Here, I just turned 9 and our Cub Scout den is putting on a pageant for the Catholics, at the local Knights Of Columbus hall. I liked Cub Scouts a lot, and loved earning merit badges - especially the ones involving cooking or writing.
I particularly liked dressing up in the uniform; twisting my kerchief just so, positioning the blue and gold metal neckerchief slide, and fastening the clasp on my shiny brass belt buckle.
But I liked tonight’s dress-up attire even better. I got to play a knight in the pageant, and Mom and I designed an elaborate costume that is sure to be a hit with the audience.
And Voila! - I'm now the gayest knight Columbus never had. Neither of us thought this at the time, of course. That awareness would come later.
After the photo shoot, Mom called Dad in to show off our handiwork.
He wasn't pleased to see his son in tights, glowing orange or otherwise.
I flash to another night, two years earlier. Mom helped me dress as a Barbie doll for Halloween. I've never forgotten the look on my father's face when he saw me. He pulled Mom into their bedroom, but I heard every word of their fight.
That was the night I understood I'd never be the son he imagined I would be.
Dad refused to let me leave the house until I had changed into 'the kind of costume boys should wear.' I could see that Mom had been crying, which made me start to cry. She calmed me with her soft voice, telling me she had a better idea anyway. And in no time she transformed me from Barbie into Casper the Friendly Ghost.
But on this night, I hope my father sees past the tights, to acknowledge this costume in service of something masculine: the brave warrior armed for battle.
I'm age 50 now, with 30 of those years spent with the man I love. I no longer cover my face in service of masculinity. Rather, masculinity serves me. My father remains mired in 1960, still worshiping some ghost of a son that will never materialize, and unaware of the one who survived.
But I have only gratitude:
After all, he made it possible for me to be born this way.
He was singing "I Think I Love You" directly to me. Check out the lyrics - reminiscent of 70's-era same-sex love.
Click here - "Born This Way: Real Stories of Growing Up Gay" book
Click here - "My First Gay Crush Blog"