February 05, 2011

Heath

Heath, age 12
Conroe, TX  (1988)

I came across this picture a few years back while going through some old photos, and could not stop laughing. Being 12-years old and growing up in a small conservative town in the early 80's definitely forces you to keep certain things to yourself. Yet, clearly a hunky, shirtless lifeguard towering over me brought a rather large smile to my face. I believe this photo was taken on a family trip and that is my younger cousin, Erin, oblivious to the hot guy in front of her.

"The moment you realize something is different - priceless!"
Growing up and realizing I was different than all the other kids was challenging.

Around the 6th grade I began to act "gay" without realizing I was just being myself.

And that's when the name calling and bullying started.

I can still remember the first time someone called me a derogatory slur. It was at the local roller rink, and I wearing an over sized shirt of patch work prints. It flowed nicely in the breeze as I roller skated.

A guy named BJ (I know, right? LOL!) came up to me and called me a 'Fairy'.
I had no idea what fairy meant, so I just said 'Thanks' and fluttered off on my roller skates, oblivious to his real intentions. It wasn't until a few years later that
I realized it was probably the first time someone made fun of me for being gay.

In the 7th grade, two boys started to call me f*ggot. By then, I'd figured out that by just being myself, I was clearly giving myself away, so I just put my head down and pretended not to hear them. Gosh, kids can be so cruel at that age.    

Fortunately for me, I did my best to ignore the daily verbal abuses, concentrated on my music, and had a mother who always made me feel loved no matter what.

In the 9th grade, my mother was suddenly taken from our family in a car accident, that shattered my world. Being 14 and a momma's boy, we'd just started to develop a friendship beyond just mother and son.

I never got to tell my mother who I truly was inside, but many years later I asked a close family friend if she thought my mother knew I was gay. She said she always knew - but loved me no matter what, because I was her son.

Mothers are just amazing like that. :)

I am so impressed with the gay youth of today. They are bold, passionate, and self-assured. Things have come such a long way for all of us, and I am happy to be part of the journey.

9 comments:

Randuwa said...

OMG, I would have died. ;-) So glad you're part of our "tribe".

Melissa said...

Heath this literally brought a tear to my eye... hope all is well with you!!

Jen said...

I love your smile in the pic and your story. It's rare that pics capture such a genuine display of emotion. :)

Anonymous said...

I found this site a couple of days ago, and this has to be my favorite entry so far. The story is very touching, but what really gets me is the picture. I've always asked the question that, apparently, drives gay people crazy - What was it like when you first realized you were gay? Whenever I ask it, I find the answers (as I probably should) unsatisfactory. But this picture sums it up in a way I understand. That was the look on my face the first time I saw a girl with boobs.

Anyway, thanks.

Sky said...

I love this. Thanks for sharing. I myself am not gay, but I do encourage those who are. Stay strong.

Anonymous said...

Heath, thank you for this story and pic, it reminded me of growing up in Midland.

Trey said...

I, too, remember when I first started to realize that being myself wasn't "acceptable"...and I have a picture that captures that point in my life...it's a middle school Olan Mills photo. That day for picture day I wore my sister's salmon-colored turtle neck and a silver chain around the outside of the shirt. I remember picking out what I was going to wear the night before and being excited...only to get teased pretty bad the next day. It was when I can really remember thinking that there was something wrong with me and it was the beginning of a meticulous beat-down of any gay feelings or effeminate behavior.

Marla said...

OMG I love this site! Be proud not only of the GLBT youth of today, be proud that you are a big reason why they can be so passionate and THEMSELVES!

Vive l'Amour!

toycoon said...

Yay! This really does show that quintessential moment of self discovery. That dude was hot! This may be one my very favorite entries so far.