Tagged: lgbtq

Vincent, Graphic Designer, 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
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
Vincent, in his own words: “Lately, I identify as queer.

I choose that term because it feels more inclusive and allows me to connect with many other folks in the community going through vastly different experiences, but also because I believe it’s versatility is powerful. Queerness gives me the reigns of my own identity — rather than being defined for me by politics or other peoples perceptions. It’s something that always rests in my own hands, and can be molded to serve a better me at any time. Like a lot of folks in my generation (maybe), I feel a freedom in my queerdom, not unlike a talisman or amulet of sorts.

This image of power and even magic contained with queer identity is something I’ve carried with me since coming out as a teenager. Early on I was very taken with the Native American (My grandfather was born in the Navajo reservation) term Two-Spirit. I liked it immediately because it seemed to suit me. It allowed for how I could dream of myself as a mother, express myself with a softness and emotional intelligence, and also be comfortable in my body. I generally refrain from using words like masculine or feminine, because I don’t think they exist, and question their role in how we define ourselves. But in those limited terms, I have always connected with both, and feel incredibly blessed to be queer so that I can dance between them without any self-doubt.

Of course, the years I’ve spent “out”, could be measured in degrees of how comfortable I am in that very thing. It can be challenging to know if one’s limits are self-defined or made by society. Am I disinclined to wear a dress because it isn’t in me? Or is it out of fear? In those instances lately, I’ve been choosing to do it anyway and evaluate afterward. Charge into the fear, as my roommate puts it.

Queer as I am now, I first came out as gay, though not quite in the traditional (if coming out can be seen as traditional?) sense.

I was lucky enough for my parents to find some incriminating evidence (**cough** porn) on my laptop when I was about twelve, and so I was thankfully spared having to come out to my entire Christian family and church for that matter. Looking back, I can safely say it didn’t go well. Having to answer questions of faith and heaven and hell (neither of which I believe in) early on, was far from fun and nothing I would have chosen for myself. The upside was that going through it all relatively young, allowed me at seventeen to casually say to friends “oh yeah, this is my boyfriend so-and-so.” I trusted that they could fill in the blanks for themselves. I had no interest in self-identifying myself for anyone and still don’t to this day. But I make a point of being open about my life — which includes my relationships and even sexual experiences — at all times.

This is relatively easy I’d say in Portland, so I am extremely grateful for that, knowing that in most of the world this is not the case. Though it’s true, Portland very much still lacks in diversity in terms of color, I can’t really say I’ve lacked for a moment queer connection of all sorts. I moved here just two years ago (new years day 2015) and it’s the first time in my life that I struggle to think of one friend in my personal life that isn’t queer in some way. Which is surprising to me, given that I spent the last decade in San Francisco. I’m not sure why it is but Portland to me has held a welcome sign for me that no other city’s queer community has.

If I were to speak to my younger self, I would tell myself not to give too many fucks about what anyone else thinks, to follow my own path, make mistakes without fear and above all not to get too debilitated by comparing myself with other people’s successes.”

Mauricio, Filmmaker, Buenos Aires, Argentina

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photo by Kevin Truong
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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
Mauricio, in his own words: “I remember being just 11 or 12 years old and one night going to bed crying; I had spent the afternoon at one of my closest Friends house hanging out with him and some others Friends from school, at one point (I don’t remember why) one of them said I was weird and different because I liked boys, my other friends agreed but none of us really understood what that meant, all I knew was I was being set apart from the rest of my friends and it hurt. That night my mom asked what was wrong and called my dad into my room, I told them what had happened and how I did not understand why being different was wrong, I was so sad…

Without hesitating my dad said that there was nothing wrong with me and that of course I was different from everyone else, that that’s something we all have in common, differences. Then my mom asked me if I knew exactly what those kids were talking about, I said “I think they were saying I’m gay” and she said no one had the right to tell me what I am, and that if I actually was it was only a part of me to be proud of, like my brown eyes and my large ears. I slept like a baby that night.

I never came out, I just never felt like I had to tell anyone that I’m into guys and not girls, my friends and family know I’m gay because they asked and I said yes; at first I think I avoided confrontation fearing rejection, but happily that didn’t last long, the thing is I grew up surrounded by loving people, I know I’m extremely lucky because of this, and thanks to that I’m a proud young man, kind and confident and in the search of true happiness.

I’m not really in touch with the gay community in Buenos Aires, I try to be aware of what’s happening all the time but I keep my distance, because I respect it so much, I’m still trying to understand myself and when I feel ready I know I want to take an active part in it; years ago I decided I wouldn’t let my sexuality define who I am and I know that people fighting for our rights have been responsible for this being possible and I’m so thankful, but I guess the truth was, until a few years ago, I didn’t want to belong to anything, I just wanted to be free. When the night the marriage equality bill passed I decided I wanted to be there to see it, so I stayed up all night waiting for the results in la Plaza del Congresso, happy, knowing that history was about to happen and that many people were closer to equality in the country I decided to call home. That night I discovered that in order to be happily different everybody has to have chances in life.

I think the only thing I would advise my younger self would be to trust more in people, it took me a while to do it and when it happened I started living life at it’s fullest, closer to happiness surrounded by people whom I love and who love me.”

Štěpán, Student/Publisher, Prague, Czech Republic

photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
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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

Štěpán, in his own words: “I remember all the days I spent in bed with my laptop. I desperately needed proof that all the stuff I felt was a real thing. I didn’t doubt my homosexuality. At the age of fifteen I was pretty sure that I was gay. I just felt so alone. I was searching online for what I could not find in real life. I was looking for love because I didn’t see it anywhere around me. Well, I saw a plenty of love except the gay love. I was living with my parents in a small village, so it’s no surprise that I couldn’t find any gay guys. I had nobody to talk to and I felt like gay love was something virtual, something I couldn’t achieve in real life.

However, to me being gay doesn’t mean being alone. I was a lonely gay boy once but these times are over. I still feel lonely once in a while. But we all do every now and then, I guess.

For me, to be gay has more sides. The first side is public. By saying ‘I am gay’ I am making a public statement. These three words mean that I am not hiding, that my life is not in contradiction to my feelings. This is not important just for me but also for the wider group of guys who remain in closet afraid of coming out. This declaration is my strongest weapon.

The other side is more personal, intimate. It’s hiding my more vulnerable self. The one I’m not usually showing to other people. The one which craves for all that things my heterosexual friends had. First teenage love, first dates, first innocent public kiss. And of course those things my heterosexual friends will have. Marriage, family. This face is my inner struggle to believe that I can live a happy life even as a gay man. I don’t feel these doubts often but they are still a part of me, no matter how irrational they are.

So after all what being gay really means for me is being little an activist all the time. Being visible and open about my life.

Luckily a lot of things went good for me during the last year. I moved to Prague. I am studying at a university. My short article in which I incidentally outed myself got published in a national magazine. And I found love (and I lost it but that is a different story). When I look back now I find it unbelievable how things have changed. For the first time in my life I feel like everything is as it should be. I am incredibly grateful for that. But besides being grateful I think I owe something to my younger self. To that lonely young guy who felt so lost. And I’ve found a way how to pay this debt. As I said before — by saying ‘I am gay’ out loud, one can affect a whole community. I don’t want to waste that opportunity. So I’ve decided to publish my own zine about gay men. A zine that would show ordinary stuff which gay guys have to deal with every day.

But this zine would be more than just paying off. I miss an honest image of the gay community in local media. Even the gay media promote prejudice. They are trying to sell so they mostly write about sex. I would like to change that as I feel that showing stories of gay men without making them obscene, without the need to provoke, can positively affect the attitude of the society towards the community.

Back then in the first year of high school I was fighting with my dad a lot. Once we had an awful argument. I remember him saying

“You’ve been so overly emotional ever since childhood. So unnatural.”

I told him that the word unnatural is so hurtful when you are gay.

“Is it true?” he asked me quietly. “Are you gay?”

“Yeah, I am pretty sure,” I said and left the room. Then I didn’t speak to him for a whole month. So from a present day perspective it seems that he was kind of right. I was a drama queen.

But despite the dreadful beginning, my parents never judged me for who I am. For long time we didn’t discuss my sexuality. But that changed when I told my mother how important is for me to share my private life with her and dad. Since then she’s been truly supportive.

Prague actually seems pretty queer friendly to me. The queer community is most visible during August when Prague Pride is held. For the rest of the year the community seems to be more invisible and sometimes even looks like a private party. However, there is a lot of events happening during the year. Nevertheless, Prague isn’t that big, so after some time you feel like you know everyone because you always meet same folks.

If I had to chance to speak to myself at the age of sixteen, I would say “Fuck Grindr.” You are still a boy and these guys will fuck you and leave you. And you will feel like shit. You will blame yourself. You will think you can’t find love. And you will blame yourself again. And even years after that you will still think that it was all your fault.”