January 21, 2011


Mark, age 8
West Orange, New Jersey (2000)

My childhood, or at least when the picture was taken, is a lot more recent than most of the other submissions on this site. As I sit here typing this, as an 18-year old college student finishing up his winter break, I just want to thank all of those who submitted before me. And, for allowing me, only slightly younger, to grow up in a fairly accepting environment.

"Even the dog was impressed by this confused mini-diva!"
When searching for a picture, I tried to find one of me and my older brothers, to show how important they are in my life. We're in pictures together a lot, but I couldn't find one that expressed how I really felt as a kid - which was alone.

I love my brothers greatly. But even now (and more so as children), they were always together, and I felt like a polar opposite.

I always felt different. Because I am different.

I think this picture reflects two things about my childhood:
On one hand, I'm flexing my imaginary biceps in an attempt to be like my very athletic brothers. On the other hand, my pose makes it humorously clear what my true colors are.

Ya know, about what I wrote above: I felt alone throughout most of my childhood until high school, but my best friend is in the picture with me.
It's my dog Micky, who's about a year old in this picture. And a decade later, he's lying on the floor next to me.

I'm grateful that I had him there to cuddle with through the fights, the confusion, the uncertainty, the breakups, the friendships, and my coming out process in the 8th grade. He was even with me as I headed off to the University of Maryland.

While my brothers couldn't be with me in this picture, they're still always there to support me in everything I do, along with the rest of my family.

And if I have a message, it's this:
I hope that LGBT kids younger than me can grow up in an even more accepting and loving environment like the one I had.

Mark's first famous person same-sex crushes:
Jesse McCartney
Christopher Knight (Peter Brady on "The Brady Bunch")

He was always clumsy, and there was this one episode where he was embarrassed about puberty. Ha! He had no idea!

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


Kirsten said...

Mark, this is a beautiful post. It's so refreshing to hear someone talking about their past with as much passion as you do. You have so much potential to be a great influence on others and I'm so pleased to see how great of a person you've grown into in facing all you were given. I feel so privileged to be a friend of yours and hope to see more great things in the future.
p.s., Thank God for Vicious! [the dog]

Mark said...


Anonymous said...

You just made me cry! Much love to you and your best friend, Micky. <3

Anonymous said...

I'm a sophomore at UMD and I think it's great that there are people comfortable with themselves who attend this university. I hope you've found the University as accepting as your family, although I know it's not easy to find guys who don't describe everything as "gay." It's people like you and all the other posters here who will remove the stigma associated with LGBTQ.