When I was around 4 or 5, I announced to my parents that I wanted to be a ballerina. Not realizing that they would be crushing my dream, they explained that I could only be a "male dancer". That was my first clue that if I wanted to survive, I had to hide my true identity.
My dad would take me to the studio every Saturday morning. Back then, I never understood why he - and not my mom - came with me. I took dance until sometime during my first year of Junior High when the threat of being harassed - and worse - became too real.
Since I was already getting great practice running from dangerous situations, I joined the track team. The hunky 20-something ex-Marine coach (who I had a major crush on) also had something to do with my becoming an athlete.
For years I would feel a bit uncomfortable by this picture. All those negative memories would rush back. The fear of being "outed" because I was taking dance lessons, and my embarrassment that my dad was taking me to class because he felt sorry for me. At least that's what I thought.
I found out only after he died in 2001, that the reason he took me to class was because he loved to dance, and he'd wanted to take dance lessons himself when he was a boy. This still brings tears to my eyes when I think of the missed opportunity to be close to him, at an age when I desperately needed him.
And here's an FIY on my first kiss:
Paul's first, famous-person same sex crushes:
Tony Dow (Wally on "Leave It To Beaver")
Sal Mineo, John Gavin, & Rock Hudson