Dallas, TX (1975)
My mom took this when I was dancing or performing on my bed, showing off a new shirt and a pair of Tough-Skin overalls. Note the notch of hair I cut out, perfecting my Buster Brown hairstyle while playing in front of mommie's make-up mirror.
One of the earliest memories indicating I was gay is jumping on my bed with another boy my age, wearing nothing but pillowcases.
And deciding that the two of us were going to run away and be together forever. Alas, our attempt failed.
Growing up, I hated sports but I loved art, the theater, fashion, and hanging out with other guys.
By the time I was changing clothes in a junior high locker room, I knew I was different. I remember oogling over pictures of guys, first the underwear models in the JC Penny catalog, then guys on the cover of those appropriately-named Teen Beat and Tiger Beat magazines. And of course, the good old International Male catalog.
The fact that a 14-year old subscribed to the International Male catalog should have been a huge hint, but my sweet mom could have cared less. I was never really teased for being gay growing up, because 80's fashion allowed us to hide our sexuality - trying to be "fresh" or "new wave". And I had such a crush on Billy Idol, that I spray painted his name in four foot letters under a bridge once.
I knew I was different back then and really hoped I'd start liking girls, but it never happened. In high school, I secretly had crushes on a few guys and after a couple of encounters in college, it was getting harder to deny who I was to myself. Still, this was during the height of the AIDS epidemic, and most people's reactions to the word "gay" only pushed me further and further in the closet.
I came out in the 90's when I was 25, and my family was incredibly supportive and accepting. By my late 20's, I'd fully embraced who I was, kicked the closet door wide, and become a confident, independent and worldly gay man. I met my partner when I lived in New York, and we've been together almost 10 years.
I'm 40 now, and we are hoping to start a family of our own soon.
My advice to young people struggling with their sexuality is this:
Don't let others determine your self worth. They can only do that if you let them.
Brent's first, famous-person same sex crush:
I totally wanted him to be my 'Chachi in Charge' and distinctly remember a picture of him in a muscle shirt, sporting feathered hair that made me swoon._______________________________________________