Kristof, in his own words:“1. I think being gay is the pinnacle of the human evolution, no need anymore to procreate according to Darwin’s theory. I feel like being gay is being my whole self, me as an artist and sensitive being. It is the core of what I am. A kind person.
I had to deal with a lot of pain and hurt in my school years. I got bullied as the only gay kid in school. It was horrible. It stopped after school and moving to university. More freedom. Or let us say more anonymity, more people that don’t care because you are not in the same room with them five days out of seven. My successes are basically in the media. I get tons of media coverage here in Belgium and sometimes abroad. I like that, cause I need a lot of attention to feel good. I am content with that. Hopefully, more to come in the near future.
(The gay community in Brussels) can be normal. Depending on the venue. Downtown is a bit marginal, uptown is more snobbish. I don’t feel at home in either places. I am attracted to handsome intelligent funny, blond, muscular gentlemen and there aren’t any in this town…so imagine how I feel…
(Advice to my younger self) Go to South-Beach and see if you can make it there, but don’t trust people too easily. Call me if you run into trouble.”
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.”
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.”
“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.”
Marc Antoine, in his own words:“It is perhaps inscrutable to gauge the exact impact that being gay had on my life. If one takes into consideration the complexities inherent in coming to terms with one’s sexuality I believe there can be no doubt that “gayhood” or “gayness” means a lot in the sense that it may affect one’s perception of the world , for it , more often than not, instills a certain perspective on life, which is marked by a certain poetic melancholy, as I would have it, in addition to a capacity of analyzing the Other, for I was forced to think before acting for fear of showing more than I could and therefore would be trapped by other people’s cruelty.
My life is made up , as most people’s, of challenges. They just change but never cease to exist. My nature is very determined therefore I’ve always attempted to embrace these many challenges as stimuli rather than impediments. I feel challenged and this is motivational. Professional challenges are substantially informed by personal conflicts and now , at 45, my main challenges involve strengthening my curriculum by pursuing doctorate studies in Theory and History of Art. I see this PhD as a contribution to my old age. I tend to be too hard on myself but it would perhaps be unfair to ignore the many successes I’ve had in life, the biggest of which being my having overcome difficulties pertaining to these moments in which I reinvented myself. After teaching English for more than a decade , I decided to do an MA in Literary Theory , which provided me with the possibility of starting an intellectual move , teaching at tertiary levels. I am currently the head of a Fashion Design course , which was accredited with the highest possible credentials by the Brazilian Ministry of Education, I have also curated art exhibitions which proved immensely rewarding on a personal level. I feel better looking now than I did when I was younger but it is particularly cruel to age as a gay man in Brazil and there resides my new challenge which is inevitably coupled with my intellectual journey…
The gay community in Brasília is big, for there are many civil servants here…diplomats coming from all over the world as well as gay men who come here to earn more and live comfortably and more freely, but we live in an artificial city, which was planned and this ends up affecting people’s relationships. I find the gay community here to be far too stereotypical and homogeneous in addition to being artificially “cold” and segregational as regards class and standards of beauty.
(With regards to my coming out story) Difficult yet resolute, I do not partake of the view of living one’s life as a lie. It took me a long time to actually feel that I could live my homosexuality. I was 23 years old when I first had sex with a man and it took me another two years before I could tell my whole family in a somehow tempestuous manner, for I decided to leave home to live with my boyfriend, whom I passionately loved. I was bullied throughout my childhood and especially in my adolescence but it all contributed to making me stronger albeit a bit melancholic. I do believe that my connexion with the Arts stems from the pain of feeling threatened and belittled by the world. Therefore, my coming out is part of my victory over this past of humiliation but equally the past which shaped who I am and I mostly like it.
I think one’s life is what one can do out of it. All in all, I take pride in having done my very best to avoid becoming bitter over the problematic facets of my past. I try to take responsibility for my life. I avoid blaming whoever it is for what may have gone wrong.”
Todd, in his own words:“Being gay to me means being a man who is attracted to and loves men, but also masculinity in its many iterations. I hear many gay men say that they feel like being gay is not that big of deal. For me it is still a fairly big deal, I feel that we are a special variation in the human species and are unique, both biologically and socially.
I feel like I have had very few obstacles as a result of coming out. Quite the contrary, it has opened doors that I otherwise never would have passed though and my life has been enriched as a result.
I came out 20 years ago this year. My parents read a college paper I wrote while I was studying abroad in Germany, in which it was obvious that the author was gay. It ended up being the ideal situation since they had a whole year to process it while I was overseas. They never said a word about it until I came out to them after I returned home to Portland. I felt compelled to come out when I did being that we were fighting one several anti-gay ballot measures that popped up in the 1990s, all of which were defeated at the ballot box by Oregon voters, thankfully. These events, although trying, did have the positive effect of compelling many people to come out. Portland has become more and more gay friendly ever since.
My advice to a younger version of me would be to be patient and enjoy life as it unfolds. It’s important to have goals but ultimately life is a process, not a plan. It’s an awesome journey and everyone has something to contribute that adds value to this world.”
“Oke, my name Ardian I student who love draw and write, I from Surabaya, Indonesia.
I just want share about my story in here,”GAY OR BI” i’m never think about this before, even when I’m in grade 9 junior high school I’m feel a bit different when I watch porn (sorry) I more interested when see man cum but I’m not worry in that time. But time so fast now I was grade 11 in senior high school, I was know about LGBT especially about “gay” and “Bi.”
I’m not sure know who really I am, sometime so hard for me to understand what really happened to me, why this happend to me? Why? I’m so often have question like that in my mind, sometime I just want have life like straight man who loving girl, just loving girl. But sometime I receive about what happen to me.
To be gay or bisex in Indonesia is so hard, I think so many homophobia in here so many people think gay or bi is mean “negative”, so many people not really understand about gay or bi, I dont know why like nobody dont care, if gay or bi is human too, actually gay or bi is just not about negative , sex , party , and drug.
Cause that I so afraid to come out , cause I’m not already if I get judge from many people in school,so many people will hate me maybe, for this moment my friends,my family not know,if I’am gay or bi, why I write “or” cause I’m not sure if I’m “gay” sometime I feel im “bi”. maybe I just want this to be my secret life.
And I want say thank you so much Kevin before I find your project, I’m so worry with myself so worry about happend to me, so worry about I’m gay or bi cause in your project I was read so many gay people have great job, and have big dream and I feel more better. For future I hope people more respect with LGTB, so good luck for your project Kevin :)”
Christian, in his own words“Many people feel attracted to people of the same sex and wonder whether this means that they are gay. For some, these feelings can be very intense and alienating, while others are more comfortable with these feelings earlier on. Some people may ask themselves, “am I gay?”
I remember when I was younger, I used to ask myself the same question too, “Am I gay?” and it took me quite a journey before coming to self-realization.
Coming from a traditional conservative family, I was taught how to always fit into the social norm and uphold social values, while simultaneously respecting family’s face. When I was in secondary school, I “fell” for a girl. I tried to date her, chasing after her, as that is what all other straight men would do; well, at least that is what I thought they would do. But after a while, I started becoming aware of the fact that I felt more attracted to guys, especially the tall ones. Laughing out loud right? It is such a typical starting-point for your entrance into the gay world, but actually it was! As time went by, I grew older and being more conscious about my true self. I started dating guys, being in relationships, and feeling love. It was all going smoothly until the day my mum, by accident, found out the truth about my sexual orientation. Yes, I mean here, she found out that I AM GAY. As all typical asian moms do, she cried, yelled at me, screamed out loud. She even told me, “You are sick, you need to go to see the doctor and get treatments to heal it.” You don’t know how I felt at that time; I was already heartbroken when I heard people say that, but now it was from my own mother. I cried and soon fell into a spell of depression. After that incident, I didn’t talk to my mum for about a month, even though we lived under the same roof.
I thought it was the end for me; however, God didn’t leave me. I realized he had granted me with the greatest, most wonderful mum in the entire world. One day, when I arrived home from school, I stepped into my room and found on my bed a hand-written letter from my dearest mom. In the letter, she said that she didn’t hate me and would never abandon me simply because I AM GAY. She was just shocked at first and hoped that I could understand. She told me that she loved no matter what happened and would always be there to support me through all my ups and downs. “Be happy and take good care of yourself” is the bottom line of all her words. I shed a river of tears as I read it; I felt so lucky, overjoyed, I didn’t know what to say at that moment. I cried, running down the stairs and hugging my mom tight, saying, “Mom, you don’t know how much I love you, how lucky I am to have such a wonderful gift from God, you, my dearest mother.” And since then, all of my family members have found out the truth, and they have been being supportive of it. I do feel very blessed to have such loving family and friends around me, supporting me through all the hardships. Today, I proudly say out loud “I AM GAY,” and I don’t need to hide it.
Justin, in his own words:“I’ve recently come to feel empowered about being gay and being myself. Even living in a city where it is pretty much expected that people accept or at least deal with homosexuality, my experience as a gay man has been filled with ups and downs. It was a struggle for me to embrace my sexuality because I don’t associate with society’s stereotypes of “being gay”. A lot of gay men don’t reflect characters seen on television (though having Darren Criss as my boyfriend would be pretty awesome). The best realization I had was when I was able to understand that people in general (gays too) come in many different sizes, shapes and types and I didn’t have to fit into any of them; I can be my awesome self.”