Michael, age 4
Lake Isabella, California (1971)

This was my first doll (the first of many). My earliest memory of being different was standing up while peeing probably around 4 years old. I remember looking down at my penis and thinking to myself 'There's been a mistake.' I remember I had a long list of reasons why I should have been born a girl: 'I like playing with girls, I like the clothes girls get to wear, I like their toys' - and it seemed a very logical appraisal of why someone had some explaining to do!

"My first doll"
I come from a very small, rural town in California. Even though I'm currently having some disagreements with my parents, the one thing I can really thank them for is their acceptance of me as a child.

They bought me whatever I asked for, no matter how effeminate, and never made me feel ashamed of myself. 

At this age I also realized that I wasn't necessarily like other boys, but my home was always a safe haven. I could be myself there and play with my dolls and not be judged.

One of my favorite memories is of my father taking me to a toy store and telling me I could get whatever I wanted. I remember bringing Barbie Mall up to the counter, and waiting for the cashier to ring it up. My father simply stood beside me as if it was a racetrack. I felt very loved that day.

As an adult I asked my mom why they'd let me play with dolls, etc. She told me that she and my dad had discussed it when I was very young, and started asking for dolls. They were worried that I may turn "queer" but ultimately decided that they would give me what I wanted, and hoped I'd grow out of it.

No matter what the reason, they never made me feel ashamed of myself.
And I will always be thankful to my parents  for that.

Michael's first, famous-person same sex crush: