Ross, age 7
Greencastle, Pennsylvania (1976)
Since I was 5 or 6, I thought about kissing boys. Sure, that sounds a little early, but I was brought up in a strict Mormon family, and we had to prepare early for our "Forever Families." My preparation wasn't exactly what they had in mind.
Practicing makeup on someone is one thing, but she went so far as to make the blouse and skirt to boot.
At the school's Halloween party, everyone just stared at me wondering: "Why didn't that stupid girl get a costume?"
I wasn't a girly boy, but I wasn't a boy's boy either. So fitting in with other kids wasn't really an option.
We moved a lot (around the world), and I made friends here and there.
But nobody in my family or church prepared me to deal with the homophobia that hit left and right.
I really envy the kids of today. I met a guy the other day that came out when he was 16, and his family didn't bat an eye.
But to the kids that still have the narrow-minded families and churches to deal with, I tell 'em this:
Be true to yourself. You're the only one that's ever going to make yourself happy. Don't rely on loved ones or God to be true to yourself. Rely on yourself and respect life, and you'll grow into someone pretty awesome.
Currently, I'm a return ex-Mormon missionary with a partner of 19 years.
And life is good. It's like Grandma Moses said, "Life is what you make of it.
Always has been, always will be."
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