Casey, Communications Specialist, 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

Casey, in his own words: “Being queer to me means living the life I was meant to live without reservation. I spent so much time being reserved about myself that I feel like I wasted time. Being queer is kind of a ‘fuck you’ to this big hetero-normative world we live in where you are controlled by expectation.

I’ve had great success at finding a really amazing queer family, but within that I’ve learned to come to terms with the relative narrowness of my own experience and to respect other people more. I only know how to do me, but you know what? I love it. Tight jeans, big hair, and a mild obsession with Tonya Harding. The challenge I think is approaching this diverse community of queens and queers with enough compassion and respect to leave room for everyone to feel totally accepted.

Gay life in Portland is lively but small. I think after spending the last ten years here and being recently single, you realize how incestuous it can feel. For dating, that is. The community is fantastic. There are so many radical and wild people doing amazing performance art and throwing these really avant-garde parties and it’s mixed. Boys and girls. The lesbians and the gays in Portland get along really well and collaborate a lot. I think that’s rare to find in a lot of other cities and it lends itself to creating some really amazing artistic experiences.

When I was a little boy I was very effeminate. Before I even knew I was gay, people would call me a faggot and laugh at me and push me down. That stuck with me for a while and it made me feel ashamed to come out and really embrace myself. When I was a junior in high school though, I spent a year as an exchange student in Brazil. Being taken out of my own element like that really helped me grow. I came back thinking “You know what? Fuck this, I’m gay and I don’t care what you people think”. So I started coming out to people when I was 17. I told most of my family when I was 18, and they were all really cool about it. Actually I’ve never had a bad reaction to coming out to anyone, even as I continue to do so with new people I meet. Maybe part of that is living on the west coast, but people are always fine with it.

If I could give my younger self advice it would be to ignore the expectations of people whose opinions mean nothing. Don’t be afraid to shock or offend just because you’re in women’s clothes or your voice is high pitched. Just keep looking up and being as wild and queer as your heart desires, because that is your truth and it will totally set you free.”

Safir, HIV Technical Expert, Bangkok, Thailand

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
Safir, in his own words: “Being a 26 years old gay to me means: 20 years living in fear that I would end up in hell and while I was still on earth, I would be #foreveralone because of being brainwashed that God would only give a man a female soulmate (thanks to my conservative Muslim upbringing, including nine years studying in Islamic school) followed by 2 years learning that I’m not alone and not everyone/everything condemns homosexuality (thanks to a new life in Europe that I pursued while I was studying) followed by 5 years feeling awesome to be what I am (as my life here in Bangkok for the past few years is free from stigma and surrounded by open-minded people).

My successes was when I got in to the United Nations. I started as an intern two years ago and now I still cant believe that I’ve really been working with them ever since. I came from a very local uni and I was competing with kids from elite universities around the globe. Heck, I didn’t even know if I took the right master Programme prior to my internship. I do still have some insecurities with my English while working with the colleagues who are native speakers. But that’s great. I mean, that’s the only insecurity I have now and I no longer have insecurities of my sexual orientation in the office. It’s very different when I worked in an Indonesian company. I kept fearing that they would’ve bullied me if I was open about being gay.

What’s also great about my work at the UN is that, as a HIV technical expert, I’m working for the human rights of people living with HIV and key affected populations, including gay men, which is something I’ve been passionate about since I grew up. Growing up in a non-gay friendly environment really does unleash my human rights advocate side.

I haven’t come out to my parents yet – but I’ve done it to my Facebook friends. I was in IKEA with friends, they took a pic of me coming out of the showcased wardrobe and I posted that pic on my Facebook (with the caption:” just coming out of the closet”). Bam!

(With regards to the gay scene in Bangkok) This is a tricky question. I am already hearing somebody shouting at me because my answer is stereotyping the gay scene. I find the gay scene in Bangkok, in terms of nightlife, divided into two neighwhorehood: “sticky rice” AND “potato and rice” gayhoods. Or maybe not so much on what kind of race you’re into with, but more on ‘whether or not you speak Thai.” Sticky rice playground is what people refer to “local gayhood” (e.g., Ratchada, Ramkanhaeng) – where finding English-speaking Thai boys is much harder than in the ‘international’ one (e.g., Silom). I eat all kind of carbo, but I prefer the “Sticky rice” playground to the other. I can still feel the Thai’s land-of-smile manners there. no matter how packed the club is, the boys will still say “sorry” (in a very polite Thai expression) if they bump you or step on your feet.

Outside the nightlife scene, I feel that there’s no other exclusive gay scene in Bangkok. Most of the “scenes” are integrated with the non-gay ones. This just shows how Bangkok is much more progressive than other big cities in Southeast Asia.

(Advice I’d give to my younger self) You might still not have Grindr (or a Smartphone), but you are not alone. Gay people exist. Not just in the porn videos you secretly hid in the folder named “Homeworks” in your old PC. And the best part is, many of them are beautiful and full of inspiration, and they love you they way you are.”

Edu, Quality Assurance Test Leader, Sao Paulo, 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
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong

photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong

Edu, in his own words: “I think being gay is just a part of my personality but it is not the main thing about me. I think either gay or straight I would be looking for the same things. You know, I’m a human being who wants to be loved, to grow, to experiment things and so on.
On one hand there is the prejudice explicit or implicit, depending on the culture/city/country you are in, but on the other hand you are free to build your own path in life. You don’t have to necessarily follow the steps the society pre-programmed for you, like to marry, to have kids and to buy a flat in the suburbs. You can choose being single, having an open marriage, spending your money traveling the world because you don’t have kids, or whatever you want to. I notice that many people are afraid of this freedom; they prefer living in the box. For me I see it as a blank canvas I’m free to paint as I please.

My biggest challenge was to go through the bulling I suffered during school time. Bullying is a topic that is much discussed these days, but back in the 80’s it was really complicated to be a shy/nerdy/gay kid. One interesting thing is that I was bullied for being gay before I understand what sexuality was all about or even actually having a sex drive.

My biggest success was to overcome a very limited scenario in which I was born and raised. I was born in a poor family in the suburbs with all its financial difficulties. My parents and grandparents helped me out as much as possible for me to study and to grow as a decent person. I took all chances and I was the first on my family to go to college and have “a real big job”. I am grateful to all of them.

I could define São Paulo gay community in one word: diversity. You can find here the princesses (in Brazil they call them Barbies), bears, indies, hipsters and so on. I find it refreshing because I come from a city in which the only gay archetype that is acceptable it the buffed-all-waxed-suntan-lined-porn-star-look-a-like guy.

Getting out of the closet was complicated just in my head. Once I figured it out and accepted it was all natural. I didn’t have “the conversation” with my mother; my family knew it all along.

(If I could give myself advice before coming out) I would say to myself: “relax and go ahead. It won’t hurt and once you are out they will respect you more than being in the closet.”