Tagged: washington DC

John and Michael, Editor and Chief and Account Manager, Washington D.C.

photo by Kevin Truong
John and Michael, 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
John and Michael, photo by Kevin Truong

Michael, in his own words: “To me, being gay is an orientation, an the innate truth that guides attraction beyond your control. I think being out is more important than being gay; being out is the choice to own that truth, and that takes courage. Everyone has something to come out about.

My biggest challenge is fighting internal homophobia, the constant split-second judgments I make about how out to be, how to answer questions in the office or for a new job or meeting someone on the bus. My greatest success has been my marriage, which, though similar to many other successful marriages, in many ways had no real template to follow.

I came out in high school and was treated very well by everyone. I sometimes wonder how much of that was the kindness of my peers and teachers, and how much was the way I worked so hard to make others comfortable.

(With regards to the gay community in DC) DC is very, very gay.

(Advice I’d give my younger self) I would tell a younger me to be more courageous and more curious.”

John, in his own words: “Being gay means you’re attracted to members of the same sex. Sex is a very important (and fun!) part of that, of course, but it goes even beyond that. I’m not just a man who likes to get off with guys — I also seek affection, companionship, and love with and from other men, and to give that to them as well. That — and sexuality, of course — is why I identify as gay.

It took me a very, very long time to get over my internalized self-hatred. I was raised Catholic, and very religious at that, so that meant that as I awakened to my identity as a gay man, that realization was accompanied by intense feelings of shame, anxiety, isolation, and guilt. I did everything I could think of — up to and including attempting suicide — to try and not be gay, and it was only once I reached that point that I realized that if I’d been so spectacularly unsuccessful at getting rid of it, then it was probably meant to be there in the first place. I’ve come a long way since then — from a scared, self-loathing gay Midwestern Catholic to an out and proud gay LGBT equality advocate — so I’d say that journey has been one of my greatest successes. But as Michael said, my greatest success would definitely have to be my marriage. Like any couple, we’re both flawed people, and like any marriage, ours has its ups and downs, but at the end of the day, the one thing we can count on is our enduring love for each other. Even if I had nothing else in my life, my marriage to Michael would be enough.

I realized I was different when I was very young — maybe 5, 6, 7 years old — long before I knew that that difference had a name. I came out for the first time during my freshman year of high school, to a friend of mine who I was in plays and musicals with. He was already fully out, so it was his example that inspired me to take that first step. I came out very gradually to select friends after that, even as I was still struggling to make peace with my being gay. It wasn’t until the summer after my senior year of high school that I came out publicly, to my parents, family, and community. Some reacted negatively, but the people who mattered most — including my parents, brothers, and grandparents — embraced me and my truth.

(With regards to the gay scene in D.C.) It’s funny — as someone who’s coupled, my experience of the D.C. gay scene is very different than that of my single friends. They tell me that the D.C. gay scene is cliquish, catty, and can be brutally cutthroat/backstabbing… but that hasn’t been my experience at all. Michael and I have made many wonderful gay friends here. We have many friends in D.C.’s thriving Russian gay expat community, and we also are close with some incredibly amazing lesbian couples. So yeah, gay D.C. is pretty fabulous!

I don’t know that I’d have any advice to give to my younger self, because I really don’t believe in living with regrets; all of my experiences have helped shape me into the person I am today. If I could give advice to kids like my younger self, though — kids who feel alone, who have a hard time accepting and loving themselves because they’re gay, and who struggle under the weight of internalized homophobia and religion-based bigotry, I’d tell them to hold on. I’d tell them not to listen to anyone, whether it’s family, peers, religious leaders, or the voice inside their head, who tells them that they are broken, sinful, evil, or bad. I’d tell them that they are beautiful and that they’re loved just the way they are, and that there’s a whole community of people ready to welcome them with open arms.”

Scott, Writer/Communications Strategist, Washington D.C.

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
Scott, in his own words: “Being openly gay to me means that I’m honoring something within my soul that wants to be expressed. It means I’m being authentic. My awareness of my attraction for men may manifest physically, but like all things that are born of love, it comes from a much deeper spiritual level that too often gets lost or ignored since most religious institutions are/have been slow to recognize that love is love.

I’ve been blessed with a supportive family and amazing network of chosen family in friends from all over. Interesting work and a creative spirit have allowed me to experience parts of life I never really imagined growing up in Kansas just a mile or two from Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church, otherwise known as his family compound and a major tax scam. As a writer, I’m also challenged by my creativity, but for good reason. Each of us has something important to contribute to those around us and that creative spirit will keep nudging us until it is fully expressed and we’ve given what we can from what we know to help others along their journey.

DC has an interesting gay life that is still challenged in many ways by class and race. This always amazes me for a community made of people seeking their own rights and recognition. Our ability as gay people to divide ourselves within our own community has been a constant source of curiosity. Even with that, it is amazing to see the progress we’ve made and DC is a great place to be for the history that is unfolding. And away from “official Washington” DC has a wonderful community that most tourists never see made up of people and families that have been here for generations who have a vibrant culture all their own. Development, rising prices, and the condo-ization of every available inch of real estate threatens to change that. With people coming from all over the country and world to do business here, it makes for an eclectic mix. But losing that mix would change DC in ways I hope we avoid.

My first experience with a man was with a good friend from high school but we were home from college over the summer, after a long night out with friends, back in my basement room of my parents house. It was sweet, silly, romantic –everything you’d want as you come into an awareness that what is within you is shared by others, his first gentle touch, the exhilaration of finally feeling like something is right, not wrong, his lips on mine so natural and perfect, I felt different. For the first time I felt like me, like who I am supposed to be. And for the first time, I understood what all the straight guys I knew were raving about when it came to sex, which up until that point, had been okay, but underwhelming for me. As for family, I started coming out to them, and a few friends, over the course of the next few years as the idea of being gay grew more comfortable for me. I really claimed my sexuality fully when a woman I loved very much was contemplating a life decision about her career based on my move to Washington. The moment I told her to make the right decision for her not based on me because I was working through these issues, she reached for my hand and said words that ring in my heart to this day, “I love you, I’ve always loved you, it appears it will just be in a different way than I’d hoped.” Like I said above, I’ve been blessed with amazing people in my life.

(Advice I’d give to my younger self) Find out who you can trust and start talking to them about how you feel. Come out sooner. Adolescence is a phase of life best lived when it is supposed to be lived and is wholly unattractive on much older men. That is advice I’d like to give to some people my age and older now who haven’t figured that out yet.”

Theo, Hospital Corpsman USN, Washington D.C.

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
Theo, in his own words: “I did have to formally come out due to the fact that I was still a licensed minister in the Church of the Nazarene. I tortured myself for over 25 years trying to believe I was not gay and I spent the majority of that time trying to convince people.

When I realized I was gay and there was no changing it, I was working as an associate Pastor at a prominent church in Colorado Springs, CO. Dr. James Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family, was actually one of the churches members and attended sporadically in between his busy schedule.

After I quietly resigned the church I first told my Sister and Brother in law. They were extremely upset and read scripture to me and told me they still loved me, but they would never be able accept this reality about my life.

A few weeks later I told my Father and without surprise he was livid. He screamed and condemned me and assured me I would burn in hell for eternity. The one thing he said that will always remain in my mind was, “I always knew you were I was just hoping you would avoid it.” 

I was not having any luck finding work in the winter of 2009, so I joined the United States Navy as a Hospital Corpsman. When I entered the Navy Don’t Ask Don’t Tell or DADT was still in place and I knew if I acknowledged I was gay or admitted it to anyone I could be separated from service.

Still struggling with my identity I had asked an old friend to be my girlfriend. Her and I wrote letters and exchanged our desire to see each other soon. Shortly after leaving recruit training and entering my training to be a Hospital Corpsman I decided our relationship was a false hope. I quickly ended our relationship and later left for my first duty station in Sigonella, Sicily.

In my first month there I emailed my mother over Facebook and told her I was gay. She was sweet and told me that I would always just be her son and that she loved me. It was in Sicily that I was able to explore my newfound freedom away from my family and from religious persecution.

In the fall of 2011 DADT was repealed and for the first time in my life I openly lived my life as a gay man. I have never felt being gay hindered my job or my work environment and I do not understand why it would. The people I have met in the military have all been very accepting and open minded people. They have always been willing to adapt to an ever-changing diversity. 

Since returning to the states and settling into a new duty station in Washington, D.C., I have begun to explore my faith again. I started attending a Church that was just getting its start in the H Street corridor. The people there have all been very accepting and understanding of my background in church and we find a lot of common ground.

I have found D.C. to be a very open minded city, but conservative in so many other ways. The majority of people here are obsessed with their work and they let their jobs define who they are. The social scene here can become very repetitive and it bores me.

The few people that I have invested my time in are very carefully selected individuals. I will be turning 30 soon and I have little time for disingenuous people in my life.

A quote from favorite author will better explain how I feel. “It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for something you are not.” ~Andre Gide