Tagged: panama city

Mauricio, Fashion Blogger, Panama City, Panama

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 “Homosexuality has always been stigmatized in latino American countries, so coming out in a country like Panama was not an easy ride. The thought of not being loved by even one of my parents scared me to death and made me hesitate whether I had to tell them or not. My mother was the first to know, she cried and demanded an explanation on why I was this way, is there an explanation on why are we the way we are?

It took a while for the wound to heal, I am now happy that my mother and I have a really strong relationship, despite the normal fights and discussions a mother and a son have I would dare to say our bond has gotten stronger and stronger with the time and even though she is still reluctant with the way of living gay people have she is my cane and my leaning shoulder as is my dad, who has always supported me from the beginning, he even asks me in family lunches if I am ever going to introduce him to a boyfriend, it’s good to know people really love you for who you are and appreciate self honesty.

I am really proud to have great and very talented gay friends in my country, they are such an inspiration for me to try to be a better person and to spread equality in such a little country as Panama, whilst always keeping up with the fast development it is having as a modern metropolis, often called the Hong Kong of Latin America. We still have a lot to fight, people care a lot about what others think and since everyone knows everyone, gossip can be a very tough thing to handle and battle. But after all we are a growing community that has risen up from all the prejudices and have battled the sticks and stones that marked our lives and that’s what life’s about, rising up from our sufferings, learning from them and making the world a better place for us all.

Ferxo, DJ, Panama City, Panama

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

Ferxo, in his own words: “Being gay is not easy, don’t give it up, stay strong, be you, do what you love and be happy.

Better times are coming… We need to work together, because we are making “El Cambio” for a Better World.”

Ariel, Journalist, Panama City, Panama

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

Ariel, in his own words: “I have never felt guilty or shameful about being gay; however, one of the greatest experiences I faced as a result of my sexuality was letting go of the expectations that society and my family planned for me. Society tries to teach us what is right and wrong, and coming out of the closet is a rebellion against those expectations and rules. You have to learn to live not just to be accepted, but to be yourself. The world out there is a big place and there is a space for everyone.

I came out when I was very young at the age of 14. Being still an adolescent, I had to educate the people around me, especially those whom I loved the most, like my father. This was a big challenge because they had little-to-no understanding of what it meant to be gay: for them, the raunchy, dirty sex acts where the first things to come to mind. Moreover, these were always filtered through a religious/moral lens. They were not immediately able to think of the love and companionship that might be involved in my relationships. Coming out at this age was especially difficult because one depends on his/her parents for everything.

Now I’m glad I came out when I was so young because my family has had many years to process, learn, and get over their fears and prejudices. Today, I live very openly with my family and they are very accepting of my life. For example, when my boyfriend comes to visit from the United States, he stays with me in my bedroom at my father’s house. During holidays, he comes to all of the family parties, and my grandmother even buys him a present. Today, when others see this, they often tell me how lucky I am; however, what they don’t realize is that this level of acceptance took more than ten years.
Panama is a very small country with a very small gay community. Gay people want things to change, but they are too scared to do anything about it. Because of pervasive homophobia in society, many feel that there is more value in staying in the closet than taking the risk of coming out. Moreover, there is a lot of discrimination (gender, race, class, etc.) within the gay community itself. Change is happening, but it is slow and incremental.

To come out of the closet, I wrote a letter to my mother (as I was used to doing at the time to say important things), but I had no idea what I was getting myself into. She talked to my father that the same night and then the nightmare started. They thought I was confused and sent me to a psychologist the very next day. Thankfully, he was a good man and didn’t try to change me.

My mother was upset and did not talk to me for several days; however, I did not pay that much attention to either of my parents because I never thought I was doing anything wrong. After a few days, my mother got over it and soon became my best friend—I could even talk to her about boys. However, in a country where machismo runs strong, there was not much that she could do immediately to change my father. Within the space that she had, she did what she could to protect me. I was lucky to have her by my side.
For my father, it was much more difficult: he was so sure this was a choice and that this was something that I could change if I wanted to change. I could have made things easier for myself just by telling him that I was going to try to change even though I had no intention of doing so. But I refused. I told him that if it was so easy to change, that he himself should try to change his heterosexuality to be attracted to men. We stopped talking and we grew apart. Every once in a while, he would repeat his question, but I always had the same answer.

While most of my friends were out having fun at this age, I was at home grounded because I refused to change. Now, I think about it as a joke, but I was basically grounded for six years with very limited freedom or time to go to parties to socialize with friends. The upside is that I had plenty of time to read, think, and understand my sexuality and what it meant to be gay. This only made me more confident in my ability to combat their homophobia with well-articulated arguments.

Coming out is a continuous process: as we go to our jobs, hang out with friends, shop for groceries, spend time at parties, go to large dinners, we are constantly meeting new people and one never stops coming out. If you are not entirely honest or coy, people will often gossip about what you are doing, so I just prefer to be honest to remove all of their fun.”

Guillermo and Alvaro, Dancer and Artist/Psychotherapist, Panama City

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

Alvaro, in his own words: “I was always a different kind of kid, uncomfortable with big crowds and loud noises, I didn’t like people smoking around me or establishing physical contact with me when there was no need. Being in large groups with other kids wasn’t my thing. I used to play alone and I always tried to maintain some personal space since I felt overwhelmed with the stimuli. While I grew up I noticed the stimuli could not only be physical but emotional. I didn’t have a word for it but looking back I can see I was a very empathic kid, picking up on emotional signs in people from a very young age. I got overwhelmed sometimes so my first attempt at controlling the stimuli was to get away from it… from people, that is. I still need to do that sometimes.

Drawing was always there for me when I was alone and I could spend hours filling the pages of drawing pads and sketchbooks, I used to doodle everywhere, the walls, books, any piece of paper I could find, etc. I wasn’t really a noisy kid, I developed a whole universe in my head that nobody else knew about. But I remember I couldn’t decide whether my favorite color was green or blue, then I added red and I got completely confused. Back then I thought I was defective because I couldn’t make up my mind about such small things. I felt as if I was left behind somehow. Eventually I discovered my “defect” granted me the chance to appreciate all colors, switch between one or the other and mix them all together whenever I wanted to, while people around me could only see beauty in one or two things at once. I noticed I didn’t have to choose (or I chose not to choose) and I never thought of myself as “defective” again.

That’s until I hit puberty, my sexuality kicked in and I realized I was different to my peers in yet another aspect. I wasn’t attracted to girls in the same way my friends were. Even my drawings reflected my sexual orientation. I didn’t have a word for what I was feeling except the derogatory ones I had learned at school, on TV or even at home when some family members referred to non-straight people. I was lost, I thought I wouldn’t be able to control this new difference and turn it into something good. I fought my homosexuality for years, I tried to erase it, hide it, forget about it. I graduated high school and went to the University to become a Psychologist, there I tried to analyze my sexuality, interpret it, I cried a lot and got angry at myself for being like that. I feared rejection and got depressed. I rejected myself and I stopped producing any type of art for a couple of years.

I dated women, I slept with them and had a good time. I remember my dad caught me a couple of times with a girlfriend and he would only smile with pride. I was so happy he approved, I felt so validated. But one day I had to face it: I had been lying to myself and sex with women wasn’t going to work for me forever. I had sex with another man for the first time when I was 21 (I know it sounds late but that’s how it was). When I was finally building up the courage to talk to my parents about my sexuality, my dad got in a car accident. I wanted to tell him about me if only to be honest with him and because I was desperate to know if he’d still love me if I was gay, but he died before I had the chance to find out, so my question will remain unanswered forever. A month after his passing I began drawing men again, I haven’t stopped since then and now my art is one of the things that define me as a human being, as a man, as a gay man.

Eventually I “came out” to my mother and she cried and stopped talking to me. She had a whole lot of misguided ideas and I had to clarify a lot of things for her. It was a growing up experience for both of us. Now she and the rest of my family know about me and they respect me. Anonymity is no longer my primary defense and I even disagree with the expression “coming out of the closet” since I think the closet is where you keep the things you’re not using at any given time and the truth is sexuality permeates our every move, our every thought, our every emotion. We interpret life and the world around us based on who we are and our sexuality is a big part of that.

I’m a Doctor in Clinical Psychology and a Psychotherapist, I work with all kinds of people but always keep a big part of my practice dedicated to gay or bisexual men and women, same sex couples or even parents that get scared because their kids are “different”. I’m also a self taught drawing artist, which is my true passion and my subjects are mostly men, these days I use multiple colors and don’t feel defective for it, and I try to challenge myself every time. I’ve had a few partners and I must admit I’m a long term relationship kind of guy, though I’ve had my share of short and casual encounters, if you must know. I workout, eat well and try to be as honest to myself and others as I can consciously be. I recently started doing theater and for years I’ve run a blog on Psychology and Sexual Diversity. I still resonate with other people emotionally but I use it now to try and help them in my practice or to feed my artistic side.”

Alvaro’s art.

Alvaro’s blog.

Twitter: @algomprado

Facebook: Facebook.com/algomprado

Guillermo, in his own words: “I was fortunate to be able to develop my career and alongside my real passion which is dancing. I always say that I studied to be a Communicator (PR, Advertising, Marketing, etc.), but I was born to be a dancer. Since I can remember I have danced, even when my mom tells stories from my childhood, most of them describe me dancing. Choreographing with my cousins and neighbors for parties was something I used to do while growing up. My first dance partner was my sister who supported me in all my follies, and still does!

I remember my dad telling me when I was still very young: “My dear son, be whatever you want to be, but always be the best.” To this day, that was my North Star, be the best PR and Communications Advisor, be the best dancer, be the best son, the best brother, the best boyfriend, in short, be a better person every day.

Obviously there were many obstacles, being gay in a country like Panama isn’t easy. First off, in a country the size of a lentil, everyone knows you or your family (which means that being in the closet 100% is virtually impossible). Secondly, the religious and macho culture ingrained in my family has made it more difficult. It was not easy trying to figure out who I was, especially while going through my parents divorce, which was very traumatic for our family.

It has been an extensive process of assimilation, acceptance and growth for both me and the people close to me. Doubts, insecurities and fears have slowly dissipated. I feel proud of each and every one of these experiences and feelings, good and bad, because they have made me the man I am today.”

Pulum, DJ/Chef/Professor, Panama City

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

Pulum, in his own words: “Que significa ser gay para ti?

What does being Gay mean to you?
Answer: It doesn´t mean anything. I am Me.
¨We all are a reflection of ourselves¨

I am Pulum / Dj, Chef, Professor.”

Reiner, Graphic Designer, Panama City

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

Reiner, in his own words: “I used to think being gay, meant about rejections from the people you love, about the body, about parties, about sex and I was really scare about it but now I know that being gay its much bigger than that, it’s about being who you are no matter what, it’s about to loving yourself and always be proud.

Coming out for me was really easy and I’m very lucky I have the must wonderfull mother I can ever ask for, and I thought will be harder then that because I was comparing with my other friends experiences and I told her because I was in a relationship, I was traveling all the time and I was sick of so many lies, so I decided to make her part of my life and was a very emotional momment.

I was really scared and with my brother there to support me and I told her and she was like “so? what you expect me to do? You’re my son I have to love you no matter what” and she started to cry when she was talking, then my brother was crying too, and she hug me and told me “no matter what I will be here for you, because I love you and I am proud of you” and the very next day she was treating me like always just like my brothers, my dad and my friends when I came out with them.

So my story doesn’t have drama or hate and that’s why I feel lucky and proud to be gay. When it’s about to be gay in Panama its kind of hard because there is a lot of gossips and jealousy in this country, that’s why I refuse to let those with dirty feet walk through my mind, and just be happy.”

James, Stylist, Panama City

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

James, in his own words: “It’s incredible how fast is growing up a city like Panama, but at the same time it is very sad to look around and see discrimination still being a problem in our society. Fortunately the new generations are changing their mind, but sometimes gay people have to be really patient and try to live with this.

In this topic people have to understand that “RESPECT” is the best way to live in society and tolerance is necessary.

I’m really proud of being a part of the change in this country and I’m grateful for having very talented, brave, smart and beautiful friends, who are showing to the world that there’s nothing wrong being gay.”

Guillermo and Alvaro, PR Advisor/Dancer and Artist/Clinical Psychologist/Psychotherapist, Panama City

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

Alvaro, in his own words: “I was always a different kind of kid, uncomfortable with big crowds and loud noises, I didn’t like people smoking around me or establishing physical contact with me when there was no need. Being in large groups with other kids wasn’t my thing. I used to play alone and I always tried to maintain some personal space since I felt overwhelmed with the stimuli. While I grew up I noticed the stimuli could not only be physical but emotional. I didn’t have a word for it but looking back I can see I was a very empathic kid, picking up on emotional signs in people from a very young age. I got overwhelmed sometimes so my first attempt at controlling the stimuli was to get away from it… from people, that is. I still need to do that sometimes.

Drawing was always there for me when I was alone and I could spend hours filling the pages of drawing pads and sketchbooks, I used to doodle everywhere, the walls, books, any piece of paper I could find, etc. I wasn’t really a noisy kid, I developed a whole universe in my head that nobody else knew about. But I remember I couldn’t decide whether my favorite color was green or blue, then I added red and I got completely confused. Back then I thought I was defective because I couldn’t make up my mind about such small things. I felt as if I was left behind somehow. Eventually I discovered my “defect” granted me the chance to appreciate all colors, switch between one or the other and mix them all together whenever I wanted to, while people around me could only see beauty in one or two things at once. I noticed I didn’t have to choose (or I chose not to choose) and I never thought of myself as “defective” again.

That’s until I hit puberty, my sexuality kicked in and I realized I was different to my peers in yet another aspect. I wasn’t attracted to girls in the same way my friends were. Even my drawings reflected my sexual orientation. I didn’t have a word for what I was feeling except the derogatory ones I had learned at school, on TV or even at home when some family members referred to non-straight people. I was lost, I thought I wouldn’t be able to control this new difference and turn it into something good. I fought my homosexuality for years, I tried to erase it, hide it, forget about it. I graduated high school and went to the University to become a Psychologist, there I tried to analyze my sexuality, interpret it, I cried a lot and got angry at myself for being like that. I feared rejection and got depressed. I rejected myself and I stopped producing any type of art for a couple of years.

I dated women, I slept with them and had a good time. I remember my dad caught me a couple of times with a girlfriend and he would only smile with pride. I was so happy he approved, I felt so validated. But one day I had to face it: I had been lying to myself and sex with women wasn’t going to work for me forever. I had sex with another man for the first time when I was 21 (I know it sounds late but that’s how it was). When I was finally building up the courage to talk to my parents about my sexuality, my dad got in a car accident. I wanted to tell him about me if only to be honest with him and because I was desperate to know if he’d still love me if I was gay, but he died before I had the chance to find out, so my question will remain unanswered forever. A month after his passing I began drawing men again, I haven’t stopped since then and now my art is one of the things that define me as a human being, as a man, as a gay man.

Eventually I “came out” to my mother and she cried and stopped talking to me. She had a whole lot of misguided ideas and I had to clarify a lot of things for her. It was a growing up experience for both of us. Now she and the rest of my family know about me and they respect me. Anonymity is no longer my primary defense and I even disagree with the expression “coming out of the closet” since I think the closet is where you keep the things you’re not using at any given time and the truth is sexuality permeates our every move, our every thought, our every emotion. We interpret life and the world around us based on who we are and our sexuality is a big part of that.

I’m a Doctor in Clinical Psychology and a Psychotherapist, I work with all kinds of people but always keep a big part of my practice dedicated to gay or bisexual men and women, same sex couples or even parents that get scared because their kids are “different”. I’m also a self taught drawing artist, which is my true passion and my subjects are mostly men, these days I use multiple colors and don’t feel defective for it, and I try to challenge myself every time. I’ve had a few partners and I must admit I’m a long term relationship kind of guy, though I’ve had my share of short and casual encounters, if you must know. I workout, eat well and try to be as honest to myself and others as I can consciously be. I recently started doing theater and for years I’ve run a blog on Psychology and Sexual Diversity. I still resonate with other people emotionally but I use it now to try and help them in my practice or to feed my artistic side.”

Alvaro’s art.

Alvaro’s blog.

Twitter: @algomprado

Facebook: Facebook.com/algomprado

Guillermo, in his own words: “I was fortunate to be able to develop my career and alongside my real passion which is dancing. I always say that I studied to be a Communicator (PR, Advertising, Marketing, etc.), but I was born to be a dancer. Since I can remember I have danced, even when my mom tells stories from my childhood, most of them describe me dancing. Choreographing with my cousins and neighbors for parties was something I used to do while growing up. My first dance partner was my sister who supported me in all my follies, and still does!

I remember my dad telling me when I was still very young: “My dear son, be whatever you want to be, but always be the best.” To this day, that was my North Star, be the best PR and Communications Advisor, be the best dancer, be the best son, the best brother, the best boyfriend, in short, be a better person every day.

Obviously there were many obstacles, being gay in a country like Panama isn’t easy. First off, in a country the size of a lentil, everyone knows you or your family (which means that being in the closet 100% is virtually impossible). Secondly, the religious and macho culture ingrained in my family has made it more difficult. It was not easy trying to figure out who I was, especially while going through my parents divorce, which was very traumatic for our family.

It has been an extensive process of assimilation, acceptance and growth for both me and the people close to me. Doubts, insecurities and fears have slowly dissipated. I feel proud of each and every one of these experiences and feelings, good and bad, because they have made me the man I am today.”

Ariel, Journalist, Panama City

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

Ariel, in his own words: “I have never felt guilty or shameful about being gay; however, one of the greatest experiences I faced as a result of my sexuality was letting go of the expectations that society and my family planned for me. Society tries to teach us what is right and wrong, and coming out of the closet is a rebellion against those expectations and rules. You have to learn to live not just to be accepted, but to be yourself. The world out there is a big place and there is a space for everyone.

I came out when I was very young at the age of 14. Being still an adolescent, I had to educate the people around me, especially those whom I loved the most, like my father. This was a big challenge because they had little-to-no understanding of what it meant to be gay: for them, the raunchy, dirty sex acts where the first things to come to mind. Moreover, these were always filtered through a religious/moral lens. They were not immediately able to think of the love and companionship that might be involved in my relationships. Coming out at this age was especially difficult because one depends on his/her parents for everything.

Now I’m glad I came out when I was so young because my family has had many years to process, learn, and get over their fears and prejudices. Today, I live very openly with my family and they are very accepting of my life. For example, when my boyfriend comes to visit from the United States, he stays with me in my bedroom at my father’s house. During holidays, he comes to all of the family parties, and my grandmother even buys him a present. Today, when others see this, they often tell me how lucky I am; however, what they don’t realize is that this level of acceptance took more than ten years.
Panama is a very small country with a very small gay community. Gay people want things to change, but they are too scared to do anything about it. Because of pervasive homophobia in society, many feel that there is more value in staying in the closet than taking the risk of coming out. Moreover, there is a lot of discrimination (gender, race, class, etc.) within the gay community itself. Change is happening, but it is slow and incremental.

To come out of the closet, I wrote a letter to my mother (as I was used to doing at the time to say important things), but I had no idea what I was getting myself into. She talked to my father that the same night and then the nightmare started. They thought I was confused and sent me to a psychologist the very next day. Thankfully, he was a good man and didn’t try to change me.

My mother was upset and did not talk to me for several days; however, I did not pay that much attention to either of my parents because I never thought I was doing anything wrong. After a few days, my mother got over it and soon became my best friend—I could even talk to her about boys. However, in a country where machismo runs strong, there was not much that she could do immediately to change my father. Within the space that she had, she did what she could to protect me. I was lucky to have her by my side.
For my father, it was much more difficult: he was so sure this was a choice and that this was something that I could change if I wanted to change. I could have made things easier for myself just by telling him that I was going to try to change even though I had no intention of doing so. But I refused. I told him that if it was so easy to change, that he himself should try to change his heterosexuality to be attracted to men. We stopped talking and we grew apart. Every once in a while, he would repeat his question, but I always had the same answer.

While most of my friends were out having fun at this age, I was at home grounded because I refused to change. Now, I think about it as a joke, but I was basically grounded for six years with very limited freedom or time to go to parties to socialize with friends. The upside is that I had plenty of time to read, think, and understand my sexuality and what it meant to be gay. This only made me more confident in my ability to combat their homophobia with well-articulated arguments.

Coming out is a continuous process: as we go to our jobs, hang out with friends, shop for groceries, spend time at parties, go to large dinners, we are constantly meeting new people and one never stops coming out. If you are not entirely honest or coy, people will often gossip about what you are doing, so I just prefer to be honest to remove all of their fun.”