December 28, 2012


Mark, age 7
Crawfordsville, Indiana (1971)

That's me pictured on the left. Need I say anything more???

I'm here with my little sister, as we had just returned from a Halloween celebration at the local mall.

And check this out: I won a transistor radio for "Best Costume!"

Am I convinced this positive reinforcement is responsible for my gayness?

Yes! :)

Though it was not my mom's intention at the time,
I lovingly refer to this picture as "Lady and The Tramp."

"Born This Way: Real Stories of Growing Up Gay" book
Also check out "My First Gay Crush Blog"

December 22, 2012


Melanie, age 6
Downey, California (1970)

This was me at Christmas, the first year I discovered Santa Claus was basically a hoax perpetrated by generations of traditional family propagandists and greedy department stores. You can tell by my expression how excited I was about that inflatable reindeer and pink nightgown...

Every year I'd receive typical "girly" gifts when what I really wanted was the Hot Wheels® Mongoose & Snake Race Set.

I wore boys' clothes and shoes, so of course I wanted boys' TOYS! But noooo - Barbie dolls and plush toys were all I got.

But Stephen the neighbor boy had the Hot Wheels® sets, and he often let me play with them.

Stephen also eventually gave me my first kiss, which was quite thrilling. But wait, you say - that means I must be straight!

Well, not purely. See, I hated (and still despise) most things feminine.

I never wanted to get married, have kids, or become domesticated. That all sounded like absolute misery to me. I never wanted to be associated with "the weaker sex" - so I basically consider myself a gay male trapped in a female body.

The message I would impart to LGBTQ youth is that it is vital to live your life being true to yourself first. That is a truth that spans all human conditions.

Be true to who you are and what you desire in life, regardless of who objects to it. It takes a lot of courage to do, but you will develop that strength each time you exercise your right to be yourself.

Staying to true to you is the only way you will find the true joy in life.

"Born This Way: Real Stories of Growing Up Gay" book
Also check out "My First Gay Crush Blog"

December 19, 2012


Sarah, age 3
Nampa, Idaho (1973)

I remember this Christmas well. I sat on Santa's lap at the mall and asked for a chainsaw. He looked pretty confused according to my mom, but it must have made an impression - because it's what I got! My eyes are a little red in the photo from crying, because I had to wear a dress.

Growing up in Idaho, I didn't know I was gay. But I knew "gay" was a derogatory term.

I knew I liked girls since I can remember and needed to hide it. I also remember my my first celebrity crush was Samantha on "Bewitched."

Right around the time of this photo I got a boy's style haircut and had the kids convinced I was a boy.

I had little girlfriends who would make me the husband when they played house.

I even had a girlfriend in kindergarten and we'd kiss on the bus.

During 1st grade, I was outed by the bus driver as a girl. He told everyone, "Sarah is a girl's name! You are a girl!" I was mortified. I eventually gave up the charade, but school was tough. I always felt like a freak who didn't fit in.

I moved to Los Angeles once I graduated school and finally felt at home for the first time in my life. I'm very happy and comfortable with myself now as I don't have to pretend anymore. And I've been with my wife for almost 17 years now.

"Born This Way: Real Stories of Growing Up Gay" book
Also check out "My First Gay Crush Blog"

December 15, 2012


Jason, age 7
Brush Valley, Pennsylvania (1976)

Back in the 70's, we always got the necessities for Christmas: clothes, school supplies, and shoes. AND, one special thing from our Santa wish list. All I wanted for Christmas that year was the Lynda Carter "Wonder Woman" doll. And you have never seen a child so happy as the Christmas Day when I opened my "special" present, and there she was - WONDER WOMAN!!!

As for school, it was not easy for me. Throughout grade school and high school I was picked on and bullied and called names I would really rather not say. But I SURVIVED! I graduated high school in 1987 with a graduating class of 167 seniors. And I thought I would never want to see any of them again.

I immediately moved to Tampa, FL and to no one's surprise, I "came out." I went back to college and moved into the business field. Now, a quarter century later I work for a multi-billion dollar healthcare firm.

On Facebook in 2009, I started seeing people I went to high school with, and we began talking. I found out that those who picked on me the worst had a story of their own (abusive homes, sexual assault, drug problems). In November, we had our 25th HS Reunion. The people I thought I would never want to see again gave me such a wonderful evening, that we didn't stop talking until 5:00am!

My message for LGBTQ kids today is:

Right now you are on but one path. This path may seem insurmountable, but if you push through, there will be thousands and millions of paths to choose. And if none of those paths are for you, then pave your own!

You can do anything you set your mind to. Do not let anyone tell you it cannot be done, or there is no hope. I am just one of millions, and I found my path.

I am surrounded by a wonderful family (not all necessarily blood family), incredible friends, and the satisfaction of know that I SURVIVED, I have LIVED, and that I have no regrets.

Be exactly who you are and be PROUD!

"Born This Way: Real Stories of Growing Up Gay" book
Also check out "My First Gay Crush Blog"

December 13, 2012


Mark, age 3
St. Paul, Minnesota (1965)

In this picture I had just asked this Santa for "Chatty Cathy's Brother". He was a doll that taught you how to dress and tie your shoes.

Talk about the perfect doll for a little gay boy!

My father was dying and pleaded with my mom not to buy me that doll.

Luckily for me, my uncle had overheard my request and he wrapped it and hid it under the tree for me.

I was so excited on Christmas when I unwrapped the "Brudder" doll - I couldn't pronounce brother - and it was the best Christmas ever!

"Born This Way: Real Stories of Growing Up Gay" book
Also check out "My First Gay Crush Blog"

December 10, 2012


Greg, age 2
Plano, Illinois (1974)

This photo was taken at my grandma's house, where I remember listening to
Judy Garland's "Send My Baby Back to Me" on a 78-rpm record in her basement. On the left I have my Ken doll as I'm coveting my sister's Barbie Dream House that she got that day. I couldn't even take my eyes off of it posing for a photo! And as you can see, she's trying to get me to face the camera.

I first realized I was "different" in 7th grade. I prayed that it wasn't true and that I would change, but I just didn't find girls attractive. I didn't really know what gay meant though, so I thought maybe I was supposed to have been born a girl.
I was pretty tormented emotionally, and I felt depressed.

My same-sex crushes were the boys on "Eight Is Enough" - all of them. My mom tells me I was in love with Chastity Bono, so go figure. Closeted through high school, I don’t remember being picked on for being gay. But, I'd been bullied and teased because of my size and lack of athletic interest and ability.

When I turned 25, I was given the greatest gift: self-acceptance. And I remember feeling as though a huge weight had been lifted. Upon reflection, I realized that I had always been gay and soon began coming out to friends and family, and I finally came out to my mom 3 years ago.

Today, I live as an openly gay man. I've been told by straight men that they respect me for being who I am, and that makes me feel great. I feel that I should use my position to educate others, to pave the way for future LGBTQ kids so they don't have the fear of being "found out" that they're gay.

I was born this way, and I love it!

 "Born This Way: Real Stories of Growing Up Gay" book
Also check out "My First Gay Crush Blog"

December 07, 2012

"The 12 Gays Of Christmas" Book Giveaway!


As a special gift for all your support, we present
"The 12 Gays Of Christmas" book giveaway!

Here, watch the video for more information:

So here's what we need you to do:

1) Click HERE for more intructions on how to submit to the blog
2) Find a childhood photo of you related to the holiday season
3) Write up your story or memories related to the photo or holidays
4) Send your photo and story to us ASAP to be posted here!

Did you ask for a special toy you wanted as a gay kid that you never got?
Did your siblings get a gift that YOU really wanted but couldn't ask for?
Did your parents discourage you from asking for the "wrong" kind of gift?
Did your parents surprise you with a gift that you never thought they'd buy?
Did you choose Christmas or the holidays to come out? If so, how did it go?
Do you have an especially memorable story related to Santa Claus?

Those are all things we want to hear about! Of course, this isn't only limited to those who celebrate Christmas. Tell us your Hanukkah stories too - and/or anything related to how YOU celebrated the holiday season as an LGBTQ kid.
But don't delay - the deadline for submissions is Thurs., December 20th!

We'll pick our favorite submissions and those people will WIN a copy of the
"Born This Way: Real Stories of Growing Up Gay" book,
courtesy of Quirk Books!

"Born This Way: Real Stories of Growing Up Gay" book
Also check out "My First Gay Crush Blog"

November 28, 2012


Cal, age 5
Manchester, Maryland (1987)

I'm pictured on the right with my pants tucked into my boots so you could see how pretty they were. I was always told, 'Boys don't tuck their jeans into their boots, girls do.' I just know I always felt more comfortable doing things my way!

I like how happy I look in this picture with my friends. This is one of many pictures that just scream, "Come on! Were you surprised I'm gay? Really?" Recently I gathered my pictures from birth through high school. In this picture you see my smile, and see that I am happy.

But I soon realized I was different and knew I was gay. Those of us born this way have always known it on some level. Unfortunately, the older I got the more my smile went away. And that breaks my heart. I look at my pictures and I feel so much pain for a little boy that just wanted to be loved so badly.

If there is one good thing I can say and ask of anyone who reads this, it is this:

If parents notice their kids or their friends' kids aren't smiling anymore, find out why. And show them some love. Whenever you suspect that someone just needs some love, I would say 99% of the time it's an accurate intuition.

I hope that somehow my story will touch even one person to reach out and help someone's smile last longer than mine did. All it takes is a few minutes to extend love to someone, especially a child that is begging to be loved.

  "Born This Way: Real Stories of Growing Up Gay" book
Also check out "My First Gay Crush Blog"

November 16, 2012


Frank, age 10
Patton, Pennsylvania (1976)

Well, I think we can safely say by the age of 10 I was OUT! This photo was taken by a photographer from my home town newspaper. My uncle actually owned the newspaper business and my mother worked in the dark room.

Needless to say, when my mother was developing the film that afternoon, she was in shock!

The photographer knew who I was under my granny's wig and red mint, lipstick toothpaste. And of course, my sister's square dancing dress. None other than her co-worker's son! She couldn't resist capturing this moment on film.

Now, as a family we all laugh about this particular Halloween evening. I guess you could say it was my first Gay Pride Parade!

Both of my parent's were gone for the evening and left my brother in charge of babysitting me.

He went out to play with his friends and I was left to my own accord. So this
"ladygirl boy trying to be queer" was my shining LGBTQ moment from the 70's.

 I am one of the lucky ones whose parents let me be myself, and who supported me as much as they could throughout my childhood.

My advice to everyone is to be who you are and don't deviate for anyone!
YOU are the BEST YOU there is!

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

November 07, 2012


Sofía, age 2
Villa Mercedes, San Luis, Argentina (1987)

I remember as if it were yesterday when I said to my dad, "Paint a beard and mustache on my face." And I was so happy with my manly beard.

When I was 3 years old in kindergarten, my teacher told everyone to pick a card: yellow or pink for the girls, and blue or green for the boys. And I wanted green!

She tried to explain that I was a girl so I had to pick pink or yellow.
"I'm a girl, and I want green," I said.

I always felt "different" from the other girls, and I never liked boys.
I always felt a connection to girls, but it was all unconscious. It was if it was all a secret, even to myself.

At the age of 16 I realized that I was in love with my female best friend.

But as I was so scared, I never acted on those feelings. However, thanks to her,
I could start living my life as the lesbian I am. And it all finally became clear!

Now at age 26, I'm in love an enjoying every part of it with a girl who never thought she could love another girl. She's a very special person in my life, and we connected instantly when we met. I love the way she holds my hand when we walk down the street. It brings me peace.

I am glad that I always remained true to myself, and that I never tried to be with a boy, just so that my family or friends would accept me. Today they all accept and love me for who I am. Even my grandmother asks me, "How is your girlfriend?" and that means the world to me.

Morrissey once sang: "And if the people stare, then the people stare, I really don't know and I really don't care. There's no shame..." And that's my story today, too.

Also check out "My First Gay Crush Blog"

November 01, 2012

Where To Get The Book

Hey everyone!

So the "Born This Way: Real Stories of Growing Up Gay" book has been out for almost a month now, and the response has been just amazing! It's getting some great reviews (both print and online) and on Amazon, and the feedback about the project is so positive and wonderful to see. I really appreciate it all!

You can find the book in all indie and large bookstores, Urban Outfitters,
and online in the various links too:

If you already have the book and want to share your thoughts about it, please write up your own review on Amazon or any of those links.  Reviews and traffic to those links really help keep the book visible and high on their new release charts.

On Sunday, November 4th at Palm Springs Pride,
Erasure's Andy Bell joined me for an incredible book signing for about 60 people, and Q-Trading Books sold out of all the copies they had!

Here's a photo of Andy and I at the signing:

And look how cute Andy Bell was as a wee lad.
You can read Andy's story inside the book!

Many, many thanks to everyone for supporting this project!
xo - Paul V.


Also check out "My First Gay Crush Blog"

October 19, 2012


Bryant, age 7
Plantation, Florida (1993)

I was one of the lucky ones with my family. From a very early age, my mother knew she had a gay son. She always tells the story of how I used to be obsessed with "The Little Mermaid" and how I REALLY wanted the Ariel Barbie doll.

Although my dad didn't approve, she bought the doll for my birthday.

And I took Ariel with me just about everywhere: to the store, to school for show and tell, and to our family gatherings.

One day we went to the beach and Ariel was right by my side. I wanted to go swimming in the ocean and it's only natural that I wanted to take my mermaid doll for a swim.

Unfortunately, due to a huge wave I lost grip of my beloved doll, and she was taken out to sea.

My dad swam out to try to save her, but it was too late. I was crushed and I cried for days. My mom said she was home under the sea, but I just couldn't get over it.

The next day I woke up to find a new Ariel Barbie and a note from my mother that said, "Look who came home!!!" And all was right in the world again.

Also check out "My First Gay Crush Blog"

October 01, 2012

Born This Way: Real Stories of Growing Up Gay Book!

Hey everyone! TODAY IS THE DAY!

My "Born This Way: Real Stories Of Growing Up Gay" book came out today, Tuesday October 9th! I am beyond thrilled, excited, and proud that I can share my book with all of you, and the world.

Huge thanks to everyone who shared their photo and story with me, and much gratitude for everyone who supported this project. It means everything!

Many of you fellow bloggers wrote about this blog very early on, and you are the reason there was so much buzz for from the very beginning. So both myself and Quirk Books would like to make sure you can receive a complimentary copy of the book to review!

So to get your own review copy, here’s what to do: *

1. Email Eric Smith at: eric AT quirkbooks DOT COM. Send him your blog name, the URL of your blog, and your name. Eric is very nice. You'll like him, I promise.

2. Post your book review anytime during the months of October and November.

3. On the review page, please link to the book on Amazon and Barnes & Noble,
to Quirk Book's website, and to me - yours truly at

And it's that easy!

I hope the rest of you will grab yourself a copy of the book, and help spread the word about it. Especially for "National Coming Out Day" on October 11th.

The book is also available online on Amazon and Barnes & Noble:

Paul V., your blogmaster and author

* Please note that there are a limited number of books available for review, so make sure you email Mr. Eric as soon as you can!

September 16, 2012


Cricket, age 7
Biloxi, Mississippi (1984)

My photo is from an Arts & Crafts fair I was at with my grandmother, my aunt, and my cousins. We were selling handmade monkey puppets that wrapped around your body. They wanted me to pose next to the rocking pony for a picture, and I didn't want to. Hence the sassy attitude, which I still have today.

I was raised in the suburbs of New Orleans, and my mom and dad were divorced before I was born.

My grandparents and an aunt raised me with a watchful eye.

I was not a shy boy, and I was very outgoing, artsy, and athletic. I loved tumbling, painting, volleyball, soccer, and cheerleading.

My father tried to get me to play more "manly" sports, but that never worked out.

I always felt different, and not like my cousins or anyone I knew.

I first realized I was gay was when a neighbor's son (a Marine) came to get me to drive me to where my father was with his friends.

We were walking down the street and he asked if I wanted to race. I said sure, and he took off like a bat out of hell. All I could look at was his butt. It was so perfectly round! I was so attracted to it, but didn't know what that feeling meant.

Today, I'm a dental assistant living in Chicago with barely any communication with my family. I feel my father is ashamed of me for being gay, and that most of my family is mad at me for leaving to try and pursue a life outside of the south.

But I'm still dancing and cheerleading, and I love it.

Click here - "Born This Way: Real Stories of Growing Up Gay" book
Click here - "My First Gay Crush Blog"
Click to follow my blog with Bloglovin'

August 30, 2012


Sara, age 10
Worcester, Massachusetts (1999)

The school photographer hated me because I refused to smile. He even made a note of it in my photo-packet, in case my parents got upset. They weren't though, once I explained that I wanted a "serious" picture, like the ones taken of them in the old country.

But really, my logic was: 'I'll be more handsome with a straight face and a leopard print collared shirt'.

I was teased around this age for my thick Persian accent, but more so for my androgyny. I didn't have a word for it then, but "Are you a boy or a girl?" was something I heard often.

Being the only nerdy, gay child of immigrant parents in a (trashy) white town, our family felt jealousy and resentment. All I ever wanted was to make the family proud, but I knew that my existence alone painted a target on their backs.

My parents used my good grades to excuse my gender-bending, and quickly changed the topic to that whenever the subject of my tomboy-ness came up.

My friends said "We always knew," my mom said "I don't want you to be denied ANY opportunity in life," and my dad said "Whatever makes you happy."

Personally, I never accepted the classical notions of "boys" and "girls" that they fed us in school, and neither did my peers, all of whom grew to love me. I pursued my goals and never apologized for being born a queer.

If any teens or pre-teens are reading this, just focus on your own well-being.

If you work at being a trustworthy, loving, and genuine person, those who really matter will recognize your worth, and who'll seek to earn your companionship.

Sara's first, famous-person same sex crush:
Julie Andrews in "The Sound Of Music"

Click here - "Born This Way: Real Stories of Growing Up Gay" book
Click here - "My First Gay Crush Blog"
Click to follow my blog with Bloglovin'

August 15, 2012


Dan, age 1
Islip, New York (1967)

I don't remember this New Year's Day picture at a Fort Lauderdale beach, as I was still an infant. But as you can see, the cat was clearly already out of the bag!

It would remain out of the bag til this very day, and there wasn't a thing I or anyone else could do about it. I think my mom's expression show's a bit of shock, while my grandma is full of GLEE! My dad, as usual, was in his own world.

I was very different right from the get go. I was the toe-headed blond, while my sister and brother (8 and 10 years older than me) were both darker and brunettes.

As the story is told, my mother asked my sister and brother: "Do you want a baby or a puppy?" "Puppy!!!" they both exclaimed. "Too late," my mother replied.
And the rest was history...

Later in life, I would go on to create videos with fabulous divas like Madonna, Cher, Ann-Margret, and The Go-Go's. And now they call me "Dan-O-Rama."

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

July 24, 2012


Adrian, age 7
Alhambra, California (1994)

The saying "I've always felt different" is very familiar to me. But throughout my life, I was more made to feel different. I remember the kids just sniffing my "difference" out of me like bloodhounds at the time. Children find anything that is not normal to them, and use it against someone. Because they can.

Desperate for the kids to like me, I'd comply with their commands of "Chase them away with your gayness!" when playing with them. They made me in to a prop rather than a friend in their silly games.

I wasn't into sports. But on the sidelines I'd pick up the ball and give it to the boy I had a crush on. Yet he would be the one who made fun of me for being "different."

I soon realized that they were using the word "gay" to hurt me, and the more it made me feel like an outcast, the more I denied it. I even forced crushes on girls that I knew weren't authentic.

I felt if I expressed these feelings for girls, they would finally like me. But that never happened. This treatment manifested into anger and a negative attitude through my teen years. I'd stay home every night and not allow myself to have fun. I was depressed, and I knew it was because I was gay.

I was bullied in high school, especially by one neanderthal in particular. It was almost as if each attack deterred me further from wanting to come out.

I'd use humor as a defense mechanism, because that was the one thing that came naturally to me, and it was the one thing that hid my depression. This suited me well in college, a place where I could be accepted for who I really am.

I found a GREAT group of friends who embraced my homosexuality, and for the first time in my life, I felt free. And I found confidence and pride in myself.

Now age 24, I came out to my parents. My father couldn't have been anymore fine with my being gay. My mother took it a little harder, but she says she loves me unconditionally. I never thought I'd see the day where my parents knew I was gay, let alone be okay with it. Even if they are still adjusting to it.

To the LGBTQ youth: Life is too short to feel miserable about who you are.
I spent the majority of my life unhappy, and I don't want that for you. If your family isn't supportive, find a group of friends or organizations that will support you. Never let anyone else define who you are; that is your job and you have the right to do so in your own time.

You're beautiful and perfect just the way you are! It doesn't matter if you're a boy who likes boys, a girl who likes girls, or questioning your own gender - as long as you treat everyone with the respect and dignity every human deserves.

I might not know you, but I love you.
So stay strong, 'cause you were born this way, baby!

Also check out "My First Gay Crush Blog"

July 06, 2012


Josef, age 12
Košice, Slovakia (1992)

Growing up in Slovakia, I always knew that I was gay. I was interested in fashion, experimenting with my hair styles, and I was a big Madonna fan and collector. I always remember being interested in boys, and I had a shirtless photo of David Hasselhoff that I treasured.

I once entered a talent competition dressed as Madonna to sing "Express Yourself," and I won the final round!

I performed this many times around the city, and I really felt like a diva. I mean, just look at my photo!

But it was difficult being me in my small Slovakian town. I was a freak to my classmates, and it was hard to find any information about being gay. There was no literature, and no internet.

But I always felt that I was the normal one, and that people around me just didn't understand me.

I told my mother I was gay when I was 19, and she was surprised. Which I didn't understand, because she made this Madonna costume for me!

Today I live with my partner in Prague, Czech Republic. We've been together for
7 years and we are in a registered partnership. My parents love him and treat him like a member of the family. I am now finishing my photography studies in art college, and my thesis is about this part of my childhood.

My message to to LGBTQ kids is to just act naturally.
Don't be shy to show your true orientation, your feelings, or who you love.

Express yourself, don't repress yourself!

Click here - "Born This Way: Real Stories of Growing Up Gay" book
Click here - "My First Gay Crush Blog"
Click to follow this blog with Bloglovin'

June 25, 2012


Fay, age 5
San Jose, California (1991)

I'm on the far right in my photo. We were at Marine World when I saw this group of girls hanging out on the bench. My mom saw me staring at them and forced me to go introduce myself. She was so proud that I made new "American" friends that she had to take a picture.

At the time, I remember thinking to myself, "Wow! These girls are so pretty!"
As I got older, I realized my admirations for girls were really crushes in disguise.

We moved to California from the Philippines and I hardly knew any English,
so I was very shy and it was hard for me to make friends. But I always knew I was different at a young age. I hated dresses and dolls, and when we played house, I always preferred playing the daddy, or the pet Dalmatian. God forbid that I would ever play the role of the mommy or sister!

I had a difficult time coping with my sexuality in a traditional Filipino-Catholic household. My family was hopeful that someday I would grow out of being a tomboy. But instead, I just evolved into a lesbian.

My family eventually learned to love and accept me for who I am. Though it took time, my parents and I now have a great relationship and I couldn't ask for a better support system.

So my advice to gay kids, especially those living in non-accepting families, is to hang in there. I swear that it does get better. When it comes down to it, the only acceptance you truly need is your own.

You were born this way. So just believe in yourself, and others will follow.

Also check out "My First Gay Crush Blog"

June 12, 2012


Scott, age 7
Dayton, Ohio (1976)

I was doing financial paperwork the other day, and it reminded me how in the 2nd grade, I was taught to draw what was allegedly a "proper" number "2".

The same teacher would also read our "writing" homework out loud for the entire class.

If she disliked your sentences, she would sing her opinion in this imperious, operatic voice:


Well, being the creative creature I am, I decided to write my number 2's with a "wavy swoosh" at the bottom.

She berated me for it in front of the class, and it went like this:

Teacher: "Is this how I told you to write your 2's?"
Me: "No."
Teacher: "Then why didn't you write them the way I told you to?"
Me: "Because your way is [singing at the top of my lungs] "BBBBBOOOOOOORRRRRRIIIIIINNNNNNGGGG!"

I went to the Principal's office for that one, who couldn't stop laughing about it.
And today, I still write my number 2's with the swoosh.

Also check out "My First Gay Crush Blog"

June 01, 2012


Jonathan, age 4
Queens, New York (1963)

This is me (on the right) with my best friend David, taken outside our apartment building on Hillside Avenue in Queens, NY. I love the fact that we are holding hands and we seem to be deliriously happy!

There was a little girl in our building who liked to beat us up if we were solo,
so David and I were usually joined at the hip.

I didn't realize that I was more attracted to boys than girls until around age 8,
and I didn't act on it until I was age 12 (with my best friend Ira).

But as I look at this picture now, I see a very happy and gay young man!

"Born This Way: Real Stories of Growing Up Gay" book
Also check out "My First Gay Crush Blog"

May 24, 2012


Zulema, age 7
Phoenix, Arizona (1992)

I've always felt different.
Heck, even my name is different.

My girl crush was always on Angelina Jolie. My first lesbian "experience" was at the age of 19, when I fell in love for the first time with my best friend. That didn't work out and I'm still coping.

Strangely, my siblings are like me:
My two younger brothers and an older sister are gay as well.

We never quite spoke of our sexuality until Facebook came around, and we've became more open about it.

This picture brings me joy because I'm now an artist.
It's true when they say we all have a destiny.

Click here - "Born This Way: Real Stories of Growing Up Gay" book
Click here - "My First Gay Crush Blog"
Click to follow this blog with Bloglovin'

May 02, 2012


Barry, age 5
Sherman Oaks, California (1976) 

This was my first time in (public) drag. I always loved to turn my bathrobe into a hula skirt and use my bathrobe tie to make Native American pigtails.

For this circus themed party I wanted to be a clown, who I decided had to look like Bozo.

But I didn't know how to make a Bozo bald skull, so my mom - drag icon that she was to me - helped me create this gypsy fortune teller costume.

In my mind now, I see myself here as a Shirley Temple meets Brooke Shields type of gal. I was stunning.

So stunning in fact, that children and parents at the party were extremely shaken up as I took off my wig to eat a hot dog, as suggested by my friend's mom.

Why would you need to be bewigged to eat? I still wonder about that now! I can still feel the pleasure I got out of freaking everyone out, as I continued to chew.

As an artist and performer today, I still revel in that kind of shock value. I consider myself gay, but I feel that a part of me is transgender. Around that age my mom asked me if I wanted to be a girl, and I said no because of the pain of giving birth. But I secretly wanted to have long hair and run around in frilly dresses.

It turns out my friend in the photo (my friend from kindergarten through high school) is gay too. But we never told each other through the years, as we both came out separately during our college days. __________________________________________________

Also check out "My First Gay Crush Blog"

April 18, 2012


Dawn, age 6
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada (1987)

I have always felt like there was something different within me, like a switch that wasn't fully depressed. No concrete black or white feelings, just a whole lot of grey. I was the little girl with the blue bedroom with dinosaur trim. And video games, car posters, pet frogs and lots of fish along side all her Barbie dolls.

For this Christmas in my photo, all I wanted, more than anything else, was a typewriter. This picture makes me smile, and I realize that I still get that look at my laptop before I write now.

As I got older and into my teenaged years, I had boyfriends and realized that I still had that "grey" feeling. I liked boys and girls equally. Also at around the same time, I was being rejected by the straight community for being too gay, and rejected by the gay community for being too straight.

So I stopped talking about it. But, I have always quietly advocated and supported our freedom to love whoever we want regardless of race, religion, or sex.

I am now married to my incredibly supportive husband and have two beautiful sons and a stepson. I always tell them that it is important to stand up for yourself and for your beliefs, and it is time I took my own advice.

My kids need a proud gay mother.

My advice to LGBTQ youth today is to not let a label define you! You are so much more than that. Also, for every person who denies you the love you deserve, there are 100 more who will accept you. Never stop looking for them.

I am one of them, and I love you.

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

Click to follow my blog with Bloglovin'

April 06, 2012


Kerry, age 5
Buffalo, New York (1954)

I loved getting dressed up as a kid, and meeting the Easter Bunny was the perfect opportunity. My older brother always squirmed when our mom dressed us like this, but I really looked forward to it.

I always felt different from the other boys.

While they seemed to get all excited about baseball or football (and anything having to do with balls), I would rather sing and dance and play with the girls. This was strongly discouraged by my parents, but I knew what I liked.

I was about age 10 when I realized I was attracted to boys. My first crush was a boy on my football team. To get his attention I would offer to carry his jacket, helmet, or anything of his to show my interest.

He thought I was strange, as did my brother. And that made me feel really sad.

As time went on with more crushes, it became difficult to feel good about myself.

Playing sports became an exercise in hiding my affections. It wasn't much fun, but my dad insisted I play all the time. He was the first bully in my life.

Being a good Catholic boy and going to religious schools only reinforced the feeling that I was unacceptable. Not only in my family's eyes, but even in God's eyes. I never came out until I was age 47, and married with one child. I regret that I waited so long to come out, but today I'm happy I can be myself now.

I now know that I was born this way, and I celebrate this whenever I can.

I'm concerned about today's gay youth and the bullying they may endure.
It does get better, but we need to give them much support along the way.

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

March 29, 2012


Lauren, age 4
Atlanta, Georgia (1995)

I might not have known at age 4 that I was a lesbian, but I knew by the time I turned 8-years old that I was beginning to wonder why I wasn't like my cousin, Alex. All I wanted to do was wear boy's clothes like him, play with action figures like him, and to talk about my girl crushes like he did.

I'll never forget my first love in 8th grade. But being in middle school, not many kids knew what the meaning of LGBTQ was. Luckily for me, when I came out at that age to my friends, everyone was supportive and I wasn't bullied like I feared.

Today at age 20, I have an astounding partner, a successful job being an EMT, and supportive family and friends.

My little encouragement for LGBTQ kids and people today is to not let others define you. I am who I am today, and I was born this way.

Also check out "My First Gay Crush Blog"

March 23, 2012


Michael, age 3
Connersville, Indiana (1972)

In the 1970's, I would spend quite a bit of time on our covered porch, keeping rhythm with my grandmother in our rocking chairs, and watching the world go by as the sun set.

I wasn't very old, yet I felt right at home being an adult.

I would often tell anyone who asked if I had a girlfriend, that I was a "confirmed bachelor" - even though I didn’t really know what that meant.

It was an adult thing to say and, for some reason, I knew it described me.

One evening, my grandma leaned over and said, "Mickey, I may not be around too much longer, but I want you to know that you are different, you are special. You'll figure it out someday, but don't let anyone ever make you feel bad about yourself. You're loved and always will be."

As I continued to rock, attempting to understand what she meant, I decided that I should just remain quiet and let it sit. I continued to rock, and continued to think about what she meant. I still do.

It wasn't too long as a teen before I knew just how different I really was, and why others might try to make me feel bad about myself. But I like to think that each day, I continue to glean a bit from my grangmother's words.

Today, I still know I am loved and always will be.

Also check out "My First Gay Crush Blog"

March 15, 2012


Philippe, age 8
Montréal, Quebec, Canada (1992)

I have two vivid memories about kindergarten. The first one is about a boy from another city who moved back to his home in the middle of the year. I kept having dreams about him for a long time, though I can barely remember if he even ever really existed. In any case, I liked him a lot.

The other memory is how my teacher and class thought I was weird because I never enjoyed playing in the "little house" with the other kids.

For some reason, that little house was so popular, but I hated it.

All the kids would be playing and screaming; the girls would pretend to make tea and the boys would swing hammers. I just couldnt stand it.

Around this age, my parents signed me up with the soccer team, because apparently I preferred to pick flowers around the field, rather than run and kick a ball.

After that, my parents signed me up in the Boy Scouts, which is a whole other story that involves some of my first experiences with sexuality.

I pretty much always knew I was different, and I've always been mostly happy about it, especially when I didnt know what it really meant. I am lucky to have parents who love and support me, and three amazing sisters who just cant wait to rant and rave about guys with me.

Life is full of surprises. I am now in a relationship with a georgous man, I'm studying medical science, and I'm hoping to do some research and health care for my community.

Thanks for doing this great project. I see a lot of homophobia around me, and it makes me so happy when I see ideas such as this one, that are so full of love.

Click here - "Born This Way: Real Stories of Growing Up Gay" book
Click here - "My First Gay Crush Blog"
Click to follow this blog with Bloglovin'

March 06, 2012


Danny, age 5
Brownwood, Texas (1956)

Looks a little too happy for a small-town Texas kid, doesn't it? I love this picture now, and about two years later, I knew it was boys I liked.

I experimented with the boys around me through Cub and Boy Scouts during junior and high school, and I came out once I was on my own.

I don't remember much in the way of teasing or bullying as I was growing up. For one thing,
I was smarter than the rest of the kids in my classes, so the teachers noticed me.

I also had a big brother who was tough. Unlike the rest of my family, he looked out for me.

Soon after this photo was taken, the rest of my family began mocking my comedy and dance routines. They would drag me out and make me perform in front of neighbors - for the express purpose of everyone having a laugh, but me.

And not the good-natured kind of laughter.

But when I got away from them 13 years later, I became a professional performer and pursued it for 20 years.

So my advice to the gay kids of today is: Keep your dreams close.
And don't give anyone the power to take them away from you.


Click here - "Born This Way: Real Stories of Growing Up Gay" book
Click here - "My First Gay Crush Blog"
Click to follow this blog with Bloglovin'

March 03, 2012

LA CA event - March 5th

This Monday, March 5th in Los Angeles - The Village Variety Pack presents our 1st Anniversary Celebration party and it's gonna be a super fun event!

We'll be featuring slides from the blog, and 3 amazing guests
will be appearing live to read their growing up gay stories:

Sutan Amrull (aka Raja Gemini, Season 3 winner of Ru Paul's Drag Race)
Todd Hughes (filmmaker, "Hits So Hard")
Clinton Leupp (aka the inimitable Miss Coco Peru)

Also part of this wonderful night of talent is:
Peter Mac as Judy Garland
Uncle Gay & Aunt Bitter (aka comics Tony Tripoli & Penelope Lombard)
The Forever Young Chorale Group
Charles Romaine, singer

Tickets are $15 ** and available at:
- - or by calling (323) 860-7300
All proceeds benefit the LA Gay & Lesbian Center's youth outreach programs.
** Use the password "GAGA" at the box office for $8 tickets!

January 18, 2012


Aimee, age 8
Portland, Oregon (1981)

Hello! My name is Aimee and I was born this way in Oregon.

The closest professional football team was the Seattle Seahawks, and although my brother was given a San Francisco Giants uniform, I was the only one to wear mine daily.

I was active in sports and I thank the drafters of Title 9, as that allowed for girls to express non-traditional feminine attributes. And that was a big deal in 1972!

Although some freedoms of expression were encouraged during my childhood, I grew up in a homophobic environment.

I did not feel comfortable coming out until I left home at age 17. Since then,
I have been very active supporting LGBTQ youth and now work as a professor teaching human sexuality to undergraduates.

My message for LGBTQ youth who feel alone is: please know there is a loving community of LGBTQ adults who have experienced some or most of what you may be feeling today - and it does get better.

You are not alone, so reach out and you will find an open hand.

Also check out "My First Gay Crush Blog"