February 12, 2011


Jason, age 11
Saint Paul, Minnesota (1984)

When I look at this picture, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Laugh for the young, spirited grade school kid that found tremendous joy in wearing his Granny’s wigs. Or, cry for the young kid who grew up with little joy in his spirit.

I always knew I was "different" but was never able to make the connection as to what that difference was. Everyone else apparently knew; I heard it in the halls, the schoolyard, and in the lunchroom.

From grade school on into high school,
it was the same four perjoratives: "girl," "sissy," "wuss" - and the dreaded "F" word. Eventually, that's what "different" meant to me.   

I always made promises to myself:
If I could just have more boys as friends, then I wouldn’t feel different. If I could just stop wearing Granny’s wigs, then I wouldn’t feel different. If I could just hold my breath underwater for 20 minutes, then I wouldn’t feel different.

But I didn’t, I wouldn’t, and I still can't. Yet somehow, sometimes even still to my amazement, I carried on, knowing that someday I'd redefine my "different."

And eventually, after finally coming out, I did. My adult life as a gay individual has been filled with awakenings and wonderment. Friendship and merriment. "Different" has now translated to "special" and "unique." "Different" now means "fascinating" and "exceptional." And my spirit is filled with joy beyond measure.
I can’t imagine my life any other way.

I wish I could go back, if only for a moment, and reach out to the young version of myself. To tell him things will turn out just fine. That his sadness will be replaced with blessings exceeding his wildest dreams. That "different" was just a nine letter word that set him apart from others. That the only thing "different" now - is the difference he’ll make in other people's lives.

And more importantly, that his wigs will eventually get much more fabulous.

My message to any youngster that feels "different" is simple:
You will survive. You will rise above. You will be fantastic.

And you will redefine your "different" too!

Click here - "Born This Way: Real Stories of Growing Up Gay" book
Click here - "My First Gay Crush Blog"

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Anonymous said...

What a wonderful way to redefine different. On a lighter note, his grandma sure wore one stank-ass piece of herrr!

lornawynn said...

Thank you, Jason. All the stories I read here on this blog are wonderful. My son is gay and I already have a great relationship with him, but reading everyone's deep, innermost thoughts is helping me to understand more of what he went through as a kid. I want to thank you ALL for sharing your experiences.

Anonymous said...

Just think about it this way: "normal" is to be mediocre, to conform and to try to be like everyone else. the uniqueness and individuality in everyone of us is a plus and it sets us apart from the crowd...never apologize for your diversity. Remember too that everyone and everything is different from each other...there are no two snowflakes alike...similar yes, but under the law, we should all be equal.

great blog...
saludos, raulito

Melanie said...

Jason, I'm so proud of you for posting on here and for being a beacon of light to others who have undoubtedly struggled along side you in silence. You shine so brightly, never keep that light hidden again! - Melanie :)

ReunionNow said...

You are special. You are kind. You are loved. You are you! I loved reading your story.

hamid said...

i am so sorry but i think that this person just wasted ytalents being a gay shouldnt have satisfied his ambitious spirit

Undercover Philosopher said...

what an inspiring story. I have just found this blog, and all the stories are just heart warming. Thank you. x

Unknown said...

Thank you Jason for sharing such a touching part of your life. You have made a difference and my life is richer knowing you. Hugs, Theresa.

Library Lynn said...

Thank you for sharing, Jason. I can see that spark that is to come in that young person's eyes. I work with teenagers, and I hope I make each one of them see that in themselves because it's so important. I'm glad you've found your groove, Jason!

Jacobus 323 said...

Wonderful web site. Thanks be to Crooks and Liars for a hyperlink to you. I have believed your way for sixty years.

Chris said...

Just looking over other entries from Minnesota--I really love your way with words and you were quite a cutie. Thanks for sharing your story and glad that you have that joy in your spirit now. :-) Chris