Arlington, Texas (1964)
In this family photo, I was consciously trying to be cute and coy for the cameraman. At that age I just wanted to be around other males, as all the neighborhood kids and my young cousins were girls. And my father was the physically-present but emotionally-absent type.
As a teen I became more aware of my attraction to men, but I just didn't know what to call it.
In 1977, I got my first job as a puppeteer at Six Flags Over Texas. That is where I learned what "gay" meant - while learning the lyrics to "A Chorus Line," "Annie," and "The Rocky Horror Picture Show."
Now I knew what to call what I'd been feeling, although I was terrified by what my church thought of it.
And then Baptist Panic set in: my Youth Minister assisted me in writing a letter declining to return to performing the next season. I was – and still am – a very good puppeteer; I think I could have gone far if I had just kept with it. Still, my attractions would not disappear.
Fighting my urges, I put myself through pastoral counseling to attempt to become straight. I soon attended college with the goal of becoming a Baptist music minister. And neither of those things happened for me.
After three years of counseling I accepted myself, I came out, and I immediately thought, "What am I going to do with this degree?" - and a job that has nothing to do with music.
But I'm now a volunteer performer with the local gay band and an orchestra, and I sign interpret the songs at the largest primarily gay church in the world.
Through my interest in music I met my wonderful spouse of 13 years, who sings opera part-time. One sister is very accepting of me and my partner, the other isn't – but that’s OK.
If I could tell my younger self anything, it would be to not care what others thought and to go ahead and to be himself.
Click here - "Born This Way: Real Stories of Growing Up Gay" book
Click here - My First Gay Crush Blog"