Richard, age 7
Buena Vista, GA (1996)
This photo was during Christmastime at my step-grandmother's house. I'd asked for clothes, a pirate ship, and a few other toys. I had a vivid imagination, I loved to learn (at times), and to draw (I won first prize many times in art contests), and to escape from reality with my childhood toys.
I didn't realize I was categorized as gay/feminine until my family and friends began to point it out.
In our culture, gay and feminine are tied together a lot. And around age 11, I began to realize that some of my traits were not desired, or to be seen or heard.
My grandfather, Peapaw, wanted me to play sports, which I didn't care for at all.
My step-mother once told me I looked like a sissy when I had a travel bag over my shoulder or my hands on my hips (like in the photo). I also enjoyed playing mommy or house with my sister and her friends. But the ridicule made me afraid to do things like this. I also didn't have the most masculine behavior or voice.
The older I got, the more afraid I got of being myself. I tried the track team,
I tried hanging with guys, and I attempted to spend more time with my father on his construction jobs. The guys I tried to befriend made me nervous, and I realized I was kind of attracted to some of them.
Coming out was stressful and depressing. There were times where I really wanted to go into the woods and kill myself. I knew I was gay at 11, and my father found out through church members and small town gossip. The pastor at my church asked me to leave and to not come back unless I wanted to change. I did not, and haven't been back to a church since.
During Junior prom, I confirmed it with everyone by dancing with my first boyfriend. High school and family life was rough, but I had a group of supportive school friends who were always there for me. I did get bullied though, as I was the only openly gay guy at school. I'm thankful that my gay uncle and his partner helped me during this time, because he suffered similar things with my family and had left. I am so thankful for that, as it encouraged me a lot!
Today at 21 and being out for 5 years, I've realized that I am who I am! My whole family knows, but most are not okay with me being gay. This is the reason I moved from my hometown to a more accepting city. I have a deep country accent, and no longer a girly voice. I'm a very emotional person and a very caring person, and I want children and a husband one day.
But does the fact of my sexuality matter!? No, I am ME!
Categorize me as gay, masculine, or not - and I WAS born this way!
Richard's first, famous-person same sex crushes:
Aaron Carter, Lance Bass, Zac Efron____________________________________________________