Reese, age 5
Bellingham, WA (1991)
I knew I was gay when I was 5-years old. I remember having a crush on a fellow 5-year old classmate named Dustin, and I remember how hard I cried when he moved away just before 1st grade started.
I was only able to rebound, because of my (secret) crush on Speed Racer, as well as my obsession with the fierce yellow jumpsuit worn by Ms. April O'Neil from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, perhaps my first gay icon.
I also remember my love of the "hand on the hip" pose, as is evident in the pic. If anything, looking back on photos of me like this makes me remember how un-self-conscious I was when so young.
Once I hit 5th grade, things changed. That's when the bullying started, the name-calling, the getting my ass kicked after school, etc. etc. etc. All those things that so many of us have to deal with.
Things got easier in my later high school years, but once graduation hit, I packed up and got the hell out of my small town. I moved to nearby Seattle, where I still reside.
My parents were always supportive of me, but there's one memory in particular that sticks out to me, as the first moment that my mother truly offered her love and support to me, without being too mushy.
Mom and I used to sit on the couch, eat popcorn and Doritos, and watch "Melrose Place" together when I was about 7-years old. There was a gay character on the show, a doctor portrayed by Doug Savant. In one episode, he kisses another man, or it's implied that they've had sex or something.
I remember when the episode ended and the credits were rolling, my mom turned to me and said: 'Reese, that character is gay. And that's okay.'
For anyone who feels like an outsider now:
Don't let the bullies win, always be yourself, and don't hesitate in contacting a GLBT group or Gay/Straight Alliance for support.
Someone is always out there to help you.