Terry, in his own words: Terry Lim is a classical musician, an avid portrait photographer, and a dog lover. Terry is the executive and artistic director of a newly formed chamber music series, “Project ∞” where he presents innovative and unusual programs showcasing many emerging young composers and musicians.
“I am all about being open minded and appreciating everyone’s differences. Being gay means accepting others for who they are and being genuine with one another to build up meaningful connections.
I grew up in Vancouver where most people are very open minded and have chill personalities (typical West Coast style). Coming out to my friends was not so eventful. No one seemed to care or think it was a big deal to begin with, but I knew that all of them were my friends because of who I am, not my sexual orientation. I personally thank all of my friends for always being supportive and appreciating who I am. That’s why I can be me all the time and I feel comfortable being me.
Moving to NYC from Vancouver was definitely a huge change in my life. I had a very comfortable and amazing life in Vancouver but I wanted a change and I wanted to go for something quite drastically different from Vancouver. That’s how I ended up in NYC. Typical city life style, fast pace, constantly moving and stressed out people all over. The gay community in NYC is filled with endless events every single day and so many gay men from all over the world, no doubt about that. While I appreciate meeting and being surrounded by many different types of gay men, I also face challenges within this community. This is something I hadn’t really felt until I moved to NYC (or the States for that matter)- racism within the gay community. It almost came down to the point where I felt like many people think of gay Asians as the bottom of food chain. I know there are probably a variety of reasons why they have come to that conclusion whether it’s cultural, environmental, or social. It’s something I hadn’t experienced until I moved to NYC. As much as I am comfortable in my own skin and am secure with who I am, I want my community to be more open minded and learn to appreciate and love each other for the difference.”
Patrick, in his own words: “I’m glad I’m a gay man. And I’m proud to have been out for 7+ years now! Being gay is a natural and beautiful part of who I am. Embracing this part of myself has allowed me to live a full and authentic life and has brought me so much freedom and joy. I am a more whole person and have more to give the world and those around me because I’m out and proud.
It was not an easy process for me to come out. For 10 years, I was misled to believe my sexual orientation was wrong and sinful and that I could be straight through prayer, “therapy” and dedication. I started seeing an “ex-gay” “therapist” when I was 11. I shared some of that story in a YouTube video a couple years back, in hopes of preventing others from having to go through similar things.
I’m lucky to live in a time where I am free to daydream about one day having a legally-recognized wedding and husband and all the things I thought I had lost when I realized I was gay. I feel a deep gratitude and connection to the many brave LGBT folks and allies who have come before me and who have risked much for the many causes related to LGBT equality.
I wish the 11 year old version of myself could see me now – he wouldn’t believe life could be this good!”
Eric, in his own words: “In my study of music, I struggle to rid myself of a lifetime of fear and constructions in order to build a real connection with others. In the same way, I feel like all people, no matter what identity, struggle to break down these same walls in an effort to be themselves.
I struggle with societies definitions of masculinity and of homosexuality. After I came out, I didn’t want to identify with any definition. Participating in this project is special to me because for the first time, I feel like I am contributing to the larger gay experience and connecting to a community by simply being myself.
My career has given me the opportunity to travel and make music in many parts of the world. I feel thankful to be able to live here, freely, as myself. Expressing myself the way that I need to, striving to live the way I want to and being able to love who I want to.
I grew up a Mennonite in central Pennsylvania. My 86 year old grandmother is a conservative Mennonite and grew up immersed in dogmatic Christian theology. When she found out I was gay, it was difficult, but our relationship has come a long way since. She voted for the first time in her life, for Obama, in part for her change of heart on gay rights issues. The love of my family astounds me. Even when they don’t agree or understand where I am coming from, everyone is open to conversation in an effort to reach common ground. This is a beautiful thing.
A favorite quote of mine:
“In a word, we must create our own essence; it is in throwing ourselves into the world, in suffering with it, that – little by little – we define ourselves.”
Stephen, in his own words: ” Being Gay to me has always felt like I have the best qualities of understanding men and women and being empathetic toward everyone.
Coming out was exceedingly easy though the phrase “coming out” did not exist when I did it…I was a kid actor doing summer stock, and realized that I was more like a lot of the men I was meeting rather than like my Pop and his pals…I had an easy time of assimilating it as all the older actors were exceedingly supportive; I never felt compelled to hide who I was, but just existed in my comfy world.
My challenges have been to make a living, to continue in happiness, when so many friends in my generation died when AIDS arrived, and to try to be a positive presence on the planet…. I miss so many people no longer on Earth, yet do honor them daily in how I choose to exist here. I adore kids and have helped raise 9 god children over the years, and have always shared life with animals who are constant blessings.”
Jose, in his own words: “Being gay means having an opportunity to look at life from a different angle, sideways if you’d like. Being part of a minority always gives you a view with a unique perspective, and makes you examine many things that others take for granted. It also makes it easier to empathize with other minorities and unpowered people.
Being a gay man of my generation also means to me that I am part of the last to care about what has been called the “Gay Canon”: The places in art and culture where our kind has survived and have reflected their joys and longings through the ages, from Sappho to Michelangelo to Oscar Wilde to Tennessee Williams… With acceptance and tolerance LGTB people are quickly being assimilated into mainstream culture and this “secret knowledge” is getting lost..
I grew up in the turmoil of a changing Spain during the transition from dictatorship to democracy. All my adult life has been in Baltimore. Having only lived in big cities, I have not had as many problems as those living in rural areas. The biggest hurdles for me have been legal: growing up in Spain homosexuality was illegal, and when I arrived in this country it also was illegal (you could not even get a student visa if you were an out gay person). So for many years I was in constant jeopardy of being evicted, fired, arrested or deported.
The gay scene in Baltimore is small but very, very friendly and unpretentious. There are a handful of bars and clubs and everyone is always welcome. We also have a very active LGBT community center with lots of events and groups…
I came out to my friends at 16. In a way, we all came out, since we decided that “everyone was bisexual”… I was out since then to everyone but my mother. I came out to her 20 years later, at 37, after wanting to do it for many years. At first she did not take it well, but now she is part of a support group of parents of LGTB people in Madrid, and, after ten years, has become a leader and example for parents that attend the group.”
Jason, in his own words: “Growing up and knowing you’re gay at a young age is tough, especially in a small, close-minded town in Indiana. Early on I knew I wasn’t like the other boys (age 5) and pretty much suppressed those feelings until I escaped to college. For years I thought when I came out I would lose friends and my family would disown me (side note; I was voted most dramatic in 6th grade). To no surprise, my true friends stayed right by my side and my family continues to stand up to ignorant people and will always love me. I guess what i’m getting at is that it really does get better.
Being gay is a very large part of my life. However, I try to not let it take over. I’m like an onion. So many layers.”
Michael, in his own words: “To me, being gay doesn’t mean anything different than being straight. There are the obvious things, of course, like who I’m staring at in the gym versus who the guy I’m staring at is staring at, but being “out” is an entirely different thing. It’s gratifying in a way that I can scarcely find words to describe. It’s like when you envision your future self, you project a great future that often times seems light years away. Then one day, you find that some part of your dreams has been realized. Having come out recently, I feel that I can accomplish my other, more outward goals and become the future self that I envisioned now that I have an internal foundation that is absolutely fundamental to my adult development—literally a launching pad.
As far as challenges go, I’ve been terribly lucky. I have immensely supportive family and friends that I can count on, and I am very fortunate to have been born after a generation of great civil rights progress, although we are perhaps in the middle of our biggest victories to date. The real challenge for me has been growing into myself and identifying what I want, or more importantly, figuring out what I don’t want. Since I moved to New York in late 2011, I have definitely been the kid in the homo candy shop. It’s been absolutely fantastic but sometimes the things you think will make you happy end up having the opposite effect. Regardless, I advocate this trial-and-error.
Being gay in New York is perfect and horrible. On one hand, there is relatively no judgment from the public, an acceptance I’ve been starving for since I was young. Also, there are so many men with similar stories to my own, and it seems like they’re everywhere; it’s easy to find a community here. But that’s also the biggest issue when it comes to relationships: there are so many options to choose from for everything—food, clothes, significant others—, investing in any one thing is difficult. Relationships are easily strained.
I still consider myself lucky though. Growing up in Kansas, I really did think that the “phase” I was going through would pass, that I would straighten out and be just like everyone else. When I realized finally that it wasn’t a phase, I never really beat myself up about it. To me, it was matter-of-fact, and I am very rational. Even though those days were only two years ago, it feels like ages. Now, things are good. I’m good. I can look forward to what’s ahead, and only because I’ve experienced what’s behind.”
William, in his own words: “Being gay means being a person. A person with as much love as any other. A person who shares his or her love with whomever deserves it just the same as someone who is straight because being gay is no different than being straight in the sense that we all are from the species and we all are capable of the same things in one way or another.
I’ve faced many hurdles along the way during my life. People have questioned my sexuality and made it their business as early as 4th grade. Which is sad. That people will snoop and fight to get things out of you before you even know it yourself. I’ve been pushed and belittled because of my sexuality by men and women for no reason because they have this feeling inside that I will negatively effect them due to my sexuality. It’s been a struggle but I choose to ignore things because these things have no effect on me and don’t harm me in anyway because these people’s are so sad and so uncomfortable with who they are themselves.
The gay community in New York is inconsistent and slightly creepy. In a sense that you adore it like that crazy aunt who takes in stray cats and calls them her children. You love it because you have to. Because you’d be a little lost without It.
(With regards to coming out) People figured it out before me. I was an open box. Nothing to hide. I never felt the need to just explain myself and label myself. Instead, I chose to just experiment and learn about myself as a person and find myself. It’s been an easy process and everybody knows and is fine with it. It’s been an easy road on that topic and I’m blessed with that.”
Andy, in his own words: “We have been together 18 years, or as I like to joke, 10 happy years.
I was in the audience when I first spotted Mark, playing the role of Mother Abbess in a campy version of the Sound of Music. Wearing a habit, Mark brought down the house with his falsetto rendition of “Climb Every Mountain.” “You’ve got to find the life you were born to live.”
I came out late, tragically and comically looking into all kinds of conversion programs before coming to terms with my sexuality while in graduate school at UNC- Chapel Hill. With two gay sisters, Mark came out earlier to himself but to his parents only after meeting me.
In 2001, Mark and I returned from Vietnam with our five month old son, Ben. Shy with adults but popular with his peers, Ben is bright, athletic and an expert on advanced weapons systems. Mark created the coolest back yard in Baltimore for Ben, complete with trampoline, zip line, tree house and water slide. Our house is always filled with the sounds of young boys laughing, having gun battles or discussing the latest Bond film.
My dad moved in last year, adding a third loving generation to the family.”