January 23, 2011


Robbie, age 5
Cleveland, OH (1971)

This picture was taken on our annual men-only fishing trip to the Ontario Lakes. I went on this trip with my grandfather, father, brother and some uncles and cousins until I was 8 or 9, when I refused to go - and was never asked again. We traveled with coolers of food and drinks, and fishing guides to carry them, so there was no practical reason for me to wear that canteen. Maybe it’s an early sign of the aggressive self-sufficiency that I used to deflect attention from myself, my needs, and my perplexing desires from the time I was about 9. Or maybe it just shows a sad weakness for accessories.

It wasn’t easy to get me to stand & pose for this picture, as you can see from my half-smile and the impatient tilt of my head. In these albums, there are no pictures of me mugging for the camera or insouciantly holding a fish the way my brother and cousins did.

I would have rather been at home in Cleveland, reading a book or playing with my Legos.

I work a little with teens in my job. A few are headstrong gay kids who make their way to the Gay & Lesbian Center and other organizations. I envy these kids, the supportive environments they find, and the peers they meet.

A lucky few of these gay kids might even have adolescences that somewhat resemble the ones that straight kids have.

But I also meet gay kids (at least I think they’re gay) at the other end of the spectrum. Pain radiates off these kids and it takes me back to my own adolescent pain. Part of me wants to give them a hug and tell them things I wish I had understood back then. Mainly, that the feelings they’re so anxious about are perfectly normal and can't be separated from them.

But it's not my place to talk to them in this way, and it would probably freak them out or do some damage, so I keep the brochure rack filled and hope they figure stuff out.

The first time a male body made my mind go blank with hunger was an episode of the Six Million Dollar Man where Steve Austin was laid out on an examining table by some aliens, covered only by what seemed to be a dishtowel. I was about 10. Among boys closer to my age, I divided my attention between Peter Brady and Bud from "Flipper." Nearly all of my real-life boyfriends and crushes have been skinny, dark-haired guys or stocky redheads.

So maybe the real question is: TV - nature or nurture?

Robbie's first, famous-person same sex crush:
Lee Majors ("The Six Million Dollar Man")

1 comment:

American Toycoon said...

Ha ha! I'm sure the television shows I watched in the 60's/70's made me gay, too. Loved watching "Flipper", "Batman" and "Alias Smith & Jones". Yep, that did it!