Tagged: photos

Jon Fe, Painter, 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

Jon Fe, in his own Splanglish words: “Que significa ser gay para ti?

Que te gusten personas de tu mismo sexo, no es un “look” o una actitud. Una forma de vida que No tiene alternativa forzada.

Cuales han sido los retos que haz enfrentado como un hombre gay?

No muchos, he sido afortunado. En secundaria si me molestaron mucho hasta cuando ni sabia que o era. Me maquillaron a la fuerza y me tomaron fotos. Ahora no tengo “retos” mas que encontrar una pareja que me complemente y viceversa.

Como es la comunidad gay en Panama?

Emm, pequena. No es una graan comunidad, pero es algo. Mejor que la de Central Point, OR hahaha. Tengo mas amigos gays, y menos amigas lesbianas. Diria que la comunidad gay se divide en dos principalmente. Los que van a discotecas gay, y los que aun quieren pretender ser straight hahah (closet boys)

Cual es tu historia al salir del closet?

Le conte a mi mama primero, fui MUY directo y honesto. Le hice entender que ya era un hecho y que estaba pasando. She was talking trash of an old high school friend, telling me she was a slut. She reached my boiling point so I told her I was dating a 24 year old guy (17 at the moment, a month away of my bday) and just because I wasn’t going around telling everyone I had sex it didn’t make me more or less of a slut. She didn’t say aything but she’s always been fairly accepting within her own education and cultural beliefs she grew up with. I really can’t complain, she’s met my friends and boyfriend and she’s been fairly accepting.

My dad asked me weeks later and I totally dismissed him and gave him a silly excuse I didn’t think he’d believe. Maybe a year later I told him I was applying to scholarships and grants and there a few for gay guys. He asked me why would you apply for a gay schoolarship. I told him with a obvious tone to my voice, “because I’m queer”. He said he wanted to take me for a drink and talk about it and he invited me to a appletini and he had a beer and it was nice. He was really funny about it. One of my brothers always knew and the other one saw a picture of me kissing my ex. It was hilarious hahah.”

Michael, Interactive Media Marketing Coordinator, New York 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

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.”

James, Stylist, Panama City

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.”

Jake, Australian Blogger and Marketing Graduate, New York City

photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong

Jake, in his own words: “Growing up in a small country town in South Australia, I never thought I’d be living in New York City some day. The difference in where I’ve come from to where I am today is astronomical. Not just in a physical sense, but my emotional state. I’ve never felt more myself in my entire life.

The gay community in Adelaide, my home city in Australia, is a closed knit scene with three degrees of separation. In ways it can be quite overwhelming, but for the most part it is humble and supportive. Moving to New York City has allowed me to experience an entirely different gay culture. Being fresh to America and New York, I can really appreciate the diversity. I feel as though I am constantly learning and expanding my understanding of the world.

Coming out to me was about showing that nothing changes after you take that step. I was very calculated with my coming out to my friends and family. I stretched it out over the course of three years, from 18 to 21. The last person to complete my progression was my Father.

You see, I knew my parents would never really stop loving or be upset with me, and my friends wouldn’t be my friends if I knew they wouldn’t support me. In fact I was lucky. My Mother’s response went something along the lines of “I have four boys, one of them had to be”, and we continued the night laughing and crying. My Father was much more difficult to tell because I am the apple of his eye. It’s always much harder to tell those you’re the closest to and I didn’t want to disappoint or tarnish his rose colored view of me. He cried. He cried until I spoke up saying that I am sorry. He looked at me and said, “I’m just upset it took you so long to tell me. I just know your life from here onwards is going to be more difficult than it needs to be. People should be able to be who they want to be and not be ashamed of it”. For me, telling my Father was the final tier. I was finally free.

Being gay has never really meant all that much to me. I’ve never wanted it to be my identifier, nor have I wanted “being gay” to consume who I am. Being gay to me means one thing and one thing only – I’m attracted to the same sex. Everything else is just who I am, not because I’m gay. I like to think of myself as a regular guy. I’m just chasing my dreams.”


Click here to check out Jake’s personal blog, “The Secret Diary of Jake”.

Alex, Artist/Mover, Baltimore

photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong

Alex, in his own words: “Gay is a Word I occasionally use to describe myself. Sometimes the word gay connects too much to a gender/culture dynamic that seems outdated, or just not enough. I find around radical queer folks I like to say I am a gay male, where around gay men I need to assert my queerness as something reaching into gender and my every self-constructed person. I identify more as a queer person. To me gender and sexuality are units of the creature I call me, but not the only ones. Being queer, means I connect to a culture, a world, a history that is constantly trying to reinvent itself. I suppose that’s why art and dancing help. It’s always a colorful game of movement and surprise. I like the history of magic and shamanism that friends of dorothy link up to, so somtimes its more fun to tell people that I’d rather be called a Witch than a gay male.

I would say the biggest challenge is just knowing when to speak out, and when to be chill with the circumstances of the gay/queer rung on the social ladder. Self-tokenizing is often a vice of protection and safety. Both empowering and problematic, the conflict and grey fuzzy areas of being queer tend to be super tricky. Stonewall and then some happened so we can continue to push forward to new terms and ideas of how people live their lives and celebrate their sexuality. I think there is a global need to make queerness acceptable throughout the whole world. Unganda is about to unload/has been unloading a bunch of Witch hunts on gay people. The challenge here is embracing the growing freedom and privilege of being openly gay in this culture and trying to share that with the rest of the world.

Gay Baltimore is all over the place. It’s a diverse situation, small and cozy. I’ve been more drawn to the group of artists, dancers, and thinkers who indentify beyond the basic needs or race/class/gender specificity. We’re all sentient beings working through the struggles of life. Baltimore’s gay scene can be as vanilla as queer as folk gay bar, or as granola crusty as a group of gender queer kids making art in the abandoned buildings and rustic environments of charm city.

I came out to my parents when I was 14. My twin brother had come out to me the year before, and I was intimidated to come out to him immediately. I guess that evil twin high school brat vibe kicked in, and I decided to be the first one to come out. I waited till my brother went to a weekend work-camp for this Christian cult called Young Life to take advantage of their sweet foresty resources and challenge evangelist nut-jobs. A year later when he came out to them, my parents said they wished we had both come out at the same time. I never really need to come out anymore, most people either assume or don’t care either way. At the same time, we don’t live in a 100% queer-friendly world, so coming out will always be a routine of “getting to know you” rituals. I think until the world sees queerness everywhere, no one will ever be done fully coming out. I kind of cherish the quiet retreat of the closet at times. Its like my own faggy Narnia.”

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.”

Sam, Founder, New York 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

Sam, in his own words: “Outside of the literal definition of what being gay means, I’m sure every gay man or woman operationally defines it according to their own unique experiences. For me, being gay means liberation & honesty. Like many others, prior to coming out I had decided that life would be easier if I pretended to be straight. However, it was a completely miserable and lonely existence. Once I mustered the courage to ‘come out’ life was one hundred times better. It was an emancipation. I was free to be authentic and honest with the people that I love and care deeply about. Every meaningful friendship or acquaintance I’ve acquired since coming out has been so much stronger than the ones I made before, because now I am honest with myself and the people around me.

The biggest challenge I face is when my idealism is confronted with the current reality in the world. I dream of world where I can go anywhere and hold my partners hand, and if while doing so we entered the scope of vision of strangers, it would be as mundane and commonplace as the dog poop on the sidewalks on the Upper West Side. Many times, I go about life thinking that people no longer find gay people peculiar, until I walk the streets in Brooklyn, The Bronx, and in some areas of uptown Manhattan, and quickly become reminded by the glares that I could still get my ass whooped….still…in 2013. I want to live in a world where I can hold my partners hand without being afraid.

The gay community in New York is pretty vibrant and diverse. There’s lots to do and with a ton of great people. Although, at times, I think the community could do more to appreciate the strength of the diversity it possesses.

I came out to my family via e-mail at 3 o’clock in the morning. The subject line read: I’M GAY!!!. I have 13 siblings and being born & raised in the way of the Lord in Detroit, Michigan, you can probably imagine how much fun it was for me once my family started checking their emails later that morning :-)

I have an amazing family that loves and supports everything I do. Although my worldview is different from theirs, and they are clear about what they believe God says about homosexuality, they’ve become LGBT allies and will be at my gay wedding. They’ll undoubtedly be the ones dancing barefoot on the dance floor. I love them. I am lucky. We’ve all grown a lot as a result of my coming out. I know that many other gay men and women often face rejection from their families, I’ve had an opposite experience.”

Johnny, Artist/Philosopher/Proto Assistant, New York 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

Johnny, in his own words: “Looking back I find that I had more difficulty coming to terms with my humanity then my sexuality. My sexuality was relatively meaningless in the larger picture. For me, figuring out my place in the world, in the universe and existence as a whole took precedence over my attraction to another person. Naturally there was attraction, but it was not something I understood completely or tried to understand at an early age. my feelings were my feelings and they hadnt been influenced by anything other then my innermost self and though I was perhaps too young to comprehend that, I did on some spiritual level, as I suspect all living things do. It was intuitive and I didnt give it much thought. I knew I was different then my peers though, different than other boys, mainly from what I was perceiving from the world, from others. In fact it was more external pressure to address my orientation then an internal need or desire.

I’ve always been somewhat of a private person by nature, blame it on my Cancerian roots. I never felt the need to broadcast my sexual feelings, after all are my sexual encounters/fantasies anyone elses concern other then my own? I wasnt hiding, but I never heard ‘straight’ folk letting everyone know their sexual preferences or ever having the need to, but it seemed that being gay was something that others had to know about, was something period, like some kind of warning. I never thought I was a danger to anything. I approached my budding sexuality with caution because there was something powerful and even divine about it. It was like some powerful magic that had to be handled with care and so it was only once I was ready to.

There are times when life has seemed scary and too much to bear, but unto myself, I realized that my experience in the world was rarified . And I’ve always been attracted to the rare and exotic things in life. If nothing else, ‘liking guys’ has made for a richer experience of my life, I can appreciate, openly, a greater number of beautiful things for instance, and that’s just one, of an infinite number of attributes that make me unique. But thats the case with every other living thing in the universe. And in that I realized that we, as in all of us, as in everything… are one in the same.”

Alden, Creative Vagabond, New York 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

Alden, in his own words: “My experience as a gay man has been such an evolution that I’m not sure I can define it in any way that would leave me satisfied. At times it hasn’t played a role in my life (to my knowledge) and like many I tried to suppress it’s role for quite a while. I began coming out when I was asked by a new friend just after I had graduated college and moved to Boston if I was straight or gay, and I decided to be honest. It took quite a while to fully come out. The most important people I came out to were my parents and I did this in a thank you note on my birthday just last year (in 2011). I thanked them for giving me the opportunities they have, and the privileges, and dropped the ‘I’m gay’ at the end hoping it would be as casual as ‘best regards’.

At that point I had mentally come so far that it was casual, it had become just another facet . . . not a defining aspect. I think it’s somewhere in the middle of these(a defining facet perhaps?). Most of the challenges I’ve experienced have been with myself I’d say. I stood in my own way for a long time before coming out, and dragged my feet a bit in finally doing so. Now that I am out and living New York my experience has been interesting. It’s easy to find yourself falling at different points on the litmus test of ‘straight’ to ‘gay’ scenes depending on what kind of evening you’re looking for, and my experience has led me to nights out with friends in gay bars, and straight alike. I’m only on my 6th month here, so I’m looking positively toward my future more easily than reflecting on my recent past.”

Jon Fe, Painter, Panama City

photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong

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

Que te gusten personas de tu mismo sexo, no es un “look” o una actitud. Una forma de vida que No tiene alternativa forzada.

Cuales han sido los retos que haz enfrentado como un hombre gay?

No muchos, he sido afortunado. En secundaria si me molestaron mucho hasta cuando ni sabia que o era. Me maquillaron a la fuerza y me tomaron fotos. Ahora no tengo “retos” mas que encontrar una pareja que me complemente y viceversa.

Como es la comunidad gay en Panama?

Emm, pequena. No es una graan comunidad, pero es algo. Mejor que la de Central Point, OR hahaha. Tengo mas amigos gays, y menos amigas lesbianas. Diria que la comunidad gay se divide en dos principalmente. Los que van a discotecas gay, y los que aun quieren pretender ser straight hahah (closet boys)

Cual es tu historia al salir del closet?

Le conte a mi mama primero, fui MUY directo y honesto. Le hice entender que ya era un hecho y que estaba pasando. She was talking trash of an old high school friend, telling me she was a slut. She reached my boiling point so I told her I was dating a 24 year old guy (17 at the moment, a month away of my bday) and just because I wasn’t going around telling everyone I had sex it didn’t make me more or less of a slut. She didn’t say aything but she’s always been fairly accepting within her own education and cultural beliefs she grew up with. I really can’t complain, she’s met my friends and boyfriend and she’s been fairly accepting.

My dad asked me weeks later and I totally dismissed him and gave him a silly excuse I didn’t think he’d believe. Maybe a year later I told him I was applying to scholarships and grants and there a few for gay guys. He asked me why would you apply for a gay schoolarship. I told him with a obvious tone to my voice, “because I’m queer”. He said he wanted to take me for a drink and talk about it and he invited me to a appletini and he had a beer and it was nice. He was really funny about it. One of my brothers always knew and the other one saw a picture of me kissing my ex. It was hilarious hahah.”