December 29, 2013


Russ, age 17
Springfield, Virginia (1982)

While I look like a happy go lucky teenager, that was just not the case at this time. I was in such turmoil about my sexuality, I often contemplated hurting myself.

I was raised in a very religious home. The bumper sticker on my car behind me says, "His Banner Over Us is Love" - and I was horribly conflicted as a teenager.

Thankfully, I soldiered through it all, and I am now a successful CFO of a
multi-million dollar company. And my partner and I will soon celebrate our
16 year anniversary, and life is so, so very good now.

If I only could have know all that was awaiting me back then! :-)

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

December 09, 2013


Noah, age 5
West Milton, Ohio (1999)

When I look back now, I think, “Well, no duh - I’m gay!” I can recall buying my first Green Day CD, with a recurring fantasy where singer Billie Joel Armstrong and I run away together. I was young so I never had a sexual attraction to him. But for some reason the fantasy made me feel safe.

When I played with my Lego people I only had one girl, so many of those toy pairings were gay.

But I never really realized exactly what I was doing.

My best friend since I was age 1 turned out to be homophobic, and I repeatedly defended the gay community when he claimed that all gay people were going to hell.

Yet I could never bring myself to identify as gay myself. I knew it was there, but I just did not recognize it.

I can recall my parents finding gay porn on the computer two times and having a conversation with a boy on MySpace when I was 12. But when I came out four years later, they seemed surprised.

My first boyfriend was one of my best friends and we are still close today. I have taken guys to every school dance since I came out, and fortunately I've survived high school without too much bullying.

It certainly was not easy sailing, though, and I had many nights where I cried, ready to swallow a handful of pills and end it all. I'm sure glad I didn't!

And today, I am thankful that I am gay.

Being out has even brought my dad and me closer. I'll talk to him about boys while we work on his car together. It is completely ironic, but it's home.

PS: 12 years after my photo was taken, I made out with a boy in that same van. :)

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

November 21, 2013


Jacqueline, age 7
Pekin, Illinois (1989)

As a kid, I always had way more guy friends than girl friends, and I wanted to look and dress like a boy. Even my parents were convinced I was a boy. My mom wanted to name me Ben, but my dad said "No!" because people would call me "Bengay" - which is kind of ironic considering how that all turned out.

Thankfully, my parents let me express myself the way I wanted and do the hobbies I was interested in.

It is hard to pinpoint the age, but I guess I always knew I may be different. Especially since the girls I was friends with didn't want to look like a boy or build forts.

As you get older, you start to realize being gay isn't the norm, especially in a small town in middle America.

Although being made fun of hurt my feelings, I never let it get to me. I was determined to not let anyone see it hurt me, and eventually I grew thick skin and slowly stopped caring what people thought.

My first girl crush was on Jennifer Aniston, but I wasn't legitimately attracted to a woman until college.  I didn't get to officially "come out" though, as my college roommates told everyone after they saw me sneaking out a girl who had stayed the night with me.

Today, I guess I am almost a poster story for having the most supportive friends and family, who have Platinum PFLAG status. I am so thankful for them, my wonderful friends, and the accomplishments of my chosen career path.

And oh yeah, a wonderful dog AND my girly hair cut now. _____________________________________________________

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

November 11, 2013


Stuart, age 6 
Shaker Heights, Ohio (1969) 

I've known I was different from the first moments of my self awareness. I came from a mixed marriage that turned into a violent household. My father's family was Jewish and I never felt that I was part of that community. I always felt safe with my mother's family, who lived in a small town in Central Ohio.

Until I was age 5, I was pretty much a rough and tumble boy.
I was obsessed with playing with cars, riding my bike, and doing everything else that boys did.

The only real love that I received was from Leatrice, a woman my father hired to help with house cleaning. I adored her, and she was my world.

My first inkling I was gay was around age 4, watching Batman and hoping his costume would rip open. I can't explain it, but each episode I hoped it would happen. Of course it never did, but I never stopped hoping.

I later found copies of my father's Playboy Magazines and tried to will myself to find those women attractive. But when we would be at a pool, I was obsessed with the men in their swim suits and seeing their chests.

I became very body conscious at a very young age, and became painfully shy around other guys. I was skinny and didn't like to fight. I hated gym class because I thought I would get a hard-on in the locker room and would be made fun of.

My home life was violent and unpredictable, and I had no safe haven.
And I was bullied in school. I was beaten up. And I was called a fag.

The "normal" people in suburban Ohio in those days did not acknowledge gay people. I had no mentor, no one to look to for guidance. I just wanted to die and be wiped from the face of the Earth, because I feared I would shame the family.

My coming out happened in January 1983. I saw that gay men were just like everyone else, and we were everywhere and doing everything that "normal" people did. And I also understood that when you hide who are you, you give total power to the negative people around you.

While it took me 20 years to get there - and everyone's journey is different - it was such a relief! And the reward? I made it. And I made my now-deceased parents both understand that they didn't "do this to me," but that I am who I am, and that I was born this way.

My partner and I have known each other for 32 years and we've been together for 16 years. And all of those years have been warm, loving, and supportive.

We live in amazing times, and its so good to be here and see how the world is getting better and better for LGBT people.

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

October 20, 2013


Jared, age 4
Williamson, Georgia (1991) 

This photo is me doing what I'm told was one of my favorite activities, which was wearing a pair of my mom's sensible flats and pretending to vacuum the house.

Looking back on my photos, I have memories of doing lots of things that I would consider really flamboyant and telling. But at the time, I was just being me.

I started becoming aware of just how different I was when I started school at age 5, and I learned to tone it way down. Once I hit puberty, I really figured out what was going on. And I waited way too long to come out to my family, but I finally did it after I finished college.

With coming out, I have received nothing, NOTHING, but all the love and support of my parents, my brother, cousins, grandparents, aunts, uncles - and even my recently-turned 99 great-grandmother. And all this from some small town Georgians, too!

Today, I am out, proud and loving life. And I'm engaged to the sweetest, best guy anyone could ever hope to meet, a happy fate I never believed would be mine.

Here I am, and I couldn't be happier! So my advice to those today is:
Just be yourself and great things will come your way.

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

October 07, 2013


Mark, age 10
Rockland, Massachusetts (1971)

This gem of a photo is me with my sisters, Sue and Maureen - with their fabulous Carol Brady shag haircuts - jealous! I violated the 'prints and stripes' rule of fashion because I could not decide between my favorite shirt and favorite pants at the time. Of course, my older sister Maureen said, "They don’t match!"

I have tried to pinpoint when I knew I was gay, but it's lost in a clutter of memories. Some go back to when I was around age five taking a bath, when my older brothers needed to pee standing at the toilet. Even then it was all I could do not to peek, and I remember being chastised for getting caught trying to look.

I was always concerned about my appearance and loved my stylish clothes, especially if I could convince my mother to buy me what I wanted rather than what she wanted. I usually got one or two choice "pieces" each year. And all my lime green, zip mock turtlenecks and purple paisley dress shirts stood out like a vintage fashion show in our family photos.

I was taunted and teased for being a sissy and faggot for most of my childhood. But I had a wonderful support system at home, with loving parents and sisters who ignored my uniqueness and who loved me for being me.

My mother was always supportive. Always. While my father would cast a disapproving eye most of the time, he never ever said anything that made me feel like I was doing something wrong.

I came out formally to my parents when I was 21, but it was a non news event since they knew I was born this way. Today, my sisters are still my best friends.

When I see kids today that remind me of me at that age, I always let them know
I think they are fabulous and fierce and to keep up the good work. I had a few adults who encouraged me like that, and thinking back I can still remember those few kind words of support.

 40 years later, that kind of encouragement still makes a big difference.

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

September 21, 2013


Michelle, age 4 
Flamborough, N. Yorkshire, England (1971)

I'm pictured on the right with my sister Louise. This photo was taken a few months after I'd chopped the left hand side of my hair off. It was really long and I wanted it short! My father said a big fat "No!" to that idea, as he preferred girls to have long hair.

So at the age of 4 I took matters into my own hands and cut it. I stood on a chair at the kitchen sink and proceeded to cut away, only to be discovered by my mum!

As she walked in I was trying to wash the evidence down the sink, as if it wasn't obvious! So my mum decided all she could do was to cut more to even it all up.

Then my father walked in. And oh my God, he went ballistic and thought mum was the one who'd initiated said chopping.

I hasten to add that I had to wait another 12 years before I got my way and had it cut lovely and short, and not looking like some strange bob cut.

Even at age 4 I preferred boys' toys, wanting short hair, climbing trees, and when I had the chance, wearing trousers. 
My parents never stopped me in those activities, and they even made me a fort with painted toy solders to go with it. 

I even remember fetching some dolls to bring to school so my friend Steve could play with them. And Steve would fetch his big red truck for me to play with. 

So I guess he was my first gay friend. Sadly, I changed schools and we lost touch. 

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

September 08, 2013


Luke, age 5
Liverpool, Pennsylvania (1989)

For a long time, being gay wasn't even about me. I know it should have been, but being gay was about proving the jerks at school right, or possibly alienating or disappointing family. And, in a way, giving up power to every person I met who might find out and use it against me.

I can remember my first crushes being Christian Bale in "Newsies" and Neil Patrick Harris as Doogie Howser. I imagined what it would be like to go to high school in California, with the hopes they would date me.

And I remember the nights my mom and I snuck away to her office to watch TV shows my dad didn't watch. We both saw Ellen Degeneres stand in front of millions of people and say the words I could not. But I thought, 'God, if she can do that, surely some day I can at least say those words to my mom.' It would be another decade before that would happen.

Growing up in a small town - the only county in PA without a traffic light - wasn't exactly the most open-minded experience. And, despite my parents being among the most liberal adults in the county, being gay just wasn't an option.

It wasn't something I often saw hated-on publicly, but then again no one ever came out in my school or town. So it was more like gay people didn't exist, or shouldn't exist.

Yet, I didn't let that stop me. I always pursued being in the band, choir, and theatre - despite the association and being called "faggot, gay-bait, homo."

My only regret over the last 28 years, is how long I waited to be me. I spent the first quarter of my life victimizing myself by letting other people's opinions dictate who I was. Luckily, I stuck it out and life got much, much better!

Editor's note:
Just as I was posting Luke's story, I noticed the visitor counter number!
So today's post is just 4,444,444 THANK YOU's to everyone here! :)


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

August 28, 2013


Jenn, age 8
Saigon, Vietnam (2002)

When I was younger, I didn't know what gay or lesbian was. But I definitely knew that I was nothing like the other girls. I hated dresses, make-up, and I was scared to hell of dolls. I played with all the boys and loved wearing boys' clothes.

It wasn't until I was in 2nd grade that I learned the words "gay" and "lesbian." And when it was explained to me what it all meant, I promised myself I would never be gay.

And I knew I would never let anyone label me as something that was seen as repulsive in the eyes of the world.

Everywhere I went, being gay was associated with something bad. At home and at school, the words "fag," "gay," "lesbian," etc, were taboo.

So I was convinced very early on that liking women was a sin.

By middle school, I had grown out my hair, dressed a little more girly, and started hanging around more girls. I tucked my true self away, and somewhere down the road I lost who I was. I soon realized that eventually I had to be truthful to myself and just admit it - I am a lesbian!

I became very proud of who I am, and I told myself that if people couldn't accept me as I am, then they didn't deserve a place in my life. So I slowly started to come out to my close friends first, and only a few family members knew. In my final year of high school, I became an advocate for diversity among the students there.

I am still in the process of coming out, mainly to my family. I know now that I have always been gay, and there is no way for me to change that. I am proud to finally be true to myself.

At the end of it all, whichever path you may choose, remember that there's no path greater than just being yourself.

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

August 12, 2013


Ross, age 4 
Chester Springs, Pennsylvania (1974)

The outfit I'm wearing here is a credit to my mom. She had panache with a sewing machine and would dress my sister and me in coordinated outfits.

Even as a toddler, I had a penchant for flashy clothes (and occasionally, dresses), dolls, and crying during broadcasts of “The Wizard of Oz.”

I also pantomimed selections from my favorite Rosemary Clooney children’s album. These were habits my mom was more tolerant of than my dad.

I didn’t exactly get free reign, but my parents rarely scolded me for my gender non-conformity. And I never felt “different” from the other kids until I was much older.

I mostly taught myself to conform to what boys were supposed to be like and, later in middle school, to suppress my feelings in an attempt to fit in.

It wasn’t until I was in my 20's that I began to accept myself.
And even then, it took a lot of effort to relax and be authentic.

Today, as a 40-something, this little guy’s wide-open enthusiasm is an inspiration to me. I want to be just like him.

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

August 01, 2013


Vanessa, age 5
Chapel Hill, North Carolina (1990) 

I'm pictured in the all white dress, at my 5th birthday party. I remember being very in love with the two girls by my side. Our moms had been friends since before I was born, and I felt so happy they were there with me that day. When we took that picture, I didn't hesitate to reach up and wrap my arms around them.

I was a very quiet girl. But I could be the life of a party at the drop of a hat. 
I remember picking girls out in school in the hallway and telling my best friend, “I’m going to be her friend” and then I was. 

I usually said I had a crush on a boy, but it was always only because I thought he was nice. I used to openly flirt with girls and buy them small gifts. I loved being around females, no matter their age. 

A girl I crushed on in 6th grade was finally in my 12th grade class, and we became cool. Two years after graduation, she recognized me and we made small talk

My first celebrity crush was Meryl Streep in "Death Becomes Her." When she singes and dances in the beginning, I think that was the moment I "knew."

Then when I discovered the Spice Girls, all hell broke loose. I remember actually staring at Geri Halliwell in my posters for hours on end. I didn’t want to BE a Spice Girl, I wanted to be WITH one of the Spice Girls. 

I realized I was gay after that at age 19, but it took me until 23 to be OK with it.
Today, I feel I'm just me - and I’m going to live my life for me and no one else. 

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

July 21, 2013


Mió, age 12 
Gammelstad, Sweden 1977

I grew up in the north of Sweden, in a little town where the sun doesn't shine in the winter and shines brightly all during summer.

I always knew that there was something "different" about me. But little did I know that in the future it would bring about this gay and wonderful life.

A tough part growing up is that my parents were VERY religious. And sometimes that felt like a curse from the dark side.

I didn't have many friends growing up, but I had one special one. It was Peter, my first love. He had moved to our town and was in my class. It was love at first sight, before I knew how love would actually feel.

To this day, I remember every little thing about him:
His blue eyes, the blond hair, and his wonderful dimples.

Today, I'm married to a wonderful husband, with three lovely children and a beautiful life. I wouldn't change my childhood, this black-grey-sepia-period of mine. Somehow it formed me and shaped me into the person I am today.

Mom, you always knew - even if you bit the pillow when my little sister turned out to be a lesbian. Dad, you never knew - even when you found me in bed with another man! So here I am, and here YOU are - born perfect in the eyes of God!

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

July 15, 2013


Diego, age 3
Córdoba, Argentina (1993)

And to think that my mother was horrified when I came out to her two years ago. I guess she's always been in denial or something, because as everyone can see, the signs were there from early age. In my picture I'm playing with a very old doll that I absolutely LOVED (it belonged to my mom in the 60's) and I'm trying to figure out how to make that apron/skirt work. I'm sure I was a little iffy about the color combination with that Mickey Mouse sweater, but I believe I pulled it off.

Just look at that blonde hair and those fashionable shoes.

That kid knows his game.

Growing up I was always the loner kind. Although I wasn't bullied or anything for being gay, I was bullied for being a fat bookworm type.

Today, 20 years later, I've played with a few more dolls in that time. But mainly, I've been trying to find my place in this wild world.

I've grown a little self-conscious about my body, as I'm now what you call a "bear" or a plus sized guy. This has brought many self esteem issues that have crippled me socially and emotionally. I haven't been on many dates, nor in a position of confidence and comfort with a man the times that I did

But hey, I'm not here to make you feel sad. And although it might sound like a cliché, I have learned that there is definitely always a better tomorrow.

You might be a little different, a little fat, a little skinny or whatever. But there is always someone out there that will love you for precisely those things. Always be yourself, and don't conform to social rules just to "fit in." True love only comes when you are true with who you are.

I'd like to close by saying you are doing just fantastic work with the blog and the book. I can't find other words to describe it, it's great. Keep it up!

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

July 03, 2013


Erin, age 7
Saint Cloud, Minnesota (1986)

This is a picture of me with the neighbors' daughter Bonnie, who was also my first crush.

It was around this age I started realizing I was different from the other little girls.

They, like Bonnie, liked their dresses and wearing ribbons in their hair. I liked my plaid shirts and jeans and wanted to have my hair spiked. But my dad wouldn't let me cut my hair like a boy's.

And I always preferred my Transformers and GI Joe's to my Barbie and Jem dolls

I was bullied some in junior high and high school.
I was called a dyke and that sort of thing.

But the one person who has always stood by my side and been supportive is my mom. When I told her I was a lesbian, she told me, "Oh honey, I know."

My mom knows that I was born this way.

The message I'd like to give to LGBTQ kids of today: Be who you are, be proud.
It's not always going to be easy, but it's honest. And it's your truth.

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

June 24, 2013


Karina, age 8
New York, New York (1997)

Growing up in an immigrant family from Russia, I was everything that nice immigrant children weren't supposed to be: outgoing, chatty and not interested in becoming a doctor. I can't recall sensing I might be gay, but I definitely recall having crushes or "falling in love" with different women in my life: the third grade teacher  whose class I wanted to be in, the friend I always wanted to stand next to in ballet class, and the blonde camp counselor who always left me speechless.

And also the girl on my school bus in 8th grade. I would instigate silly drama with her just to get her attention.

I even told her that a guy friend liked her, just so she would call me to talk about it.

As I got older, I definitely knew that girls interested me in a way that guys never did.

Despite the feelings that I developed for girls, I never truly thought I was gay.

Because that just didn't happen in Russian families, and I knew there was no way that could happen in my family, or in my culture.

When I finally entered my first relationship with a girl at age 20, I couldn't even acknowledge that same-sex attractions were normal for me. But I soon had an epiphany and I just knew. And it felt so wonderful to understand myself in a way that I never had before: I am gay.

And I felt so light, as if I could fly. My life made sense for the first time. I told my closest friends and we just laughed about it. My friends treated me the way my parents should have.

My parents will never be happy that their daughter is gay, but they have come a long way in a few years. I know they love me, and our relationship has grown significantly since I first told them. I'm learning to forgive them for their initial reactions, which were less than kind.

I recently came out to my two male cousins and my grandmother, who is my biggest ally. They were both super supportive. One cousin, a health freak, said,
"As long as you don't eat dairy or gluten, I don't care."

I've always known that I was extremely lucky to have been brought to America at a young age, but that feeling has never been stronger than it is now. I'm thankful that I am thousands of miles away from Russia's virulent, violent homophobia.

And my heart breaks for the Russian LGBT community today that suffers at the hands of its government and their intolerant citizens every day.

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

June 13, 2013


Robert, age 5
White Settlement, Texas (1943)

This was snapped on my first day of school, in a place called "Liberator Village." "Liberators" were bomber war planes made in a factory there, and my tiny Mama crawled inside their wings and welded things.

Back then, kids couldn't start school till after their 6th birthday. But because Mama didn't want me to wait till I was nearly 7 to start, she falsified my birth date so I could start when I was still age 5.

Because I read well, I was quickly promoted to 2nd grade. Although lonely among older kids, I wasn't afraid of school.

One summer, I had lured neighbor boys into the schoolhouse's deeply-recessed doorways to play "You show me yours, I’ll show you mine."

I never had problems about my gayness. Because homosexuality was so feared,
no one ever talked about it or warned me against it. So I wasn't indoctrinated.

Also, I read Sappho, Catullus, Isherwood, and Auden early, and it was actually harder being smart than it was being gay.

I was beat up through high-school for "carrying too many books." Although both straight and gay boys attended my notorious "slumber parties," they were afraid to befriend me in everyday life.

Thus, I lived vicariously through movies and books, and instead of having steady boyfriends, I secretly worshiped movie star Tab Hunter.

Later in life I was alone and maladjusted. I dropped out of college and was thrown out of the Air Force. I fortunately visited New York and wandered into the Caffe Cino, the first Off-Off Broadway Theatre - and the birthplace of gay theatre.

And it was there, at last, that I found artistic, intelligent, gay friends and lovers. Though I was openly gay, I had an international playwrighting career.

It’s somewhat easier being gay today, but things can change in an instant.
Or worse, they can change with an election. So be wise and be wary, kids.

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

June 06, 2013


Jim, age 7
Penticton, British Columbia, Canada (1965)

I've always been gay, and looking back at my photos, I cant figure out why everyone else was surprised. And yes, I'm the boy on the right, hand on my head.

I guess it was because I always had a best "girlfriend" and so people thought there MUST be something going on romantically between us.

I was always "creative" and "whimsical" and I loved to sing and dance.
And I was into everything "artsy."

I was never bullied but still felt I was missing out all through school, as all my friends had boyfriends or girlfriends. I took my guidance counsellor's advice and waited til after high school to come out to my friends.

My mom cried a little when I told her a couple years later, but she assured me that she would always love me. She called back a week later and said she was having a little trouble because she didn't want me to be alone.

I told her I had just met a very cute boy, and he eventually met my mom.
Well, it's 32 years later and we're still together!!!
And it is still getting better and better!

We take nothing for granted and we tell each other 'I love you' everyday.

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

May 28, 2013


Allison, age 3
Cleveland, Ohio (1993) 

I was always lusting after my brother's LEGO blocks. But as he was almost six years older, he was not keen on sharing them with me. So imagine my delight when I unwrapped my very own LEGO set for Christmas! I do remember being mildly upset that my box was pink instead of red. I liked red as a bold color.

I loved climbing trees and going for long "excursions" with the local boys along the creek behind my house.

But I also loved getting dolled up in dresses for special occasions, and I didn't mind that my Christmas pajamas were frilly.

Or that my mother refused to let me paint my room dark blue.

The first time I noticed my sexuality was in the 6th grade, when I was simultaneously in love with my best friend (a girl) and a boy in my homeroom.

I knew then that I was "different" and that I should pick which gender I would like for the rest of my life. But I didn't want to. I knew about gay people, but I didn't know there were other options besides just "gay" and "straight".

I had and still have massive crushes on Ryan Reynolds (and Ryan Gosling), Eliza Dushku, and Alison Hannigan. As far as Alison is concerned, her role on "Buffy The Vampire Slayer" is all I need to say!

Unfortunately, my biggest bully is my own brother. He took out his own anger on me and knew that mocking my tomboy behavior was a sour spot for me.

One time he nonchalantly said, "I bet you're a lesbian." I asked him what he meant, but he wouldn't answer. I thought a lot about it though. We aren't on speaking terms and because of this and other family factors, I spent my first Christmas with just my partner, despite my family living 5 minutes away.

I pledged a sorority in college and got kicked out for being who I am. But I don't regret coming out. I do regret dropping out because of the resulting severe depression and lack of motivation causing confusion and turmoil in my head.

I eventually made a great group of friends and met my wonderful partner. I have always maintained that I like both genders, and though I do not deny that there should not be distinction between the genders, I'll admit that I like my men manly and my women at least mildly feminine.

I have to constantly remind myself and my lovely wife that things do get better, and even now things are better than they were a year ago, or the year before that.

So my message for LGBTQ kids today is: Just keep your head up.

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 18, 2013


Mykel, age 4
Macon, Georgia (1996)

I was a very quiet kid. I never liked wearing suits, but I remember loving the setting of this wedding reception I attended with my mother. My signature pose always involved a limp wrist and a protruding pinky. You could say I was your average Bette Midler whenever I walked from room to room.

Growing up I liked girls, but only enough to call them "pretty."

My first attraction to boys occurred by accident when I was age 7. I'd "spied" a classmate of mine more than I should have in a restroom stall, and I couldn't look away.

Barbie dolls were my life, and I was fascinated by the clothes designed for them. I wanted every collector's Barbie, but they were so expensive, I had to make my own.

With a Wonder Woman doll and an ill-fitting black dress with Velcro dots, I made my own Morticia Addams doll.

I always preferred female roles in movies to the point of memorizing their lines.
I even acted out Michelle Pfeiffer's Catwoman character in "Batman Returns."

My first celebrity crush was Nick Carter of the Backstreet Boys. The rest didn't compare, and the N*Sync boys didn't stand a chance. Other music I loved included the Spice Girls, S Club 7, and Britney Spears. My mom was already listening to Celine Dion and Shania Twain, so I guess I had it coming.

My mother raised me to be the most polite child imaginable, and everyone around me loved me for it. I didn't have a lot of friends, but the few I had were enough.

And believe it or not, I didn't know I was gay. While I showed signs, I was still, somehow, in a weird state of denial. I didn’t come out to myself until I was 19, and then to my mother by age 20.

Today, I am much more comfortable in my skin now than ever. So my advice to LGBTQ kids is to keep yourself busy in doing what makes you happy.

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

May 07, 2013


Susan, age 5 
Phoenix, Arizona (1959) 

My first lesbian experience was at the age of five, with a girl of the same age from my school.

We spent nights at each others homes, and we shared the same bed together during sleep-overs. 

I was drawn to her body, and she to mine. There were many passionate (but innocent) nights spent in each others arms.

One day, she disappeared from my life. I really don't know what happened.

I assume that her father, who was in the Air Force, was transferred out of state.

During the ensuing years, I had an affair that lasted several months with an older female cousin, and on and off affairs with several of my girlfriends.

However, the girl that I was most in love with shunned my advances, and she broke my heart. Even so, some fifty years later, we are still friends.

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

April 25, 2013


Roger, age 2
Galt, Ontario, Canada (1963)

Here I am at age 2 on the right, holding the hand of my little sister and best friend. We were inseparable. We played dolls and had little tea parties together. As we grew up we kept to ourselves as our four brothers hung out together.

Five years later we had another sister to play house with. All the while, my dad said "Something ain't right with that boy."

My oldest sister had a beautiful yellow and white dress that I absolutely adored! When I was six I pushed a chair to the closet, climbed up, and took down the dress.

I started to put it on when:
Oh no! The dress got stuck!
My arms were above my head, and I couldn't see and could hardly breathe!

I yelled for help and my mom came and pulled the dress from over my head.
She said, "What are you doing? Boys don't wear dresses!" After I was freed I heard my dad ask, "What is he, some kind of sissy?" 

I remember feeling embarrassment and shame. But mostly shame.

My parents started signing me up for sports teams and encouraging me to play with my brothers. That ought to "fix things," they thought. It worked for a while, and I was developing a more "boy-like" attitude and demeanor.

A couple of years later, my sister died. I was devastated and lost. I turned to the church, and my "feminine side" was on its way to being completely buried.

I eventually broke free and have slowly become the person I am now. I still like to wear blouses, skirts, stockings and panties. I feel very much at ease when doing so, but as soon as I put on a dress, I revert back to being that six year-old kid feeling fear, embarrassment, and shame.

But mostly shame...

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

April 16, 2013


Dane, age 10
Grosse Pointe, Michigan (1974)

This was me Trick or Treating with my mummy mask in hand. I wanted to go dressed as The Boy Wonder - I had a huge crush on Robin! - but my dad didn't want me parading around the neighborhood in green underwear.

At age 10, I also had a crush on my brother's friend, Bruce. He had blond hair and looked like a surfer.

My mom had a luncheon one day and was telling the other moms how handsome Bruce was, and that he was going to break some little girl's hearts.

And I chimed in:
"Yes, and some boy's hearts, too!"

I was really boy crazy when I turned 14.

My mom was giving me driving lessons one day and let me hold the wheel, and we spotted the high school track team running shirtless. As I drove our station wagon up, over the curb,  my mom exclaimed, "Golly!"

And high school was really hard for me. I would come home and my mom would ask me, "How was school today?" What was I supposed to say: "Great, mom!
I was called a fag 50 times today, thrown into the mud, and somebody taped a Polaroid of their genitalia on my locker."

It wasn't until I was 19 that I had sex with a guy. And I'm not lying: he was wearing green underwear! His name wasn't Robin, but still -- Whoo-hoo!

Today, I'm married. And my husband and I have been together for 14 years.
He's amazing, funny, and cute. Thus, see - it does get better!

You can read more on my experiences growing up gay in the 70's here in a
mini-comic I created entitled "Raw Hamburger."

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

April 03, 2013


Timothy, age 9
Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia (1991)

Growing up, I'd always had this weird aversion to the opposite gender.
When I started school, I just naturally gravitated towards boys. The happiest moments I'd spent in my childhood were the days spent swimming with my boy friends, showering together, playing tag, and general roughhousing. Girls were simply boring to me, and I just didn't have any interest in them at all.

As you can see from the photo, I was a scrawny, nerdy-looking kid with big glasses. That boy on the right was my best friend Fookyew, and my first real-life crush. This precious photo represents a time of innocence in my life, and I really miss those halcyon days in the early 90's.

I had a pretty good upbringing and didn't really have much trouble in elementary school. But problems began with puberty during junior high school, as my feelings for other guys started to intensify.

Because I changed schools, I eventually lost touch with my friends and had to make new ones, and it was tough.

But thankfully, despite the moderate bullying I experienced, I managed to pull through high school with good results.

I also embraced my Christianity, and when I found out about their views on being gay, it just made me more confused and sad. I wasn't able to talk to anyone about this as I was afraid of losing friends. So, I hid my true self deep in the closet.

In closing, I just want to let all the young gay boys and girls out there know that the future for them is becoming brighter and brighter each passing day. You just have to be strong and not worry about it, and live in the moment now.

Keep making friends and just enjoy being who they were born to be.
And of course, you are not not alone in feeling what you are feeling.

Remember, there are hundreds and thousands of others who are just like you!

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

March 26, 2013


Ivan, age 5
Saint-Petersburg, Russia (1988)

My photo shows me doing my first drag performance, as my silly 'Auntie Valya' who lost her reading glasses, while they were always on her forehead.

I was a truly gay kid while growing up, and I was a champion of arts and theater through my early school years.

But then puberty hit and my classmates no longer thought I was that fun to hang around with anymore.

In fact, the bullies tortured me for years on a daily basis. But I survived, and that still amazes me at times.

I eventually ran away from my home country of Russia to find freedom and safety in the USA.

At age 15, I died my hair red. Then green, blue, and pink.

I came out to my mom when I was only 16. Twelve years later, she is still struggling to accept my "life choices." We speak to each other now, but not often.

My father has never been around, and he left for good when I was 12. We never shared any bonds, and he always treated me as if I was some kind of some foreign exchange student living in his house.

I've struggled all these years to overcome anxiety and depression which stems directly from the years of bullying and living in a viciously homophobic Russia.

I have lived in the United States for 8 years now. I will become a citizen this year, provided everything gets done on time. Being gay is still a work in progress for me.

But I am doing better - and feeling better - than I have ever felt before.

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

March 18, 2013


Tami, age 9
Staten Island, New York (1995)

I remember the day this photo was taken. It was a rainy weekend and my little brother and I were having fun trying on my uncle's old work clothes. I know I was both embarrassed and proud when my mother pulled out the camera.
And the two emotions read simultaneously on my face.

It was right around this age when I was first called out as gay. I was in the 5th grade and a female friend and I were playing during a break between classes.

I turned around to find a pack of four boys behind me, with one of the more popular kids in the front. "You're a lesbian!" he said, as the other boys snickered.

I had no idea what he was talking about. Was that an insult?
Had I done something wrong?

I never looked quite like the other girls: I was heavy then and wore thick glasses, baggy t-shirts, and high-top sneakers to school.

Maybe that's what a lesbian was?

Trying not to look foolish, I shot back, 'Well... so are you!' The boys laughed and I realized that, once again, I had missed something in the social code.

I asked my mother what they had meant when I got home.
But I didn't get much help there either.

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