From Sao Paulo to San Francisco, photographer Kevin Truong has trained is lens on a wide range men with one simple goal: to showcase and tell the stories from all over the world.
Queerty previously wrote about The Gay Men Project kickstarter campaign, which has now surpassed $20,000 and has less than $10,000 to go with seven days left. Truong’s goal is photographing in 15 more countries starting in August.
JAMES, PANAMA CITY
“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.”
FELIPE, RIO DE JANEIRO
“Being gay for me today is more than just having sex and being in love with another man. Its a political choice that I make everyday. Everyday is challenge for me. I truly believe that being openly gay in Brazil is still a challenge and thats why after living abroad I choose to be here. I feel like there’s a lot to be done for the Brazilian gay community. (The gay community in Rio De Janeiro) is the same as anywhere else in Brazil, lol. (Coming out of the closet) was easy and disturbing at the same time. Easy because after you do it you keep thinking: why was I there in the first place? Disturbing because you realize how scared people can get from it. To find myself in such a hateful world was really confusing. (If I could give myself advice before coming out, I’d say) If you want to go far, go slow”
SHELDON, WASHINGTON, D.C.
“Being gay means you are given special permission to be your truest self. The challenge was finding those few that you aspire to who share your architecture. Once I found out I shared the design of Baldwin, Rustin, Hughes and other countless greats, I embraced that as a gift. I find DC to be an affirming place, a rare space in this world, where who I am, doesn’t challenge what I do. Coming out started as an internal process. Once you’ve worked yourself through the mire of sexuality, you’ll have the infrastructure to support yourself once you start sharing your genuine self with the world. Thanks again for this opportunity to share. I am intrigued to hear more of your story sometime too.”
“I came out at the age of 20. Today, in retrospect, I wonder why I waited so long. Obviously, I was very anxious for the reaction of my family and friends. Originally from Levis, I decided when I moved to Montreal that it was time to rid myself of the burden of this secret. I decided that the best thing for me was to be true to myself. I was gay. I was scared of losing friends or family, but I knew that those who really love me would love me as I am. And they all did, they all loved me as much and maybe even more, without exception. I wish the best to the entire world today and particularly to all homosexuals, whether they are “out” or not. Find the best for you, life is beautiful and there is freedom.”
LAAN, RIO DE JANEIRO
(Being gay) means my inner self, my freedom. My biggest challenge was to accept myself the way I really am. Success for me was to be able to live as a gay man, to be happy with it and have lots of friends. Coming out was quick, practical and scary at the same time. (If I could give myself advice before coming out) : go slow kid, the world is big.”
THACH, HO CHI MINH CITY
“When I was 18, I told my Mom that I was gay. Both of us cried a lot. She was worried that I had been affected by my gay friends and she wanted me to go to see doctors. I explained to her that I was not sick, it was just who I am. After calming down, she said she could not force me to be someone else and told me to become a good man and make my family proud. After that, facing my Mom was a challenge to me and it took quite some time to normalize the conversations between me and my family members. Having support from family is the greatest thing to me and it’s not easy for other people to have that. My family and my life are important to me now. I don’t pay attention to what people say and think about my sexuality. I just live and work well to make my family proud of me as I promised. And I have never regretted or never blamed myself for being gay. I even think that is a gift affectionately granted to me by God.”
JASCHA AND KEVIN, BOSTON
(Kevin) “Being gay has made all the difference in my life. Though it’s funny to write, I realize now how fortunate I was to grow up feeling weird and awkward… It gave me a unique point of view and forced me to explore the world. In the process of doing so, I developed my confidence, creativity, and capacity for understanding others. Above all else, I formed a really great circle of friends and met the love of my life too. So as tough as it may have been for me to be gay at certain points in my life, I wouldn’t take back any of the challenges I’ve had. They made me who I am and I’m happier for them, definitely.”
“Dear Kevin, I wanted to drop you a line to say how much I enjoyed meeting you and how honoured I was to be part of your amazing portfolio of wonderful inspiring gay men from around the globe. The day you visited me was a very emotional day in my life. I thought I should share with you the tale behind this. I had the previous evening learnt that my ex partner with whom i shared ten years of my life has lost his fight against cancer. We sadly were estranged and this news that someone I loved had fought such a tough battle without my knowing ripped me to the core. We collect photos that remind us of the highs in our life but for me its important to document all emotions. For there is such beauty in this image even though its beneath a shroud of pain. This helps to remind me to never let anything come between those we love, to never let anger or pain cloud our emotions. To never again loose contact with those I care about. You may cease to love in one capacity but can still offer love and support in another. Thank you for helping me on this journey.”
REINIER, PANAMA CITY
“Coming out for me was really easy and I’m very lucky I have the must wonderful 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 moment.
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.”
COCO NAC, HO CHI MINH CITY
“Being gay means I had to try hard, work harder than the other and I’m happy with myself, my life.
The challenges are not only for me, but for all gays in VN, that they are not accepted by the community for the different life style and culture. It’s hard to come out. But for me, I’m lucky and my family accept it, although they are unhappy by the first time.
I do not know how to describe my coming out. It was easy for me because my parents are open minded, and they accept me and still love me like before, when I said “I’m gay.”
JOSEPH, SAN FRANCISCO
“Being gay is my sexual identity. It’s one part of my life. I proudly identify with it but it’s not the only part of my identity. I like to think that in the 21st century that gay men are much more than their sexual identity. We are an integral part of our society. We are a part of the fabric which elevates all our experiences.
My challenges as a gay man has been with our politics. We do not yet have equal rights and this is disconcerting since we live in a “democracy”.
The gay community in San Francisco has been a beacon for acceptance. I moved to San Francisco 3 days after Harvey Milk was killed. Since then there has been an enormous change in the city politics which has made it feel as though we are equal on all levels. I’m proud of how the city has embraced the gay population and the diversity of it.
I came out soon after moving to California. When I returned to my home in Michigan they did not understand what that meant, because of the times, but they let me know that I would always be part of the family. This was a revelation of their true love for me. I love them so much for this because they did not have the social support to make this leap. It was unconditional love.”
FELIPE AND MIRO, SAO PAULO, BRAZIL
(FELIPE) “(Being gay means) Freedom. In the very beginning may not be easy. But accept that and respect youself first of all, is the most important to be happy.
There was no challenge about being gay, besides the normal life. But my greatest success was the acceptance of my family and friends and to have found love so early, I hope to take to the end of life.
(The gay scene in São Paulo is) Varied to extremes, we have bars and parties for all types from bears to dragqueens.
In the beginning (coming out) was very difficult, you do not want to hurt people who are nearby and apparently it’s easier to keep up appearances and stay with people of the opposite sex, but it is not, and you are always under immense pressure, and when you say is such a relief, the next minute you’re light and happy with yourself. Everything was so perfect, the fourth guy I kissed became the man of my life … I do not think would do differently.”