January 24, 2011


Derek, age 2
Paterson, New Jersey (1986)

Here I am, clad in rainbows and airplanes as a happy-go-lucky toddler.
No wonder I turned out so gay and proud! Granted, I don't remember much at such a young age.

We were an upper-middle class family, and I had a big back yard with a play house and woods behind it. I remember wanting to play "house" and dress up my stuffed animals and dolls.

Emily, my next door neighbor, was a best friend at the time, and we would run around naked and just had the best time together.

My first memory of a same-sex crush was at age 5. Disney's "Shipwrecked" movie premiered, featuring a young, blond-haired, blue-eyed Scandinavian boy on a ship with pirates.

He was about 12 years old - the perfect age for a flowering 5-year-old boy with a crush, right? I idolized this boy in the movie to the point of nausea.

I asked my mother if it was OK to like a boy, and she responded - 'Honey, I had female role models growing up. You can like whomever you want.' Granted, this wasn't exactly a 'Go-ahead, be a big homo' response, but it nonetheless validated my feelings towards other boys.

Another validating and affirming motherly moment was when I was 12. "Saved By The Bell" was huge, and I had the BIGGEST crush on Zack Morris. So much so, that my mother even took me to the grocery store to help me find teeny-bopper magazines - which were 100% marketed towards girls. But I had to have the full, pull-out pin-up posters of my studly suave crush!

I'd then hang them in my room, sometimes questioned by male peers of mine. To which I would respond, 'I think he's really cool' - and I thought it was all totally normal, because my mother had normalized those feelings for me.

So to all the young, unsure-of-themselves, LGBT populations out there:

Everything Gets Better!

There are people like you, living, breathing, and crushing on the same same-sex stars as you, and it is OK! Do not let anyone tear you down or bully you. You are beautiful, and that beauty will shine so bright someday, that those bullies will want to BE YOU.

Push past all the negativity in schools and keep shining like the brightest star you know you are!

PS - This pic is courtesy of my mother in rural California, who took the time to remove the original frame at her house, bring it to work to scan it, and email it to me. All of this, after having seen your website and really loving it! So thanks for having this available!

Derek's first, famous-person same sex crush:
Stian Smestad (Haakon in "Shipwrecked")

Click here - "Born This Way: Real Stories of Growing Up Gay" book
Click here - "My First Gay Crush Blog"
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Kristen Pryor :) said...

Derek, I am so proud to have you as a friend. I appreciate you befriending me in middle school when no one else would. The acceptance of yourself and others was truly inspiring. Your friendship and lack of judgement made me feel beautiful. You always have been and always will be the brightest shining star! Love you Der Bear!!

Anonymous said...

I really thought that the story of you asking me out on a date and me telling you sorry I couldn't, because you were gay, would have made it's way up here. But you have now confirmed, you already knew you were gay before you asked me out, but I guess you just thought I was THAT cute, you had to try. ;) Love you Deek!!!

D-Rock said...

you two are amazing. kristen, we were both marginalized in middle school for different reasons but it put us in the same box of loneliness i guess. i was and am proud of being friends with you! ducky, i hella knew before asking you out. and i think asking you out i was inadvertently asking Drew out. HA. love and miss you both!