Category: Uncategorized

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.

George, Painter, New York City

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

George, in his own words: “I would imagine that for other gay men, the fact that they “happen to be gay” might be more of a non-issue. But for me, I came to NYC years ago to help me more fully realize my attraction for Visual Arts. What I’ve found this to look like is a search for Beauty, and an overwhelming desire to make things that I feel are Beautiful, and then to show those things to others. There’s those dual aspects to this process: First Identifying and trying to emulate the Beautiful Thing, and then showing your creation to others with a small hope for some kind of Validation. Even Cavemen who were Visual Artists would get into drawing a Bison on the Wall, and trying to really make it feel like a Bison, but then they’d want to show it to other Cavemen with the hope that they’d like their Bison Drawing too. But the thing of Beauty that I often choose is a male figure or portrait, and this means my audience is going to have to consider the gay question, consciously or not. A Homophobic person might think I’m trying to shove my Homosexuality in other people’s faces, but I’m just another Visual Artist, who’s trying to show them Beauty.

As a gay man who studied painting and visual art, I’ve struggled to figure out ways to earn a living. Each year, I tend to make more money than the previous year from my artwork, but it still doesn’t add up to a figure that doesn’t need supplementation. And the supplemental jobs cut into my art-making time. But I have to keep my focus on the positive progress, and not on the financial challenges. I’ve also struggled after sero-converting to becoming HIV-Positive in 2005. Thankfully, not as much as the Generation before this, who had little or no medical solutions. But still, the stigma that leads many to not disclose the information is real, and the ridiculous price of HIV Medication and Healthcare today is another issue that really needs attention so I try to talk about it.

I guess I always knew I was Gay, even before I had a name for it. To survive grade school & high school, you learn pretty quick that it’s something to try to hide. But in one of my first jobs, as a stock boy in an A & P Grocery Store in upstate Port Jervis, NY, a hot Italian guy from the next town over started to come in and boldly flirt with me. He’d act like he needed one more ingredient for some meal that he was making, ask where he could find it, and he’d ask what time I got off. Sure enough, he’s be there with his Z-28 Camaro ready to drive me home. This was 1986, when gay things weren’t discussed and rarely in the news, but he’d try to bring up gay topics – he played the song “West End Girls” by the Pet Shop Boys and he told me it was a song about Homosexuality. I had to listen again to realize he was right. My mother wanted to know what a 24 year old man was doing driving me, a 17 year old boy home from work, and I somehow just came out with it: “Mom, I’m Gay.” I was done with lying to her. She had a look of disappointment that I somehow expected, and she later encouraged me to not tell anyone in my small town, but I now know that it’s just that she loved me so much and didn’t want to see me get hurt. Since I had already been accepted to an art college in New York City, we both agreed I’d be better off there. Her and the rest of my family’s love and support of me has strengthened with time and Communication. I’ve always felt very fortunate with having such a loving family.

I think it’s incredibly diverse, and that people in New York who haven’t found like-minded friends must not be looking hard enough. You can’t judge the whole “community” by looking at who is pictured in a local bar magazine like “Next”, or by who’s on a float in the Pride Parade. It used to seem that certain neighborhoods had like-minded gays (i.e. – the artists were in the East Village, the Muscle guys were in Chelsea) but now with the Internet, social networks are easier to come by. Places like the Gay Center in the West Village and Arts Organizations like the Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art I find to be very inclusive and Community oriented.”

Click here to see some of George’s art.