January 30, 2011


Johnny, age 10
St. Clair Shores, Michigan (1989)

That's me on the left, as if you had to guess. For sure, my favorite memories from childhood are the times I spent at my Grandma's house. She was the most loving woman. She'd watch her soaps, read her Star Magazines, play cards with us, and let us run free and be kids. She had the softest flabby skin hanging under her biceps. You know, that amazing chubby grandma skin. So cozy.

"Taken in Grandma's kitchen"
While the other grandkids were in the basement rummaging through our Grandpa's tools and war stuff, I was upstairs drooling over nightgowns and jewelry. The phrase "in the closet" has real meaning to me and my gay discovery.

For you see, inside Grandma's closet, hung the threads to my sexuality.

I remember how her clothes smelled, and how the fabrics felt so soft and feminine. Her bras, slips, and perfume were heaven and happiness to me.
The first thing I'd do when dressing up was the old towel-head-wrap trick, as evidenced in the pic. I think I might even be wearing some lipstick and blush.

It'd give me instant long girl hair. It would constantly fall down as I was getting dressed, but I loved the hassle of putting it back up, and throwing it over my shoulders. I'd then pick out a nightgown as a dress, and sometimes belt it, or just let it flow. Then earrings, necklace, rings, and a handbag. And I loved going through her purses and finding candies, coupons, and Bingo blotters.

I'd even rock Grandma's chunky, sensible-heel slippers, so I could manage my way up and down the long hallway - aka my catwalk. There was a huge painting of the Blessed Mary at the end of the hallway. She was so bitchy and holy looking in the painting, so I'd use that as my motivation for my runway walk.

My Grandma was cool as hell. She'd just smile, kiss me on the cheek, and tell me how beautiful I looked, as she continued making me a sandwich: peanut butter, jelly, ham, and Miracle Whip on white bread. MY FAVORITE! She'd cut it in triangles for me. Small bites, like a lady should.

My Grandpa was cool about all this too, but I mostly avoided him while all dragged out in Grandma's pajamas. I LOVED those times I spent playing dress up. It was for sure my first taste of GAY, but definitely NOT my last.

I still love wrapping a towel around my head and pretending I have long hair, and realize the irony that my job in life now as an adult, is to play dress up with pop stars and actresses. Sort of perfect, actually.

I have an amazing family, amazing friends, and coming out was easier then I could have ever imagined. Not one person turned their back on me. Only open arms, and open closets. Ha ha!

And there ain't no shame in the gay game, y'all - we are all human. How boring would life be if we were all the same? So thanks Grandma, for letting me explore my sexuality in your closet. For it was there that I discovered a part of me that I could be proud enough to let the world see.

In your nightgown and heels, of course.

Johnny's first, famous-person same sex crush:
Mark-Paul Gosselaar ("Saved By The Bell")
I'd dream of sleepovers and BJ's under that 80's, pop-art print comforter that graced my twin bed.

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

what a beautiful pic!!! you are magnificent, at first I thought you were a girl.... but them I have read it and I realized you were a boy. I liked you remember your Grandma and it was very exciting you remember the smell of your Grandma clothes.... I like your pic and your story and I am very happy to know your were free and happy
greetings from Spain

Anonymous said...

Johnny..This is Jonathan's mom. I love your story and your beautiful memories of your grandma. She sounds way cool to me. I, too, believe being gay is something you are born with. To not accept that is just plain crazy. Your grandma did a wonderful job of letting you be yourself. Incredibly awesome!!
With love..Kim Cox

Anonymous said...

Peanut butter, jelly, ham and Miracle Whip all in one sandwhich?

Kathryn Thomas said...

"She was so bitchy and holy looking" - that was such a funny line that I did a weird snort.

Great story. I agree with anonymous about the sandwich, though - I hope your pallet has improved...

Spouse Walker said...

Your story is so moving. It's a joyful childhood. How wonderfully fortunate.

Anonymous said...

This is an awesome blog. You are just as awesome as your sister Kimmy. My daughter has some gay friends and i love when they are over hanging out, they can be themselves with me as they see I love them way more for being themselves than fake, holier than thou people!!Footloose and fancy free spirit like me....Go Johnny GO!..