Chad, age 6
San Diego, California (1972)
Childhood was not a happy time, and it's shown in my face here. I was raised by a fundamentalist Christian preacher and his wife, in a home filled with abuse, where every emotion and desire was suppressed and beaten down.
I was shown mocking images of flamboyant gay men in drag and butch lesbians riding motorcycles, as clear evidence that men and women had turned from their natural affections.
I didn't really have indications that I was different, because I had no reference points for comparison.
But, I do recall being very young, and being very intrigued by the male nudes at the museum.
In high school, I met another boy with a similar upbringing and we became close. As we started sharing our deepest thoughts and intimate secrets, we revealed that we both enjoyed this forbidden pleasure. Of course, I never mentioned it to my parents. According to them, ALL sex was bad, and even remotely sexual thoughts would send a person straight to hell.
Even then, I didn't realize those desires as gay. To me, homosexuals were the flamboyant (and ridiculed) queens in the Pride Parades, wearing shorts and leather hats. Yet secretly, I thought they were the hottest men I had ever seen!
It wasn’t until I left home that I came to terms with who I was.
Once I got out of that bubble, I learned that gay men could share a life together, and there were places I would be accepted as I am. I also learned that love did not have to come with physical pain.
I also learned that my parents were not a positive influence in my life.
They continued to abuse me with their guilt, disappointment, and shame long after I became an adult.
Thus, I learned that I didn't have to keep my parents in my life, and we haven't spoken in years. I'm a much happier person for eliminating that negativity.
More importantly, I learned that my feelings were not a cause for shame, but rather a reason to celebrate. And, that I was allowed to actually have fun and do things that felt good and enjoyable.
The young boy in this pic was introverted, shy, withdrawn, abused, and hurting. The adult man that this child became is intensely happy, full of life and love and cannot wait for each new day!
So I know that it really does get better, and being gay is not just a phase.
Click here - "Born This Way: Real Stories of Growing Up Gay" book
Click here - "My First Gay Crush Blog"
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