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"