The Gay Men Project is an online attempt by photographer Kevin Truong to capture self-identified gay men in their environment to give viewers a sense of who they are and the life they lead. Subtle and unshowy, the photographs provide glimpses into gay men’s ordinary and extraordinary lives. Often, the portraits are accompanied by the subject’s personal story, which are just as interesting as the photographs. Truong has photographed over two hundred men in four countries thus far, with plans for many more.
While initially the Gay Men Project began as a venue for his own photography, the series has since expanded and Truong is actively seeking photo contributions from anyone interested in being a part of the project, as well as participants for the photographs he himself shoots. Truong recently shared with me his inspiration and goals for the Gay Men Project, and his reasons for expanding the project to include contributions from others.
Kergan Edwards-Stout: Kevin, I’m so glad we’re able to talk further about your Gay Men Project. A friend shared it with me, and I was really taken with both the photography and the stories. I was also impressed with your goal of capturing the gay community in these slice-of-life moments.
Kevin Truong: Thank you!
Edwards-Stout: Tell me a bit about yourself and how you came to be a photographer.
Truong: My mom is a Vietnamese immigrant and I was born in born in a refugee camp in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Later, we moved to Oregon, where I grew up. I got my first degree in Economics and worked for nonprofits for a few years, which culminated with me going into the Peace Corps when I was twenty-six. That experience led to my becoming interested in photography and coincided with my coming out.
Edwards-Stout: How so?
Truong: Through the Peace Corps, I was placed in Belize, a country where it is illegal to be gay. When I found that out, I immediately contacted the Peace Corps to ask what I should do. The Peace Corps is the holy grail of nonprofits, and they encouraged me to go ahead and go. I hoped that they would be right and that it would be manageable, but as I had just come out as gay to my mom, going back into a situation where I was told to be “discrete” was easier said than done. (more…)