Photographer works world-wide to create a ‘visual catalog of gay men around the world’
August 12, 2014
This year, photographer Kevin Truong set out on a mission: To photograph as many different gay men in as many different places around the world as he could. He embarked on a world-wide journey, meeting with hundreds of gay men to take their picture for The Gay Men Project, the project Kevin has been working on for nearly three years. It's the project he calls "the visual catalog of gay men around the world," and this latest leg of the project was funded by more than 600 backers on Kickstarter, who understand the power of personal stories in advancing the LGBT movement around the globe.
When Kevin Truong spoke with Freedom to Marry in January, he explained: "My goal is to create a platform, a visibility on some level, and a resource for others who may not be as openly gay." And over the past few months, in the section of his trip focused in the United States, he's certainly advanced the project by leaps and bounds. The Gay Men Project taps into the idea that one of the best ways to encourage support is by sharing the stories and images of gay men and, specifically when it comes to the campaign to win the freedom to marry, same-sex couples and their families. The project's diverse array of portraits and stories capture how gay men live in every city, every country, and come from every different cultural background out there.
Read our interview with Kevin Truong from earlier this year, and then check out these 7 wonderful new stories from same-sex couples in states across the country where Kevin has traveled to in the past few months:
Ray & Steven • Cathedral City, CA
Excerpt from Ray's Story: "Steve and I have been together for 41 years. We are not perfect. Three phrases should be repeated in any relationship often: “ I am sorry, Thank you, and I love you.” If you say the first two phrases often, you will hear a lot more of the third one! It may sound dorky, but I like having a partner, a house, and two dogs to come home to every day. It just feels good to have a home. Last, but not least, communicate with your lover, partner, or husband. Do not assume anything about your relationship…….talk, talk, and talk some more. Most relationships fail because guys don’t sit down and express themselves. We have had many, many great highs in our 41 years, but also some tragic lows, but by having good communication with each other, we have happily survived life’s challenges. So adopt Richard Halliburton’s quote and “ Live the wonderful life that is in you. Be afraid of nothing.”
JD & John • Mount Pleasant, NC
Excerpt from JD & John's Story: "Being 'gay' for us means being labeled. Who wants to be labeled? Shouldn’t that have gone out with the civil rights movement? A 'straight' person isn’t labeled because he is straight. There is nothing wrong with us, or our monogamous relationship. We wanted a partner to love just like everyone does. It just happens that the person we are in love with, and committed to, is a member of the same sex. Why should we feel abnormal about that? We are responsible for our own happiness, even if it comes with a label. After all, Webster defines gay as happy, lighthearted and carefree. What a beautiful thing!"
Chad & Tim • Louisville, KY
Excerpt from Tim's Story: "Before I met Chad, I had labeled many pivotal moments in my life such as moving away from home, leaving jobs, and making it through the end of friendships and relationships as failures or low points. My partnership with Chad quickly made me realize that all these events, no matter how difficult and painful they were to go through, were preparing not only to meet him, but to truly be settled enough, smart enough and mature enough for the possibility of a life-long partnership with this amazing man. Over the years, we’ve been lucky enough to watch our separate families come together and form wonderful friendships and to bring our family of close but previously separate friends together and witness even more close friendships develop from that.”
Kergan & Ross • Orange County, CA
Excerpt from Kergan's Story: "After almost 12 years together and with two children, my partner Russ and I were finally married on June 7, 2014, surrounded by family and friends. Stepping out into our garden ceremony, I was overwhelmed by the waves of love generated towards us, fully cognizant of the long road traveled — individually, collectively, and communally — to reach that sacred moment. ... Being able to stand together, publicly, with our pastor officiating, and have our relationship embraced and celebrated helped fortify us emotionally, as individuals, as a couple, and as a family."
"In our attempt to shape their lives for the better, Russ and I talk with our boys [Marcus and Mason] regularly about any number of topics — life, spirituality, ethics, politics, culture — and how to best grow and flourish as human beings. And the advice we give to them is the same advice I’d give anyone else, as it has long served me well: Live authentically. Tell your story. Change the world.”
Ryan & Hunter • Raleigh, NC
Excerpt from Hunter's Story: "Ryan had just moved to Raleigh from Clemson, SC and was looking for someone to casually hang out with and show him the city. Thinking this was a harmless commitment, I said yes! It was a night of random story sharing and me serving as an obnoxious city tour guide. I felt a connection."
"We parted ways with a kiss I wanted to last forever but knew had no future. That was it, I thought. I went back home, packed my belongings and hit the road to Nevada. Each day away from him I could not help but dream about how wonderful of a guy he was. We maintained communication throughout my trip and settling in, both knowing we were avoiding the reality that we would never see each other again. A month went by and we only grew closer. Every night we would talk or Skype just because. I knew I liked him and he the same but we were both denying any form of relationship. Mid-September I made up an excuse to return to Raleigh to “catch-up with friends” and he and I can hang out. I booked my flight and headed east. I landed in Raleigh and there he was, standing at baggage claim waiting for me. I knew from his smile and our embrace that this was more then a friendship. The brief visit seemed like a lifetime of bliss."
"The whole time I had this feeling inside that I had not felt before and too confused to talk about it. Love."
Jacob & Sam • Sevierville, TN
Excerpt from Sam's Story: "Coming out is a life long process because you’re always meeting new people. Our society has changed a lot in the 14 years since high school because back then I didn’t know anyone openly gay in school and now it’s commonplace to be out. I sometimes feel like I lost all the fun times in my teenage years because I wasn’t the real me. All the decisions I made and paths that I took led me to one spectacular man that I’ve shared my life with for the past 10 years and I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
Michael & Rob • Canyon City, CA
Excerpt from Michael's Story: "Understanding that I was gay (Michael) took much longer than most and as a result it caused a lot of turmoil in my life and the lives of those around me. Finding a loving, honest relationship, one that feeds my soul and makes me a better person is the single greatest success I’ve realized. I am a very lucky man." Advice I’d give my younger self:
- a. Calm down, don’t be in such a hurry; spend more time finding yourself and your passions
- b. Don’t be afraid to love – getting it right takes practice
- c. Don’t be afraid to trust - you will be taken advantage of so just get it out of the way now, there are lessons to be learned there
- d. Save more money- growing old with good taste is expensive