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.