elisa_rolle (elisa_rolle) wrote,

Scott Pasfield: Gay in America (2 of 2)

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Brent & Charlie Loranger, LA. We are a gay couple living in rural Louisiana. We have been together for 10 years. Charlie is a RN and Brent is a Postmaster. Charlie was born in Hammond LA 6/15/1977. He was raised in a family of five and spent most of his childhood in the small town of Hammond. He attended Hammond High and was drum major his senior year. College wise he attended Southeastern Louisiana University population 40,000 students for about 3 year then after meeting Brent transferred to Southwest Mississippi Community College population 5,000 to complete his degree as a Registered Nurse. Where he recieved the who's who's award and was student president of his class. He now work as a nurse in Greensburg LA population of about 3000 and is a Director of Nursing for a local home health company Brent was born in McComb, MS on 6/18/1974. He was raised in a family of eight and spent all of his child hood on Kentwood LA. He attended Amite School Center a private school in Liberty MS and graduated with thirty five other classmates. He ran track and was prom king his senior year. He began working at United States Post Office in the year 1995 and is presently the postmaster of Natalbany LA population of about 1000. We met May 7 1999 at the one and only gay bar in Hammond LA. We moved to Kentwood LA on Brent familes property and began to restore a 100 year old home. The property had a dairy owned by Brent's family in which both of us periodically helped in time of need. In 2005 we moved to Loranger LA population 2000 in a quiet subdivision on a seven acre lot. Each year we host a Christmas party in which 250 people attended. We ask each guest to bring a toy which is donated to our local Head Start. Last year the toys provided three families with their Christmas and each student a toy. We enjoy working on our property and redesigning each room in our home one by one. We also enjoy traveling as much as possible.

Dr. JE Moorhead, MN. Morning. Well, gay life here in Northern MN and ND was not good when I first came out. I did not come out in life until I was in my 40's due to family and just life here in small towns. I did marry, for I was in a way pushed into that and fathered a son. Life was hard at first dealing with both lives that only I knew about. Then one day she figured it out asked me and I kinda like yes, yes. I was thinking she would throw me out but she told me to go to MPLS and stay there a few weeks and when I came back home we would talk. So that's what I did after about 3 weeks. I came home and we talked it all out. I'm still married, my kids know. She had two kids when I married her. Well, we sat all three kids down and talked & told them that I was gay. At first my son had a hard time with it, but as he got older he has been on my side. He and his girlfriend have gone to gay bars with me and he has met all my lovers. He, like his father is a people person. I have always had LTRs, one night stands are not my thing. It is funny, a few of then have came here and spent lots of time and been here weeks on end and we all get along well. My wife and I have not has sex for years due to changing of life for her. Sex has been out since my son was born and she sleeps on the 2nd floor and I on the first floor and when my lovers come here, we do all get along. We all eat together, go to shows, shop and all of that. My whole family knows I'm gay and they all stand behind me with it. The man I have now lives and works in mpls. He is hiv , which he told me about before we even met and we will be together 3 years now on the 21 of Oct. I go there most of the time, but he has come here and spent time too. He does have family in ND, was born and raised there too, but he is not OUT to his family. Just his one sister in grand Forks ND which is 75 miles North of Fargo Moorhead, where my home is. Life is funny at times. I never thought things would work out this way or so well, but it has. All it takes is to tell the truth and have long talks. It was damn hard to tell a few friends I was gay. I did lose a few when I came out, but I guess we were not friends to start, as I see it now. I love to talk to and help guys out with aids. It has seemed to be my new go in life and NO I am not POZ. My cousin in calif died of aids some 10 years ago now. He and his lover were together 18 years. It has been funny, lots of married guys have come to me and ask how it all worked and how we did it and are still married and live together and I have helped them work through it. There's lots more I can tell you, but this is just a small part of my good life here in ND & MN and I would not undo one thing about it since I came out and damn glad I did. Life was hell before. I was always looking back to see if any one found out. It was making me sick and this goes on in all married guys that are not out. Well Scott, I hope this has helped. After this, maybe you don't want me in your book and yes I don't see it, but all the guys say I'm a very good looking and caring person and here to help whenever I can. I hope to hear from you again and I wish us all the ever best in in this gay life we all try to live even in this part of the world with all the church people Gay life is getting better due to people like myself.

Brace Seattle, WA. My approach to life is not about being gay. my being gay has more to do with my sexual attraction as opposed to first being a person. i say this because i have never appreciated the nomenclature assigned to individuals that work to group people together based on expected identities: african/asian/hispanic/native american, but we never say white american. in that there is an inherant privelage for white americans that negates the others as american. the canadians hate being called american, though they are. the germans have a great word, lebens kunstler. it means, atist of life. i love that because it assigns no value to its definition. it is ambiguous, yet firm, but also allows for the eb and flow of whatever life is to be. it is also better said than 'a work in progress', which is kind of clunky. i'm not gay, so much as i am person, that is as much an animal that lives in the wild, but have a stronger apptitude for thinking. but the most beautiful part, is like the animals, our simplest needs are satisfied through eat, drink, procreation/sex, leisure time/play. base needs that define my person more than being male, black, gay, or american. so i'm not sure if i have anything to say about gay topics that really are, for me anyway, about being a person who searches for love, friendship and a sense of belonging just like everyone else. living in seattle, hmmm? i have always said that seattle is my home, but it may not be where i live, literally and figuratively. my effort is to always 'be' in my skin, which hopefully by living honestly in this way it will allow others to do the same. the challenges of being gay here in seattle are no different than anywhere else in the world. some places are more accepting than others, but ultimately the challenges we face have as much to do with our external environment as much as our internal. i discovered this when i lived in berlin and realized that the feelings i hoped would be not as strong in another city, would follow me not matter where i was. there strength coming from unwillingness to work them out and find out the root of their being. wherefor, the stronger the senses of self we can encourage in others, hopefully, the less we will have deal with thingy envy in others male of female, black or white, etc. i came up with four words a few years ago that i truly enjoy, well, you read them: respect, responsibility, honesty, and love. if we give room for these things to exist in an external environment - a strong foundation, it will hopefully reinforce a similar internal one - or the strength to work on our 'issues' to be whole/balanced/healthy. this is easy, but we have to be willing to work at it, which means not being lazy/spoon fed - the animals, when they want to eat, they have to work for it. otherwise they wither away and die. another metaphor for life. so, with all of this, i'm not sure what to tell you. Smiley what i can tell you is that i eat slowly to enjoy every bite; work to stay in the moment; allow for idle time/reflection, walk, ride my bike, and work staying present in each moment no matter how much i would rather be elsewhere.

Jacques & Abi Sacramento, CA. Not sure exactly what you are seeking but I am introducing myself. I am Jacques, 55 California Native, a college educated professional who has worked in an environmentally oriented professioal career for over 27 years. I live with my partner of 32 years and we recently married in June in front of 20 of our closest friends and associates. I have done a wide variety of Gay-oriented activities and have been a proud and out Gay man since my first moving to Sacramento in 1976. I have known of my attraction to men(males) since I was 5 years old and have had NO question about my orietation. I was born in San Francisco in 1952, raised by my single-parent mother of my Air Force dad with two older brothers. I was educated at University of California Berkeley during the anti-war movement and strongly anti war and pro-environment. I earned my MA Degrees in Geology, Paleontology and biology with a minor in music. I moved to Sacramento in 1976 to start my second degree training in teaching. I abandoned that pursuit for the bad developmens teaching was experieincing. I began working as an engineer for the State of California. My interests include bicycling, in which I organized the first AIDS benefit bicycle funraiser in 1983, riding from Sacramento to San Francisco's Castro Street Fair, raising 4500 dollars. I have ridden across Europe and set a 200 mile distance and time record and Japan and Australia where I set a 100 mile distance- time record, all on a bicycle built in 1886. I collect and restore antique bicycles for display and riding. I serve as curator with a museum in Davis as part of that UC Davis University project. I have displayed my restorations in musuems, auto concours and art galleries. I enjoy sailing where I designed and built my own catamaran. I love music which includes building guitars, lutes and other fretted instruments and playing these instruments, sitar, and other fretted instruments and keyboards. I am forming a group playing synthesizor and other keyboards with a drummer and other musicians. We anticipate live performance in a year or so. I have been part of the Sacramento AIDS foundation at its inception in 1983. I modeled for magazines and some gay "porn" such as Daddy and Hand-jobs magazines for fun. Also did 10 videos for Altomar Productions. My Partner of 32 years, named Abi, who is 70 years old, comes from Detroit. He was educated at Wayne State University with a degree in Art Education. He moved to Sacramento in 1973. He worked in human services for 13 years. His strong interests are in weaving, art history and a strong love of collecting antique and modern miniatue dollshouses and their furnishings.We met in December 1976 and have lived together since. We have been very Gay community oriented and support gay political functions and movements. [We are thinking of an outdoor shot. There are some nice areas in our back yard. We are both naturists and love the outdoors. We thought of something like I holding a lute and Abi with a miniature house on a table. We like quirky aspects.]

Mudhillun Dover, DE. "If homosexual marriage comes to pass, it will signal the end of the American family!" This has been a rallying cry of a vocal minority for at least 8 to 10 years now . . . enough people to gain a plurality if not a slim majority of support from a skittish American public. I doubt Mon and Deddy would have taken up arms for or against it since they'd never expressed any views of political consequence on the subject when I was growing up. Still, in their own way, Momma and Deddy made me just a little more resolute about so called "gay liberation" in this respect. What really spurred things along years even before Deddy's death or my coming out was the incident of getting a passport when I was in high school. It was the first time I actually saw my birth certificate. Other siblings had talked about go through the cumbersome court course of changing names on their own birth certificates in some case or defaulting to use of Mon's maiden name in others. It all started with the fact that they'd never been married in the eyes of the law. [Heck, Mon's own mother didn't even attend the ceremony though she'd been invited.] When I was younger and had inquired about it all, Mon just indignantly swept the whole thing under the rug like so much rubbish with a tightly bundled broom of reasons relating to Medicaid insurance and the politics of religious discrimination. Those battles seemed to have already been fought by the time I was born. It just seemed so incomprehensible that I would be in that same situation. But the past has a funny way of coming back to haunt you. That said - upon seeing and holding the official summarized record of my origin and existence in my hands with "Karen Lee McGrier" in the place for 'mother' and a blank in the place for 'father' the haunting began. Not only was I perplexed that they would use Mon's maiden name. [They'd been together at least 15 years before I was born.] I was disconsolate that Deddy was totally excluded . . . Mon's dismissive indignation would now well up in me. To think . . . we were the only intact family on our block . . . nay, a mother to spare at one point even! And here we were, not recognized in the eyes of the law. Would I be able to get a passport with what looked like no father and what was either an assumed identity or some alias used all my life? It wasn't long ago that Pandora had stopped calling Deddy 'Meh-Hamid.' [Proof in my early adolescent eyes that his first born, the eldest, had little respect for him.] Would even she respect his relationship with Momma three years later when his death could cause the house's title to pass out of Mon's hands by reason of this unrecognized common-law marriage in Michigan? What of his other assets . . . the car, his meager savings, any claim he had to his mother's bequeaths? When I looked over all the peril their political, strategic, and spiritual marital choice had set in motion, I was struck at how lasting Mon and Deddy's relationship had been nonetheless. At least for Mon the poverty, the abuse, the subjugation, and the other women were more than enough reason to leave the relationship. Besides, she had a precedent in the Pink Momma's action. No, through the 23 children she raised for him [only they 11 sired together], their love, and a spiritual vision allowed of the 'Commandress of the Faithful' [her namesake], I learned that marriage was a bond beyond the here-and-now. Only death did them part as the saying goes . . . and it had nothing to do with a contract sanctioned by the State. Indeed, their only witness was God. The State didn't allow Deddy to marry more than one wife but it certainly wasn't able to stop him either. Similarly, it didn't legitimize their relationship . . . but nor did it de-legitimize them or prevent the sanctification thereof. Not even the condemnation or conspicuous absence of her own mother convinced Mon to chance her mind about Deddy. No, theirs was a relationship that the Law could merely impact 'ex post facto.' I suppose it may be the same for me. In the great American tradition, 'An unjust law is no law at all and therefore should not be respected.' Gloriously, I would come to see this as one of the many revolutionary examples planted over and over in no less than the 27 children they raised. Coming back to my own potential future relationship, I assume it will be much the same. I will be no respecter of unjust laws. Nor in this case will I pervert that bond by way of State sanction. 'In the Unseen' as Deddy used to say, there was a certain fatalism that 'd also adopted from them, but that too was glorious in the freedom it seemed to afford them and the peace-of-mind it now brings me as I forged ahead, one of the few gay sons they would raise. As it turned out, I got my passport and Pandora never pulled the rug from under Mon when Deddy died . . . perhaps I'll even be allowed to 'marry' one day. I'm not waiting for Mon's help even if one might expect her to understand the legal limbo into which the lack forces a couple. Still, I did learn a lot from the powerful example she provided. And I like to think she'll understand and stand down should the Calvary be called to 'protect' marriage from the likes of me.

Christian Raleigh, NC. My name is Christian. I'm not sure if my story is exciting enough to rank with people all over the country, but I thought I'd give it a shot. I grew up outside of DC in Maryland. Went to college in the mountains of Virginia and got a degree in Health Science. 13 years ago, I moved to North Carolina to go to graduate school for counseling and student development. At that point in my life, I was completely on my own, had a car, a job, and felt like it was either time to come out or end it. I told my friends and some family over time, and overall it was a very positive experience. My parents were very concerned about me being out and gay in North Carolina because it's the South and part of the "Bible Belt." I never had any problems. I don't wear my heart or my sexuality on my sleeve. I believe in working hard, being honest, and treating people with respect. I'd probably be considered a "bear" type. I'm a big music fan and mostly enjoy rock, alternative, metal, and country. I love beer, cars and trucks, and I don't dress well. I don't really care for shopping and I'm not great at decorating. I've been in a few relationships over the years, but haven't found exactly what I'm looking for quite yet. I work as a paramedic and have been involved in EMS for 15 years now, but have only been doing it full-time for 5 years. I'm out at work and I believe that it's important for folks to see that not all gay folks are like the ones that they see on TV and in movies. My co-workers have been very supportive and are quite protective at times. That's about in a nutshell.

Mark Detroit, MI. During my ordination in 1997 my sister Lynne proudly told a story about when I was five years old. I was asked, 201CWhat do you want to be when you grow up Mark201D? I replied without hesitation, 201CA preacher201D! But reconciling my emotional and physical feelings towards men and my calling to be a minister was not always possible. When I came out in 1988 as a gay man then married with two children, I was emphatically told not to return to my Southern Baptist church. There was no place for me there. I finally found a church where they would allow gays to be 2028members, but we could not do anything in the way of pastoral worship participation. Gay congregants couldn't teach, pray or preach; they could just attend, listen, sing and of course contribute to the offering each Sunday. For awhile that token participation seemed enough, but I really sensed inwardly that my calling was still there; alive, vital and insistent that I would, as I had long hoped, preach.20282028In 1989 I discovered the Metropolitan Community Church of Detroit (MCCD) part of a worldwide denomination for LGBT-Q people. I remember driving around the building several times before getting up the courage to enter. As I entered the church that memorable Sunday I heard the choir sing, "Blessed Assurance, Jesus is Mine"! I sat there deeply moved, singing along the words I knew so well by heart. I cried long pent-up tears of joy. I was home.20282028In 1993 I became the Church2019s Interim Pastoral Leader and following my ordination, its Pastor. I have finally reconciled being gay with being a minister. God loves us just as we are, gay or straight. At long last the five year old boy was made whole. Today, as Senior Pastor of MCCD, I feel I'm one of the luckiest people in the world. I have two beautiful grown children, Brian and Amy, who accept me as I am. In fact, on a Sunday not long ago with my son back from four years serving his country in Iraq, both my children attended the service.20282028I am out! I am Proud! My calling is a reality and a blessing to myself, my family, and others.

William West Palm Beach, FL. Let's see ... born in Hartford, CT, raised for the most part down here, north palm beach/juno. Went to University of Florida and came out after college. Did graduate school at Columbia starting in '82. Worked for Robert Stern and a few other architects up there. That's of course the official line. At the same time, I was totally out when I hit New York. I believe I was HIV positive in the first two years, probably from an Argentinean architect. As with allot of people I got depressed over the years from friends and lovers dying. Unfortunately I thought slowly drinking myself to death was a good idea at the time. I didn't seem to have much coping skills except booze. Life became increasingly bizarre, mainly because as my self esteem got lower I had to find men that I thought were lower down the scale than me. Finally moved back to Florida, totally defeated in 1995. Got sober a couple months later. It turned out to be a good move in the end. This place is still very segregated on many levels and if I wasn't going to meetings I probably wouldn't have the large and varied friends that I have today. I oddly enough have more and more different friends than I ever had in New York. I realized quite a while ago that I had stuck myself in that Gay Ghetto that revolves around the village and the bars. So today although I am "out", I assume everyone knows, and I try to fit more into society as a whole rather than be pigeon-holed as I did in New York. This area has its share of gays and lesbians but of course its nothing like Fort Lauderdale where you could go a week without seeing a straight person. Maybe its the age think that has mellowed me also. I wanted to stand out and saw things as so black and white. Now I tend towards greige. Anyway, family wise, they're all here. Mother died of cancer several years ago so it was a blessing to be around for her. Took Dad to the west coast of Ireland where all my ancestors are from. Sister lives with an older man, they've been married 30 years, and he accepted me much more readily than she did (and he's a country boy to boot). Brother is also gay and we get along well. As for living in this area as a gay man, I work in Palm Beach doing huge homes for the wealthy (Park Ave/Hamptons crowd) so you can be as out as much as you care to on the "island". But as I said I'm kind of low key. In West Palm Beach, its kind of a small town still. I have never felt not accepted anywhere I've gone. It probably doesn't hurt that if people have a problem with me it's there problem not mine. I don't modify my behavior to meet other peoples expectations. Its also still a bit southern and some of my (straight) male friends have told me that I was the first gay man they ever met (or so they thought). Always brings a smile to my face.

Stephen Miami, FL. I must have been around 10 or so; had always known I was attracted to men and never felt anything negative about it, other than other boys in my crowd didn't share my feelings...at least outwardly. One day as my Mother and I were doing the dishes after a family lunch, she began to have "the Talk" with me -- Mother, of course, ran our home while Father was sweet, lovely, but weak. At any rate, she did the man/woman thing as she washed and I wiped plates. Then she said that there were women who were attracted to other women and men who were attracted to other men. "They are called 'homosexuals'", she said. And I remember as clearly as this morning gazing out the window into our small back yard, "Well, if there's a name for it, then I can't be the only one." It was that simple, that clear, that undramatic. I came out to my family when I was about 16. They, of course, hauled me off to the psychiatrist. I went in first and had a lovely 15 minute conversation with him about me, my feelings, my fears, my sexuality, etc. Then he asked that I sit in the waiting room while he spoke privately with my parents. I went out; they went in. After about 30 minutes, they came out - he strolling, she storming - and home we went. Silence in the car, so after about 10 minutes I asked what The Good Doctor had said. Pause. "He said that he wanted to see us every week for at least 6 months, but that you didn't have to go back", my Father said. The following day I called the office and asked to speak to the Doctor. He took my call. Asking him what had transpired and telling him that we arrived home and Mother had taken to her bed and not another word had been spoken about it, he said. "Well, Stephen, I told your parents that you were the most well-adjusted teenager and homosexual I've ever me, and that it was they who needed therapy to address and resolve their own conflicts about it." And ever since, wherever, whenever, with whom ever, I've been myself. Solid. Confident. Frightened. Unsure. Definite. Strong. Kind. Lover. crappity smack Buddy. Son. Brother. Friend. Never thinking it was necessary to be 'proud' since I am myself. It is all I've ever known and, with luck, all I will continue to be for a long, long time. There are a million tales, examples, etc., but they all funnel back to the above. Early knowledge, early assurance, early truth, and a lifetime of being honest and true to the only one to whom I can or must: myself. At 55, I feel younger, stronger and more confident -- prouder? -- than ever. Maybe I've managed to find a drop of wisdom somewhere along this road.

Kevin Chicago, IL. This sounds like a great project, that could help make a difference. I have a very interesting life with many twists and turns. I have always joked I have been a trendsetter my entire life. I am in Chicago transplanted from Texas in 95. I was a victim of child molestation, a product of a divorced home and a gunshot victim a s a child. All of this before it played as a regular story as it does on the evening news. I witnessed my fathers cheating my mothers suicide attempts all as a young child. Taken from my bed by my older brother late at night, he hid a machete under the mattress, as my parents fought. Waking in the morning to shattered glass strewn from one end of the house to the other. Seeing my father put my older sister through a wall and at a different time go after her in a rage with a broomstick. I saw him strip my sisters down place them against a wall and beat them with his western belt and buckle till they were bruised. I was molested by my sister and a ranch hand at an Apaloosa stud farm. I have always suspected that my father molested my sister. My one sister died of complications brought on by anorexia. My other sister committed suicide. The one who committed suicide is the one who shot me. It was an accidental on purpose scenario. I came out in my early 20's. I then made a major mistake, for what I thought were the right reasons. I never really dated. I had a very good friend. I had no prospects, she had none. We thought we would take care of each other in our old age. We both knew the situation, she was cool with a platonic relationship. We married. I went back into the closet. I started filling out the divorce papers this week. I am easing myself back out of the closet. I am an Oprah season all on my own. I have managed to hold it together all these years and continuing to work on getting stronger and better. I have decided if I do nothing else, I will try to help others not waste was has been given to them. I want to believe there is someone out there for me. They just can't seem to find me. This is all legit.

Eric Milwaukee, WI. I've been out since I was 15 to my friends... 16 to my family. Parents went from sending me to a priest, to my mom leaving the catholic church because they weren't accepting of gay people. Now she's very involved in PLFAG. I have lived in MKE my whole life. Got my degree in Management Information Systems at 22, was an intern at a company and got promoted to being the manager of my area once I graduated. I work out, go out, bartend on the side, and am a huge baseball fan (season tix). Cool book idea. i dig your shots from your site. makes me miss the old days of me developing b/w film when i thought i was going to go into photography. (was the chief photographer for my hs news paper that took 4th place in the nation).

Richard, Robert & Dale Savannah, GA. I, Richard, am 61, out since 40, formerly married for 24 years and have two wonderful grown children and one grandchild. I have an older partner, Robert, age 72 who was married for 30 years and has 6 grown children and six grandchildren. Robert and I have been together over 13 years and moved to Savannah, GA over 5 years ago from NYC. As a couple and partnership, we have always been open to more than two for a gay family of men and recently Dale has entered our lives and we his. Dale, age 50, was formerly married for 23 years and has two grown children but no grandchildren to date. Dale is my new lover/partner and the three of us are forming a Triad here at our home in Savannah, Georgia.

Randy Reno, NV. I grew up in a very broken family in the Pacific in which I was the middle child of 5 siblings. My parents divorced and so we all had to live with my father. At an early age it was obvious I was a gay child. Now my parents were each of different ethnic mixture as a result of past colonialism and world war ravages. Because of these I was born with a lighter skin color than most of the local kids I grew up with and combined with the fact that they saw me as gay gave me a very trying childhood. I had always had a strong heart and mind ever since I was a child. At an early age I learned to be cunning and resourceful since I was often neglected by my father due to his disapproval of my sexual orientation. After elementary school I moved to live with other relatives so I could finish high school. My life continued to be bombarded with racism and hatred towards me because I was mixed blooded and a gay person. However none of these hurtful treatments ever destroyed my heart and mind. As a matter of fact the more I was mistreated the stronger I grew to love the very vibrant colors and differences of our world. My freshman year in high school was so traumatizing I had to drop out and also the lack of support from my guardians forced me to be homeless for several months. I was forced to do things I would never do in a clear state of mind. However I managed to find some support from distant relatives who took me in and allowed me to continue school. After 9th grade I was taken by another relative to a different island for a promise of a better life. This turned out to be false since I, even though was able to complete 10th grade, was reduced to a servant. After 10th grade I was taken to a different island at the request of my birth mother so I could live with her. My mother turned out to be a hard core catholic so life became even more difficult for me. She despised my lifestyle and kicked me out a couple of times because of it. I'm afraid I am getting too long with my story so I will make it short. I went through so much trauma in life, however I never allowed a single experience destroy my very being. I have learned to love and embrace the differences in every human being no matter what color, race, or sexual orientation the person is. Because of my experience I have learned to be endlessly considerate and respectful to others. I have never used words or treat anyone in the manner that I know they won't like it because I know how it feels to be on the receiving end of it all. My other siblings all seem to have adopted my parent's personalities since they weren't subjected to the same life I had. They have employed racist remarks and attitudes whereas I have never at all. I have learned to love life so much that I started studying Humanism. I have seen some others who had a similiar life as I did and they all collapsed and turned drug addict and so on. For me I told myself I will never fold. I remember when I was 14 sitting outside my guardian's house late at night because they weren't home and didn't get home till around 4 in the morning and I cried because I was so hungry and tired. I remember thinking to myself that I will never ever allow myself to collapse from this. My experience made me a very mature person at an early age. I learned to be cunning and artful in many ways. I learned to love life so much. I am a human being so I do acknowledge that such a traumatizing childhood did leave some scars. However I have learned to counter them and work on healing them. Because of my love for life and its wonders I have made some of the nicest friends in the world. I have established strong trustful relationships with many people. I developed a very strong and determined working attitude. I have seen that I am much better than my siblings in terms of our outlook on life. I am currently in Reno, Nevada in hopes of completing college here. I plan on pursuing a degree in the geopolitical and humanitarian field. My love for the many colors of our world has turned me into a world citizen and so I have this desire to travel around the world and experience it all. When I walk around town or at the mall and I see people of different colors and race each with distinctive cultural differences I cannot help but put on a smile. I look at them and I think that I can literally name hundreds of differences that they have compared to each other, but if I remove all those colors all thats left are human beings, each wanting, needing, desiring, and wishing to be treated with the highest level of respect and consideration humanly possible.

Henry, Scott & Cameron RIP Minneapolis, MN. I have a pretty interesting story. I am 42, and have lived in Minneapolis for 15 years. I grew up all over the world (my father was a US career diplomat), so I was exposed to the full spectrum of humanity from an early age (living in Brazil, I learned what a drag queen was at my first Carnival). I had a clandestine love affair from 5th-10th grade with the son of a 7th Day Adventist Missionary (my family is Jewish!). I came out at 18 (1984), and married a woman in my mid 20's. We had a son, now 13, and divorced when he was about 3. I started dating men again soon after we separated, and have been in a few meaningful relationships over the years. My son has never had any hangups over my sexuality, and he and I are very close. He has been fighting brain cancer for almost two years. I am a cancer survivor myself, which certainly adds a unique level to our bond. We do not know his prognosis, but we have exhausted all conventional means of curing him. We are now looking to eastern medicine (Traditional Chinese and Ayurveda) to help his body cure itself. My husband Scott and I were legally married in St. John, New Brunswick, Canada, where we sailed on Rosie O'Donnell's R Family cruise in July 2008, with the blessing of my (our) son. He even signed the marriage certificate with us, which made it extra special. My mother and cousin were also with us and witnessed the marriage. Same-gender marriages are still not recognized by the State of Minnesota, but we have registered as domestic partners in Minneapolis. We couldn't be more thrilled or proud. We have 2 dogs, a dachshund and a springer/lab mix, who complete our family. I am involved in our community, a member of Quorum (GLBTA Chamber of Commerce), and am the board vp of Outward Spiral Theatre Company, although I pretty much gave up my career to be with Cameron full-time through his journey (though I did kinda start a new one - www.braincandyproject.org). It makes a world of difference to have someone you love close by and caring for you. I believe in your vision to provide strong role models. It's generally an easier world to come out into than it was in 1984 when I came out, but it's those in the places where it's still hard, even dangerous, that your book will serve most profoundly. Cameron passed away about five weeks after this shoot. It was a pleasure to have met and photographed him for this. His legacy will live on. RIP

Michael & Allen Delta Junction, AK. My partner and I have been in Alaska for 10 years. We own an 80 acre ex-dairy farm that we are trying to resurrect. Since May 2006, we've been building a large (some-call-huge) 2 story house right in the middle of it. We're finally getting siding on this month! We've also begun collecting milkcows (2 being milked; 2 heifers born this year). We're also raising hogs and one of our sows had her second litter two weeks ago. The goats kept eating my garden - so I insisted they go away this Spring. The farm looks out on the glorious Alaska Range - which is why I bought it -- as well as the White Mountains and the Granites. Living here brings us closer to our dream of self-sufficiency. I work as an environmental specialist for the Army. I am also Chief of the Delta Junction Rescue Squad - an unpaid volunteer position that takes up many hours. Allen works for the state during the summer as a Park Ranger and is the true farmer between the two of us. We're two Southerners who moved here for my job. We were curious how such a small town would greet us, and discovered that everyone knew pretty much everything before we ever got here. Small towns have no secrets even if you want to keep them, which we did not. There was a week of polite but curious gossip and questions -- and then nothing. Our lives as gay men here have been completely uneventful. In fact, it's more like the movie Big Eden where good-hearted loving people have pushed us to share our lives with them in a way that completely surprised and overwhelmed me. For this reason alone, we are home.

Robert Leonard, ND. I am 44, actually live in Leonard, ND which is a small town about 35 miles out of Fargo, maybe 200 homes. I moved up to ND in Jan of '89 and liked it and have stayed. I lived in Grand Forks until the flood of 97 and then moved to Fargo, and about 4.5 years ago bought the house I live in. I know we need a wider exposure than what most of the media shows of GBT folks. From kids who are out to the folks one might think to the range of Lesbians and Gay Men found here. What Fargo could use are bill boards. But, I am out, have been for a bit. Came out to myself in 1992 or 3, and then to my folks 5 years ago, yea, but I am sure that's not too uncommon a story. I am a 330 pound, long beared bear. Lot's of gray in the beard, and I am out at work and anywhere. I have been letting my beard grow out over the year since my Dad's death so it's bushy, even for me but it's kind of fun to let the wind blow though it. I had a partner for 4 years that recently left and my company even had him covered for insurance. I am not what most folks think of when they think of a gay man. But there are a lot of us, and we are all around.

John Omaha, NE. I live in Omaha NE and am 44 years old. Was married for 11 years. Out now for 4 years and divorced. I have two amazing kids that are the center of my world. I'm a regional sales rep for a Chicago based financed company. Came from a large Catholic family (nine kids) in rural NE. A recovering Catholic ;o) I have one gay brother. I have a huge circle of friends... a nice comfortable home that I made my own after the big D. Since I came out I have been able to help 4 other gay dads in different states go through this process. I have enjoyed sharing my story with them so they can see that others have made it through alive and happy. I have acted as a mentor or sounding board when they have needed it. I feel like I'm "paying it forward". I was blessed to have found a great circle of other gay dads here in Omaha that have helped me through the hard times.

Website: http://scottpasfield.com  
Copyright: © 2011 Scott Pasfield
Tags: art

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