Jason, age 8
Page, Arizona (1984)
I'm the middle child in a family of 10 boys, no girls. My parents were (and still are) ultra-conservative Mormons. To top it all off, my dad was the Phys Ed. coach at our local middle school. Which, I suppose, makes him more of a lesbian?
I knew from age 5 that I was attracted to other boys. All my best friends were girls, but all my crushes were boys.
Back then, I figured everyone felt that same way, so there was no need to talk about it.
In my pic, all the obvious signs were there for the whole world to see:
Leather boots, bow tie, carrying my Cabbage Patch doll (named Clifford), and protectively mothering my younger brothers for the photo. That's Josh, Jacob, and Sam with me here.
What I wish I had, is a picture of my pink flannel E.T. night gown! My mother had received a box of donated clothes, and when I searched through them and found that 'gem', I became obsessed!
I would come home from school, take off my school clothes, and don my night gown. I was obviously very comfortable in it, because one day I wore it while riding bikes with my neighborhood friends. Which is when and a kid shot me (twice) with a BB gun! Imagine, my first gay hate crime at age 7!
I also remember my infatuation with Wonder Woman. It went beyond idolizing her - I wanted to BE her! I'd sneak around into our side yard and pray to God with every fiber in my being, to PLEASE let me turn into Wonder Woman.
I did the spin, and when nothing happened - I literally balled my eyes out!
There are certainly more stories, like drama class, choir, and being the only boy on the clogging team for 5 years. Yes, I was a River Dancer years before it became a cheese-tastic phenomenon.
All these years later, I'm so grateful for all the colorful experiences that shaped my childhood. I've gone through some struggles with my family, but I'm happy to say it's all been worth it. The biggest victories have come from being exactly who I am at all costs. And I can honestly say I'm proud of the man I am today.
It's my sincere belief that the best way we inspire others, is to live by example.
And I hope that the gay and lesbian youth of today continue to embrace the uniqueness, that is inherently ours for the taking!
Click here - "Born This Way: Real Stories of Growing Up Gay" book
Click here - "My First Gay Crush Blog"