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.
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"