February 16, 2011


Michael, age 4
Fargo, N. Dakota (1971)

Here I am, with my dolls Judy and Dapper Dan. I don't mean to dismiss Dapper Dan’s importance to my development as a gay man, but at the time he was just a passing fancy in my life. He was an "educational toy" that my mom got for me, because my pre-school teacher had told her I needed some help with my fine motor skills. I do remember finding the whole process of unbuttoning and unzipping this little doll-man's clothing oddly fascinating. Hmm...

The real story here, though,
is of me and Judy. Her "birth name" was Drowsy. I wish I could remember if I'd asked for her? Or, was indulged by a mother who, after having 3 sons and no daughters, spotted an opportunity. Or, we were simply hooked up by either my mom or a knowing relative.

All I know, is that from the moment I laid eyes on her, she was my Judy. You can guess where the name came from…

When I pulled her string, she would demand, in the bitchiest diva voice I’d ever heard,
"I wanna drinka water!!!"

I couldn’t get enough of it. Judy said other things too, but if you pulled the string 4 times, you could skip through the rotation to get to the good one. I eventually wore her voice out pulling the string, but by that point, I'd already learned how to mimic her quite well.

Much to my parents' chagrin, I would bitchily call out from my bed in the middle of the night, 'I wanna drinka water!!!'  To which my mom would always come scurrying in, with a Dixie cup full of water.

And thus, a diva was born – all thanks to a doll named Judy!

Sadly, about a year after this photo was taken, Judy drowned in a tragic swimming pool accident on a family vacation in California.

Michael's first, famous-person same sex crush:
Matthew Laborteaux (Albert on "Little House on the Prairie")

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

I'm so happy to have found your blog! It takes me back to my own childhood - obviously, we are both 29 years old :-) Best of everything to you!

Gretchen M. said...

I loved my dapper dan doll what a flashback seeing that doll!

Anonymous said...

Love it!
I still have my drowsy doll! She's a mess and she just babbles nonsense when you pull her string. Cute photo too :)

Caleb said...

Great post!

Reminds me of "Oh Brother Where Art Thou"

"I don't want Fop, goddamnit. I'm a Dapper Dan man!"

I'm not disagreeing that being gay chose you, but being gay definitely chose that haircut. Seriously- what was your mom thinking? :)



Jeffrey Wright - said...

I had Dapper Dan too!

katedana said...

I had a Dapper Dan! I love this website. :-) You all are so wonderful.