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!"|
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.