January 31, 2011

"Born This Way" Blog - En Español!

Hey everyone,
There is now a great Spanish version of the "Born This Way" blog!
It is called "Gay Se Nace (GSN)" - and it has my full blessing and approval! This is the only Spanish language version that has my approval (so far), so I urge all Spanish readers who want to submit their pictures and stories to contact Octavio, and send them his way - octaviocaraballo@hotmail.com. Or click here.

For Portugese, please check out "BornThisWayBlog-Brazil"


I am very open and interested in seeing "Born This Way" appear in many languages on the internet. All I ask is that direct contact is made with me, and we agree on the terms of how it will all work. But the final decision for any new version in another language is still mine to make.

If you are interested in working together on a version of the "Born This Way" Blog in another language, please click here to email me to discuss the possibilities.

I'm excited to see the "Born This Way" blog message reach many more people!
All my best,
Paul V. (Owner/creator)

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Hola a todos
,
Quiero que todos lo sepan, ahora hay una gran versión en español del
"Born This Way" blog! Se llama "Gay Se Nace (GSN)" - y tiene mi bendición y aprobación plenas! Esta es la única versión española, que cuenta con mi aprobación (hasta ahora), por lo que insto a todos los lectores españoles que quieran presentar sus fotos e historias para apoyar a Octavio, y enviarlos a su manera - octaviocaraballo@hotmail.com. O haga clic aquí.

Para Português, confira
"BornThisWayBlog-Brazil"

Estoy muy abierto e interesado en ver "Born This Way" aparece en varios idiomas en Internet. Lo único que pido es que el contacto directo que se haga conmigo, y estamos de acuerdo en los términos de la forma en que todo saldrá bien. Pero la decisión final para cualquier nueva versión en otro idioma sigue siendo mío que hacer.

Estoy muy emocionado con el mensaje "Born This Way" blog llegar a más gente!
Todo lo mejor de mi,
Pablo V.


Jonathan

Jonathan, age 5
Jackson Heights, NYC (1989)


I don't remember this photo being taken, but I do know it was just before kindergarten. There's a lot of my childhood I don’t remember. Unfortunately, what I do remember is viewed very differently by my birth father, who in the subsequent years would badger me on why I couldn’t defend myself at school.
Or why I had so many girls as friends, my affinity for female pop-stars, or why
I had no interest in sports. The truth is: Homie always knew.

"Step...and repeat."
There's a stigma to being gay and Hispanic. For many of the adults around me, gay men and women play a secondary role to the lives they surround. The flamboyant ones are expected to entertain, susceptible to becoming the butt of the joke. While our humanity is talked about as little as possible.

It's only more recently that young gay Hispanics are able to see transcendent figures who are not only gay, but fulfilled.

I grew up resisting what I thought would be my fate, if I "admitted" to myself what I was. Even though I already was, always had been, and always would be - gay.

I became fully aware of my sexuality at age 13 - when kissing a girl only did it for me when I was thinking about a boy. I came out at age 17 - when I fell in love with my best friend. And I began to accept it at age 21 - when I realized enough was enough.

At 25, I found this photo again, and my first reaction was one of aversion.
I immediately saw a boy that would eventually get picked on, feel like he would never belong, and have to go the extra mile to come to terms with who he was born to be. So I simply put the photo away.

After turning 26, I rummaged for this photo to look at it one more time. Now, I see an incredibly intuitive boy, a boy who loved music videos, Michael Jackson, and penny loafers. A boy blessed with friends who would become family, and support me when coming out. And a resilient little boy who wouldn’t give himself the appropriate credit later on for being a survivor - but eventually would.

I'm realizing that by resisting my "fate" I created an inner turmoil I wish on no one. But, it prompted me to define what being gay was on my own terms, by being myself. Being gay isn’t about fulfilling any preconceived notions or fitting into a mold. It’s about loving yourself with the added bonus of falling in love with the world around you.

Me back then?
Boys behind me staring, with my head tilted, hands on hips, left-foot in front of the right-foot, goofy smile in place - while wearing neon pants.

And me now?
Christ, I can learn a lot from that little boy.

Jonathan's first, famous-person same sex crush:
Ricky Martin
You’re telling me you didn’t see that coming?

Eamonn

Eamonn, age 4
Brighton, Michigan (1991)

It was an epic Christmas morning, and I had just turned 4 a few months prior.
In 1989, the 50th Anniversary Edition "The Wizard of Oz" VHS came out, and I became obsessed with 1) being a friend of Dorothy and 2) actually becoming her.

"Dorothy & Toto with their loyal steeds!"
Still in my yellow dress shirt from a Christmas Eve party at my grandparents, I eagerly transformed myself into a hybrid of Judy Garland and Glinda the Good Witch.

Note the fabulous pink wand. And those ruby slippers stayed on my feet for at least a week!

I honestly recall that I've always had a preference for men. To me, girls always made such fabulous friends, that I couldn't conceive of being with them romantically!



As a little boy, I wanted to be every Disney princess, and had regular breakdowns over Leonardo DiCaprio after seeing "Romeo & Juliet" in 3rd grade. I was about that age when I first learned what "gay" meant.

By age 12, I decided that gay was the way I planned to live the rest of my life - and with someone tall, dark, strong, and handsome! Inspired by a trip to Toronto with my mother - where we unknowingly reserved a room at a bed & breakfast hotel in Gay Village - I came out to her on the train ride home.

Thanks to amazing parenting, I continued to dress flamboyantly, play with Barbies, and hold my torch for actors and boy bands. In a small town known for ousting businesses donning rainbow stickers, I certainly couldn't let my true identity be known. But I never attempted to conceal my personality in public.

Even at my small Catholic school I found warm acceptance and many allies among my loving teachers. Regrets? Not sticking with those ballet lessons long enough to be a mouse in "The Nutcracker"! I lived to wear to those pink tights.

Looking at this picture today gives me nothing but pride. I wish I could I meet this little boy, just so we could sit on the floor with those ponies and Barbies and make some magic again. He was a happy little Prince, full of wonder and love.

And even if things might have been worse, they would soon get much better.
Being who you are is one of the bravest and most rewarding experiences. So start immediately - as you can't imagine how much fun you'll have, until you do.

Eamonn's first, famous-person same sex crushes:
Disney's "Aladdin" & Leonardo DiCaprio

Also check out "My First Gay Crush Blog"
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Aladdin (Disney Special Platinum Edition)2011 Movie Calendars: Leonardo DiCaprio - 12 Months With Stickers On Back - 42x29cmThe Wizard of Oz (50th Anniversary Edition Video And Book)The Nutcracker / Baryshnikov, Kirkland, Charmoli

January 30, 2011

Bailey

Bailey, age 10
Carlsbad, CA (1997)

This photo was shot at a dance recital. I was inspired by Fred Astaire and my grandmother to start dancing. I used to LOVE wearing costumes, putting on makeup, and wearing my grandmother's heels and stockings. It was an innocent moment for me, because I wasn't aware that people were judging me. I just knew what I liked and I was proud to express that.

"One! Singular sensation, every little step you take"
I think I first felt "different" at 6, when I first started dancing. It opened me up to a whole world of expression and gave me the freedom to be myself.

I'd watch old musicals, inspired by the fashion my favorite characters wore, and I'd try to emulate their style.

I loved musicals like Chicago, Barkleys Of Broadway, Gypsy, Singing In The Rain, Fosse, Cabaret, All That Jazz, Anything Goes, Grease (1 and 2), Hairspray, Puttin On The Ritz, & Rocky Horror Picture Show.

One example of very eccentric clothing I'd wear to school was an outfit that was a cross between Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta in Grease:

Red velvet shoes or black leather disco boots, velvet bell-bottoms, tight-fitting white shirt, and black leather jacket.

I'd get teased and made fun of in school and kids never really understood why I dressed that way. It was a moment I realized I would just continue to pour my heart and energy all into my dancing and artwork. That helped me focus on being who I wanted to be.

Later in the early 2K's, I loved music like Spice Girls, Britney Spears, No Doubt, The Cranberries, The Pixies etc. I remember standing in line for the Spice Girls dolls when they came out - I had to have all of them!

Seeing this pic now reminds me of who I am and who I will always be. To this day, I like the color red and I'm completely enthralled with clothing and costumes. I work as a fashion stylist, and my passion and taste for those things has really never changed. It's great to see that I was truly born this way!

My family was always really supportive of me being a dancer. I was raised by my grandparents and my Grandmother was just as enthralled by dancing and the fashion. She'd spend hours at the dance studio watching me dance, and would give up her whole life to see me happy. I owe a lot to her and her support.

I would like to say to the youth to keep on doing what you want to do. Never let anyone suppress your freedom to express who you are. You never know what sort of creative outlet you can explore, unless you're honest with yourself, and who you are as a person.

You can't ever let society tell you what is right and what is wrong - you have to find that out for yourself. There are others out there just like you, so embrace the fact that you are special, and own it. It's not every day a kid like you is born, and soon the world will understand and cherish you. It's not your fault that people don't understand what they soon will learn to love.

Bailey's first, same sex crush:
A boy who lived next door. We'd explore each others bodies, but neither of us knew what being gay meant. But, the connection felt so right and strong.

Johnny

Johnny, age 10
St. Clair Shores, MI (1989)

That's me on the left, as if you had to guess. For sure, my favorite memories from childhood are the times I spent at my Grandma's house. She was the most loving woman. She'd watch her soap operas, read her Star Magazines, play cards with us, and let us run free and be kids. She had the softest flabby skin hanging under her biceps. You know, that amazing chubby grandma skin. So cozy.

"Taken in Grandma's kitchen"
While the other grandkids were in the basement rummaging through our Grandpa's tools and war stuff, I was upstairs drooling over nightgowns and jewelry. The phrase "in the closet" has real meaning to me and my gay discovery. For inside Grandma's closet, hung the threads to my sexuality.

I remember how her clothes smelled, and how the fabrics felt so soft and feminine. Her bras, slips, and perfume were heaven and happiness to me.
The first thing I'd do when dressing up was the old towel-head-wrap trick, as evidenced in the pic. I think I might even be wearing some lipstick and blush.

It'd give me instant long girl hair. It would constantly fall down as I was getting dressed, but I loved the hassle of putting it back up, and throwing it over my shoulders. I'd then pick out a nightgown as a dress, and sometimes belt it, or just let it flow. Then earrings, necklace, rings, and a handbag. And I loved going through her purses and finding candies, coupons, and Bingo blotters.

I'd even rock Grandma's chunky, sensible-heel slippers, so I could manage my way up and down the long hallway - aka my catwalk. There was a huge painting of the Blessed Mary at the end of the hallway. She was so bitchy and holy looking in the painting, so I'd use that as my motivation for my runway walk.

My Grandma was cool as hell. She'd just smile, kiss me on the cheek, and tell me how beautiful I looked, as she continued making me a sandwich: peanut butter, jelly, ham, and Miracle Whip on white bread. MY FAVORITE! She'd cut it in triangles for me. Small bites, like a lady should.

My Grandpa was cool about all this too, but I mostly avoided him while all dragged out in Grandma's pajamas. I LOVED those times I spent playing dress up. It was for sure my first taste of GAY, but definitely NOT my last.

I still love wrapping a towel around my head and pretending I have long hair, and realize the irony that my job in life now as an adult, is to play dress up with pop stars and actresses. Sort of perfect, actually.

I have an amazing family, amazing friends, and coming out was easier then I could have ever imagined. Not one person turned their back on me. Only open arms, and open closets. Ha ha!

And there ain't no shame in the gay game, y'all - we are all human. How boring would life be if we were all the same? So thanks Grandma, for letting me explore my sexuality in your closet. For it was there that I discovered a part of me that I could be proud enough to let the world see.

In your nightgown and heels, of course.

Johnny's first, famous-person same sex crush:
Mark-Paul Gosselaar ("Saved By The Bell")
I'd dream of sleepovers and BJ's under that 80's, pop-art print comforter that graced my twin bed.
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Saved By The Bell Mark-Paul Gosselaar (Zack Morris) Giant 500 Piece Poster Puzzle Peanut Butter and Jelly Coin Purse - Yummy Pockets Johnny Are You Queer?/ Let's Do the Blackout

January 29, 2011

JC

JC, age 5
Manila, Philippines (1986)

"Put a ring on THIS, Beyonce.
This single lady is bringing it!"
Here I am, fierce at 5. It was a big family gathering here in the Philippines. The kids were prodded by the grown ups to perform something, and guess who stepped up?

I always knew I was different from other boys, even at an early age. And this photo definitely proves it.

Looking at it now as a 31 year old, it only reaffirms what I’ve always believed - that my being gay was not a choice.

I didn’t wake up one day and say, 'Hey I think I’m going to be gay starting today.'


Because the truth of the matter is, I was born this way.

So to all the young ones who are still coming to terms with their homosexuality,
I dare say: don’t hate your selves.

There’s nothing wrong with you, my sweet child.

Embrace your truth and celebrate it.
The sooner you do, the sooner you'll enjoy life. And there's so much to enjoy.

JC's first, famous-person same sex crush:
David Mendenhall (actor, "Over The Top")
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Over the Top Poster Movie D (11 x 17 Inches - 28cm x 44cm) Sylvester Stallone Susan Blakely Robert Loggia David Mendenhall Beyoncé: I Am... World Tour [Blu-ray]Philippine Diary: A Gay Guide to the Philippines A Funny Time to Be Gay

Ron

Ron, age 7
Gemert, Holland (1967)

I'm on the right in the pic, and the other boy is Johnny. I remember that we were very good friends, but one of the few things we disagreed on was the fact that Johnny always wanted to be 'the mother' when we "played house" back then.
And here, Johnny's playing with my sister's doll.


You see, I also wanted to play the 'mother' too,  but Johnny was very clear and dominant about it. Well, Johnny is now Joyce  - a transgendered woman.
He had his sex-change over 20 years ago, is now 51, and happy being a woman.

I always knew that I was gay, and I used to stare at the male body for as long as I can remember. I was so fascinated by men back then - and still am - that it was never a shock to me that I'm gay. It shocked some people around me though, but that is their problem.
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TransGeneration Unexpected Mate (Holland Brothers) Gay in Amsterdam Conversation with Calpernia (CWC DVD)

Kelly Jo

Kelly Jo, age 10
Seabrook, TX (1975)


On the day this pic was shot, I didn't tell my Mom it was school-photo day, and I dressed myself! Everything was great until 3 months later, when the large package of photos came in the mail. But it was worth it!!

 I always had a bad reaction with dresses. The thought of being made to get into one gave me the cold sweats.

I'm 45 now, and still don't own one...

When you're young, you're told a lot of things: How to act, what to do, what to believe, how to feel. Then with time you find out what really matters to YOU.

Yes, it was hard growing up gay.
But looking back now, I wouldn't change a thing.

It made me who I am today:
Strong, Creative, Caring.

Kelly Jo's first, famous-person same sex crush:
Pam Dawber (Mindy on "Mork & Mindy")
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1979 Mork & Mindy Robin Williams & Pam Dawber Dynamite Magazine Sissies and Tomboys: Gender Nonconformity and Homosexual Childhood 

Jason

Jason, age 9
Glendale, Arizona (1984)

On the day of this pic, I remember being extremely annoyed that I had left the Michael Jackson button on. My brother found my zeal for pop stars and dancing 'really girly.' He warned me before I left the house not to 'leave that faggy looking button on' for my school photo. 'Like I would forget to take it off!' is probably what I fired back at him. Of course I left it on, and now my childhood love of MJ is forever immortalized in my 4th-grade class photo.

I always felt different as a child, but I didn't have a name for it. Everyone else sure did, though!

Starting in 4th grade, all the kids had many names for my difference: fag, gay, homo, and any other pejorative term they came up with.

It was until I graduated high school that I allowed myself to explore my sexuality for myself, and then eureka! - those kids were correct all along!

Looking back, I wish I'd been more aware of my sexuality sooner, so I could have taken the teasing in stride, or felt I could have fought back.

As it was, I found the teasing and bullying unfair and spent years trying to act more masculine. Naturally, it didn't work and I'm just as much a limp-wristed, fashion-loving homo as ever! See the proof HERE.
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Jason's first, famous-person same sex crush:
Mackenzie Astin (Andy on "The Facts Of Life")
This was my absolute favorite show while growing up.

Jorge

Jorge, age 3
Tamaulipas, México (1985)

Here I am at a small festival where I was selected as the "Little King Of Spring". I remember I was so happy back then, as I got to do some kind of catwalk, and at one point I had to use a tricycle in the shape of a butterfly surrounded by flowers. I had a great time and my mom was so proud.

I knew I was different at the age of 11, because I disliked most of the boys' activities, such as sports or trying to get the attention of girls. That's when I started to paint, became withdrawn into myself, and turned into a lonely boy.

When I came out to my mom she wasn't shocked at all. But, she doesn't understand why, as a gay man, I don't like to 'wear pink or talk in a funny way' as she says some gay men talk.


I was a little offended and I had to explain to her that gays are humans, too.
We are all different. There are still people (at least in Mexico) who think all gays are the same. But if we don't teach them, who will?

Now in my life, I have many new friends, who accept me the way I am.

So to all young gay people out there:
Don't close your heart and always be who you want to be, no matter what!

Jorge's first, famous-person same sex crush:
Ralph Macchio (in "Karate Kid")

Lenny

Lenny, age 10
Chicago, Illinois (1965)

This was shot in our backyard pool on Chicago's South side. My dad was an ex-marine and made me get my hair completely buzzed. I remember feeling inadequate because I was skinny, hairless, and blond. I wanted to be dark and thick - more masculine. My dad must've known I was 'different' because he used to glare at me and bully me all of the time.


All I knew was I wanted to disappear, hide and just 'go away', fearful I'd never develop into a 'man'. This pic makes me a bit sad, because it was the beginning of a long period of self-loathing and shame. But it also makes me proud, because even at 10, I managed to make a little oasis for myself in a horrible spot.

I used to drag our 12-inch black & white TV into the garage late at night and watch dance shows and old movies, fantasizing that I lived alone in my own apt.
I loved watching Shindig, Hullabaloo and anything with Bette Davis.

It was around this time that I caught myself staring at older boy's arms, their eyebrows, and getting excited seeing even a glimpse of leg hair over their socks in Catholic School. I clearly remember doing my best to mask these feelings, paralyzed with fear at the thought of someone finding me out.

Around this time, we had a carpenter (who was a deaf mute) working on our house. I was used to getting the 'suspicious sissy accusatory look' from people, but this guy was different. He was buff and friendly and smiled at me all of the time. He'd work with his shirt off, completely ripped and damp with sweat. I'd offer him lemonade and hand him wood and nails. One time, I came into the kitchen and my mom gave me 'the look', and said, 'Why do you stare at that deaf guy all of the time?' I had been clocked. 

My first memory of gay shame was age 4. While changing into my swim suit at a lake, I walked into the men's changing room and saw rows of naked men for the first time. I ducked into a stall and hid. By age 10, I was fascinated with Anne Francis as TV's Honey West. I tried to get the neighborhood kids to act out the scripts. I remember saying, 'Let's play Honey West. You guys are the spies in the scene, and you tie Honey to a tree. Here's the rope. And I'm Honey.'

Well, they tied me to a tree - then got confused, bored and left. As I was tied up,
I was trying to be like Honey, wiggling and resisting from the restraining rope, and imagined I had huge tits. In the middle of all this writhing, I looked up and saw my mom and my sister watching all of this unfold from our living-room window - with complete looks of revulsion and disgust.

As for my first crushes: James MacArthur, shirtless in Swiss Family Robinson.
I wanted to be trapped on that island with him. Then I saw Rod Taylor in The Time Machine, and I was thunderstruck. But I was confused at the same time, as I was not comfortable watching Paul Lynde or Charles Nelson-Reilly. All of my fantasies involved older, alpha males taking me away.

To young gay kids now? You are ALRIGHT! It's NOT YOU that is wrong or screwed up. Live and enjoy your life, and never think that you have to alter yourself. You are great just the way you are.

Lenny's first, famous-person same sex crush:
James MacArthur (in "Swiss Family Robinson")
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