Category: Uncategorized

Rey and Chris, Ipswich, Australia

photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong, Rey (left) and Chris (right)
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, Remi (Right) and Chris (Left)
photo by Kevin Truong, Rey (Right) and Chris (Left)
Chris, in his own words: “For me being gay has become just another part of who I am, sometimes important, most times not so much. I have come to understand myself as just another kind of being human, part of the variety of human existence. Being gay means an appreciation that I am different from the majority of the rest of humanity, but similar to a significant minority of others, so I have come to understand that I share my essential humanity with all other humans, but my sexuality with only some. In general I count my values more highly than my sexuality and I share these with my friends, and it therefore doesn’t usually matter to me whether they are gay or otherwise, even though it is becoming increasingly true that most of my friends are also gay.

There have been times when being gay has been a great source of anxiety for me. I am grateful for the great social strides that have been taken over the past two or three decades that have allowed me to take my place in society with my head held high, to openly live with my partner and to acknowledge my relationship at work. I am also grateful my progressive friends and work colleagues who have created a welcoming and nurturing environment. Of course there are still hangovers from the bad old days, but now the photograph I have of Rey and I on my desk is no cause for comment. Except periodically, from older gay men who remember – as I do – when you just wouldn’t dare, maybe not even dare to enjoy a relationship.

So on another, perhaps more important, level, being gay now means for me the opportunity to live life honestly and openly, authentically, without fanfare, but in a way that I consider normal. The opportunity to discuss the ups and downs of relationships, the odd things that I and Rey do, life in general, all in the broader context of friendly discussion; the opportunity to be (in most ways) like everybody else, these are special to me. The social benefit (perhaps the political benefit) is normalisation. I am encouraged when I see young people carrying out their relationships in an open and positive way and I’m even more gratified when I see my peers doing the same. Being gay, welcoming gayness, is not just about embracing diversity in myself and others, for me it’s about living diversity as un-self-consciously as I can – and encouraging others to do the same.

I think the biggest challenge for me has been the challenge of authenticity, whether that has been acknowledging my sexuality to myself, family and friends, understanding and negotiating/re-finding my faith, and/or thinking through the next stages of my life. So far I think I’ve been reasonably successful (I hope so). But I count the biggest successes those times in my life when I have been part of something that has made a positive difference in someone else’s life. These are the opportunities to look out for. Right now, though, the biggest challenge ahead for us is the renovation of our house. :-)

I tried a couple of fairly abortive attempts at coming out when I was younger, first when I was 18 and the next when I was about 25 or so. Neither were particularly successful and I retreated back into my protective shell, denied myself, tried to live in other ways, but at age 40, I finally came to a stage when I decided I no longer cared, that hiding/denying really didn’t matter any more and made no sense whatsoever and that it was time to live authentically whatever that might turn out to look like. And as it happens it has worked out well. I have great friendships, I met Rey and we clicked, we met each other’s families and clicked; we all genuinely like each other and we have a wonderful family life – and for that I am very grateful. That is what I hope for for others because it is so beneficial.

I’m not so sure there is a gay community as such here in Ipswich. There are lots of gay people in the city, of varying ages and life experience – and lots of them know each other. There have been one or two attempts at creating a regular gay venue, that I know of, with little real success. Well, Brisbane, the State capital, is literally just down the road. We are a University city and I suppose if I were going to look anywhere for a gay “community” here in Ipswich it might be on campus, not so much elsewhere. Perhaps people are making their own communities and we don’t feel the need to create an overarching one. That’s certainly my own feeling on the matter. Rey and I have two very close gay friends here in Ipswich (in fact our best and closest friends) and they are part of our “community” of friends (we are always open to making new friends), but I don’t have any particular sense of a wider gay community as such in Ipswich. Perhaps in one sense that’s actually a good and healthy thing if that means that local gay people are finding community with their families, colleagues and friends, but we have rural centres close by and I’m not sure about where the supports come from for those there and more locally who are vulnerable because of their sexuality – and that is, perhaps, a challenge.

I have thought long and hard about this. I’m not one for giving advice and I tend to think if I had an opportunity to meet my younger self, we would have a long conversation about what lies ahead, the good and the not so good. But I think at the moment if there was a short message to give to my younger self it would be that “Gay is OK; it’s OK to be gay” and maybe, “Don’t leave it so long to come out.” Would I have believed myself and accepted the challenge? I’m not sure, but I’d like to think that I would have thought about it :-)”

Vitor, Brasilia, Brazil

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
Vitor, in his own words: “Ser gay me fez ser uma pessoa melhor, me ajudou a olhar para o outro com mais carinho e tolerância. Levei um tempo para aceitar a minha orientação sexual, mas hoje me sinto bem, pleno e realizado. A parte difícil é lidar com a sociedade e o preconceito. O Brasil é um país bem machista e ainda precisamos convencer uma galera de que não somos diferentes de ninguém e que merecemos o mesmo respeito e direitos das outras pessoas.

Certamente o maior desafio que a vida me deu foi o de alcançar a minha independência financeira. Nem sempre pode-se contar com o apoio das outras pessoas quando se é gay e nesse sentido ser independente foi fundamental para mim.

Já não morava com meus pais quando me assumi, mas a reação foi surpreendente. Tive muito medo, mas sentia que precisava contar. Minha mãe me disse que eu não era o primeiro e não seria o ultimo e que o amor que ela sentia por mim não mudaria jamais. Isso foi muito importante para mim. Hoje não falamos sobre esse assunto, mas não preciso mais mentir ou inventar histórias e isso é muito bom.

Acho a comunidade gay bem dispersa em Brasília. Aqui todos se conhecem pelo menos de vista, mas ainda mantemos uma certa distância uns dos outros. O engajamento é pequeno e não há um movimento LGBT consolidado. Apenas uma vez por ano é que pode-se ver muitos gays reunidos, na parada gay.

Se eu pudesse mandar um recado para mim há 10 anos seria: ouça o seu coração e faça aquilo que é certo para você. Perdi muito tempo tentando me adaptar ao que os outros diziam que era certo e sofri bastante.”

In English:

“Being gay has made me a better person, helped me to look at others with more kindness and tolerance. It took me a while to accept my sexual orientation, but today I feel good, full and fulfilled. The hard part is dealing with society and prejudice. Brazil is a very macho country and we still need to convince a galley that we are no different from anyone else and that we deserve the same respect and rights of others.

Certainly the biggest challenge that life gave me was to achieve my financial independence. One can not always count on the support of others when one is gay and in that sense being independent was key for me.

(With regards to coming out) I no longer lived with my parents when I told them, but the reaction was surprising. I was too afraid, but felt the need to tell. My mother told me I was not the first and would not be the last and that the loved me and her feelings for me would not change ever. This was very important to me. Today we do not talk about this, but I don’t need to lie or make up stories and that’s very good.

I think the gay community well dispersed in Brasilia. Here everyone knows at least each other by sight, but still maintain a certain distance from one another. The engagement is small and there is a consolidated LGBT movement. Only once a year can you can see many assembled gays in a gay parade.

If I could send a message to myself 10 years ago it would be: listen to your heart and do what is right for you. I lost a lot of time trying to fit in to what others said it was right and suffered enough.”

Kyle, Writer, Montreal

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

Kyle, in his own words: It’s a little strange for me participating in a photography series called the “Gay Men Project” when I don’t really personally use the term gay to refer to my own identity. Back in 2008, after taking a series of undergrad courses in feminist theory, particularly looking at how race and class influenced gender or sexuality, I started using the term queer to prefer to a political that better represented the aims of my writing and activism, that better represented self-inflicted and external threats to my ability to thrive as the kind of person I wanted to be.

That being said, I was drawn to the project because the images I saw were not only aesthetically pleasing, but appealed to my own writing project that is currently ongoing, a project that has been informed by a series of tumultuous events in my own life— including repeated incidences of homophobia, including a severe assault in New York City’s West Village back March 2011 that required reconstructive surgery. Queer Embraces, the name of the project, refers to the way in which my identity and my movement through cities informs how I define what it means to belong—to other men, to those cities, to the ways in which my being visible is an act of personal transformation with political possibilities.

For me, The Gay Men Project matters because of the fact that despite all of the reforms in terms of LGBTQ rights, so many of the men, myself included, face day-to-day struggles simply by being on the streets. I actively choose to wear a lot of thrift store clothes that are designed for women, which has lead to backlash in virtually every city I have traveled. When I write about HIV/AIDS, sexual health, or what it means to hookup with other men in the age of phone and Internet apps, I still face discrimination, even from gay men who are supposed to be part of the same community I belong to. All of this to say that for me, being visible and honest about who you are remains as important today as it was during the Compton’s Cafeteria riot or Stonewall because so many inequalities exist.

I’m not really sure exactly what my participation, my being photographed, will do. But I hope that it is, like my creative writing or journalism, a testament to the public life I lead and the struggles that I have to remain visible and not actively silence my desires.