Tuesday, January 31, 2017

"The Truth About Who We Are..."

Dylan, Painter, Portland, Oregon
by thegaymenproject

photos by Kevin Truong

Dylan, in his own words: "I identify as gay, but for most of my life I didn't know what that meant. I think that's a newer term. I grew up just knowing that I liked boys and I always thought of girls as friends.

Everyone knew I hung out with the girls and I think girls thought of me as a girl. They would say, "no boys can play with us," and the other boys would be mad, because I was allowed to, and the girls would say, "only Dylan. Only Dylan can play with us."

Then as I got older another boy would ask to kiss me, or would ask what it was like to kiss another boy, so I would show them.

It was just easy being gay. That's the way it always was. It wasn't until I got older and had to explain it to older people, or tried to fit in with guys that thought I was strange that I became more closeted. I became closeted for a while, because I wanted more male friends, but I think the guys I was friends with knew and would probably have been open minded if I'd known why I was different or how to describe it.

I never really came out. I think everyone just knew how I was. I was with older boys from a very young age and it was just natural. One time, after my first real boyfriend and I had moved in together, my mom sat me down and asked me if I was gay. I said I didn't know. I guess. Something like that, and then they just started letting my boyfriend come to Christmas dinner and my family learned to love him too.

I don't really feel like there is a gay community in Portland. I think that that's why gay people like it here, because we can just be gay and nobody really thinks about it. I did go to a lesbian bar that happens once a month, and really there were only about 5 gay guys and no straight men there, and the lesbians kind of had us on the outskirts of the group, like "we're not going to put up with any of your gay shit. Tonight's our night." It really shocked me, because I've never had lesbian friends and I was surprised by the diversity of women that were there. It was about 200 women and most of them didn't fit any one stereotype. They dance different than gay guys was my biggest observation.

I think I would rather take advice from my younger self than give it. I was much more bold and excited about things when I was younger. I think I was very excited to be, to do, and to have. I'm kind of focused on my future self at the moment, because I don't want to get stuck in too much of a routine and I want to be able to afford a comfortable lifestyle. Maybe I would tell my younger self, "Good job! You're doing great! Keep going!"

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