January 17, 2011


Steve, age 9
Pocatello, Idaho (1970)

Here, I just turned 9 and our Cub Scout den is putting on a pageant for the Catholics, at the local Knights Of Columbus hall. I liked Cub Scouts a lot, and loved earning merit badges - especially the ones involving cooking or writing.
I particularly liked dressing up in the uniform; twisting my kerchief just so, positioning the blue and gold metal neckerchief slide, and fastening the clasp on my shiny brass belt buckle.

But I liked tonight’s dress-up attire even better. I got to play a knight in the pageant, and Mom and I designed an elaborate costume that is sure to be a hit with the audience.

And Voila! - I'm now the gayest knight Columbus never had. Neither of us thought this at the time, of course. That awareness would come later.

After the photo shoot, Mom called Dad in to show off our handiwork.
He wasn't pleased to see his son in tights, glowing orange or otherwise.

I flash to another night, two years earlier. Mom helped me dress as a Barbie doll for Halloween. I've never forgotten the look on my father's face when he saw me. He pulled Mom into their bedroom, but I heard every word of their fight.

That was the night I understood I'd never be the son he imagined I would be.

Dad refused to let me leave the house until I had changed into 'the kind of costume boys should wear.' I could see that Mom had been crying, which made me start to cry. She calmed me with her soft voice, telling me she had a better idea anyway. And in no time she transformed me from Barbie into Casper the Friendly Ghost.

But on this night, I hope my father sees past the tights, to acknowledge this costume in service of something masculine: the brave warrior armed for battle.

I'm age 50 now, with 30 of those years spent with the man I love. I no longer cover my face in service of masculinity. Rather, masculinity serves me. My father remains mired in 1960, still worshiping some ghost of a son that will never materialize, and unaware of the one who survived.

But I have only gratitude:
After all, he made it possible for me to be born this way. 

Steve's first, famous-person same sex crush:
David Cassidy (Keith on "The Partridge Family")
He was singing "I Think I Love You" directly to me. Check out the lyrics - reminiscent of 70's-era same-sex love.


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


Liz said...

Poignant and thought-provoking story, Steve. I hope your family now appreciates you as the wonderful man you've become.

Boy of Steel said...

Thanks, Liz! You rock!

roger said...

sjoe steve - your story has left me floundering - i salute you and your porgress thru life.

Amy Wallen said...

LOVE LOVE LOVE this! You know I already know this, and this photo, but I never tire of them or you. You will always be my favorite Cub Scout. Which says a lot from a woman who despised Brownies. I will admit that I also had a huge crush on David Cassidy though.

Enid Peltwater said...

Wonderful story, photo and MOM! God Bless her for loving you just the way you are. Would love to have seen that Barbie costume. Bet you were awesome. I salute you as well.

Boy of Steel said...

Sweet Amy...thank you for your lovely words. And who can blame you for despising anything called "Brownies" that doesn't involve the consumption of delicious chocolate. Didn't you just love David's frilly-front white shirts, gapping vests, and tight Angels Flight slacks? Mmmmm...

Boy of Steel said...

Thank you Miss Enid!! Wish I had a pic of that Barbie costume. It was sweeeeet. Thanks for the salutation, you sweet thang you!

Boy of Steel said...

Roger--Thanks for reading the story and for taking the time to comment. I really appreciate it!

jim goodbody said...

I do get your point, but I like to see the hatred and the homophobia in plain view, so that the rest of us can denounce it. I feel it is a more
militant stance -- let them show themselves for what they are and be countered (and often laughed to scorn).

Paul V. (Creator) said...

Jim -
Hatred and homophobia is alive and well all over the rest of internet - and in real life. On the internet, "anonymous" cowards get to have a field day, spewing their bile. The best reaction to them? Ignore, ignore, ignore!

While I partly agree with your point - that seeing it means we get to challenge it - this blog is about celebrating each other and the people who posted their stories and pictures. When we respond to those people, all it does is feed their voracious need for attention.
xo - Paul V.

Anonymous said...

Beautifully told. "I think I love you, so what am I so afraid of....?"