Downey, California (1970)
This was me at Christmas, the first year I discovered Santa Claus was basically a hoax perpetrated by generations of traditional family propagandists and greedy department stores. You can tell by my expression how excited I was about that inflatable reindeer and pink nightgown...
I wore boys' clothes and shoes, so of course I wanted boys' TOYS! But noooo - Barbie dolls and plush toys were all I got.
But Stephen the neighbor boy had the Hot Wheels® sets, and he often let me play with them.
Stephen also eventually gave me my first kiss, which was quite thrilling. But wait, you say - that means I must be straight!
Well, not purely. See, I hated (and still despise) most things feminine.
I never wanted to get married, have kids, or become domesticated. That all sounded like absolute misery to me. I never wanted to be associated with "the weaker sex" - so I basically consider myself a gay male trapped in a female body.
The message I would impart to LGBTQ youth is that it is vital to live your life being true to yourself first. That is a truth that spans all human conditions.
Be true to who you are and what you desire in life, regardless of who objects to it. It takes a lot of courage to do, but you will develop that strength each time you exercise your right to be yourself.
Staying to true to you is the only way you will find the true joy in life.
"Born This Way: Real Stories of Growing Up Gay" book
Also check out "My First Gay Crush Blog"