Robert is the guy who wowed us all with his Madonna "Vogue" video.
And I am thrilled to present you his "Born This Way" story. Enjoy!
Robert, age 10
Boston, Massachusetts (1992)
This is a photo of me, my sister Jennifer, and our dogs Frisky and Chloe.
It's especially significant to me as they were born the summer I did my "Vogue" video, and their birth truly completed "our family."
Not long before I discovered Bette Davis, Diana Ross, and Madonna, I spent hours adoring Donna Summer, Laura Branigan, and the "Solid Gold" dancers.
My lone male idol as a toddler made me feel different from how I felt watching my many beloved female idols. It was Michael Jackson, who was not only my idol, he was my Prince Charming.
What I consider my "defining homosexual moment" occurred around age 4, while watching a TV special hosted by Shari Lewis. During a musical number, one of the male performers onstage happened to be gorgeous, muscular, and clad only in a loin cloth and fez. And my body tingled in a way I couldn't understand.
I had no idea why the sight gave me a feeling so utterly lovely, but the awareness was palpable enough that I have never forgotten it.
I barely knew what homosexuality was when I performed to "Vogue" at age 9.
Back then, I was precocious, but innocent: carefree, unaware, and having a blast.
People ask if my parents knew I was gay then, but they didn't know for years.
Their love for my sister and I was unconditional and overflowing. Physical safety and emotional well-being was their only concern for "how we would turn out" when we moved from childhood to adulthood.
My mother put her emphasis on honesty, while my father relentlessly instilled tolerance. Self-expression was never stifled. Whether I mimicked male or female idols was never an issue: they loved me, my uniqueness, and my ability to not try to fit an image.
I had no idea how lucky I was. I thought my upbringing was "normal."
And I hope that society is moving towards proving my inner child right.
My message to youth now is:
FEEL the power of being yourself!
Your REAL family will love YOU for who YOU are. If your biological family does not, then your REAL family has yet to be discovered.
There IS a world of love that awaits beyond the pain of growing up in a heterosexist society, so allow yourself to be excited for what lay ahead.
So please - don't give up!
Click here - "Born This Way: Real Stories of Growing Up Gay" book
Click here - "My First Gay Crush Blog"
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