Martin, age 2
Fullerton, NE (1966)
I love this picture, and it hangs in my parents bedroom to this day. A bow tie & double-breasted coat and shorts was very fashion-forward for a 2-year old.
|"Very fashion forward"
My brother and I shared a bedroom and we had this poster of some professional football team hanging on the wall, and there was this one guy who I would just stare at in the photo. I was maybe 8 years old.
I loved to watch men, and in rural Nebraska there were plenty of "real men" for me to do just that.
I loved the hairy-chested men who would come into my parents' business. I just wanted to nuzzle my face in their chests. Thus, I loved James Bond movies, Ed Asner, and anything with Tom Selleck. Magnum PI & soap operas were like porno to me, because of all the shirtless men.
Sadly, I knew I liked men and I knew that I would not be popular if anyone else knew. So I pretended to be a "man's man". But in reality, I just wanted to hang out with the girls. I played sports and was not good at it, but that's what "men" did. By the time I got into high school I knew how to play the straight game, but I needed a lot of alcohol to do it.
Long story short, I had fun in high school but had to deny who I really was. College was when I kissed my first man. OMG! Although I had now kissed a guy and now knew what it was like to "be with another man," I remained terrified to come out.
My drinking and drug use continued, my depression grew, and now at 23 I'm in drug and alcohol treatment. After dealing with my sexuality and coming out, I understand my life so differently now. When I told my family, they were fantastic - and it was the first time I recall my father telling me that he loved me. I now live in the Bay Area of California, and my family understands why I no longer want to live in Nebraska.
What I would say to any gay kid who is struggling, or questioning themselves is - be true to yourself. Even if you live someplace where it's not safe to be open and out, or if it means 'playing the game' until you can get someplace where you will be welcomed to live an open life.
And, there is absolutely nothing wrong with you.
Being gay is normal and natural. We love and have relationships, just like everyone else. So express yourself the way you want to, feel free to act the way you do, and to like what you like. And don't let anyone take that away from you.
Martin's first, famous-person same sex crush: