January 28, 2014


Rick, age 5
Los Angeles, California (1959)

This picture was taken on Easter Sunday, 1959. Ever the fashion plate even then,
I remember how proud I was of my new outfit. The pants and the plaid shirt were baby blue, and I was really looking forward to showing it off.

I was a typical suburban kid from the 1960's - if typical includes not wanting to get your clothes messy, playing with your cousin's Barbies, and naming your first dog Toto after the dog in "The Wizard of Oz". I even had a doll house which caused my dad fits.

I remember many whispered conversations between my uncles and my dad that he should take me outside and teach me sports.
It was a futile effort on my dad's part and he eventually gave up.

I remember thinking even then that I was different from the other kids. As I got older, I hid it better.

My first gay crush was on Robert Conrad in "The Wild, Wild West." I'd sit as close to the TV as possible and watch each episode with rapt attention. My favorite part was when Conrad would lose his shirt in a fight and get tied up - which, thankfully, seemed to happen nearly every episode.

My dad thought my TV interest was unwholesome, but since it was my clearly straight brother's favorite show also, he let us both watch it.

I never did come out to my dad, who died when I was in my 30's. I did eventually come out to my mom when I turned 40, and she became a life-long and very vocal advocate for gay rights.

This picture remains a favorite of mine and brings back mostly happy memories of my childhood. I haven't really changed all that much. I still don't like to get my clothes messy and I still like bright and flashy shirts.

I still like Barbie dolls and have several Bob Mackie collectors editions of my own. I still don't care much for sports. Oh, and I still like pictures of shirtless men.

Finally, I still give my pets the names of gay icons. Lucy is my current dog, and every time I walk into my house I call out in a Cuban accent: "Lucy, I'm home!"

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

January 20, 2014


Brad, age 9
San Diego, California (1980)

This picture is from one of my first dance recitals, where I began to find my true self. I even remember that the name of the dance was "Turkey In The Straw."

I couldn't catch a ball or play sports, but when I put on my tap shoes and a sequined vest, I felt valid and real. Like I mattered. I knew I wasn’t like other boys, but I didn't know how or why.

The teasing, embarrassment, and shame had not started when I was that age. I was just enjoying being me, and I long to be that boy again. I want to be myself without the ridicule and judgment of others.

As a teen, my walls were covered with posters of James Dean and Elvis Presley. I thought I wanted to be them, but I was actually attracted to them.

No. Fred Astaire is who I wanted to be!

At age 15 my experimenting with boys began, and although it felt right, I lied to myself for another 6 years. Coming out was hard, but it was much more freeing than living a lie.

It took time to find my footing, but now because of my honesty, I’m a better son, brother, friend, partner and uncle. It was very hard to resist the temptation of giving up my dreams because of the bullying, but it has all paid off.

Today at 41 years old, I miss that kid in the picture. He was authentic, and that is something I am striving for now.  I've been in 7 Broadway shows over the years, so now I pay my mortgage wearing my tap shoes and other dance shoes.

I turned being different into a success.
I am gay and proud, but that is just a sampling of many wonderful qualities.

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