Chris, age 3
Livermore, KY (1977)
Much of my life I remember being steered toward the appropriate boy behavior - usually gently. Sometimes not so gently. My sister and I got new UnderRoos, all the rage then. She got Wonder Woman, and I got Spider-Man. Now, there's nothing wrong with Spidey. He's funny and cute, and I probably would've dated him later in life. But at that moment? I wanted to BE Wonder Woman.
|"Where's that doll I was just playing with?"|
So who wouldn't want to spin around and end up wearing that costume?
Once, my father discovered me spinning in circles in my sister's UnderRoos. I only remember being spanked by my father twice in my life. This time was the worst.
Please don't judge him harshly. Remember, it was the early 80's, in a very small town in the South. Much of the racism and ignorance that the 60's and 70's helped destroy, clung stubbornly there. And he was afraid for his little boy.
So, I learned to be afraid of being gay, and the fear was reinforced by weekly Bible studies in a Missionary Baptist congregation
I didn't do a good job of pretending. I can remember being called names as early as 3rd grade. Ridiculed by my classmates and older students for how I walked and talked, I retreated into books and television. And the comfort of my best friend, who also turned out to be gay.
Dad tried to nurture the hetero out of me in many ways; cars, sports, women. Only after a suicide attempt, moving away from the area, and meeting a wonderful gay role model, did I learn to be comfortable with who I am. When I came out in my mid-20's, my father said: 'You were my son yesterday. You are my son today. And tomorrow you will still be my son, and I love you.'
It's been a difficult process for him to come to terms with his only son being gay, but he did the work. He worked through his fear and educated his ignorance.
He knows that he loves me, and that everything else would come with time.
Though it may seem like there is no hope, there are people out there who will love you for who you were born to be.
Chris' first, famous-person same sex crush:
John Schneider ("Dukes Of Hazzard")
I distinctly remember my heart racing at the sight of a shirtless Bo Duke!_____________________________________________________