I don't remember when this picture was taken, but I know the expression.
It's one worn by all of the women in my mother's family whenever one has her picture taken. It also shows hints of the diva lurking underneath, waiting to burst forth in the years to come.
I was born and raised in the same town, but spent many holidays at my grandparents' in Connecticut.
I remember being told at 8 that I couldn't wear my grandmother's sundresses anymore, because they weren't for boys.
I loved them because they always twirled JUST RIGHT when I spun around in circles.
On the other hand, my mother let me have Barbies when I was 10.
I think my mom knew before my father did, but neither was surprised when I came out to them at 20 and 21, respectively.
Compared to many other people here, I had it easy on the gay front. No one bothered me about it in school. While most of the taunting came about my weight, my friends and family have all been very accepting of my coming out process. I was also extremely luck to have an openly gay teacher in high school who helped guide me.
I will always be grateful that my mother and grandmother especially, taught me to never judge someone based on outward appearance or first impressions.
It is a lesson I took to heart.
The most important lesson my youth and coming out has taught me is that, yes, being gay is an important part of my life. But it does NOT define me. I am so much more than gay, and anyone who can't see past that one aspect of me isn't worth my time.
Stay strong, as there are people everywhere who love you and are there for you. And even if you feel alone, you are not.
Michael's first, famous-person same sex crush:
Harrison Ford ("Raiders Of The Lost Ark")