elisa_rolle (elisa_rolle) wrote,

Scott Pasfield: Gay in America (1 of 2)

"In February of 2008 I embarked on a journey to photograph out-and-proud gay men throughout the country happily living where they choose. Compelled by factors in my personal life, I decided to go at it full force and hit up every state in the nation. This was to be a journey of healing on the personal and community level, and I met some great people along the way.

Kevin & Mark Kearney, MO. To begin with, let me say that since high school, I had private thoughts about sex with guys, or wondered what they looked like under those clothes, etc. I had these thoughts and fantasies throughout my life until my divorce in late 2007. I had NEVER acted upon those fantasies or even told anyone about them. Heck, I could barely admit to myself that I was having those fantasies. I was too afraid of the possible consequences if I told anyone, and fearful of societies perceptions of people that were gay. I had led the straight life and had a handful of long term relationships with women. My marriage to my wife ended after almost 14 years and three kids. All my life something was missing. Once I was divorced, I finally decided that I wasn't getting any younger (I am 41 years old a late bloomer) and I wasn't about to allow myself to get too old to act on those thoughts and desires that I had stuffed so deep in the recesses of my mind. In December of 2007, I finally experimented with my first guy. There were several after that, and I liked what I was doing. Everything just felt "natural" to me. But I still had a problem, I was still keeping everything a secret and I kept telling the guys that I was spending time with that once I found the "right guy" I would "come out". I found Chris online in late June, 2008. He was casually dating a guy, but it wasn't a real serious relationship yet and he agreed to do what I call a "meet and greet" at a restaurant on the Plaza in Kansas City. We started seeing each other fairly regularly, pretty quickly. I still had a lot to learn about the gay lifestyle and Chris, at first, was kinda taking the teaching role. I learned Chris's boyfriends name was Mark, and Chris told me a lot about him and would even tell me that when we were done spending time together on some days, he would be going over to Mark's place and spend time with him. I didn't mind because Chris and I were just having fun, and at the time I wasn't really thinking I would get serious with Chris. Things progressed pretty quickly. Chris and I spent more and more time together, having good times, and talking a lot. Chris was not a very talkative person if you asked a lot of questions, but if I would talk, and tell stories about my life or whatever, he would start talking and telling me about his life. I learned that Chris was tormented in high school and then again when he was in the military and then the worst thing possible - his parents and brother were not accepting of his lifestyle. They just didn't talk about it. His sister was, I think, his best friend and confidant for many years and she totally accepted him for who he was. Chris had what I called an "old soul", he was aged beyond his 26 years due to the hardships in his earlier years. I believe this is why he was attracted to older men. I was 41 years old and he told me Mark was 38. Early August I really started having feelings for Chris and I expressed this to him. Although, more than anything, he wanted a long term relationship, he was torn between the two men he was seeing. He said that he had been looking for years for a partner that had the qualities necessary for a LTR and had given up, thinking there was no such man out there. Then, all of a sudden, he had found not one, but two great men, referring to Mark and myself. But I had to do some damage control, or self preservation, and told Chris that I could no longer continue the way we were - him dating both of us, because I was starting to develop feelings for him. He needed to choose between the two of us and I fully expected him to choose Mark since they had known each other a little longer. But he was torn. Finally, I met up with him at his apartment and told him that I would make it easy for him and bow out of the running, because I didn't want to hurt him further and I couldn't handle the drama any more and wanted it to end. He had been talking to his sister, who helped him decide that he would quit seeing Mark. I was dumbfounded, but very happy, of course. We committed to exploring our relationship that day and I told him, that I felt I found the right man, I was "coming out"... and I started that whole process. Over the next few weeks I was slowly coming out to friends and a couple of family members, with Chris's advice and guidance. We had a lot of great times and sex. He was meeting my friends and then the granddaddy of them all, he met my kids. He was so nervous about it and we had long discussions about that, but in the end the meeting went very well over dinner at a local restaurant. He was so excited he had to call his sister and tell her all about it. He also, throughout this time had been confiding in his sister about the things we were doing, and the path we were on and expressed to her that "he had never been happier". Considering his past, I am very happy that I was able to give him this happiness. Another benchmark in our relationship was two nights before he died. He wanted to schedule a dinner for me to meet one of his best male friends, James, and his partner Phil. Chris talked a lot about James throughout our short time together, and how much he admired James and Phil, and how long they had been together, and how much Chris himself wanted something like what they had. I asked Chris if meeting James was the equivalent of meeting his parents, and he responded in his typical fashion "James is very important to me". Fast forward to August 28th, Chris came by the house and dropped of his over night bag, he was going to spend a weekend with me and the kids, to get to know them better. He was going to sleep on a pallet in the basement to try and get the kids the idea used to the idea of him sleeping at the house without adding the additional stress of him sleeping in "daddy's bedroom". I was mowing the yard and he was going to go for a motorcycle ride. He left the house at 4:20 and died at about 4:22, less than ½ mile south of my house. Someone pulled out in front of him, he was only traveling at about 50 mph. He died instantly from a broken neck, and I hear from his family that his motorcycle was drivable after the accident. As I said, Chris died at 4:22 or so, and didn't know it. My daughter was due home at 4:45, when the school bus would drop her off. I kept watching the highway, especially when she wasn't home by 5:00. By 5:15, she finally showed up, I shut the mower down and asked where she was and she stated "here was an accident up the street and they detoured us". I still didn't know Chris had died. I had no reason to think it was him involved in the accident since I had assumed it was just another accident that regularly occurred at another intersection further up the road. I continued on with the yard work, finished it, came inside to get dinner ready for myself, Chris, and my kids. We ate dinner at about 6:30 or so and the kids and I discussed where Chris could have gone for so long - must have been a long ride. I officially started worrying when the sun started going down and started to cool off outside since Chris was wearing a sleeveless shirt, jeans and his helmet. At 8:45, I sent him a text message. No response. I left a voice mail at 10:00, no response. Finally at 11:00 I called the local hospital and asked if there was a motorcycle accident, and they confirmed but would not give any information over the phone. Of course I drove up to the hospital and begged them to tell me if their patients' name had been Chris Fry, to which they confirmed and then I asked if he had passed away and they also confirmed what I suspected to be true. I learned that Chris died 6.5 hours after it happened. I think about what I was doing at the moment that he died, and I was thinking happy thoughts about him, and the things we had planned for the long weekend. And then the worry set in, then desperation and finally, total sorrow and sense of loss! It was awful, I called many people that night and several of them came running the next morning. Scott, you know most of what happened next, from contacting you about a picture, to visitation, and then the funeral. I had never met Chris's sister until his death but we bonded almost immediately and spent a lot of time together that week.. It was a very sad week, but I could tell her stories that helped her cope and she told me their conversations about Chris and I that warmed my heart. He told her he was finally happy now that he had found me. She is the only person that can truly validate my relationship with Chris, outside of myself. After the funeral that Friday, in Springfield MO, I came home and spent the night alone. Spent most of the day Saturday at home alone, cleaning, and just generally trying to stay busy - all the while trying to keep from dwelling on recent events with Chris's death. In the back of my mind I kinda kept expecting any number of my friends to call and see if I felt like getting out of the house, but they all must have felt I needed some time alone and no one called. About 5:30 I finally decided I needed to get out of the house or I was going to drive myself crazy. I dressed up a little and was going to do what Chris and I enjoyed doing 2013 going bar hopping, getting a drink or two at one bar then move on to the next. We never drank a lot, just enough to keep the conversation flowing and have some fun. So, I headed out to our favorite gay bars, would have a drink or two, then move on. I of course was not trying to pick anyone up, just trying to get out, have a few drinks and try to get my mind off Chris. The fourth and last bar I hit that night has a dance floor, I don't dance but I like to watch. I chose to stand fairly close to a handsome guy and we just watched what was going on with the dancers. This gentleman and I started talking, and had a really wonderful conversation for about 20 or 30 minutes, about people we knew in the bar, the bar scene (how much we dislike some of it) and believe it or not, that we both had kids. The gentleman had to go to the restroom and when he returned, asked me my name and then he asked "did you know Chris Fry?" I was shocked, but I didn't know where he was going with his question and I could hardly talk and said, very cautiously, "yes" and he said "my name is Mark" and it finally dawned on me it was the man Chris stopped seeing at my prodding... we both started crying right there in the club. We had never met before. We were totally and completely in awe of the fact that we met and we started wondering if our meeting had been orchestrated by Chris himself in some way! Of all the places I had been that evening, and the possible variables and alternative avenues that I could have taken that evening and I ended up talking to Chris's prior boyfriend. The coincidence was too great for us to ignore. The odds were astronomically against us meeting. Yet we did - and prior to us realizing our common bond, we were having great conversation. We decided right then and there that Chris meant for us to meet and we needed to explore possibilities - very slowly - since we had both just lost someone that was very special to us and felt a "creepy" feeling at any thoughts of an intimate relationship. We spent hours talking about Chris, and still do sometimes. Whether meeting Mark that night was born of coincidence or a higher being, I do not know, but it has given me reason to wonder. Well, we did take things slowly, probably not slow enough for some, considering events that had happened. But we believe that Chris meant for us to meet because we click so well together. I never for a second thought I would have a relationship with someone that had their own children, but it opens up a whole new world of "things in common" with a potential partner. Chris was a beautiful man and he will always have a special place in my heart, but I also understand his dilemma when he had to choose, because Mark is a wonderful man! There may be those that think what we are doing is wrong, or we may be grasping for relationships, or we are on the rebound, or blinded by grief, whatever. I have thought about all of that and more, but I keep coming to the same conclusion, that I am a reasonably intelligent, emotionally stable, mature man that sees the potential for something beautiful to come of something so tragic and I will not let it pass unexplored - and so far, our relationship, although young, has far exceeded any expectations I might have had in the past and I can once again see great happiness in my future. There you have it, much more than you bargained for.... I don't know why I am sharing this much detail with you, except that you graciously expressed some interest.

The project that ensued was beyond my expectations. I used the internet to cast my subjects, and asked men to write me about their lives and why they should be included. I then took incredible road trips to meet them and began to see Gay America through their eyes, and through them I learned a lot about myself along the way. I photographed everyone in or near their homes, to find them comfortable in their own environment. To accomplish this, I drove about 26.000 miles and flew the same distance, the equivalent of going around the world twice. That adds ip to 120 shoots to date in all fifty states (well, fifty-one with the District of Columbia), over 150 people (ninety single guys, twenty-eight couples, and two triads). I met so many men across the geographic spectrum of the country that I may have actually just executed an informal gay census. Of these, nine Michaels made that the gayest name; Kevin and Paul tied for second place with five each. And gay men do love their animals: I also shot thirty-four dogs, five cats, three birds, a horse and a cow, and to my surprise, a lot of goats.

Roger & Scotty Tulsa, OK. Came across your ad and was quite taken by it... Sounds interesting. We are a Gay couple in our early 40's and home owner here in Tulsa, I (scotty) work with a landscape designer and Roger is a building engineer. we are going on 8yrs into our journey together thru life. Stable, sane and proud of who and what we are.... We are quote(out) but yet we don"t flaunt it either. Roger also does part-time photography as a side business and we are interested in what you may be doing. If we have something to offer you in this adventure please contact us. We both also work alot on our home we purchased 6 yrs ago... We have done all the work ourselves, taken an old 1939 craftsman style home and taken it down to the 2x4's and started all over... Almost done, lol... So if we meet your criteria let me know...

This huge survey includes these men's stories, happy and sad, hopeful and pragmatic, contemplative of the past or just celebrating in the moment. These stories are of life, and death; two of the men I photographed have since passed on. One of these, a guy named Chris from Kansas, would be the absent link that brought the two men he was dating at the time of his death - Kevin and Mark - together. To have them all included in this project is incredible. Also moving for me was to meet Henry and Scott from Minneapolis, who lost their son Cameron to brain cancer shortly after the shoot. But of course, along with these tragedies came the positive messages all these people affirmed.

Alex Seward, AK. As I sit here, and think of what to type to you that will sound interesting about my gay life, I realized that its no contest to see if I can write the best few paragraphs for you, hell I am interesting in my own ways, just as every other out gay man is. We have chatted back and forth a handful of times, and well you are right about me, my part in this project of yours is very informal! ha! Growing up in Oklahoma will teach a kid to be on his best behavior, respect his elders, use the words "sir" and "ma'am" (where also oklahoma is the only place I have found that women still accept being called ma'am without a scowl or frown for being a little older) I went to church, did what I was told and had a pretty set schedule with school, sports, and family. All that has yes stayed with me, but now that i am here in Alaska, its grand to say that the Oklahoma has never left me. But man did I sure as shit leave oklahoma. I am 27 years of age, left when I was 18, and I am still leaving. I found that before I came out I had to see what else was out there, and I am still looking. the world is one fascinating place, and I intend on seeing as much as can. I lived in 5 different states, been to all 50 throughout my life, and visited 10 countries with living in three of those. Of the 5 states, Alaska! was the best one i could have ever chosen. I came on a whim, and well 6 years later, here I am still. Being forced to be a little panic-y growing up was never my steez, but Alaska put that to rest. I am a low-key kind of guy, mellow with a good heart, and trustworthy. All I wanted to do when I came up here was to learn about the outdoors, what better place than this?! My friends here came on strong and fast, and are still with me to this day. They are the ones who helped with all of my becoming comfortable and heathy with being gay. It was my first real friend up here that i first came out to. She knew, and was of course happy, but what also got me was when after I told her, she asked if I felt better? and you know what, I sure as hell do. I have friends all over, but the ones here in Alaska are what true, hard-working, fun, and just plain badass people are. I have no home to call my own here, as I said I am a traveler. I have a place to lay my head, make food, shit, shower and shave, and hell I even have free internet, and laundry, but its not mine. But I at least get to call it home when the summer is here. I work hard, as just as everyone else does here. Very hard. It's easy to make good money up here, but you have to work hard once you find it. One of the best jobs out there I'd say, work six months, and then play for six months. I would be lying if I said that I didn't want to settle down somewhere up here and live the rest of my life with the one I know I will find. But as for me right now still, I am on that mission I stated earlier about to still see all that the world has. And for anyone else who is doing the the same thing, gay or straight, be careful if you come up here to AK, it just might keep you coming back up here if not to stay.

This was the great American road trip that somehow had never been done before. And like every great journey, once I began there was no looking back. Like I said, this started as a personal project, but I soon realized how political the personal can be. Gay rights are human rights, and if we focus less on general concepts like gay pride and share our stories of our similarities to everyone - because we know that by being who we are we are normal - we can make crucial steps to change negative attitudes about homosexuality. Times certainly are changing, but there's still such a long way to go before we are all treated equally and fairly. By highlighting these great men, who fall outside of many gay cliches and stereotypes, I'm making my own effort in the slow process of positive change." --Scott Pasfield (http://www.scottpasfield.com/)

Gay in America by Scott Pasfield
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Welcome Books (September 27, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1599621045
ISBN-13: 978-1599621043
Amazon: Gay in America

In this first-ever photographic survey of gay men in America, stereotypes are laid to rest and an intimate, honest picture of contemporary gay life is revealed through stunning personal portraits and narratives.

Photographer Scott Pasfield traveled 52,000 miles across all fifty states over a two-year span gathering stories and documenting the lives of 150 gay men from all walks of life. At turns joyful and somber, reflective and celebratory, each narrative and image is an enlightening look into the variety of gay life in the United States.

Pasfield’s striking and perceptive portraits reflect the same beautiful diversity found in any sampling of our population. Each of these men is unique and whole, complex and fallible, just as we all are. They come in every size and shape, every religion, color, profession, and background. There are farmers, writers, doctors, lawyers, artists, teachers, students; there are fathers and husbands, activists, and business men. Some are successful, some are struggling, some are political, some are wealthy, some are wounded, and some are deeply content.

Their commonality draws from a single shared trait: their homosexuality. These are men who are attracted to men, and have chosen not to disguise that truth. For many, there have been harsh consequences to this decision, but also deep rewards. The message that prevails is one of great hope that true equality is close within our reach, if only we would grasp it.

SCOTT PASFIELD is a New York-based photographer who specializes in portraiture. His work has appeared in numerous publications, from BlackBook to Fortune, Poz to Gotham. His clients include the Independent Film Channel, Time, Inc., and the American Red Cross. Scott has taught at the Sante Fe Photography Workshops and is a member of Platon's celebrated Nutopia Forum. He and his partner Nick divide their time between New York City, Long Island, and Vermont.

Sam Driggs, ID. My name is Sam and I live in SE Idaho (Teton Valley/Ashton area). I wouldn't say that I'm completely "out" as I don't advertise myself, but I tell the truth when asked. I own a small farm and work as a flight instructor at our local airport. I was born in California and raised on a cattle ranch in the central valley. I lived in L.A. for 5 years and had enough of the superficial bullshit so I moved to Jackson Hole, WY and took a job as a private chef. That was the biggest joke since I had no cooking skills, but my employers were patient through my learning process and we ate out or ordered in when recipes didn't turn out well. After 2 years in Jackson, I found that I could live a comfortable lifestyle just over the state line and moved to Idaho in 1995 and began selling real estate which treated me well. I've become bored with the real estate scene and am pursuing my real passion which is aviation. I work part time as a flight instructor in gliders. I also own an airplane with two buddies and fly it all over the country when the weather is good. I raise sheep on my 4.5 acres, but that project is coming to an end as the old girls are in retirement and no longer breed. Most of my friends know that I'm gay, but I don't exactly fit the typical stereotype and I'm fine with that. I've traveled to many places in the world and can tell you that a gay bar in Barcelona is no different than one in Sydney or Atlanta. So I don't spend much time in bars, at pride parades or going on gay cruises. I find I get on better with my straight friends and/or Macho gay friends. If I don't fit the type you are seeking for your project, I completely understand.

Nile & Jim Palm Springs, CA. We read your post on CL, and visited your site. Not sure if we fit what you seek in out GAYdom, but figured what the hell. lol We were both products of what we call the ignorant generation; the one that could not even discuss SEX, much less sexual orientation. We both are products of very rural areas; KS and MT. Both followed the dictates of societal mores and married and had children. Jim, the furry one, was married for 27 years. Me, Nile, for 21. Yes, we have pretty cool relationships with our respective families. Jim's is a bit more proactive. We both survived one previous post-marriage relationship. Each disastrous in their own way. It will be 13 years this December for us as mates and CA registered partners for over 8. As gay men, our joint philosophy has been that we neither flaunt it nor apologize for it. Our life hope is that by example we touch folks' lives in a way that they may reach an acceptance and understanding of what the reality of being a gay man is really like, and that accepting Diversity really is just fine. Since moving to Palm Springs, we have experienced some fun firsts. We were the first couple to appear on MatureImage.com, a former site that was created by our friend Abe Ortega. It was also our honor to appear as the first cover couple for the former CR magazine, issue #53. Hmmmmmmmm, was there a secret message here? lol We were also featured in the Silver section of the first edition of Palm Springs LIVE magazine. We're pretty plain, low key men. lolol

Reggie New Haven, CT. Let's see, I was born in Mississippi where I lived until I was five after which I moved to Americus, Georgia where I stayed until I graduated from high school. The only reason you'd know Americus, is because Jimmy Carter lives 5 miles away in Plains or because it it is the headquarters for Habitat for Humanity International. My mother and father both still live there and will celebrate 35 years of marriage this year. My younger sister (we were born on the same five years apart) lives in Atlanta and works as a consultant. I knew I was gay when I was growing up, but I also knew I could never be gay in the heart of the bible belt. As a middle schooler and high schooler I searched every college guide and periodical I could find to find out what the best school in the country was for gay students (this was before the internet and people actually read microfiche) and discovered Yale was a really supportive place for gay students. So, I applied, got in and spent the next 4 years at Yale in the closet but in a very supportive environment. I stayed in the closet until a month after college graduation (as I had intended before I even applied to college) when my bursar bill had been completely paid (as I feared my parents my pull me out of liberal Yale had I been out. I went to grad school in the fall to study public policy at the Kennedy School and have been gay since July 1998. Let's see... boyfriends. I wish there was more to report there ;o) I've had two people I would count as boyfriends and both are still good friends who I visit with. I lived in Palo Alto, CA for two years following grad school and met my first real bf out there. He (Donato) is Sicily, works at SUN as a programmer and has a heart of gold. We met on craigslist (where I also found my apartment, furniture, and roommates). We dated for around 8 months and he broke up with me when I decided to move back east to work for Yale. My second boyfriend was about 2 years ago. We dated for about 6 months. He (Neill) lives in NYC and grew up in London. We met on Friendster. He's a really great guy, and our relationship came when he broke up with me because I was trying to move the relationship too fast (what I learned from Neill is that I shouldn't mention I want to have children with a guy on the 3rd date). We're still friends and he has a really cute boyfriend right now that I think is a perfect match for him. Let's see other personal stuff. I'd like to have kids by 35 with or without a partner. Ideally I'd love to have three children, and raise them with my partner. I tend to be very loving and giving to my friends who are my family. In 2005 I bought a two family house built in 1867 and spent a year living in it renovating my tenant floor that I now rent out to an assistant professor. I've spent 2005-2006 evenings and weekends working on my tenant unit and spent part of 2007 working on mine (most of the cosmetic stuff done for now except for bathroom and kitchen remodel to come in a couple of years). For fun, I like learning about wine, gardening, hanging out with friends, going to the cabaret, netflixing, and tinkering with online startup ideas. I also love cheese and tea. I'm currently a Chair of my 10th year Yale College reunion that will be held next month, and am looking forward to catching up with classmates and seeing where they are in their lives. What's it been like for me to be gay? Well, I don't think about it so much anymore. I think most people know I'm gay (since I appeared on the front page of the local business section wearing a "marriage is so gay" t-shirt). It hasn't changed anything. I am who I am. At this point in my life having partner, wanting to eventually get married and have kids like my other friends (who happen to mostly be straight) are the things I'm focused on - probably on par with my peers.

Gary & Brad Staunton, VA. My partner and I live in Staunton, Va....a relatively small town of about 20,000, and we are both out. He grew up in this town and knows almost everyone, it seems. We met when we were both living in another, much smaller town. When he moved back to Staunton in the early 90's, I soon followed, having gotten a job here. We've been together 20 years and have lived together for 15 years. We attend the church he grew up attending, and are both very active there. We have encountered nothing but support and encouragement here, from friends and family. Neither of us have ever been interested in being defined as gay; our lives our no different than that of our straight friends or any straight couples we know.

Bryant San Francisco, CA. I was born and raised in San Francisco and LOVE it here for so many reasons: how beautiful it is, how gay it is, how diverse and Asian it is, how progressive it is. I had the fortune of growing up here and have friends and family here that predate coming out, whereas I know many gay folks come here from all parts of the world because of the mecca that it is and have to leave their family and friends behind. Very few of my gay friends are from SF or the bay area, and so it's interesting because they cling to each other more as family while I have to juggle the different parts of my life that they've left behind. I came out right after high school to a my closest friends and to my family after college. Everyone's been great about it - my best friends still love me (one of them actually came out to me a few years later), my brother said he thought it was cool and that being gay made me unique, and my sister said something like "so what" and didn't think it was a big deal because she had a good friend come out to her when she was 12. They all have gone out with me to gay clubs/events. Unfortunately it's taken my parents longer to come terms with it, and it's still a pretty unspoken thing amongst them. I have a couple queer relatives and I think Burmese culture just tends to sweep it under the rug instead of talking it out, so I have an aunt and a cousin who always bring their partners to family events who we refer to as their "friends." I got my bachelors in ethnic studies and public policy and my masters in urban planning... and I attribute these paths largely because of being from SF. I was able to take women's studies and ethnic studies in high school, my teachers were engaging me politically in middle school, and we learned about organic farming and numerology and flower power when I was in elementary school. I don't know where else you grow up with all these kinds of influences besides San Francisco. It all built in an altruistic sense in me, and a perspective that made me want to become active in social change. If you asked me a few months ago, I would've been working to build a new subway line for the city, trying to get more affordable housing built here, and coming up with ways to green neighborhoods. I now work for the city of San Francisco, giving out money to youth programs. I specifically run a fund that tries to get youth to develop their own campaigns around issues they care about and to come up with their own businesses. It's really incredible enabling youth to take an active part in all sorts of issues going on in the city. As much as we're known for diversity and tolerance, there's still a lot of things that our city faces that every city does - things like poverty, violence, racial tensions, and even hate crimes against LGBTs. It makes for an interesting political landscape, and I just see my role as trying to empower young people to make San Francisco a truly equitable city. Sorry, I don't mean to sound preachy, but that is what I do. Hope that gives you a better sense of me. Considering all of that, I think I'm a pretty regular guy with everyday interests. It's funny though - it wasn't until I left San Francisco to go to college in LA and later college on the east coast that I realized what a bubble I live in here. One last note - I mentioned that my apartment is in boxes, but my room is especially bare . I don't have any furniture yet - it's just a rug, a sleeping bag, some pillows, and a few boxes. Not sure how that works out for your thinking about a shoot, but just wanted to let you know.

Brian Pflugerville, TX. I was raised in a very rural community in northern California. I moved from there when I was twenty three to live in San Diego where I planned on finishing my education and coming out. After five years of living the gay lifestyle I longed to be back in the country. I found that just because I was gay didn't mean that I had to conform to the city culture of gay life. The beauty of being out and proud is celebrating all your uniqueness in exactly who you are. I live on four acres (surrounded by 200 acres of pastures) with my dogs, cat and a few goats. I am working on getting my place ready for horses. I do have horses available to me for a photo shoot if you would like. I would need 24 hours notice to get them bathed and transported over to the property. They are currently with a few friends in a 50 acre pasture. I also have a pool and a ranch style home and barn, all that photograph very well. I am interested in your cause and your book. I look forward to working with you on the project. Thank you for the consideration

Ernesto Los Angeles, CA. I was born in NYC on the lower eastside of manhattan. Come from loving parents , but never had much money. Yet have never lacked for anything. I went to school in NYC, grew up in NYC, lost my virginity in NYC and pretty much thought I'd never leave NYC. As long as I could remember all I ever wanted to do was make beautiful clothes for movie stars. I remember being 10 yrs. old and watching the old films of the thirties and forties and saying to my mother how I would like to make that dress MYrna Loy was wearing. I finally got my opportunity, I went to S.F. State college and then Fashion Institute and moved to Los Angeles. I never looked back, I think being gay saved my life and allowed me to pursue my dreams. I landed in L.A. and began working with costume designers. I now am a costume designer in my own right and get to work with talented an d wonderful people. L.A. is a great place to do this. There's room to breathe. Love NYC and am there often, but L.A. is home.

Chad Lexington, KY. I am an openly gay computer dork and am working on a nice project hoping to launch during Lexingtons first PRIDE Smiley I am a director of IT at the United Sates Dressage Federation (USDF) which is a horse organization that deals with horse ballet so to speak. I am allergic to horses and have asthma. I play volleyball, work out, and play online games in my spare time. I am into piercing and tattoos. I have been completely out for about 12 years or more. I do websites/logos/programming on the side as a personal business. I am getting ready to launch this site called HagsMeetFags. It is a match up site for of course hags N fags. It may take or it may not, but who will know until i try it out.

Paul Phoenix, AZ. I have HIV; It doesn't have me...although I owe it a debt of gratitude because it very well ironically saved my life. As a young gay man I lived the fast life, I was always told I could go anywhere, do anything, the sky is the limit and in fact it was, no boundaries, no commitments, no requirements and now after coming out, no expectations. It seemed as if I no longer existed so my quest to find acceptance brought me to places by day that would never be associated with my havens at night. Two lives, one person... I was an acheiver, freindly, funny, entertainer, cowboy, horseman, trainer, instructor, corporate climber, and more interestingly humanities clean up crew. The higher I flew by day the further I fell by night. HIV made me aware of who I am and how precious I could be to life, love and longevity. My favorite quote and most important message is that "You can never touch someone so lightly as to not leave a mark...."

Bob Scottsdale, AZ. I am an award winning hair stylist and a National Champion cowboy... I was married for 35 years and am now single and out...I live in Scottsdale AZ and travel the entire U.S. with my horses and my dog 'Tater'. I was raised in the midwest and there was no choice to be straight and married or be gay....It was just the way things were.... I married the girl of my dreams in April of 1970.. By the time I was 26 I had my own business, 2 sons and my own farm... although financially successful there was always something missing. At 31, I told my wife I was gay, she didn't believe me, so not wanting to rock the boat and always wanting to raise my sons, I stayed in an unhappy situation. As years went on, I worked more and more on becoming one of the top horsemen in the country...as well as one of the most awarded hair stylists....winning many contests for both hair and horses.... but finally the anger and guilt took over and I knew I had to be true to myself... I gave my wife our business and our home and moved to Scottsdale AZ to start over....It was tough at first, but now I have many great gay friends and my straight horse show friends realize I'm still the same guy I've always been....So life is good....My sons have accepted the fact that they have a gay father and my ex wife is actually speaking to me again..... Tater and I still travel a lot and the horses are still a huge part of our lives....all in all I'm a happy cowboy.........

Kris, Danny & Jonathan Quincy, MA. A friend send me the link to your notice on craigslist. I am a 38 year old gay man living my life out in Quincy, MA (one city south of Boston). I ended a 14 year relationship just two years ago that may be reuniting. I met my ex-partner just a few months after coming out and was quite comfortable with my life, in fact s comfortable that I gained quite a bit of weight. After some cheating issues we broke things off and I worked my asss off (literally) at the gym. I know that is typical for a gay man, but during the last two years I have had some family issues that have also changed my life dramatically. My sister moved to Mississippi and her two teenage sons were having some issues, and she needed help herself. They both are now living in my house and have been since about 6 months after my break-up. I have seen my life transformed. These two teenagers have been very supportive of my life and even helped me through what was a very tough time in my life. I now have one of them about to move out on his own, a big step for both him and I at this point. I have changed two young family members lives and at the same time regained my own. I have been recently spending time with my ex in between being a 201Csingle gay soccer dad201D and struggling with my job as a real estate agent in very tough economic times. As you can imagine it was a struggle to date again after such a long term relationship, and even more so with most gay men viewing the raising of two teenage boys as 201Cbaggage201D. I am proud to have that 201Cbaggage201D around me every day, and proud of what they have become. They experience a very large portion of my life and spend time with my friends who often help out when I am not available for them. I recently took on the Harbor to Bay bike ride for HIV causes, a 126 mile ride from Boston to Provincetown. At 6:00am, the morning of the ride, as I prepared to pull out of Copley Square in Boston I received a text from the younger of the two boys wishing me luck and providing words of encouragement. He knew and understood what the ride meant to me, raising money for a good cause and a personal challenge. This has simply become a regular life to me at this point. I am blessed to live in Massachusetts where being out is not a problem, even living in a small neighborhood filled with retired people in their 702019s. They have all embraced me, and in fact one of my neighbors recognized my weight loss after the break-up and was concerned and was bringing me meals (typical Italian mother). I am proud of who I am, and have experienced a lot recently. I don2019t hide who I am and haven2019t since I came out shortly after turning 21. I am also proud to provide an example and environment for my nephews that allows them to develop into who they are and will become. My friend suggested I was a very good candidate to show another side OUT in these times, and I am proud to represent another segment of being out as a gay man.

David Norris Lake, GA. This is David. I'm a 43 year old deaf gay guy living outside of Atlanta. I live by Norris Lake and own a boat. I'm a single gay man. Have two children an 8 year old son and a 10 year old daughter. I'm profoundly deaf but can read lips and speak fairly well. I was in a relationship with my partner who is the biological father of our two children. He was married and had two children. My ex-partner is also deaf. Our children are both hearing. We discussed with our children about how to define our relationship. We decided to call him "Daddy" and me as "Daddie". Our children are both hearing and said that they can't call me "Daddie" because the words "Daddy" and "Daddie" sounded the same when speaking. We didn't know that it sounded same cause we both are deaf. So we decided to let the kids decide what to call me. The kids were discussing to each other and decided to call me "Mommy with a beard", because I stay home and take care of them. Our relationship ended but we remain very good friends. When the children come home, they stay here at my house. My ex-partner comes here and stays here with our children. I work from home which allows me to take care of the children while my ex-partner goes to work everyday. I'm single now and enjoying my time with friends and family. I haven't dated anyone as of yet. If it happens, it was meant to happen. If it doesn't happen, that's fine. I have a small circle of friends who enjoy coming to my lakehouse to go boating, waterskiing, wakeboarding, etc. We also have dinner parties, bonfire gatherings at my house. As for the gay community, I was the titleholder as International Mr. Deaf Leather in 1995. My interests/priorities has changed over the past few years. I'm more interested in spending time with my two children and friends and families.

Nick Charleston, WV. Born in WV. 1983. My mother is a woman with little common sense and my father, a man without a conscience. They divorced when I was 3. He moved to Texas where he became wealthy and tan and still lives and golf's today. I was shuffled off to the burbs of Charlotte during the nineties when urban busing was popular public policy and ended up being one of four white students in my class at predominately urban black school. I never made the track team and always felt inferior in gym but even today I don't fear black people in large groups. My parents remarried again. My mother divorced the 19 year young Marine she had left my father for and married a tower-crane operator and habitual abuser... my father married a leggy blonde fresh off her first marriage to a plastic surgeon, the prospecting type, who days after exchanging vows asked, "I want to know if I am in the will yet, I mean what if something happens to you... those little brats would get everything?" I was standing in ears pitch and that was the end of my relationship with my stepmother. The relationship with my stepfather was tragically closer. He was a real sadist, a true sadist and more than probably a monster. He beat my mother, and when I tried to intervene he beat me and lock me in a dog kennel, and of course he touched me. I would be woken up and spirited away to batard woman's shelters in the middle of the night. My maternal grandparents would alway come pick up the pieces. Then in some Delta Burke Lifetime melodrama we assumed new names and moved to Savanah Georgia. We lived in a beach house off Tybee Island. My mother was always afraid and this made me unsettled no matter where we were, but the beach was I suppose as calm as it could get... I came home from school and he was there one day and it was like I got suckered in the stomach, she moved back with him to WV when I was 14. My grandfather would later confess my father knew all the sorted details and that he declined my grandfather's offer to testify against his daughter if he would only bring a second custody suit. He never did and I never forgave him. I moved back to WV where I did make the track team, president of student council honor student and if I didn't speak I could have been any number of sublime young butter-eared boys but inside I was completely screwed up and I knew it. I was tutoring this jock and he was gorgeous. I was gay. I didn't really feel one way of the other about it because I was incredibly busy staying alive, being the most popular guy in school, and being a boyscout trackstar. When I was 15 my stepfather left one night he had pulled a gun. However, the good hearts and gentle people of my small town rose up in action... I think several members of the community had had enough and in an awesome display of machismo American bru-ha ousted him desporado style. A group of "good-ol' boys" I imagine my assistant scout leader a neighbor and members of the volunteer fire dept among them escorted him out of town one night under a very real threat of violence. I never saw him again and if I ever do it would be too soon. In highschool I was much the same continued a strong academic record, ran track and played tennis, still president of the student council only I got a better hair cut slept with men dealt a little pot did a little blow worked 30 hours a week and took to the roads and skies. I've volunteered with HRO, and Equality Forum, I was gay and I wanted to know what the implications of that were... I was dismayed their was no real established gay history so I had to go out and learn it and construe it as best I could. I came out when I graduated high school. Narrowly I was suspended for distributing activist pamphlets that challenged the administration, who said "might have started a school-wide riot and I as a minor not entitled to first amendment rights." Otherwise I easily won enough scholarships to go to WVU, as I was not asking my father for any of his money, which he wouldn't give to me anyway because I am fag and I outrage him morally ... I am always like yea ditto. Got my B.S. in Advertising last year only to find that I am in debt have skill talent but no opportunity. I am frustrated because ...you know,,, I am a man and I want to make things, well something specific, I just don't know what that is yet. My college professors were used to dealing with bland upper-middle class intellectually lazy variety of kids you tend to get these days so I set their shit on fire but they are all skyward thinking flakes who don't have much advice to give... my facutly advisor's parting advise was to go to NY and find a benifactor? I was like really be a whore you could have met with me as a freshman with that shit while I still had naturally occuring abdominal muscles bitch! She thought it was funny I was only half joking. Most recently I've been developing print materials for my portfolio and couseling two friends addicted to heroin. I am unabashed in what I would share I just don't know what about my life is interesting to other people. If you ask questions I will answer them. How does that sit with you?

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