Jott, in his own words:“Being gay means having a clean slate. I find that extremely liberating. You can have kids if you want. You can be single your whole life if you’d like. You can have two partners at once. You can get married. You can be into show tunes, or gardening, or BDSM, or Palm Springs, or comic books, or Instagram, or drag, or video games, or dogs, or cats, or motorcycles…whatever you’d like.
I think when met with hate, the LGBTQ community finds its voice. Since the election I keep reading about more and more LGBTQ people running for office. It’s our reaction that matters.
(My coming out story is) fairly boring in the best way. My parents already knew I was gay, which I have to say was a relief. When I came out to them it was very anticlimactic.
(The gay community in Portland) can be the best and the absolute worst. Now that I’m older and so much more confident with myself I find it much easier to navigate.
(Advice to my younger self) Stop looking over your shoulder and giving a shit about what other people think.”
Justin, in his own words:“[Being queer] means everything to me. I think it’s one of the most important and defining aspects of my life. It shapes how I see the world and how the world sees me. I have heard people say that their sexuality doesn’t define, or isn’t the most important part of who they are, but I disagree. That sounds like internalized homophobia to me. I’m not saying that the physical act of the type of sex I enjoy is the most important part of who I am, obviously not. We are more than our bodies and what we do with them, and queerness is more than just sex. It’s history. It’s art. It’s culture. It’s community. It’s the armor I wrap around myself, and it’s the root of my passions and how I express love.
There are generations of people who have come before me who’s strength and influence I carry with me wherever I go. I acknowledge and appreciate their contribution every day, and I do my best to honor their devotion, sacrifices, and wisdom.
Queerness is my legacy. Queerness is my power.
I think life is all challenges and successes, and that’s what’s fun about it. As for the biggest or most impactful of these, I sure hope I get the chance to reflect on them on my death bed, but until then, I’ll just take them as they come.
My coming out was probably one of least harrowing or interesting stories. I have always been “obviously” gay, and even though I denied it, I couldn’t hide it. My body decided to give me away long before I decided to own it. The sky is blue, the grass is green, it is what it is. But I chose to deny it until I was in a position where I felt I was responsible for myself and my own life. When I turned 18, I came out to friends and started to surround myself with gay and queer-identifying people. By 19, I was in my first long term relationship and when I was ready to move out of the house, I came out to the family. I told my dad, via email, that I was moving in with my boyfriend and he said “good for you, when can I help you move out?” and after that I treated it as if it was the most regular thing in the world, and everyone else did too. Because it was.
I think that the queer community in Portland is one of the most diverse and accepting communities I’ve encountered. I feel like the intersectionality of the community here is surprising, considering Portland’s less than stellar reputation for inclusivity. The over lap of gay, lesbian, trans folk, and all the other colors of the queer spectrum is surprisingly pervasive here.
As for the “scene,” well, it’s no San Francisco but she tries.
(Advice to my younger self) Take more risks. It’s ok to be careful and to calculate your movements in life, but not at the expense of having fun, trying new things, and pushing your own limitations.
Treat your family better. They’re better for having you in their lives, and you are better for having them in yours.
Also, exercise more. You’re too lazy and you’re gonna have anxiety about it later on in life, so go for a run or something.”