February 23, 2011


Jon, age 10
Leawood, KS (1990)

I got my love of reading from my mother, pictured with me enjoying our mutual hobby. Here, I'm reading a Babysitter's Club book. Reading books "meant for girls" caused teasing by my sister and bullies at school, but I didn’t care.

I read all of those books, as well as Judy Blume's "Are You There God? It's Me Margaret." I found myself re-reading the sections in it where Margaret and her girl friends talked about their budding attractions to boys. In hind sight, I was drawn to those sections, because I was experiencing the same feelings as Margaret and her friends.

I knew what "gay" was by the time I was 11 or so, but since boys used it to insult one another, I refused to even consider that I might be that word.

I always felt different, because I hated sports and never understood why other boys were obsessed with them. My interests were indoor activities such as board games. I was fortunate that I was able to use this interest to socialize with other boys after school. 

My mother and I became close during my teenage years when my sister moved away for college, and it was just she and I at home. Regrettably, I never had the chance to come out to her. She passed away of cancer when I was 19. I spent the next year both grieving her loss and accepting that being gay was okay.

I often find myself imagining the conversation my mother and I never had, trying to imagine what her response would've been. My best guess is she would have had some sleepless nights thinking how this would affect my life, as well as hers. But, I am 100% sure that she would have loved and accepted me without hesitation! I can even envision her marching with PFLAG in a pride parade!

Today, I'm 31, happy, and have been with my partner for 7 years.
And I cannot imagine my life any other way!

Jon's first, famous-person same sex crushes:
Burt Ward (Robin on "Batman")
Mark-Paul Gosselaar ("Saved By The Bell")
Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. Burt Ward autographed photo 8x10 (Robin Batman)Saved By the Bell - Season Five Walking Higher: Gay Men Write About The Deaths Of Thier Mothers


hsempl said...

Aw, I love the photo of you and your mom, and the image of you all reading together. How hard to lose her at such a young age. But being a mom myself, I suspect she may have suspected; and whether or no, she knew *you* as you were close, and that's huge. Cause you didn't change when you came out; you are still the you you were. Thanks for writing this. miss you guys!

Erin said...

Jon I love your story... and I loved babysitters club books too. :) I had no idea you were from Kansas, but then again I never asked. Shame on me. Thank you for sharing your story and your mother, I have no doubt that she would be incredibly proud of you and your fight for equality!

Maggie said...

This is a beautiful photo, thank you for sharing!

I think we would have been fast friends -- the Baby-Sitter's Club books were my all-time faves! :)

Octy said...

What a great photo and an amazing story. I'm sorry you never got to have such an important conversation with her but at least you have some lovely memories of your time together.

MeanDonnaJean said...

My now 18 year old son always enjoyed the Babysitters Club series too when he was young. He even just watched one of their old videos (for the twenty-seven-millionth-time) again a few days ago! Now, if yer Mom was anything like a typical mother, I am quite certain she knew about ya looooong before YOU ever knew.....at least that was the case in MY house. I somehow just KNEW that my son was gay by the time he was 4, at the oldest....and I've ALWAYS been okay with that...altho his useless homophobic sperm-donor-only father most certainly is not....but that's another discussion for a whole other day! LOL