Jessica, age 4
Chicago, IL (1991)
I first stumbled over this photo when I was in high school and deeply closeted. I remember giving a little gasp of surprise and hurriedly hiding it among my private things, trying to deflect as much attention away from suspicions about my sexuality as possible. Other times, I'd privately take the picture out and smile, thinking, 'Here's proof that my same-sex attraction preceded any adolescent trauma!' as was the accepted hypothesis at the time.
|"Despite incriminating evidence suggesting otherwise, Christina turned|
out to be completely straight and still a good friend and ally"
It was most likely taken at an O'Hare Airport terminal, back when visitors were still allowed to accompany passengers boarding planes. It was apparent to everyone at the time how I always became extra silly and giggly when Christina came to visit - but it wasn't apparent to me for 10 more years that I was attracted to women.
I dutifully wore the pretty dresses my mother and grandmother bought for their little girl, but with the understanding that the fine stitching and ripped tights wouldn't deter me from climbing trees, wading through creeks, and doing headstands. In fact, my grandmother still tells the story of how, when scolded that I shouldn't be doing headstands in a dress because my underwear was showing, I neatly addressed that problem - by taking my underwear off!
As an adult, I'm comfortable with myself and out to friends and family who admit that they 'sometimes wondered' or 'kinda thought I might end up that way'. In retrospect, I wish they'd brought it up with me back then, or introduced me to some gay role models. Or, made an effort to show me they were always as accepting and inclusive toward the gay community as they claim. That would have saved me about 5 years of shame and self-abuse.
Someday I hope to be a parent myself, and my children will always know that someday they may start to like boys or may start to like girls - or both, or neither - and whichever fate chooses for them, together we will celebrate it.
Jessica's first, famous-person same sex crush:
Julie Andrews (in "The Sound Of Music")