Emilio, age 8
Dominican Republic, (1998)
This is me geared up in my "Little Mermaid" pool accessories, ready for the summer. My obsession with mermaids began way earlier, when I was about 3-years old. My mom and I watched "Splash," and after that, I was obsessed.
I met my first love - the handsome Prince Eric. To this day, he is still the only man I've ever loved.
It took me years to figure out why I loved mermaids, but hated Ariel so much.
Well, it was because she stole my man! :)
But I didn't realize what those feelings meant, because I didn’t know I was attracted to him. I didn't know I was gay until a bit later, at around age 13.
That's when I finally understood my feelings, and what it meant to be gay.
I always heard about the 'evil homosexuals' from my family, but I never associated that with people who loved others of their same sex. I just thought they were bad people whom I was supposed to stay away from.
I was always the odd kid in the back, who never played sports and never fit in.
I was never teased about being a little feminine though (which I was), but I was teased for being the shortest in my class. Which meant I didn't have a lot of friends or to want to be around my classmates.
I always loved drawing, and you'd usually find me under a table somewhere, drawing mermaids. But over time, mermaid tails became landscapes, and landscapes became buildings.
Today I cant help but smile when I look at that picture, as it reminds me that I've always been myself, and never wanted to hide it from anyone. Now, I'm close to graduating from architecture school, and I have a lot of great friends. And those friends came along right after I figured out who I was.
I'm very happy, though some things never change: I still draw the occasional mermaid, and still think that b*tch Ariel stole my man!
Emilio's first, famous-person same sex crush: