April 09, 2011


Dean, age 8
Great Falls, South Carolina (1981)

My parents divorced when I was a baby, and my father disappeared completely from my life. Later, my mother married a man that didn't want me around, and so I fell into the care of my grandparents. Although they took care of my physical needs, my emotional needs went largely unmet. I was rarely touched or held, and often craved those physical expressions of affection.

Growing up gay in a small town in South Carolina was very hard, to say the least.

Looking back, I always knew that I was different. Unfortunately, my peers knew it too, and I had very few friends.

Being a loner, I had a vivid imagination and very active fantasy life. I developed a huge crush on Bo Duke on "Dukes of Hazzard."

I didn't know what it meant, but my heart skipped a beat every time he slide across the General Lee.

I often imagined Bo spending time with me, doing things that fathers and sons did together. Such as fishing, working on cars, or helping me with my homework.

I was often the target of both physical and verbal bullies, and found very little solace at home as well. Halloween was my favorite time of year because I got to dress up, and I could be somebody else. Because I didn't really want to be me.

As I grew up and learned to like myself, I actually became grateful to all those bullies. Because it was their abuse that made me the strong person I am today. And I developed a thick skin and sharp wit to combat their insults and injuries.

And the imagination that I developed to help me cope with life's stress, helped me to discover myself as an artist and a writer.

As much as it hurt at the time, I wouldn't change my childhood for anything in the world. All those experiences made me who I am today: A strong, gay man who likes himself and loves his life. What more could you ask for?

Dean's first, famous-person same sex crush:
John Schneider (on "Dukes of Hazzard")

Click here - "Born This Way: Real Stories of Growing Up Gay" book
Click here - "My First Gay Crush Blog"

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