John, age 12
Nanuet, NY (1976)
I was, by nature, a smiley, giggly, and cheerful kid. And uncoordinated, though I loved to swim, bodysurf, skateboard, and gymnastics. Only 20 years later did I realize I had "killer abs" under the baggy t-shirt 'n jeans I wore from grades 6 through 10. Before that, I refused to wear jeans. Slacks from Sears only, please!
I was a total nerd in the math league, academic league, and national honor society. And, I was on track to be the first of my immediate family to attend college. However, homophobia nearly derailed all of it.
Around this age I gave up being me, because whatever that was, it was perceived as HORRIBLE. So I learned to butch it up. With sports not an option, partying was the next best thing. And by the end of high school, this nerd-boy was close to not graduating. And I flamed out in my freshmen semester of college.
I soon accepted that having sex with guys wasn't a stop-gap measure until I got married. Which I planned to do, to a nice girl whom I would never pressure sexually. My mantra in grade 12 was "In college you can be yourself."
Except I couldn't. The names were different, but the jocks and knuckleheads from high school were now my neighbors in the dorm. And, I unraveled.
But I pulled it together and transferred to a school farther away from home, beginning to tip toe out of the closet. By the time I graduated, I was sort of out. Within 6 months, the family all knew. And while it took a lot of years, eventually everyone got there in terms of celebration. Screw tolerance or acceptance, thanks.
What I've got now that's really important, is I got ME back. With dignity, and with integrity. Everything's possible once you get 'em, and it's impossible to live without them once you've had 'em.
To my younger gay brothers and sisters, my only advice is:
Education, education, education! College or a trade/vocational school will lead to your financial independence. I killed myself in college working 3 jobs, because I believed my parents would disown me if they found out I was gay. But that work ethic has served me well throughout my life.
Today, I'm still a nerd working at a university, and I have a hot husband and a nice home. And I'm out everywhere to everyone.
John's first, famous-person same sex crush:
Or any photo of a man with a beard, moustache, or stubble...