Waterford, Maine (1969)
I'm sitting here at our campsite on Papoose Pond, wearing my Indian headband with the pink feather in front like a showgirl. Toes gleefully pointed. Smiling.
It's possible this photo was taken at the very moment Judy Garland died.
I was always dressed in red, my towheaded older brother in blue. Later that got switched. Maybe my mother thought I'd attract less attention in blue.
I was a good student with plenty of friends, until my town merged with another in junior high. Kids I hadn't grown up with tormented me. The dreaded F word. Some old friends jumped ship and unfriended me. I tried fitting in for about a minute, but this was classic rock country, and I liked Blondie and The B-52's.
I told my girlfriend I was gay. She told me she was a lesbian. Other friends I told were cool with it. In high school the artsy upperclassmen protected me, and the worst was over by about 16. I didn't come out to my parents until after college. Mom wasn't surprised, but Dad laughed and said he never would've known.
When I moved to Hollywood there were gay people everywhere. I became a noted drag performer (the original Sharon Needles) and made fabulous friends. I wore red unless I'd bleached my hair, in which case I'd wear blue.
And I loved my big gay demimonde.
After I moved back east to be near my dying father, there were some unhappy years. The bar and the after party are the wrong place to grieve. Happily,
I bounced back, and I'm grateful for my life today.
Being gay doesn't define me. I'm much more than just that.
But looking at this picture now, I absolutely love it. That's the real me.
And I want to keep that kid smiling, and maybe give him another feather.
Steve's first, famous person same-sex crush:
Ralph Carter (Michael on "Good Times")
Click here - "Born This Way: Real Stories of Growing Up Gay" book
Click here - "My First Gay Crush Blog"
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