April 20, 2017


Karli, age 4
Courtice, Ontario, Canada (2001)

Growing up, I was always a tomboy of sorts. I preferred to play with boys as a kid, I always wanted the "boy toy" from McDonalds, and I always preferred movies where the lead female was the hero rather than being a helpless princess.

You can even see the difference in these pictures: the extremely fake smile that I had while dressed as a princess, compared to the one I was dressed as a cowgirl, taken either moments before or after.

In Canada, our junior kindergarten school pictures were done in costume to be "fun" for young kids. I remember that day very specifically, because I wanted to dress as the knight, having picked that from the table of costumes.

But I was told I wasn't allowed to because it was one of the "boy costumes," and they made me wear the princess one. I was much happier with the cowgirl outfit, especially since "Toy Story 2" was one of my favorite movies.

This was probably the first time I felt that society was telling me I couldn't be who I wanted to be.

Thankfully, my parents didn't care how I dressed or what toys I wanted to play with when I was younger, proven to me more when I was 5 and I dressed as Spider-Man for Halloween.

Luckily, my generation is growing up in a time where gender non-conformity is not that big a deal. When I eventually came out, my parents weren't too shocked and they accepted me wholeheartedly.

I always find it funny to look back at these two pictures because it's very obvious which costume I was more comfortable in.

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March 24, 2017


John, age 7
Pierre Part, Louisiana (1996)

I grew up in a small bayou town.
My mom was a single mother who loved dressing up and going out.

I almost always copied her style in the male form and I loved having grown up with confidence taught.

But that didn't last long.

In the world, and even inside our own gay community, people are picked apart.

And now I find myself grasping to find some self-confidence.

I think the most important message I want to send out is to always keep that confidence.

And I don't mean fake confidence.

Someone will love every part of you, so what I'm trying to say is:

Own all that you are!

I hate the whole masculine/feminine label, because I am personally the "/" symbol in that equation.

Remember that no matter who you are, you are a snowflake and you are unique and deserve to be a part of this world. You deserve to breathe and conquer!

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February 15, 2017


Nathan, age 12
Springfield, Missouri (1994)

I remember when I was younger being bullied and teased. I felt differently than other boys at around the age of 6 or so. And I started to get bullied when I was finishing up my elementary years in the 5th grade.

I came out to a group of my closest friends at age 9.

And during middle school, I would get pushed into lockers and walls.

I did not always have a support system. But when I finally formed one with my friends and teachers, I was much happier and I saw less harassment and bullying.

My advice to all the young and new generation of LGBT youth is:
Keep your head up. Other people have the same, if not worse, things going on.

What makes me most proud now is being openly gay and being accepted by my neighbors and friends.

Today, I'm still am single at the age of 23.
But for now, I will concentrate on work and furthering my education.

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January 09, 2017


Peter, age 9
Hungary (1999)  

I grew up in a small Hungarian village, and I never encountered the subject of being gay until I started to read books and watch movies on my own. So even then, my first LGBT discoveries were in the fictional world.

I was a weak and sensitive kid. But I always had some good friends, who were mainly girls.

At age 6, I wanted to start ballet classes. But my father wouldn't allow that, so I learned karate instead. And surprisingly, I was quite good at it.

Until age 11, everything seemed normal, even neutral. Then puberty hit, and things changed with my crush on Liam Aiken from the movie "Stepmom."

We had no internet back then, so I literally started to search for other movies he was in, and I watched everything I found. However, it never occurred to me that I might be gay.

At the time, I figured I just wanted to look like him, because he was so gorgeous!

Later on, I tried to have girlfriends, but when I closed my eyes, I always imagined I was with boys. Even then I didn't suspect anything. I thought it was just part of developing my identity. At age 17, I started to date a female classmate, and we were together for four years.

Later on while attending college, I started to consider the option of dating boys.

I didn't get religious education, and my parents were less conservative than the rest of our village. And yet, my family always asked me if I already had a girlfriend or not. It took them an unnecessarily long time to discover my truth.

I came out slowly, but every single person was incredibly supportive.
And many of them said, "Finally!"

Today, I live a happy life with my fiancé now, and I don't regret the long time it took to get here. Things take time, as a friend of mine keeps saying.

My word of advice to gay kids today is: Don't be scared.

I think most people don't know much about this subject, as it's just not the part of their life. And when they find out that LGBT people live the same way, wash the dishes the same way, drive a car the same way, do everything the same way - they soon realize the only thing we do differently is a private matter.

Click here - "Born This Way: Real Stories of Growing Up Gay" book
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January 05, 2017


Lenny, age 3
Bellevue, Idaho (1947)

I was known as Little Lenny, the "City Boy" with wild west affiliations combined with an English bloodline. My great grandparents were pioneers to the West and were among the earliest ranchers and silver-mining adventurers in Southern Idaho. I have a little Native American blood, too.

I always felt different deep down. You know what I mean? As a young child I slept outside in the summertime and stared up at the stars, pondering: 

Where does life end? 
How far is infinity? 

Nobody knows everything, but I knew being different was unanswerable even then. I had no choice but to go along with life and take a ride.

From my earliest memories I knew I was not like everyone else. But I didn't know what "gay" actually was back then. 

People mostly liked me, but I do have an older sister who sent me to the emergency room after various baby-sitting "accident" occasions. Truthfully, I would call those homicidal inclinations. 

I still have scars, and I call her "the assassin" to this day. She pretends she doesn't remember any of this because I was an "adorable" child. Yeah, right.

I know that life can be a double challenge for LGBTI people of all nationalities and races. I come from hearty English-American stock and we keep on moving no matter what troubles we encounter. It's the American Way!

I also know that we are everyone's child, sister, brother, co-worker and best friend. Gay people are a part of life and we share our lives with everyone. 

Nothing can change that fact!

I am now 72 years old and an active artist, and I live at the foot of an active volcano in Central America. I have always loved my life, and I still love my life.

And I still stare up at the stars in the heavens and feel inspired by life around me. The life I have been given is the one I deeply enjoy and am grateful to always have had. So for all the young gay kids reading this now, I will tell you: 

IT GETS BETTER! It honestly does.

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December 07, 2016


Terry, age 7
Mt. Sterling, Ohio (1968)

My mom was a big supporter of Santa Claus. Actually, it wasn’t until the first Christmas after she got married (at age 17, and Santa didn’t come) that she learned the truth. But despite that knowledge and a short, rocky marriage, she instilled in my brother and I the confidence that we could ask Santa for whatever we really, truly wanted. If Santa could afford it, that’s what he’d bring.

I think my older brother was on to mom and started working the system.
But I believed in the man who didn’t judge me wholeheartedly.

All our Christmas photos show the clear difference between my brother and I: He’d get a rifle, and I’d get a pogo stick with pink tassels on the handle bars.
Santa kept me stocked with dolls and even a patent leather purse once.

Here’s a photo of the year I scored both a dollhouse and an E-Z Bake Oven. Santa (and his helper) never disappointed, except that my mom didn’t have a lot of time to pull off all this magic.

So we were raised with the slogan, “Santa doesn’t wrap.”

Thus, anything from the North Pole was laid out under the tree in it’s original box. But it was fine. My brother and I had no trouble figuring out which present belonged to who.

And although I was teased and tormented throughout my school years for being a sissy, I always knew Santa was my safe haven.

 I just didn’t know to thank my mom for that until much later in life.

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October 31, 2016


Norn, age 6
St. Petersburg, Florida (1975)

It was October 1975, and my my mom dressed my little sister and I up as "hookers" for Halloween. "Hookers" was a sure laugh-riot for any occasion,
but I wonder now what we thought "hookers" were?

I remember mom instructed us to "Swing your purse a lot!"

My mom also used to dress me up as Shirley Temple, Tina Turner, Cher, or Gilda Radner and have me perform for her friends during their cocktail hour. Wigs, dresses, heels, etc. They would HOWL with laughter as I camped it up, and I LOVED getting laughs!

But as I got older, and dressed in drag by my own choice, my mom grew more alarmed. Suddenly this thing that I was rewarded for, the thing that got me attention, I was now being punished for.

I'll just turned 47, and that betrayal still feels raw... Though I hadn't even thought of that until I found this photo.

But today, I still wear whatever I want and I still love to get laughs!
And my art and illustrations feature and salute many of the ladies I love.

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October 24, 2016


Jeff, age 7
Chestertown, Maryland (1970)

I grew up in a small college town surrounded by corn fields and dairy farms. 
If you threw Colonial Williamsburg, Mayberry RFD, Norman Rockwell and "Deliverance" into a blender, you'd end up with Kent County, Maryland. Every year there was a Halloween Parade and most of the kids from town would dress up in their in costumes and follow behind the high school marching band. 

I really don't remember wearing this uniform (but I did like playing with GI Joe dolls and my friend Gretchen's Barbies too), so maybe my parents were probably trying to butch me up a bit? But as you can see, my queerness overwhelmed the intended machismo of the uniform. Nowadays I have a bit of a uniform fetish, so maybe this is where it all began?!

My home town, though quaint as hell, was sometimes a scary place for a young gay boy to grow up. Most of the kids in school were nice to me, but a handful of jocks made my life miserable from Jr. High all the way through High School. 

I can remember being call homo, queer and fag and being puzzled why they were calling me these names. When I was 11, we were square dancing in gym class and one of the jocks told me that I was dancing like a fag. I was upset that, once again, I was being called a fag. And so I asked myself, 'What is a fag?'  

The gay rights movement was all over the TV news at the time and I remember seeing a shot of two men kissing in the streets. As I was doing a dosy doe to some corny country song, the image of two men kissing was making me very excited. That's the exact moment that I realized that I was gay!

It would take another 8 years before I would finally comes to terms with my sexuality, but it was at 11 that it became pretty clear to me why I had crushes on some of the guys at school.

Once I was safely cloistered away in Art School in Baltimore, it was much easier for me to meet guys and figure out just who I was. Living in major cities like New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles gave me the freedom to live an openly gay life, decades before we became a part of mainstream culture. 

As the years past, I became interested in gay history and learning about what it was like for earlier generations of gays and lesbians. In the 1980's, while shopping at antique shows and flea markets, I began collecting vintage photos of men hugging or holding hands. This ultimately inspired me to create my website Homo History, which re-appropriates vintage found photos of same sex couples, who may or may not have actually been lovers. 

What started first as a hobby and a personal collection ended up becoming a popular gay history website with over 3 million page views! To this day, I continue to add to my personal collection of vintage photos.

And I'm very happy to be able to share this vintage photo of the little gay boy that I once was.

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October 12, 2016


Tori, age 4
Columbus, Georgia (2002)

All I know is I didn't want to dance with that boy. I pouted the entire time, because no one would let me dance with my best friend Sydney. 14 years later, and I would still rather dance with a pretty girl. Gay as hell now, gay as hell then.

But, growing up I wasn't always so happy to accept that. I struggled with internalized hatred and disgust for a long time. And when I finally had found the self acceptance and love to come out to my family and my friends, they said:
"Why didn't you tell us sooner? Why did you lie to us?"

And, yes, I have extremely accepting and loving people in my life, and they deserved to know. But I was frustrated that no one could understand that I was not afraid of them, but of myself - and of all the people out there who do not share their open minds. 

And above all, my coming out was not about them.
It was not something they had the right to feel angry with me for.

I think it is hard for family members to grasp what it is like to grow up knowing you are different in a way that many do not accept. And not in a "I like weird clothes or weird music and they make fun of me" kinda way, but in a "I love who I love and some people would kill me for that" kinda way. And they'll try, but they may never understand what it is that drives so many of us to hide who we are, and even pretend to be who we are not. 

That doesn't make them any less loving or caring or accepting, it just makes them human. They have no way of knowing what it is like, they can't read our thoughts. They can't relive our experiences or feel our hearts sink every time something hateful is spit at us. They can't imagine what it is like to be afraid to hold the hand of the person they love while they walk on the sidewalk. But they are trying -- always, always trying to empathize and learn and change.

I am so grateful to have people who love me and are willing to try and to change. And to now be able to say that I love myself too. 

I just want anyone out there that's having a hard time finding self-acceptance to know that so many others have felt that pain too. You are beautiful, and there is nothing wrong with you, nothing you should try to change or hide. 

When you learn to love yourself, you get to be proud, and be a part of a community of amazing people. You get to laugh and smile and love wholeheartedly without feeling like you are wrong. 

And I wouldn't trade such a colorful, diverse, and happy life for anything. 
Let yourself in so you can let others in.

Click here - "Born This Way: Real Stories of Growing Up Gay" book
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September 08, 2016


Eric, age 11
Toronto, Ontario Canada (1962)

I'm here in the middle with my younger brother and sister. I was born on a farm in a family of seven, and we moved to the city at age 5. Before moving, I was invited to stay overnight at my neighbor Maryann's place. I assumed I would sleep with her, which made her parents laugh. They refused with no explanation, leaving me puzzled and offended.

I had no sense of sexuality till the bullying started in grade 7, and even my home room teacher encouraged it. It turns out he was getting it on with a girl in class. 
I volunteered at recess to clean his blackboards so I wouldn't face the bullies.  

Instinctively, I was sucking up to him (figuratively) to neutralize him as a homophobe - before I even knew I was gay! Even that lecherous teacher was better than recess that year.

Prior to that, I had friends. And a few guys that I liked especially and who remain in my mind as innocent loves. They let me play soccer (badly) and treated me like one of the guys. I thrived on the comraderie. 

I remember in grade 8 a loudmouth teaser tormenting me in the hall, and my friend Bob grabbing him and telling him to stop taunting me. My knight in shining armor was thoroughly a jock and very handsome. Why was he so willing to stand up for me?

Bob even took figure skating classes with me for a while 'To improve my skating skills' and let me play hockey (badly) in his backyard with his other friends. 

I wish I had learned team sports, but I lacked the jock spirit. 
Instead, I filled my plate full with studies, playing piano, and skating. 

Then came high school, which was great. No taunts! I was good at gymnastics, and the teacher made a point of praising my athletic ability in gym class. 

Those were idyllic years. 
My crushes remained fantasies, but they were still vivid. 

I remained in the closet with my family, where there was much upheaval and much heartbreak. I breathed a sigh of relief when I began university far from home and could starting dating etc.

I met a very effeminate, pushy guy from the US on a choir tour, and the sex we had was a nightmare! He eventually hitchhiked back to school - unannounced - and was camped out in my dorm room when I returned, much to the hilarity of my dorm mates. I was a victim, and that episode scarred me for life!

I finally had a few good encounters, but never found someone I really wanted to be with and who really wanted to be with me.

So my story has no 'happy ending' yet. 
Sadly, I keep looking but never seem to find a stable relationship. 

I suppose I might still be the problem?

Click here - "Born This Way: Real Stories of Growing Up Gay" book
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