truth after spending so much time “hidden”. It eventually becomes important to recognize that your sexuality is important, but it is a facet of who you are as a person and all the pieces have to be nurtured to create a complete, happy person but that path is walked by each person in their own way, with their own uniqueness and at their own pace. My own path has had it’s ups and downs, but I am stronger and more confident having walked it than had I remained “closeted”. I wish for each gay man to find his inner strength and walk that path towards loving self-acceptance.

I have been so lucky to find a wonderful community of friends in DC that have become my family in so many ways. These beautiful, loving, caring, brilliant men have supported and bolstered me and each other to be confident and strong as gay men. When I moved to DC, I made that decision because I wanted to be in a city that had a strong community and I wanted to be a part of that community. I can say that the gay men in DC are a wondrous mix of diversity from all over the globe and that creates a really amazing community. The gay men here have a tremendous passion to positively affect change and there is a level of activism that is un-paralleled in many other places and that energy creates a sense of accomplishment and pride in who we are and how we are trying to lead change to strengthen our community.

Be true to yourself and never compromise on your needs and eventually, all will be as it should be…”