Tagged: the gay men project

Aniket, Mumbai, India

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
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
Aniket, in his own words: “The time was magical when I had started unknowingly noticing the beautiful men around me, they were always there but something good had changed in me. It was neither a secret nor something I wanted to share with everyone; the experience was too personal for me. Probably it is the same for all the teenagers.

Eventually when my friends started to share similar experiences, I could not completely relate to them. I started slowly unfolding the fact that I was not attracted to women but I was too young and naïve to speculate the ongoing experiences.

I can say today that I was always different while growing up than most of the kids; but it was the time I had started feeling the difference.

Around the same time, I had to go away from home for studying in another city. It was challenging to juggle life without family and the unarticulated secret; I could clearly see the projection of it on my academic performance.

The chaos around my sexuality and poor academic performance were pushing me into my hardest years, I was diagnosed with depression. Nothing seemed so blurred and heavy before, I thought I would be sucked into it. Pretending that the cause of the misery was not the unarticulated sexual attraction but the poor academic performance, I confessed about the depression to my parents. With family and medical support, I could get out of the depression to an extent. I had completely locked the doors of my sexual dilemma and I had focused on my academic performance, fortunately I could make it to the desired university that year.

I never could articulate my own sexual behavior as I had never seen or read anyone like me when I was growing up so ‘coming out’ was never into the picture for me. Apart from chaos around my sexual behavior, I knew that I was different (in a shameful way) so I was scared even thinking about it. Watching gay porn for twenty minutes in a day was the only time; I had to confront the truth. 


In the first semester at the university, an article written by a student talking about his homosexuality went viral. It was first time someone had spoken so loudly about his/her sexuality, everyone did not seem very receptive at once but this event was going to change the lives of many like me. I sneaked the newsletter in my room and read it making sure that no one caught me reading it. This was the first time someone had told me that I was okay and there were people like me in the world. I was thrilled to read it but afraid to face it. The same guy who had written the article had founded an LGBTQ resource group in the university campus with the help of a few professors and students. (It was one of the first LGBTQ resource groups in any Indian universities). The resource group was creating a positive space in the university and I was accepting myself bit by bit every day.

Almost after two years in the university, I met a fellow student on Facebook and we started dating. When we kissed for the very first time (yes, my first one!! ;)), I confronted the truth nakedly and told myself that there was no way to go back from the truth. It was just a month after that I had told my parents, my friends and the life seemed much lighter after taking it off my shoulders. (And I also volunteer for the LGBTQ resource group in the university from last two years!! yay!)

Mumbai is the most cosmopolitan city in India and yet most of the people in Mumbai do not even acknowledge the fact that homosexuality is part of the society around them. Homosexuality is not very visible in the crowded city; everything is behind the curtains here. Before the internet era, secret cruising spaces were the only way to meet other guys. Currently, Internet is providing safe space for all queer people to explore the possibilities.

The exposure to the liberal western policies regarding queer issues through social media is helping the younger generation of India to acknowledge and accept the queers around them.

Despite the fact that the post-colonial law against homosexuality still exists in India, there are a few organizations which are working hard to address the queer issues in Mumbai/India to normalize the stigma related to homosexuality. In response to it, Mumbai has the largest gay community in India which indulges in different events like yearly LGBTQ pride, queer film festival, protests and obviously parties.

I am very lucky that I am one of the very few people who have got the opportunity to be open about their sexuality in India. In a country like India where homosexuality was de-criminalized in 2013, merely living here openly as a queer person is considered to be heroic. With this privilege, I feel the responsibility to help the younger generation to be comfortable with them.

I have gone through the phase where I used to hate being gay but today, I say that it is one of the best things that happened to me. It was not the easiest time while dealing with sexuality but the time has shaped the way I think today. Most of the beliefs, I had been raised with were challenged and reformed on the way. I think my sexuality has been a spiritual accelerator which has helped me to understand my own depths.

As I said earlier, sexuality was one of the pioneering things which taught me to challenge my unjust beliefs, I am continuing on the path of restructuring my beliefs to make myself more comfortable in my own skin and in the world around.

And advice to my younger self: Be authentic to yourself.
”

Richardo, Graphic Designer, Jakarta, Indonesia

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
Richardo, in his own words: “Being gay for me is like a nature call. It comes from the deepest part of your soul. Some people can live with it, but some can not. Just like any other superheroes that have a special ability, they can show it, but they also can hide it. We can’t say that being gay is a choice, but to declare that “I’m gay” is a choice, and that’s not easy. No matter if you are gay, bi, or hetero, you’ll always be like that. No one can change and judge you. Some people can happily live with it, but some can not. It depends on how they see theirself and how people around them can accept it.

The greatest challenge in my life is to discover who you are, and trying to beat all the levels in your life. You know, sometimes it’s hard for us to get out from our comfort zone. Being who we are when many people are trying to see us as a treat, unusual, or worse- a freak. But that’s a life. People can talk bad about us, they don’t know who we are, just let them speak and do what you love.

Until now I still haven’t come out to my parents. But I think they already know about who I am. But well, my mom always supports me, she’s liberal enough, not like my dad. But I’m trying the best I can do to make them happy. I will show them that I can be someone someday and they will be proud of me no matter the sexual orientation that I have.

As always, be who you are. Love each other. When the world hates you, do not hate ’em back. Spending so much time throwing negative energy is useless, use it to build a better you. :)”

Eduardo, Architect, 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
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
Eduardo, in his own words: “Well let’s see how I can put this…

Being gay for me does not necessarily mean that much in terms of who I am. I think it does mean something to others surrounding me, it might make them more comfortable to classify who I am based on hetero-normative and prejudice, on which we have a lot to improve on.

Not too easy to identify what my biggest challenge has been because I try not to look back that much but let’s see…

Getting into grad school, I’m tough on myself and growing up I didn’t believe I was smart or capable of a lot. But look at that, I graduated high school, studied architecture and have been a Harvard grad for a couple of years. I don’t talk about it very often but it’s something that I’m very proud of.

The second challenge/success would be telling my siblings that my biological father use to sexually abuse me as a child. I have coped with it but the risk of them not believing was just not an option for a while. Mom is the next, but I’m sure she will believe me, even when it will be unexpected… let’s see how it goes.

I never came out to my Mom, I felt she already knew and did not need clarification. None of my other siblings told her they are straight, why would I then? Mom and I never talked about it but I got a job offer right after grad school and she borough it up because it involved moving to a country where being gay is not accepted. I considered it because it was the only job offer that seemed good at the moment.
I am number three out of four children. I did come out to my siblings via text a bit weird but it just happened naturally. To some extent everyone close to me knew it, it was just a matter of me being more open about it. Thankfully everyone was super cool about it.

The LGBT community in NY is q big one, with a lot of influence, respect and a lot of different people, but it does not make it any easier in any way. I do identify with it more here than back home in Puerto Rico.

I would tell my younger self to Believe in himself.
Don’t be scared to express emotions because of what others think. Fuck that.”