February 04, 2011


Brennen, age 8
Seattle, WA (1996)

This was shot while shopping for new school clothes, at a visit to the park next door. My 4-year old sister decided it was too warm to wear any clothes at all (hey, we're Scandinavian). Grunge music was huge in Seattle, so my 12-year-old sister was dressed in a plaid button-up. If you saw pictures of her back then, you'd think she grew up to be a lesbian. But there is only one gay in this family.

"Posing as a statue"
I was a latchkey kid of the 90s, so I had little in the way of supervision most days. TV was a big part of me back then: "X Files," "I Love Lucy" reruns on Nick-at-Nite, "Singled Out" on MTV , and "Goddess Kring" on Seattle's public access channel. She's a local, late-night icon of sorts, infamous for her on-air acid trips, poetry, and naked, glittered body.

"Daria," "Beavis & Butthead," and "South Park" were other favorites. My family connected to the Internet in 1998, and I took to it like a duck to water. Let's just say that there were very few safeguards for children on AOL then - and leave it at that.

I've always known I was different. My only friends were girls and adults, and I distinctly remember complaining that the Power Rangers were "too violent" when the other boys talked about it in class. My dad "encouraged" (read: forced) me to play softball, but I'd sit on the sidelines with my friend Megan, waiting for the donuts and apple juice after the game.

I never really equated my being different to anything more than a personal quirk, and I've always been awkward. The only difference between being aloof as a kid and aloof as an adult is confidence.

Hot pink was my favorite color, and I loved to draw pictures of chrysanthemums (I was the only 4-year-old who could pronounce chrysanthemum), fuchsias, and my cat Gingersnap. The other day, my mom apologized to me for never letting me buy the hot pink sandals I always wanted as a kid. I also remember furtively snatching the men's underwear ads from Sears and Target out of the recycling bins, but I never really added it all up with the conclusion that I was "gay".

Seattle is a good place to be gay. I was lucky to grow up there, and with the parents I have. When I came out to them at 16, I basically said, 'You probably already figured this out, but...I'm gay'. My parents were surprised (they actually hadn't figured it out), but it changed little about our relationship. In fact, the first thing they said was, 'This doesn't change anything, we still love you.'

For anyone growing up gay today, I'm happy to report that things are only getting better. Be true to yourself; if someone cannot accept you as who you are, they are not worth your time. But it is very rare you will ever meet people like that, I promise!

Brennen's first, famous-person same sex crush:
Danny Roberts (on MTV's "Real World: New Orleans")
Gael Garcia Bernal usurped his throne a year later, and I often wonder if seeing David Duchovny in a Speedo on 'The X Files' could have made me gay.
The Real World You Never Saw - New Orleans Rudo Y Cursi See Beyond (Feat. Goddess Kring)


Greg said...

That was a wonderful essay. Thanks for sharing.

Tara said...

love this entire blog and this essay in particular! Also loved where you wrote "David Duchovny in a Speedo on 'The X Files' could have made me gay" because I'm pretty sure that's what made me straight ;) seriously that man was delicious eye candy :P