Tagged: lgbtq

Peter and Michael, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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

Peter, in his own words: “As a youth I knew I was different from the other boys my age. I wasn’t exactly sure what the disparity was, but it seemed significant.

It wasn’t merely my lack of interest in sports or my quiet, calm personality compared to the aggressive drive I sensed in other boys. They knew I was different, too. Being taller than all my peers, I escaped the physical bullying many others endured.

In high school I thought that I must be homosexual. The friendships I enjoyed were mostly with girls and with some boys like me. At that time I became aware of my sexual attraction to other boys, and men in the media.

Surprisingly, I didn’t feel a sense of shame about who I must be. I accepted myself, yet I didn’t risk the disclosure of my difference. I wasn’t going to give that piece of me to just anyone. There were almost no gays or lesbians in the movies or on TV – no Ellen, or Elton or an Oprah to make it all seem ok. It seems keeping my true self hidden was how I interacted with the world. I gave little of myself and became the friend that always listened and supported others. It was not until the end of college that I was open with others about my sexuality.

Now at 55, I can look back at almost 30 years with Michael. He is a man with huge heart and a big, warm loving personality. His example taught me that to be truly intimate with others requires honesty. Through our relationship I have continued to evolve and grow as a person. I’ve come to have experiences I never expected to have – together we have traveled the world and enjoyed many warm, rich friendships. We enjoy a nephew and many godchildren. I have learned that even though being gay has afforded me a great perspective and wonderful experiences, it doesn’t shield us from life’s difficult times. We have buried our mothers and too many friends.

I realize that I have had the life that I was meant to lead, that being gay has not prevented me from having a rich, rewarding life. It is my hope that the increased normalizing of gay life in the public sphere will allow young people to be themselves at an earlier age than I was.”

Michael, in his own words: “I have conflicting ideas about what being gay means to me. When I look at it intellectually I understand the position of many people that being gay is just one aspect of our selves, and that we shouldn’t be judged solely on being gay. However, my immediate response is that being gay has and does influence most of what I think and feel in all aspects of life.

I came out over 40 years ago, at a time when there were no, or very few, openly gay people. I had never met any one who was gay. Every message I received about homosexuals and homosexuality was negative. I was bullied and taunted all through my school years, and was always fearful. This greatly influenced my behavior. I was very quiet and would not even answer questions in a class. And this was long before I even understood sexual attraction. I had few friends and was guarded about what I would say to people. These behaviors continued into college. By then I realized my sexual attraction to other males, yet still had crushes on girls.

Of course, I wasn’t ready to tell anyone my “secret” nor had I acted on my attraction to men. Yet, my life did change greatly. In my junior year of college, I lived away from home. I met in my dormitory/dining hall a group of students who seemed to accept me and want to befriend me just the way I was. It was a brand new feeling and gradually allowed me to gain some self-confidence. Those people are close friends to this day. The experience with these friends allowed me to become more comfortable in social situations and feel free to be who I am.

It wasn’t until graduate school that I had my first sexual experience and met other gay students with whom I became friendly. Making friends with other gay men and being accepted allowed me to come into my own. While it was always a little scary to come out to someone, my experiences were overwhelmingly positive. Meeting my partner (of 30 years) has allowed me to blossom even further and face challenges I would never have earlier in life when I feared anyone knowing I was gay.

To my younger self I would say that it’s important to trust in other people, to not assume that they will judge you negatively for being gay. And, to understand and accept that coming out and growing is a life-long process. Be open and be yourself. You will find other people who will accept and love you exactly the way you are!”

Simon, Montreal, Canada

photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
Simon, in his own words: “Être homosexuel, bon ou mauvais ou les deux ? Le plus difficile est de l’accepter pour soi-même. Après l’acception il reste à l’intégrer, une fois intégré on y trouve du bon, on grandit et on se dit qu’il y a pire que ça dans la vie !

Ça débute par faire le deuil de notre idéal de vie que l’on c’était imaginé dès le jeune âge, d’un modèle de famille qu’on croyait facilement réalisable. La frustration et la colère s’emparent de nous et nous fait regarder en l’air pour envoyer chier le bon dieu de nous imposer un tel défi. On voudrait négocier avec lui un cancer, voir même une amputation en remplacement de ce mal étrange et intense qui nous habite. On cherche à qui s’identifier dans ce nouvel univers d’hyper sexualisation auquel on n’a pas envie d’adhérer malgré la pression qui nous y pousse. On est confronté à nos propres préjugés, on se déconstruit pour retrouver une nouvelle identité, on tente de se trouver de nouveaux repères, non sans peur, angoisse ni vertige.

Puis on se dévoile au grand jour, on cesse de se mentir et de mentir aux autres, sauf à sa grand-mère trop vieille pour comprendre, on fait face aux préjugés, les nôtres et ceux des autres, on a peur d’aimer, de s’ouvrir, on se le reproche et on renvoie chier le bon dieu, on s’achète un pantalon trop serré et on le rapporte au magasin. L’ambiguïté s’installe entre ce qui est normal et malsain, on avance et on revient sur nos pas.

Et puis un jour on aperçoit la lumière au bout du tunnel, on respire une bonne bouffée d’air. On se regarde dans le miroir et enfin on aime assez ce qu’on y voit. On regarde derrière sans avoir envie d’y retourner. Finalement on se reconstruit dans une authenticité qui nous réjouit et on se rend compte qu’on ne le déteste pas tant que ça ce Christ. On prend conscience que ce détour obligatoire nous a fait voyager à travers nous-même, nous a permis de s’ouvrir aux autres, de s’ouvrir à la différence, on se sent entier et enfin libre. Alors on desserre les poings et on trouve que tout ça en valait la peine.”

In English:

“Being gay, is it good, bad, or both? The hardest part of being gay is accepting yourself. Once that’s done, you can integrate your sexuality into your daily life, you grow, and you realize that there are worst things in life than being gay!

As a child we have this ideal of what a family is, and we assume that we’ll easily attain that dream, but the realization that you’re gay turns that notion on its head – in the beginning. We lose ourselves to anger and frustration, cursing a god that would impose such a harsh life on us. We try to negotiate with him, maybe a cancer, or an amputation, anything to rid ourselves of these strange feelings that have taken hold. We search for someone to identify with in this new hyper-sexualized world, a world we want no part of, despite the pressure we feel to conform to it. We face our own prejudices, and in the process we deconstruct ourselves to find a new identity, and new support systems, without fear or anxiety.

Then the big day comes, we stop lying to ourselves and to everyone else, well, maybe not grandma, she’s too old to understand; we face prejudice, both our own and those of others, we’re afraid to love, or to open up, and we blame ourselves, and again, we curse god, we buy those skinny jeans that are much too tight, only to return them. Ambiguity settles in between what is right and wrong, we take one step forward and two steps back.

Then one day, we see the light at the end of the tunnel, and we can finally breathe. Our reflection in the mirror is finally one that we can tolerate, more than that, we see someone that we finally like. We look back on the past without longing to return to it. Eventually we find happiness being our authentic self, and acknowledge that maybe we were a little hard on God earlier. We realize that this detour was necessary and forced us to examine ourselves, it let us open ourselves to others, it helped us to accept our differences, and we finally feel free. We can now let go of all that tension we held, and we find that it was all worth it.”

Carlos and Ivan, Los Angeles, California

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

Carlos, in his own words: “No one can beat you at being you -Joel Osteen

Being gay means everything to me. Growing up as a kid, I always knew. Was it tough? Of course it was. It is for a lot of us. I was going to Catholic School and hearing what the bible was preaching, it sure didn’t help. But I somehow did not care, I loved myself too much and just knew I was different and special . Besides, I was too young and innocent and had no control over it.

Growing up at home I definitely had to keep it a secret. My dad had 11 brothers and no sisters. Very old fashion Mexican upbringing and not a single known gay relative. So yeah it was tough. I remembering answering the phone at 12 years old and the neighbor who was calling told me I needed to man up my voice because I sounded like my sister. As hard as I tried to be straight, and please everyone else, I just always knew better. Turned out my neighbor is gay also. He hasn’t spoken to his dad in over 3 years. That’s tough. His dad was my role model growing up too. Funny how life works.

Throughout my years in Jr High and High School I too was bullying alongside my friends sometimes, just to “fit in”. You know I grew up in the city of Cerritos which is just 25 min away from LA. The friends I had and the life I was living was just not the environment to come out in. Once I moved to Hollywood with my older brother who was already living there, I was just shocked. Gays everywhere. Even West Hollywood was up the street, but it was almost too much all at once. I mean sure it made me feel at home and made it more easier to explore. But there were still challenges. When I finally did come out to my parents, it really did feel better like they say. No it wasn’t easy and yes it took a while for them to come around. Just like it took me a while to be comfortable with it. I mean I wanted to marry and have a wife and kids of my own also you know, and letting go of that reality was not easy either. Something people don’t talk about.

18 years later I am in a much better place. It’s true, “It does get better”. Sure I made some mistakes along the way but I’ve never been happier. I have an amazing partner of 6 years. Five of those years we spent taking care of his 87 year old grandmother who had Alzheimer’s up until her last breath in our arms at almost 92 years old. Once people saw what a difference we made in her life and how she changed our lives, it just didn’t matter anymore to me what people were thinking. Early on in my relationship my lil brother got married and I was able to bring my partner and introduce him to all of my family. Without really realizing it, I used my brothers wedding as my way of coming out to the rest of my family. They welcomed him and it just made it all easier. We then attended a church (Unity Fellowship Church, Los Angeles) that was founded by a gay Bishop by the name of Archbishop Carl Bean. He and his church played a huge part in keeping me in track with not only my life, but with the Love of Life itself. I then have the opportunity to meet an amazing gay couple in NY. J. Frederic “Fritz” Lohman and Charles W. Leslie, the founders of the Leslie Lohman Museum in NY which recognizes gay artists from all around the world. Here’s a couple who has been together for 47 years! Gay Love is possible and they were proof. Learning the history and amazing stories of Charles and Fritz only made me happier and prouder to be gay. We are a pretty amazing group of people and I wouldn’t change it for anything.

Go ahead and come out wherever you are. It does get better and it really is OK.”

Ivan, in his own words: ” Being gay has afforded me the opportunity to alongside my partner Carlos Cisneros be there caring for and living with my grandmother for the last five years of her life (from 87 years old to 91 years young).

” I am glad that God made you guys the way he did , because otherwise you would have a wife and kids and would not have all this time for me” mama Lenor Santoni. That those years with grandma allowed us without trying to show my family , friends and anyone who happened to be watching : a Latino gay couple happily taking care of a senior citizen.

Being Gay has allowed me to to have a best friend and passionate relationship with one person.
Than You……………Jesus…

In 1994 two of my best friends were moving back home to NY, they are still a couple Moe Bertran and David Pumo. I went to their going away party four days before ( brought gift and all). The next day I woke up called Moe and asked if I could move with them to NY?”@#%#@% Wow! Let me call David and ask him !”. About ten minutes later Moe calls me and says ” David said yes but you have to COME OUT to your mom before we go because he won’t live with someone who is in the closet”. I drove to my mom’s house and told her that I was moving to NY and pretty much in the same breath I said and I’m gay ” she was crying but when she spoke she said ” I am not crying because you are gay I am crying because you are moving to NY”