Tagged: pictures

Ian, Civil Servant, London

photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong

Ian, in his own words: “Maybe I was lucky but I don’t really remember there being any big deal about coming out. I was about 15 or 16 and pretty confident about stuff, I had always known I was gay and I was never any good at hiding things. I started subscribing to gay news in about 1977 (when I was 15) and this used to arrive in a brown paper envelope. I was also obsessed with gay literature and on my bookshelves there was Edmund White’s, a boy’s own story, Gore Vidal’s, city and the pillar and James Baldwin’s, Giovanni’s room to name but a few – so it was pretty obvious to anyone who cared to look and my poor mum cleaned my room in those days!!!. It was the time of punk and I was a little obsessed with the Tom Robinson Band and in 1977 or 78 they had a rising free EP out which included the song “glad to be gay”. I remember buying this in the local WH Smith (it reached nos 18 in the UK charts) and playing on repeat for hours. So I don’t think anyone in my house had any doubts!!! I recall a conversation with my mum in the kitchen of our house in Newport Gwent when I was about 16 – I guess you can call this my coming out moment but my mum told me she already knew. I think I was a bit disappointed as I was hoping for a bit of a reaction (I liked to court reaction in those days!).

I never actually had “the” conversation with my dad it was just sort of presumed really. I vaguely remember my sister being a bit upset when I told her but she was upset because I had not told her before!

So all in all pretty straightforward and not really an issue or big deal. Mind you looking back I’m amazed at how brazen I was from such a young age!!!

Guillermo and Alvaro, Communication/PR Advisor/Dancer and Drawing Artist/Clinical Psychologist/Psychotherapist/Blogger, 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

George, Painter/Artist, 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

George, in his own words: “I would imagine that for other gay men, the fact that they “happen to be gay” might be more of a non-issue. But for me, I came to NYC years ago to help me more fully realize my attraction for Visual Arts. What I’ve found this to look like is a search for Beauty, and an overwhelming desire to make things that I feel are Beautiful, and then to show those things to others. There’s those dual aspects to this process: First Identifying and trying to emulate the Beautiful Thing, and then showing your creation to others with a small hope for some kind of Validation. Even Cavemen who were Visual Artists would get into drawing a Bison on the Wall, and trying to really make it feel like a Bison, but then they’d want to show it to other Cavemen with the hope that they’d like their Bison Drawing too. But the thing of Beauty that I often choose is a male figure or portrait, and this means my audience is going to have to consider the gay question, consciously or not. A Homophobic person might think I’m trying to shove my Homosexuality in other people’s faces, but I’m just another Visual Artist, who’s trying to show them Beauty.

As a gay man who studied painting and visual art, I’ve struggled to figure out ways to earn a living. Each year, I tend to make more money than the previous year from my artwork, but it still doesn’t add up to a figure that doesn’t need supplementation. And the supplemental jobs cut into my art-making time. But I have to keep my focus on the positive progress, and not on the financial challenges. I’ve also struggled after sero-converting to becoming HIV-Positive in 2005. Thankfully, not as much as the Generation before this, who had little or no medical solutions. But still, the stigma that leads many to not disclose the information is real, and the ridiculous price of HIV Medication and Healthcare today is another issue that really needs attention so I try to talk about it.

I guess I always knew I was Gay, even before I had a name for it. To survive grade school & high school, you learn pretty quick that it’s something to try to hide. But in one of my first jobs, as a stock boy in an A & P Grocery Store in upstate Port Jervis, NY, a hot Italian guy from the next town over started to come in and boldly flirt with me. He’d act like he needed one more ingredient for some meal that he was making, ask where he could find it, and he’d ask what time I got off. Sure enough, he’s be there with his Z-28 Camaro ready to drive me home. This was 1986, when gay things weren’t discussed and rarely in the news, but he’d try to bring up gay topics – he played the song “West End Girls” by the Pet Shop Boys and he told me it was a song about Homosexuality. I had to listen again to realize he was right. My mother wanted to know what a 24 year old man was doing driving me, a 17 year old boy home from work, and I somehow just came out with it: “Mom, I’m Gay.” I was done with lying to her. She had a look of disappointment that I somehow expected, and she later encouraged me to not tell anyone in my small town, but I now know that it’s just that she loved me so much and didn’t want to see me get hurt. Since I had already been accepted to an art college in New York City, we both agreed I’d be better off there. Her and the rest of my family’s love and support of me has strengthened with time and Communication. I’ve always felt very fortunate with having such a loving family.

I think it’s incredibly diverse, and that people in New York who haven’t found like-minded friends must not be looking hard enough. You can’t judge the whole “community” by looking at who is pictured in a local bar magazine like “Next”, or by who’s on a float in the Pride Parade. It used to seem that certain neighborhoods had like-minded gays (i.e. – the artists were in the East Village, the Muscle guys were in Chelsea) but now with the Internet, social networks are easier to come by. Places like the Gay Center in the West Village and Arts Organizations like the Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art I find to be very inclusive and Community oriented.”

Click here to see some of George’s art.

Jimmy, Digital Creative and Yoga Teacher, 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

Jimmy, in his own words: “Raised in rural Nebraska, I grew up dividing my time between working cattle with my father and doing craft projects with my mother. At age 4 I announced to my family that I would one day move to New York City, which I did 13 years ago at age 26. I already knew at just 4 years of age that I was different and didn’t fit in. It was hard growing up gay in Nebraska. It was devastating being effeminate and the son of an alcoholic rodeo cowboy with a heavy hand. I was bullied non-stop at school and afraid to tell my family about it when I got home. Every night I prayed to God to make me normal.

I came out as soon as I went to college. It was such a relief. I remember laughing and dancing with joy. I didn’t tell my family right away, but I came out to friends and become a part of the gay community in Lincoln, Nebraska. My younger brother caught wind of it and outed me to my family, teachers and Catholic priest. Years later my brother would also come out so I’d like to think that he did it to test the waters and not because he was trying hurt me. The priest pulled me aside one day and told me that I was an amazing human being and that God loved me just as I am. I’ll never forget his kindness. My father told my mother that he wanted me to go to a psychiatrist and get fixed. She told him to get over it. She told me that it was ok I was gay because I was so smart and talented, which led me to wonder how she would have felt if I’d been talentless and stupid.

Coming out was a relief, but it didn’t immediately end the pain and suffering of being bullied, abused and feeling so out of place. I was still broken and confused, and I had difficulty connecting with the world. I ended up making a lot of bad decisions. I stumbled through poverty, sexual misadventures, bad relationships and drug abuse. But I never gave up hope that the difficulties would pass and I would find my place in the world.

Curiosity and creativity burn brightly inside me and are far more powerful than the dark times ever were. I know it’s what kept me alive, kept me moving forward, and drove me to always learn new things, taste new food, hear new music, see new art, visit new places, and meet new people. This year I visited three new countries, started kick-boxing, learned to play the ukulele, became certified as a yoga instructor, started writing poetry, and I’ve just begun a year long personal wellness training. I’ve lived in 7 different states and had several careers. I’ve been a cowboy, a waiter, a cook, a dancer/singer/actor/musician, an art consultant, a marketing coordinator, a web designer, an illustrator, a photographer, a creative consultant for reality TV, a creative director, an editor, a photographer, and a yoga teacher. Today I work as a digital creative in magazine publishing. I’m sure I’ll have many more careers before I leave this planet.

Lately I’ve been building a community around myself of like-minded gay men. Men who live soulful, compassionate lives. Men who are grounded in their own sexuality, who love one another, love themselves, love the planet, and aren’t afraid to talk about god. Men who choose not to be victims of their past. Men who understand that the way to make the world a better place is to be of service to another human being. Fearless men who enjoy expressing themselves and understand the intimacy that comes from being vulnerable.

I have no regrets about anything I’ve done or anything that’s happened to me in this lifetime. I’m told that if you aren’t making any mistakes then you probably aren’t trying hard enough. I’m only 39 years old, but I’m happy to say that I’ve made enough mistakes for a few lifetimes. I hope to make many more.

So far, It’s been an amazing ride.”

Click here to follow Jimmy on the many social networks he belongs to.

Adam, Writer, 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

Adam, in his own words: “My three best friends from childhood are gay. None of us lives in Sioux Falls, SD anymore—they’re in Minneapolis, DC, and Chicago—although we are each incredibly proud to have a shared history there. In the future, I’d love to write a gay version of “Now and Then,” just to laugh at all of the things that brought us together and have kept us united since. We adored Paula Abdul, and the 1996 Olympic Gymnasts—Kerri Strug was my girlfriend, obviously—and we knew every word to every Disney song ever made, yet it still took us 19-23 years to come out of the closet. I was the fourth and final.

We all waited a while to share this part of ourselves with each other and our loved ones. For myself, it took lots of mulling to let go of tradition and the singular lifestyle with which I was presented. I am so surprised when I meet people here who came out at age 15 or 16 and told their parents and friends and religious communities with little or no friction. On top of that comparison, I’m very young as a gay
man—just over two years old. So I feel far behind most others here, and with the gay community being an affluent one—I apologize for the generalization—I worry if my standards of success are being too influenced by my peers having Fire Island timeshares or bottomless brunch budgets or Equinox memberships. This city keeps its people moving forward so quickly that I feel like I am simultaneously growing
up and falling behind.

I think I did myself a favor by coming out while training for a marathon. I had a lot of time to myself, to ruminate and strategize and to be alone with my thoughts and fully love the space between my ears. And, as any runner knows, when you’re racing long distances, you aren’t racing against other people. You do not know if the person beside you is overcoming injury, running her tenth marathon or her first, if he started fifteen minutes before or after you, or whether he is meeting or falling short of his expectations. What you do know are your own expectations, your own circumstances, your own parameters for success. You are competing against past versions of yourself, past standards of excellence, and that is how you measure your achievements. By progress.

That’s how I measure my own success as a proud gay man: steady, controlled progress. Everyone in the LGBTQ community has had a personal, internal reflection on his or her identity. My three best friends and I, having started our lives together, are each benchmarking them individually, at our respective paces, in our respective places. We are making personal progress and supporting one another through it all.

The components of this progression—the contemplation, the standards of success, the frustrations and rumination of each day—are welcomed guests in my thoughts, and I hope they are also in yours. Their existence evolves the man, making him happy and making him confident, whether he is gay or straight.”

Oscar, Urban Planning Graduate Student, 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

Oscar, in his own words “Coming from a religious Latino immigrant family and going to a small high school in Washington D.C., I did not grow up knowing a lot of gay people. There were rumors that one or two of my high school teachers could have been but it wouldn’t be confirmed until long after I had gone to college and only for one of them. Not knowing or seeing any gay people and feeling unable to talk about sexuality have made my coming out an ongoing process.

I started coming out when I was 18, after I had been intimate with a guy I genuinely felt I could love and fight for. Even though I’ve known I was gay since I was a teenager, I had always been afraid of being gay because I did not think it was possible to be a part of society as a gay man of color. I felt that the only “other” identity I could claim was being Latino. There was no way I could be a gay Latino and still have the same future and opportunities my parents and I had envisioned for myself.

I know that coming out is a process, be it difficult or easy, for all LGBTQ people. However, I believe that for some LGBTQ people of color, our coming out story is not complete without referring to our culture and race. We have to not only figure out what being LGBTQ is but what it means to be a LGBTQ person of color.

As open and diverse most LGBTQ people are, I still feel invisible in many gay spaces. Whether it is because of the color of my skin, my body size, my interests or what I am wearing, I feel that there is little room for gay men of color, within that traditional gay male ideal, to be more than just their skin color or culture. However, I think that by promoting and showcasing that there are other gay men that are not white, with different interests, studying, working hard/hardly working or just living their lives proudly, we can break some of these patterns, become aware of our differences and embrace them.

This is why I decided to be a part of this project. I hope that these few words might encourage people to engage in constructive conversations about the different identities within the gay community. “

Ian, Civil Servant, London

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

Ian, in his own words: “Maybe I was lucky but I don’t really remember there being any big deal about coming out. I was about 15 or 16 and pretty confident about stuff, I had always known I was gay and I was never any good at hiding things. I started subscribing to gay news in about 1977 (when I was 15) and this used to arrive in a brown paper envelope. I was also obsessed with gay literature and on my bookshelves there was Edmund White’s, a boy’s own story, Gore Vidal’s, city and the pillar and James Baldwin’s, Giovanni’s room to name but a few – so it was pretty obvious to anyone who cared to look and my poor mum cleaned my room in those days!!!. It was the time of punk and I was a little obsessed with the Tom Robinson Band and in 1977 or 78 they had a rising free EP out which included the song “glad to be gay”. I remember buying this in the local WH Smith (it reached nos 18 in the UK charts) and playing on repeat for hours. So I don’t think anyone in my house had any doubts!!! I recall a conversation with my mum in the kitchen of our house in Newport Gwent when I was about 16 – I guess you can call this my coming out moment but my mum told me she already knew. I think I was a bit disappointed as I was hoping for a bit of a reaction (I liked to court reaction in those days!).

I never actually had “the” conversation with my dad it was just sort of presumed really. I vaguely remember my sister being a bit upset when I told her but she was upset because I had not told her before!

So all in all pretty straightforward and not really an issue or big deal. Mind you looking back I’m amazed at how brazen I was from such a young age!!!