Andrew, in his own words:“One thing that I regret is completely blowing an opportunity to come out to my grandmother, despite the fact that she totally opened the door for me to do so. When I was about 15 years old she took me to a restaurant in Portland known for its original mid century modern interior. She took me there because she knew I wanted to study architecture and because she had been friends with the architect who designed it. I recall her saying something to the effect of, “You know, (so-and-so) was a really nice man and a very talented architect. I think you could make really wonderful things just like he did. He was also gay. People are born that way and it’s nothing to feel ashamed of. Just look at what he was able to do.” I sort of panicked and nodded my head and said nothing. She must have sensed that I wasn’t ready to talk about it, so she smiled and we moved on to something else. It’s only looking back on that conversation now that I realize how fortunate I was to have a grandparent in the 90s who was both accepting of gay people and forthright with their opinions on homosexuality. Didn’t seem like much at the time, but I guess it was.
She died while I was living abroad in college and I wasn’t able to attend the funeral, which was rough. And I know there’s not much to be done, but I wish I could tell her that I was pretty alright with being gay fairly early on because of a conversation that she and I never really had to begin with. The little story about her friend the architect was, I guess, all I needed to hear.”
Derek, in his own words:“Being gay is only a part of yourself, you are made up of many beautiful things and are endlessly worth more than you think.
One major challenge I’ve had is reconciling my beliefs with my sexuality. I think everyone has contradicting aspects that make up who they are, it doesn’t mean that you’re messed up it just means that you’re an individual. You can find success in identifying with not just one part of yourself but by taking each piece and making it your own.
I’d like to feel like I was apart of (the gay community in Los Angeles) but I’ve heard it can become very cliquey and incestuous.
You can’t be friendly to someone at a bar without them thinking you want to get in their pants. Actually, you probably shouldn’t try to make friends at bars, everyone’s horny (unless…). You really just have to be confident, find your place and the people you want to surround yourself with, that’s when it becomes easy.
I knew I was gay ever since I was a little navy cardigan wearing Catholic schoolboy. I didn’t come out until my Junior year of high school, even though my parents had found a gay porn zine I had hidden when I was a Sophomore. My parents and family have become very accepting but at times their different views get the best of them, but that’s family.
(Advice I’d give my younger self). Age 13: Don’t hide your porn in your jacket pockets, you have siblings who like to borrow your clothes. Oops.
Age 16: Don’t worry about what other people think.
Age 18: Don’t be afraid to date and make mistakes, you’ll be fine.”
Rudy, in his own words:“I think the queer scene in LA is very diverse and yet can be segregated at the same time. What I love about it though is that it is something that just keeps evolving and if you don’t see yourself as part of any scene you can create it. I know so many rad queer people in this city who have created spaces for people to gather or be creative. That is not to say that I don’t get nary or frustrated at times with the gay scene in Los Angeles but that’s a whole other story.
I grew up in East LA and am the youngest of eight. Growing up my parents instilled a very strong work ethic. They also made me believe I could do anything I set my mind to. As I grew up here in the states I began to see things a little differently than most of my family. I was drawn to Punk as it seemed to be the outlet I needed to express myself. I knew I was gay at a young age and kinda just accepted it. It was hard for my parents to deal with me and my crazy clothes, music, and way of living that I never really thought about coming out. Eventually I was forced to come out and it did not go over very well. Though as the years have gone by my parents have accepted me for the person I am. They are proud to call me their son. I am still that Mexicano Queer Punk teen at heart and I would not have it any other way. Lastly everything that I have ever done or accomplished in life is a direct result of that work ethic/I can do anything attitude I learned from my parents.”