USA

Goodbye, America

May 22, 2015

Well I was expecting a welcoming response but I wasn’t expecting THAT big of a response! Wow – Watching people’s support and feedback roll in has been one of the best feelings in the world. With every like and every comment that weight was slowly lifted off my back. Thanks for everyone who reached out, no words can articulate this feeling – it means a lot – it truly does.

Some of you have messaged me organizations and websites who may be interested in publishing what I wrote in an effort to can get the message to more people in that same boat. I recently read that amount of suicide is double amongst LGBT teenagers opposed to heterosexual teens. Double. Let’s help create an environment where our children’s generation can more easily be themselves without hesitation. If anyone has anymore suggestions on organizations, feel free to send me a message.

This trip to America has been a whirlwind of emotions. I have never felt as alive as I have these past 9 weeks. I felt extreme emotions in everything.. Happy, Sad, Energetic, Tired, Heartache, Love, Extroverted, Introverted, Sober.. and of course, Wasted. I think I got each one to its full capacity. Talking about l-i-v-i-n. It may have not been an easy trip but it’s done and was well worth it.

Now, it’s time to leave this land I call home. No more cheap booze, greasy food and sitting in traffic. Onwards to the next adventure except this time I walk a little bit taller and a lotta bit lighter.

I love you all – Be kind to one another. 🙂

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The Best Day of My Life

May 20, 2015

This post is 29 years in the making.. Two years ago, I set off on an introspective journey to Asia and Australia. When I left I had no clue what was in store. When you travel you learn a lot about yourself.. You grow as an individual in areas you didn’t know existed or face things which have been repressed for years. So I stand here now to let everyone else I haven’t gotten a chance to speak to know that I am in fact a proud gay man. There you have it! See, now that wasn’t too hard. You see, I was repressing myself for many unnecessary reasons. Growing up in Texas of all places in an extremely Catholic environment, I was plagued with ideas that being gay was a “sin” and not allowed. I even remember one point in my teenage life staring through bloodshot eyes in the mirror and whispering the phrase, “I would rather be dead than gay.” Wow – what a long way I have came since those dark days! You see, I’ve known I was gay for as long as I can remember. It’s not something I chose and definitely not something I can change. Even if I could, it’s nothing I would ever even want to change. It’s part of who I am and I love that part of myself now.

My time in Asia was working up the courage to tell a select few that I was a gay man and expressed to them my hesitation back at home. Everyone I spoke to reaffirmed me that I was a great guy and that there was nothing to be ashamed of. They reaffirmed that the people who truly love you will be there for you no matter what. In Asia, it became extremely real of the road ahead of me. When my money was up, I was not ready to come home yet, I still had to finish this journey I had began. Therefore, I went to Australia. Leaving Asia en route to Australia, I promised myself that when I arrived, no more lies. When I got to Australia I would be out in the open for the first time ever. In Perth I dated Leonardo from Brazil. For the first time, I had a boyfriend out in the open. It was so nice to have your friends ask you about the person you care about. It was a sense of freedom I didn’t allow myself to have yet. It was so nice to not have to lie and hide the person I was seeing. I finally experienced how life could and should be. There was no way I was going back. Then in Melbourne, at the very end of my trip, I fell in love for my first time in my life. Wow – what an amazing feeling love is. It really encompasses you. Love is powerful, isn’t it? Before you know it, your entire world has changed for the better because this person is part of your life. All you want is for them to be happy. It was one of the most incredible experiences and the guy, Michael Bowman, filled a void I didn’t know I had at the time. He was that extra boost of confidence I needed right before I flew home to the States to finally face everyone. Leaving that relationship to come home was extremely difficult but I will always appreciate the critical role he played in my life.

Now I went back and forth on whether or not to make this post. I wanted to speak to everyone face to face; to look them in the eye and tell them myself. So that’s what I have been doing. Speaking face to face with everyone as I traveled around the States these past 8 weeks. My friend and I jokingly called it “Justin’s Coming Out Tour 2015!” I have already spoke to 100+ of you, mostly on a one on one basis about this exciting part of my life. Now that it is time to leave, I need to get it out to everyone else I haven’t gotten a chance to speak with face to face. I sincerely apologize to any of my friends hearing this for the first time on here. I tried my best to speak to all of you in person but time has ran out.

The most asked question was, “Why did I wait so long?” Well that’s an extremely complex question but to answer it simply I can say this. You have to come out to yourself first and gain a sense of confidence and self-love. I did not have this two years ago. I can happily say this last trip has helped me gain self-love and respect in a way I hadn’t achieved prior to my departure. I’m gay. I’m proud of it. It isn’t going anywhere, so now I embrace it.

But overall, there is one main reason for this extremely personal post. When this reason crossed my mind I realized that I had to share my story. I want to be an example for someone else who is reading this who is exactly where I was just a couple years ago. If you are reading this and your stomach is in knots because you know what you have to do. This one is for you. I have a handful of friends who are still on the process leading up to coming out and I guarantee there are plenty more. I hope to be that extra push of confidence to someone to make that final step to come out and fully live their life. We have one life. ONE. That’s it. One. Let yourself love. Let yourself live. Follow your heart. You don’t want to be that 40, 50, 60 year old still in the closet who has denied themselves their entire life of love and companionship. I know it may seem impossible to even fathom coming out, but I promise, I was right there where you are not too long ago and believe me, its possible. Not only is it possible, it is the most liberating feeling in the world. You finally get to start living and the most beautiful part is this everyone will accept you for who you are. Your relationships will become even stronger. Imagine that. And yes, there may be that one family member or “friend” who doesn’t accept you and shoves their dated biblical “values” down your throat.. and yes that day will hurt and yes that day will suck but at least you’re living a life of integrity and truth. For every person you loose, there will be tenfold waiting there to backfill their space, all who accept you for exactly who you are. And I promise you this again, you won’t “loose” too many, if any. The beauty of coming out is that once you tell someone, it’s no longer your problem. You’ve been carrying this weight for so long that the instant you say those words, the weight is lifted off your shoulder and now placed onto theirs. So if you are sitting there and these words are piercing your heart, I promise, you can do this. Shoot me a message and I’ll be there with you each step of the way in 100% discretion. If I can help just one person through this liberating process, then my story should not have gone untold. If my exposure to someone homophobic may make it easier for his or her loved one to come out down the road, then once again, my story should not have gone untold. I want to help further humanize homosexuality in society. We’re not going anywhere. We are out in the open more than ever and we are sick of hiding. You can’t control love. You don’t choose love. And in the end, love always wins. I tell you this, 98% of everyone I spoke to accepted me for exactly who I am. Friendships were strengthened and celebration was had; the response has been with open arms. It’s pretty awesome. Thanks for everyone’s support through this entire journey. Most importantly, thank you to everyone I met these past two years abroad. There were so many of you who I reached out to about this. Whenever I felt a moment of weakness thinking I couldn’t face everyone back at home, you all had your own way of getting me back on track and believing that everything would work out. And you know what? You were right, it all worked out just fine. You all gave me the confidence I needed to do this. I owe you all my life. Thank You. It has been such a huge weight off my back. You see, most people when I left for Asia and Australia for 22 months said that I was a “brave.” I always appreciated that compliment but in my humble honesty didn’t know exactly what they meant. Instead, I think right now, having come home and faced my family, friends and now the world is the bravest thing I have ever done. I am officially completing what I came here to do. For right this second, this journey is over. I can finally close this book. Today I can fully live, I have unlocked the chains, the door is wide open, I have now set myself free.

Be Kind To One Another – We Are All On Our Different Paths To Conquering Our Own Personal Battles.

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Tracking my Travels

May 19, 2015

PHILIPPIES:
Manila > Puerto Princessa > El Nido > Puerto Princesa > Boracay > Cebu City

VIETNAM:
Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) > Mui Ne > Da Lat > Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

SINGAPORE:
Singapore

VIETNAM:
Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) > Mui Ne > Nha Trang > Hoi An > Hue > Cave National Park > Hanoi > Ha Long Bay > Hanoi > Sapa > Hanoi

THAILAND:
Bangkok > Koh Chang > Bangkok > Sukhothai > Chiang Mai > Pai > Chang Rai

LAOS:
Luang Prabang > Vang Vieng > Vientiene > Don Det (4,000 Islands)

CAMBODIA:
Siem Reap > Battambang > Sihonoukville > Koh Rong > Phenom Phen

INDONESIA:
Jakarta > Yogyakarta > Malang > Mount Bromo > Ubud, Bali > Kuta, Bali > Gili T

MALAYSIA:
Kuala Lupur > Panang

THAILAND:
Koh Kradan > Koh Ngai > Koh Phi Phi > Toni Beach, Krabi > Koh Yao Noi > Phuket > Koh Phangan > Koh Tao > Bangkok

BURMA (Myanmar):
Yangon > Mandalay > Hsipaw > Htan San Village > Hsipaw > Inle Lake > Bagan > Yangon

MALAYSIA:
Kuala Lumpur

SRI LANKA:
Colombo > Kandy > Sigiriya > Polonnaruwa > Anuradhapura > Galle > Hikkaduwa > Kandy > Colombo

MALAYSIA:
Kuala Lumpur

Western Australia, AUSTRALIA:
Perth > Margaret River > Pemberton > Albany > Fremantle > Perth > Pinnacles National Park > Geraldton > Kalbarri National Park > Monkey Mia > Canarvan > Exmouth & Cape Range National Park > Coral Bay > Exmouth > Karijini National Park > Pord Hedland > Broome > The Kimberly

Northern Territory, AUSTRALIA:
The Kimberly > Litchfield National Park > Darwin

Queensland, AUSTRALIA:
Cairns > Port Douglas > Daintree National Park& Cape Tribulation > Cairns > Great Barrier Reef > Cairns > Crocodile Station Cattle Farm > Cairns > Whitsunday Islands > Airlie Beach > Agnes Water > Town of 1770 > Bundaberg > Mon Reps > Rainbow Beach > Fraser Island > Australian Zoo > Noosa > Brisbane > Gold Coast

New South Wales, AUSTRALIA:
Byron Bay > Nimbin > Nightcap National Park > Byron Bay > Sydney

Victoria, AUSTRALIA:
Melbourne > Bendigo > Melbourne

—Flew Back to the States—

Going through all of those photos was intense. So much happened in each city yet alone country. I am so grateful to have been given this opportunity. Gratitude is definitely the first word that comes to mind. ‪#‎Thankful‬.

Now, let’s see what New Zealand has in store. 👍💥

Oh, and where did I meet you amongst the list?

Organized My Photos!

May 19, 2015

I finally organized all my photos from the trip and it comes out to this:

28,249 photos and videos
164 GB (most .JPEG, not .RAW.. I know..)

It was a nuts going through all of the places again and seeing familiar places and faces. Certain photos would trigger random memories. It was cool. I also was able to organize a list of where I went in what order. It was difficult to wrap my head around it bc it was so lengthy. It seems exhausting but whenever I got tired I would just rest for a bit in one place until I was refreshed. Sometimes that meant one week and others it meant 3 months. In the end, it worked out just like it was supposed to!

Flight Booked to New Zealand!

May 16, 2015

Flight Booked to New Zealand… and I leave next Thursday! OK – I have a ton of mixed emotions right at the moment. I’m not ready to leave the States.. I really am not. However, I have an interview for THE job I had my eye on and strived for so I have to take this opportunity.. It’s time for me to leave. Since being back, I forgot how much I loved America. These past ~8 weeks around all of my loved ones has made me appreciate the place I call home. This trip home has been full throttle. Two weeks in Dallas, three in Colorado, one in Oregon, one in Austin.. now my final one and a half weeks in Dallas. The excitement and love felt from everyone in each place was such a nice feeling. I really can’t explain it – it was overwhelming to see how many people care about you. It’s a humbling experience. I’m glad you guys missed me as much as I missed you haha =] jokes. But now – it’s time to go ya’ll!! …and I am not going to lie.. I’m really nervous. It’s a good nervous though. I have no idea whats going to happen.. so my plan is to rebuilt a friend base around some positive people and then just sit back and enjoy the ride. Asia and Australia surely didn’t disappoint so I am just going to have to go blindly in good faith and trust that whatever awaits for me in New Zealand will continue to influence and shape the man who I am ultimately to become.

I’m gonna miss you all.

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