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"