Paul, age 2
Fort Worth, TX (1969)
Here I am at age 2. I don't have a significant number of memories from this time, but don't I look great? The pink balloon and the Hollywood shades say it all. While I grew up in a city, my family had ties to ranching and farming, and I did not enjoy the "man's work" that was involved on the ranch that much.
While I didn't mind shooting a gun and fishing, I did not enjoy digging post holes. My "moment of knowing" I was different was probably watching game shows with my mom. Paul Lynde ("Hollywood Squares") and Charles Nelson-Reilly ("Match Game") always made my mom and I laugh. It was sort of a secret we shared, because my dad and brother never really got that humor.
My first same-sex crush was probably Shaun Cassidy on "The Hardy Boys" TV show. And now that I think about it, I think I liked Parker Stevenson more. But Shaun had that album with "Da Doo Ron Ron," and I played it over and over, singing into a hairbrush the whole time.
As for a message to young kids now, whether gay or not, my advice would be:
Live your own life.
It's tough sometimes for everyone. Gay kids aren't the only ones with rough times. We're at a time in history of telling straight kids to understand how tough life is for gay kids - but like so much else in life, it's a two-way street.
Those straight kids may be going through some pretty rough times, too. While I'm not religious now, I like the the part of the prayer of St. Francis which says, "Seek first to understand, then to be understood". Another great quote is from a bumper sticker: "Prejudice rarely survives experience."
Gay kids: reach out to your straight classmates and help them through a tough time. I promise, they will be there for you when it's your turn.
PS: I'm really thankful for whoever took this picture, and that it survived!
Paul's first, famous-person same sex crush:Parker Stevenson & Shaun Cassidy ("The Hardy Boys")