February 14, 2011


Reese, age 5
Bellingham, WA (1991)

I knew I was gay when I was 5-years old. I remember having a crush on a fellow 5-year old classmate named Dustin, and I remember how hard I cried when he moved away just before 1st grade started.

I was only able to rebound, because of my (secret) crush on Speed Racer, as well as my obsession with the fierce yellow jumpsuit worn by Ms. April O'Neil from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, perhaps my first gay icon.

I also remember my love of the "hand on the hip" pose, as is evident in the pic. If anything, looking back on photos of me like this makes me remember how un-self-conscious I was when so young.

Once I hit 5th grade, things changed. That's when the bullying started, the name-calling, the getting my ass kicked after school, etc. etc. etc. All those things that so many of us have to deal with.

Things got easier in my later high school years, but once graduation hit, I packed up and got the hell out of my small town. I moved to nearby Seattle, where I still reside.

My parents were always supportive of me, but there's one memory in particular that sticks out to me, as the first moment that my mother truly offered her love and support to me, without being too mushy.

Mom and I used to sit on the couch, eat popcorn and Doritos, and watch "Melrose Place" together when I was about 7-years old. There was a gay character on the show, a doctor portrayed by Doug Savant. In one episode, he kisses another man, or it's implied that they've had sex or something.

I remember when the episode ended and the credits were rolling, my mom turned to me and said: 'Reese, that character is gay. And that's okay.'

For anyone who feels like an outsider now:

Don't let the bullies win, always be yourself, and don't hesitate in contacting a GLBT group or Gay/Straight Alliance for support.

Someone is always out there to help you.
Speed Racer - Episodes 1-11 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - Original Series (Volume 1) Melrose Place - The Complete First Season Gay Seattle: Stories of Exile and Belonging


Ariel said...

I remember having a very strong crush on a girl when I was five as well! I cried the whole next day during recess after she moved away. Of course, I didn't call it a "crush" then. :P

Cute story. Your mom sounds like an amazing person.

David Zellaby said...

I look at that sweet little face, and it breaks my heart knowing what's in store for him a few years from then. I feel the same way when I look at photos of myself at that age. I always ask "why would anybody hurt him?"

Quote: "There's a lot of ugly things in this world, son. I wish I could keep 'em all away from you. That's never possible." - Atticus Finch.

Ellen said...

I love you!

S Kay Murphy said...

Hurray for Mom!!

Unknown said...

I cried when your mother said "and it's ok". I think that's just so sweet!

Anonymous said...

It sounds like you have an absolutely amazing support system. It is my hope we can all have this someday.

462Dragon said...

What a great moment with your mom after watching Melrose. I love it when parents are so keenly aware and no matter how brief, can say the most perfect thing.

Lyn said...

Way to go Mom ... she was a Warrior Mom before there was such a thing. Us mothers have important influence to exert and can play a critical role in making sure our kids know they are perfect exactly the way they are. And to support them unconditionally when they live as their authentic selves.

Unknown said...

You have a special mom...who loves you unconditionally. The way it should be!