Joffrey, in his own words:“(Being gay means) being a Dad – being a Husband after all.
Having my family which is my husband and our 2 kids. It is my best achievement. I am so proud of who we are. Being a Dad, is a real job and I am loving it. We both take it seriously as we do not wish to fail. It is quite hard to describe the happiness of having a family through all those mixed emotions.
I remember having a job interview and being asked: “what is your best achievement in life?” and I answered naturally: “My family, my kids”…oh well I did not get the job by the way!
Today, we both work hard for them, to make sure that their present & future time is secure. But to be able to work hard – I do source myself into their energies. I get my strength to work hard & be a good employee through their joy & happiness. It is all connected in a way.
(With regards to coming out) I left my home country (France) when I was 19. So it was for me easy to be myself in the UK. Therefore – when I had my first long term relationship I emailed my mum and my older sister (The younger one knew it already) Not a nice way to tell them (not very brave of me to do so). I expected them to be upset. I guess I just did not know them very well – weird to say but realistic. I was wrong. It has never been for anyone living around me/us an issue.
(The community in Kep, Cambodia is) Very gay friendly.
(Advice I’d give my younger self) Be happy when other people are happy. Be yourself. Show to others your happiness of being who you are.”
Abdi, in his own words:“When I was ten years old, I became obsessed with old movies. I’m not sure what the other kids were doing, but I’m pretty sure they weren’t having Rita Hayworth, Marilyn Monroe, and Joan Crawford movie marathons by themselves. At the time, I had no idea that my interests were in line with a larger gay community, and I’ve always been fascinated by how and why I sought out these gay icons before I had any comprehension of sex or sexuality. Honestly, the first time I remember really understanding the concept of a gay community was when I saw Madonna’s “Truth or Dare.” Watching her and her dancers at a Gay Pride parade opened my eyes to a whole new world.
I came into my sexuality as men were dying of AIDS. As a result, I equated being gay with death. This seems to be a pretty common correlation in my generation of gay men. We were the generation that came too late to lose many (or any) friends to AIDS, but came too early to brush off the disease. We really internalized the safe sex messaging and frightening imagery in a way I don’t see in previous or subsequent generations. In college, a friend of mine was doing a sociology study and asked classmates to envision their future. None of the gay men saw life past forty.
Of course, all this changed drastically in the subsequent two decades. Once I became more confident and comfortable with living as an out gay man, my focus shifted to starting a family. I always knew I wanted to have children, but I never knew what it would look like. Part of the difficulty of living in a heteronormative society is the lack of role models. It wasn’t until I spent time with one of my best lesbian friends and her children that I felt comfortable taking the plunge into fatherhood. She and her family represented a version of family life that resonated with me in a way heterosexual families didn’t.
I didn’t grow up wanting to get married, and I still don’t. I support the marriage movement, and marched through Los Angeles when Prop 8 passed, because I believe fervently in equal rights. But marriage was never part of my vision for my life. I guess I prefer making up my own rules rather than accepting somebody else’s. I think people see that I have a partner, two children, a dog, and a house with a white picket fence, and they immediately think that I’m living a version of the heterosexual American Dream. But that’s really not how I see myself at all.
I was at the Long Beach Pride Parade this year and there were floats for Wells Fargo, Ralph’s, Jet Blue and a slew of other corporations. The emcee was shouting “When I say Wells, you say Fargo. Wells…. Fargo. Wells… Fargo.” I was appalled. Someone told me, “Well at least they support the gay community.” To which I say, it should be a given that major corporations support the gay community. That doesn’t mean they deserve a float in our parade. My version of gay pride is celebrating all the things that make us different, not where we bank and buy cereal. I like the rebellious side of gay culture. I like pushing the boundaries of the mainstream.
I’m really hopeful about where gay culture’s place in our society is going. That said, I also miss gay culture being more of a hidden secret. The internet has really made counterculture obsolete because it’s hard to know what the dominant culture is anymore. We have become a demographic. I know this is progress, but I can’t help but miss the more subversive and radical side of gay culture. One of the greatest experiences I ever had as a gay man was in Havana. The gay scene there consisted of meeting outside a movie theater called the Yara and waiting for someone to circulate the information of a secret party, which was held in a different spot each night. Drinking and dancing together at these parties felt like a meaningful act of rebellion, without any interference from Absolut promotions and Britney giveaways.
I’m really lucky to live in Los Angeles. There are elements of gay life in Los Angeles that are imperfect: lots of body fascism and a lack of socio-economic diversity. But on the whole, Los Angeles has been great to me as a gay man. It’s a city of artists and dreamers who move here to create a new and better version of themselves, much as most gay people must do. It’s important to me to live in a city where I can send my children to a school full of modern, unconventional families. People sometimes ask me whether I care whether my children are gay or straight. I don’t. I believe we come into the world with much of our nature in place, and it’s the parents’ job to help nurture that nature. Chances are, by the time they grow up, we won’t need any pride parades anymore. Perhaps no one will be debating the validity of anyone’s marriage and there will finally be a cure for HIV/AIDS. Perhaps there will be no one left quoting “Mommie Dearest” to each other as some kind of secret code. That would probably be a happier world for gay people, though that won’t stop me from being nostalgic for the good old days when we were chanting “We’re Here, We’re Queer, Get Used To It!” instead of “Wells Fargo!”
“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.”