Showing posts with label Indiana. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Indiana. Show all posts

December 28, 2012


Mark, age 7
Crawfordsville, Indiana (1971)

That's me pictured on the left.
Need I say more???

I'm here with my little sister, as we had just returned from a Halloween celebration at the local mall.

And check it out:
I won a transistor radio for "Best Costume!"

Am I convinced this positive reinforcement is responsible for my gayness? Yes! :)

Though it was not my mom's intention at the time, I lovingly refer to this picture as "Lady and The Tramp."

"Born This Way: Real Stories of Growing Up Gay" book
Also check out "My First Gay Crush Blog"

March 23, 2012


Michael, age 3
Connersville, Indiana (1972)

In the 1970's, I would spend quite a bit of time on our covered porch, keeping rhythm with my grandmother in our rocking chairs, and watching the world go by as the sun set.

I wasn't very old, yet I felt right at home being an adult.

I would often tell anyone who asked if I had a girlfriend, that I was a "confirmed bachelor" - even though I didn’t really know what that meant.

It was an adult thing to say and, for some reason, I knew it described me.

One evening, my grandma leaned over and said, "Mickey, I may not be around too much longer, but I want you to know that you are different, you are special. You'll figure it out someday, but don't let anyone ever make you feel bad about yourself. You're loved and always will be."

As I continued to rock, attempting to understand what she meant, I decided that I should just remain quiet and let it sit. I continued to rock, and continued to think about what she meant. I still do.

It wasn't too long as a teen before I knew just how different I really was, and why others might try to make me feel bad about myself. But I like to think that each day, I continue to glean a bit from my grangmother's words.

Today, I still know I am loved and always will be.

Also check out "My First Gay Crush Blog"

March 25, 2011


Aaron, age 8
Berne, Indiana (1982)

I think this picture is funny, because I'm so excited about my pink Easter basket. I think I'm more excited than Denise here, my younger, 6-year old sister.

Growing up in a small town in Indiana, I always knew I was different than other boys. I had a very high voice all through puberty, and I was very androgynous. So it was very hard for people to tell whether I was a boy or a girl.

But that androgyny has paid off now. At 37-years old, people still guess my age as late 20's or early 30's! I love it!

I remember being attracted to boys/men in the 1st grade, having a huge crush on my swimming instructor. All through grade school, I much preferred playing with the girls on the playground, instead of anything involving a ball.

Music and stage quickly became my vice. I was a boy soprano up until 8th grade, then an alto as a freshman. But that also led to many taunts of "f*g" and "sissy."

I remember playing superheroes with my cousins at family outings, and I always laid claim on being "Wonder Woman." I could never figure out why none of them ever argued with me about being her - not even my girl cousins!

But today - I am who I am. I have a wonderful family who accepts me and my partner. While they're fundamental Christians who will never approve of me being gay, they do accept and love me!

My advice to young people, or any people with a fear of coming out is:
Most of the people you're afraid to tell that you're gay - already know. They're just waiting for you to be comfortable enough with yourself to approach them with it.

It's generally not a surprise to anyone. And if they say it is, they're more than likely lying for one reason or another.

With that being said: It's OK to wait until you are comfortable to have a conversation about it. Move at your own pace!

March 14, 2011


Spencer, age 6
Holdrege, NE (1985)

So, I LOVED to play with Barbies and She-Ra, thanks to my little sis! I had two older brothers that didn’t want to have anything to do with me - other than beat me up - so they let me do whatever.

I had inklings about being "different" probably around the age I am in this photo.

But, in small town Nebraska, you just keep your mouth shut.

That said, when I did come out at 21, my family, friends, and colleagues were all very supportive.

In fact, both my parents and brothers didn't believe me, at first about things like that.

This picture helped "refresh" their memories - haha!

And I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE that you have this blog!

Spencer's first, famous-person same sex crush:
Ricky Martin
Estoy enamorado de Ricky
Ricky Martin - One Night Only Barbie Sweet Talking Ken Doll Barbie boy (gay) (The Beauty of Gay Love) Becoming Two-Spirit: Gay Identity and Social Acceptance in Indian Country


Chuck, age 3
Portage, IN (1981)

I always preferred to play with the girls in the neighborhood. And had crushes on the boys in the neighborhood, unbeknownst to them.

When my family had gatherings at major holidays, I always wanted to sit in the kitchen with the women, instead of out in the living room watching football with the guys.

My favorite Care Bear was "Cheer Bear" - the pink one with the rainbow on its belly.

I wanted to be (and was!) Wonder Woman for Halloween one year.

I didn't realize it then, but I think about it all now and can't help but laugh.

I also say to myself:
Anybody who thinks I wasn’t born this way, clearly hasn’t done their homework. ;)

Chuck's first, famous-person same sex crush:
Danny Pintauro (Jonathan on "Who's The Boss")
Even then I had good gaydar!
Who's the Boss? - The Complete First Season Care Bears - Cheer Bear Cub Cuddle Pillow DC Comics Deluxe Wonder Woman Adult Costume, Small Boy Crush

February 27, 2011


Shannon, age 10
Hamilton, Indiana (1983)

Here I am on my first of many motorcycles, in all of my moto glory! I had an older brother I idolized and was raised on a lake, in a neighborhood of boys. Clearly I wanted to be one! I suppose my parents wrote it off as self-preservation at the time, but I knew deep down it was my truth bubbling to the surface.

I played with dolls too, but I was often the "spouse" who kissed my significant other goodbye in the morning, tousled the doll's hair, and whistled as I headed out the door with my proverbial briefcase.

My Mom sent this picture to me about 5 years ago with a note that read:
"I suppose we should have seen it coming..." I called her then and we had a good laugh about what we both overlooked at the time. Being raised in the Midwest in the 80s/90s didn’t allow for much diversity. And being gay wasn't an option.

I love that my parents bought me dolls, motorcycles, and anything else that seemed important to me. Whether they knew it or not, they gave me a safe, loving environment to discover my true self. It took me well into adulthood to figure it all out, but at the end of the day I thanked my parents for their unconditional love.

I came out when I was 30 and one of my friends said it was 'too easy' for me.
I had parents who continued to love me unconditionally, friends who were accepting, and I worked for a gay-friendly company in San Francisco at the time.

In hindsight it may have looked easy, but I went through years of torment;
I never felt like I fit in anywhere. Sure I kissed the little boys on the playground like everyone else, but I was secretly longing for my 2nd grade teacher. She was beautiful, smart, and confident. And all I really wanted was to stay inside during recess and be in her presence.

My path was full of batons, tap shoes, motorcycles, dolls, and Hot Wheels and I wouldn’t trade any of those, because each experience made me who I am today.
Hot Wheels Molded 48 Car Case - Colors and Styles May Vary Bike Lust: Harleys, Women, and American Society Always My Child: A Parent's Guide to Understanding Your Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered or Questioning Son or Daughter Romancing the Margins'?: Lesbian Writing in the 1990s

February 14, 2011


Michael, age 4
Richland, IN (1981)

My mother made those Woody Woodpecker costumes for my brother and me. Halloween was my favorite time of the year, because you could completely pretend to be somebody else for the night. And bring out a different personality, while no one could see who it was. And yes, I'm the one on the right. At times as a teenager, I'd look at a photo like this and be embarrassed by such behavior.

My favorite album as a kid was Donna Summer's "On The Radio" and my favorite sleep attire was my sister's Charlie's Angels t-shirt.

I realized somewhere around the age of 6 that I was gay.

But growing up in a very small farming area of southern Indiana, I didn't know what that meant.

Or, that someone could live a productive, healthy life being openly gay.

My parents made me join the Boy Scouts and serve in the church, but I never felt comfortable or accepted.

I suppressed being gay until I was 21 and an art student in college. I could no longer take locking myself in the bathroom, and crying for hours wishing I could change myself.

My parents didn't believe me at first, and then went through the whole 'what did we do wrong?' phase, and eventually they just didn't discuss it.

Now, as a 34-year old man with a loving partner of 7 years, I look back at a picture like this and laugh about how even at that age, I OWNED IT! My family was surprised, but they have completely accepted my partner. How they never knew is beyond me.

At one time, I thought safety and acceptance came from wearing a mask. I see my coming out as the first time I said 'I love you' to myself. And I can not look back in anger, because conquering the fear of coming out was the greatest challenge I faced.

Life does really get better when you live it with openness and honesty.

Michael's first, famous-person same sex crush:
Robert Reed ("The Brady Bunch")
Jameson Parker & Gerald McRaney ("Simon & Simon")

February 12, 2011


Mike, age 5
Pendleton, Indiana (1977)

Don’t be fooled by the masculine blue pajamas I'm wearing. This photo takes place before I'd started dressing up in my mom's old nightgowns, a wig, and costume jewelry. Me and my little sister (pictured here) would both get diva’d up and prance around the house, lip-synching to Marie Osmond and The Mandrell Sisters. Or pretend we were the oil baroness wives from Dallas.

I liked to play Sue Ellen Ewing, because she was so deliciously mean. And drunk.

"Wishing Luke Skywalker would use the Force on me."
Our neighbor Cindy would come over and the three of us would create elaborate dramas, with each of our characters a beautiful runway model.

I always wanted to play an aging star who was losing her beauty, but determined to do so with grace and attitude.

Even at an early age, I knew that milking a situation for all its turmoil was, in a word, tragifabulous.

And yet, I first knew
I was gay around 5.

I was in love with Mark Hamill and wanted to be Luke Skywalker. But more importantly, I wanted to touch his perfectly tanned chest. The way his desert poncho allowed just the slightest glimpse of his collarbone and pec muscles did something to me that I couldn't explain.

All I knew was that whenever my sister would leave her Princess Leia doll unattended, I'd force Luke and Leia to do some serious heavy petting - even though I didn’t understand it.

Growing up gay in the Midwest in the 70's might not have been ideal, but my family was supportive and allowed me to be me. Their mantras were:
'We’re not everybody else' and 'It doesn’t matter what other people think.'

And what can you say about a mother who sews her son a Wonder Woman costume from scratch, and lets him wear it to his Kindergarten Halloween party?
I would say, that's the definition of love.

Mike's first, famous-person same sex crushes:
Mark Hamill (in "Star Wars") & Donnie Osmond
The Best of Donny and Marie: Volume 1Best of the Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters ShowDallas: The Complete First & Second Seasons