December 03, 2015


Fernando, age 3
Havana, Cuba (1967)

Growing up in in the 1970's in Cuba, I had never heard any official talk about gay people. But, the only time I did hear references to gay people, it was always derogatory. I do remember that I was never allowed to speak ill of people that were perceived as gay. I had a gay cousin and people always made fun of him.
If I had ever joined in to insult him, my mom would’ve smacked me!

My first memory of realizing I was different was when at around age 6 or 7 when I found a packet of pornographic photos. The sex described and shown was totally heterosexual, but my eyes were glued to the males in those photos. 

As I didn't know about gayness or sex, it wasn't about that. It was just something within me feeling - different. I always had crushes on the cutest boys in my school, but I never thought about sex until age 15.

I'd met this kid from the neighborhood that was very cute and who wore the sexiest red Speedos. But I never acted on the fantasies I had about him, though. I dated girls and even had sex with them. It was not entirely unpleasant, so I never felt the awkwardness that some kids growing up gay feel.

I moved to New York City in the late 80's. I was walking around 42nd Street one day, and I walked into a sex shop, and right up front they had a display of gay porn. I opened a magazine and it was as if a lightbulb above my head went on!

I thought 'WOW! This is what it's all about!' Soon after that, I started my quest to find a mate, and in 1992 I met my now-husband. 

One night he left me a phone message and told me that he loved me in French. My mom heard it and asked me why he had said he loved me. I simply said, 
'He is my boyfriend.' And she simply said, "Oh, OK. As long as you don’t become effeminate, it's OK with me!" And that was how I came out.

So I guess you could say I had it a little easy.

I did not feel the depression or heartaches that most of us go through. One of my girlfriends had a bit of a problem when I told her, but it quickly vanished and we remained friends until the day she died. 

Today, I am openly gay at work and in my private life. We never officially told my grandma or my husband's parents, but they figured it out for themselves and it was never a problem for them, either.

Click here - "Born This Way: Real Stories of Growing Up Gay" book
Click here - "My First Gay Crush Blog"
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November 02, 2015


Dennis, age 6
Portland, Oregon (1978)

"Once upon a time, there was one little boy who went to a car show..."
Specifically, it was the "World Of Wheels"1978 car show, and I'd spent weeks begging my parents to take me to the show!

My dad was thrilled, as I'm sure he believed that his son had actually developed an interest in cars. The same son who played with dolls, whose favorite comic books were "Supergirl" and "Wonder Woman" and who insisted on getting a "Dorothy Hamill haircut."

You can see the compromise we ended up with in the picture.  

Of course, my dad had no idea that the REAL reason I wanted to go was that Laurette Spang from "Battlestar Galactica" was going to be there. And there she is with me in my photo! 

She was one of my favorite people on the show. 
Of course, I had no idea her character was a professional escort.

I didn't know what being "gay" meant before 1978, because I'd never been told the term by my parents. I knew I was "different" from the other guys because whenever I (regretfully) found myself grouped with the boys, I was so bored by the things they loved: sports, cars, sports, trucks, sports, boats, sports. Yawn. Whenever I had the chance, I preferred socializing with girls, who were SO much more intellectual and interesting.

However, in 1978 an older neighbor guy moved in next door and I developed a massive crush on him, to the point where I was actually writing out his name in a notebook over and over like you see in bad TV movies. I never acted on my dreamy-eyed crush, but I was dimly aware somewhere in my brain that things would be bad if ANYONE found out about my feelings - including him.

I never  suffered any real abuse for being gay in my early life because I was always "the weird kid" who was viewed as super-intelligent with odd interests, like obscure horror movies and sci-fi shows from other countries.  

That all changed in high school, though. In my first year, my parents sent me to a private, religious all-boys' school and it was a living hell every single day. I was miserable, and I barely attended classes because I always felt sick and scared.  

I was failing all my classes and there were even days where the priest-teachers would spend hours explaining to us all why people like ME were awful monsters. They even instructed the other students to identify suspected gay kids for treatment and counseling because such a "gross" life needed to be "corrected."

Fortunately, I got myself into a public school, then a good liberal college where I could express myself and be who I really was. And I haven't looked back since.

Coming out was a weird sort of non-event. I had attended a Gay Pride parade during college and my folks saw me on TV. They asked me why I was there and I confirmed it. Then they simply ignored it, and acted as though it didn't happen. To this day, they talk to me like I'm straight, so I've simply decided I'm not going to make myself suffer for their denial of reality.

Today, I work in an excellent government job with a very tolerant environment where differences are encouraged. I have a terrific life and think of myself as being truly lucky to have gotten where I am today. Without those early experiences, I wouldn't be where I am now.  

My message to gay youth today is:

No matter how painful an experience is, remember it's your decision every time how you react to it. EVERY decision you make helps turn you into who you will be in the future. I turned out great despite all the adversity and I enjoy a great life of success now.  

So, please, PLEASE turn your agonies into strengths, and your sorrows into the foundation of your character in handling tough times.

And when all else fails, find joy in just being fabulous!

Click here - "Born This Way: Real Stories of Growing Up Gay" book
Click here - "My First Gay Crush Blog"
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October 12, 2015


Greg, age 3
Klerksdorp, South Africa (1991)

This photo was taken over Christmas at my grandparent's house. Not happy with my own presents, I had seized my cousin's rainbow umbrella and started performing "Singing In The Rain," from one of my favorite movies as a kid.

I grew up in a wonderfully accepting, progressive home, and my parents have almost always been fantastically supportive of who I am. But bullying at school was a daily reality for me growing up, and there were many times when I ended up in tears. 

I came out in college and it was without a doubt one of the most liberating experiences of my life. Yes, it caused some pain at first, but that faded.

The freedom I felt did not.

Unfortunately, I did grow up in a culture that is possibly still globally synonymous with racism and intolerance.

The prevailing opinion in my community was it's better to date a white man rather than a black woman. Either way, there's not much acceptance going on.

But ultimately, I’m grateful for these struggles. They forced me to become a better person, more tolerant, and understanding of people different from me.

I have learned that being different is the most fantastic gift. It makes you more confident in who you are, as there is just nowhere for you to hide, anyway.

But, it took me years to relearn what I already knew when I was age 3:

If you want to dance around with a rainbow umbrella, GO FOR IT!
People might laugh with you or at you. Either way, laughter is always good!

Click here - "Born This Way: Real Stories of Growing Up Gay" book
Click here - "My First Gay Crush Blog"
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September 15, 2015


Adam, age 2
Fayetteville, North Carolina (1987)

I was always known as  the "Miracle Baby" in my family, as my folks were in their 40's and in poor health when I showed up. I was brought up in a very strict, Pentecostal Christian household where sin and anything pertaining to the world were forbidden. Like most only children, I was somewhat spoiled with attention.

My photo was taken on Christmas Day, 1987. That year, I got a red Radio Flyer wagon, clothes, a Sit 'n' Spin toy and several little trinkets. But my most prized gift was the My Buddy doll I had begged my parents for. I'm sure that they weren't thrilled to buy me a doll, but since the little boy in the TV commercial had one, they relented. 

You can see just how surprised I was, pointing at the gifts and saying: 'For me?' 

I always loved playing with dolls and I had a huge collection of My Little Pony dolls. I can remember the embarrassment on my dad's face (RIP Dad) as I ran down the "girl's toys" aisle and picked out a new pony. 

I've known that I was different from the time I was three or four years old. I had what I guess you'd call a crush on my youngest uncle. He was handsome and would spend time with me, so I thought he was the greatest guy in the world.  

I developed several crushes throughout my elementary school days. Even so, I would always tell people that I had a "girlfriend" (usually just a close female friend), because that was the normal thing to do.  

I was around seven years old when I first heard my parents and the members of my church talking about "those queers" and "them homosexuals." When I finally did understand what these words meant, I was extremely afraid and ashamed.  

My two biggest fears were: going to Hell and disappointing my parents. Yet, I couldn't help the way I felt. No matter how hard I tried or how much I prayed, my feelings for guys remained the same.  

When was ten, I made the mistake of telling my mother that I wanted to be a girl. I wasn't transgender, but I thought the only way I could have a boyfriend was to become a girl. My mother had a fit and told me that God would send me straight to Hell if I kept thinking that way. I think that was when I first began keeping my feelings to myself.  

All through my high school years, I had devastating crushes on guys and hid behind my religion. The reason I didn't have a girlfriend wasn't because I was gay. In my mind, I was just saving myself for the right girl. Then the day came (after college) when I couldn't lie to myself anymore.  

Today, I'm out to some close friends. My family is intensely homophobic, so I keep my personal life to myself. I did attempt to come out to my mother, but she threatened to out me to everyone and ban me from her life. That was, by far, the hardest thing I've been through to date. And I even considered suicide. 

I couldn't imagine a world in which I could truly be happy in my own way. 
But I persevered and I am thriving the more I learn to love and accept myself.

I still have a long way to go, but I have amazing friends who love me and a partner who makes me feel like I'm the only man in the world.

For today's LGBTQ kids, I would say this: Hold on!

And think for yourself. Don't allow the ignorance or religious fervor of others keep you from being truly happy. Our world is changing and our time is coming.

I may not know you, but I send my love to you.  
Just keep holding on to your truth and I promise it does get better. 

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

August 18, 2015


Tim, age 5
Vancouver, BC, Canada (1995)

Here I am with my late grandmother at my kindergarten graduation. She was one of my biggest supporters for my musical accomplishments. I knew from a young age that I was different, but wasn't able to understand what that meant.

I was raised in a literalist, fundamentalist, Christian family that has never accepted an "alternative lifestyle" outside of Christianity.

So you can only imagine what growing up in a family that refers to homosexuals as ‘fags’ or ‘poofters’ was like.

I always wanted to be close with a guy, to feel a special bond between the two of us. 

I guess you could also say I'm not society’s portrayal of the stereotypical masculine man. 

I do not like movies with huge explosions, aliens, and guns. I like musicals, chick flicks, rom-coms, and movies that actually have a storyline.

I listen to Elton John, Barbra Streisand, and Whitney Houston almost daily.
I remember going through a huge Celine Dion phase in middle school and singing "The Power of Love" at the top of my lungs at home. My family did not like the fact that I would sing "...And you are my man!" with such conviction.

At age 19 I came out to my friends and co-workers who were very supportive. But when my family found out about my “sinful lifestyle" in 2013, it was off to Bible school for me and borderline reparative therapy. I have had deliverance performed on me, been sent to Exodus International, told to act more manly, and that if I just think I'm straight that I will be straight. 

Of course, none of that worked. My parents also demanded that I break up with my boyfriend so they could send me to more reparative, conversion therapy. 

After a month of refusing, I was thrown out of the house.

I was blamed for "bringing demons into the house," and my family said they would never come visit me at my new place because they “cannot walk on unholy ground.” That was two years ago and I have not seen my family since. 

The good news is I am still with my boyfriend and we’ve been together for three years. We could not be happier together and will be traveling to Europe soon.
I plan to marry my boyfriend one day and start a family with him. 

I have not seen my family since they threw me out, nor do I think I will be seeing them any time soon. People tell me to not lose hope, but I have to face the reality of a future without them. My friends have become my family and I have never felt so loved and accepted in my entire life. 

While my situation is not ideal, I wouldn’t trade places with anyone.

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

June 14, 2015

My Gay Pride: Dragstrip 66!

Hey, Born This Way bloggers!
As it's Gay Pride month (and weekend here in Los Angeles),
I'm sharing with you my personal gay pride: an LA nightclub event I co-created in 1993 called DRAGSTRIP 66

We wanted to create a monthly gathering with a simple goal: EVERYONE would be invited, welcomed, and celebrated!

The music would be eclectic, we'd put on a great show, and encourage patrons to express themselves without fear or judgement.

Nina Hagen joined us at our 1st Anniversary in January 1994!
And wow, the club became an instant phenomenon. 
It became so much bigger than just us: it became about community! And it lasted an incredible and unprecedented 20 years!

So we are documenting this once-in-a-lifetime convergence of '90's alternative music, queer politics, and a subversive drag ethos that defined Silver Lake and Dragstrip 66’s punk/glam/camp aesthetic.

Check out our sizzle reel:

And our 10-minute "Featurette"

You can follow the movie project here:



May 31, 2015


Felix, age 7
Los Angeles, CA (1977)

My childhood consisted of lots of church. I was raised in a conservative, fundamentalist Christian home. My family’s circle consisted of members from our own religious affiliation. And our family vacations were just trips to attend church conventions. Television and dancing were not allowed in our home. 

As a teen my parents’ TV ban relaxed, and I was introduced to pop culture icons like “Wonder Woman,” Donna Summer, and "H.R. Puffnstuff."

TV revealed entertainment that a boy like me was naturally inclined to enjoy. My male cousins watched sports and wrestling, which I found boring and stupid. 

I attended 8 different schools because we kept moving. The changing of schools always left me with a feeling of being different, odd and left-out.

Adding to my dilemma, I was terrible at sports and was always chosen last for teams. 

Later, I came to the realization that my out-of-place feelings were not because I was the new kid or because I lacked skills for sports. But rather, because I was gay, effeminate, and everyone could see it.

Childhood was not easy, especially hearing awful insults at school. But then to also be in the house of God and hear the same messages made my life feel worthless and insignificant.

I did excel in academics and that opened a way out of my sheltered upbringing.
I was able to attend and live on-campus during my college years. During those years, I did a lot of self-discovery and learned about self-esteem. 

Today, I attend the Metropolitan Community church,  and I've met many friends with a similar upbringing. And I finally feel like I found my own tribe!

Recently, I re-visited a favorite childhood movie: “H.R. Puffnstuff” from 1969. Mama Cass Elliott sings a song called “Different.”  

And I realized she was singing about me!

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

May 14, 2015


Ryan, age 5
Wayne, New Jersey (1994)

Overall I was a happy kid. Soccer, nature, and science intrigued me, so as a kid I would always go investigate the forest behind my house.

I always knew I liked men, I just had no idea what “being gay” actually meant. I remember around 3-years old, seeing a naked woman on TV and wondering where the naked guy was. Because that's what I wanted to see. 

The first person I saw on TV that I KNEW I HAD TO BE WITH was Zach Efron. To this day, I still think he is the sexiest man alive. 

The cute, open-minded, real looking guys of the world are who I want to hangout with as friends and as a boyfriend.

My family did not really understand the aspect of being gay, especially because of my dad's old-school European upbringing. I've been out been almost 10 years now, and things have gotten a WHOLE LOT BETTER. But it took a long time to get to this point. 

I was afraid to come out to my friends because I thought they would not like me anymore. But the truth is, they respected me a million times more after I did. 

Everyone who has come out of the closet has been teased before; it’s just a matter of how you let it affect you. If I got made fun of by someone, I decided they’re not really someone I need in my life anymore. If someone doesn’t like you for who you are, you don’t need them to bring you down. And I can guarantee you that there are hundreds of others that will love you for you

Seeing my photo now, I just wish I could go back in time and live in awe of the world again. Just run free outside chasing butterflies and wanting to see what was beyond the fence. As an adult you have to fend for yourself, so I just wish I could be that curly-haired kid again without a care in the world! 

But, I LOVE the world today. I had become addicted to drugs and alcohol at a young age, spending years trying to kill the pain inside. I felt I was “not good enough” for people to accept me. I soon realized if they hate me because of that, then I need to find those who love me. 

I have an amazing “family” in my life today, people I've chosen to be closest to and share my life with. You don’t get to pick your family, but you do get to choose who to take on the world with, and giggle and smile through it all.

The one thing I want the readers and LGBT kids to take away from this is:

Don't be afraid to let your smile show or be fearful of what people will think. 
If you let people judge you, you’re missing out on a life beyond your wildest dreams. And don’t be afraid to take chances. 

I’ve learned to accept my flaws, because they are what make me an individual.

I took the time to realize the good in me, what makes me stronger, and the things I have to offer to others. It's amazing what a little self reflection will do for you. Today, I am able to live freely, just like the little smiling kid in my picture.

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

April 21, 2015


Byron, age 3
Arroyo Grande, California (1969)

I ran across this picture in a box of photographs. I don't even remember taking it. My mother used to like to dress me up and I was a bit of a mama's boy. 

My parents had some inkling I may have been gay and I was told that I was taken in for tests. All I could imagine was a doctor holding up paint swatches,
or pictures of accessories, asking me: "Do these shoes go with this purse?"

As I was a small kid, school was rough. Grade school wasn't that bad, but once I got to high school, it became worse. I was thrown in many a trash can, had food dumped on me, and other kids would scream names at me. So I spent a lot of time in the theatre - aka the cafetorium - and made it my safe place.  

I remember riding my bike home one day when this group of kids ambushed me and threw large cement nails at me, hitting me in the face and head. Or the ones who surrounded me and pulled out a switchblade. Thankfully, a friend pulled up in his car and saved my life.

Everyone basically knew I was gay, so coming out was kind of pointless. When I came out to my mom, she made me sweat through the entire process. After going through that agonizing moment, she just laughed and said they had known my whole life. I thought it would bring us closer together, but it didn't. 

However, my father has been my true hero through it all. It was on July 17, 1986 when he said he was proud of me.  I wrote it on may calendar.

Later I went to a performing arts college, so I felt totally comfortable. I remember the moment I made it clear to the wig mistress. She asked if I was straight, and the world just stopped and went into super slow motion. It felt like an eternity before I said, 'No, I'm gay' and she didn't even miss a beat.

I'm now 47 and have been with my husband for 17 years. I also have a successful career doing wigs and makeup for live theatre, and I don't take shit from anyone.

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

March 06, 2015


Joaquín, age 12
Madrid, Spain (1956)

I felt different from a very young age. I didn't like sports, especially soccer, but I liked movies, radio programs, and shiny fashion magazines. 

I adored movie musicals and Howard Keel, and that was always a problem when I had to go to the theater with my two brothers.

In school I was generally a good student, and that put me in a category where bullying was absent or mild. Plus, I was dangerous, and my tongue could lash out worse than any whip. 

I read voraciously and soon discovered that ancient emperors and artists had the same proclivities I saw in myself. 

After some confusion, by age 15 I accepted being gay quite well.

But I also developed a system to hide it without lying too much.

Nobody really "came out" in the 60's, but during the 70's and 80's I managed to do it gradually, especially once I was professionally and financially secure.

Today I'm retired after a long career in teaching, and I'm happily married to another man and we're active in LGBT senior issues.

My experience tells me that trying to change who you are is useless and makes you lose your life. Discover yourself and live accordingly.

Nobody has any right to judge who you are.

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

February 11, 2015


Jessica, age 1
Tasmania, Australia (1993)

I am on the right and my twin sister is on the left, looking at the camera. At this young age, I had no idea I was gay. However, looking at this photo now, I am clearly more into that kiss than my twin sister Emily. 

I grew up in a highly Christian home and grew up thinking I hated gay people. 
I even said things like that a lot. Hating myself was more like it. Just after my parents started their own church, I made a joke that if they didn't let me date this boy I liked, I might just date girls instead!

There was so much truth in what I said, yet no one had any idea.

My parents took their 'discovery' of my sexuality really badly. I had my first girlfriend was when I was 14, and she was not welcomed. Even though I was sent to a private school, no matter where I went I found girls to love!

My parents have come such a long way in their acceptance of me. But more importantly, I have discovered my true self. I also discovered in time that I didn't have to look, dress, or act a certain way to be a lesbian.

I am now a very happy, highly feminine woman who loves the 1950's and red lipstick. I am a pinup model, a dancer, and a gay activist for my community.

I've been engaged for over a year and have big gay plans for my life with my beautiful partner. And that includes many kisses like the one in my photo!

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

January 21, 2015


Bill, age 3
Brooklyn, New York (1963)

This picture should have given my family some clue! This Norwegian boy on the left was a childhood friend, and I have a look on my face like, “Look! I got one!”

As a kid, I loved TV shows that featured boys around my age, like Eddie Munster and Will Robinson on "Lost In Space."

I also remember watching the original "Mickey Mouse Club" on TV. While most other boys were crushing on Annette Funicello, I was crushing on Cubby!

If anyone had asked me as early as age four who I wanted to marry when I grew up, I would have said that I wanted to marry a man. It just seemed natural.

But elementary school was a very difficult time for me.

I got bullied and beat up a lot, but I didn’t really know why;
I just thought that’s how school was.

By junior high, kids had apparently picked up on me being gay, because the bullying definitely took on a homophobic aspect. Of course, self-preservation caused me to deny it, and I had girlfriends all through high school. Probably because I was easy to talk to?!

After high school, I went through a very difficult time in a very homophobic church. After what could only be described as spiritual and emotional torture,
I left. Within a year in 1980, I was instrumental in founding the world’s first LGBT-affirming Apostolic Pentecostal church.

Most of my family took my coming out very well.

To celebrate, my aunt Lois called a friend of hers, and together they “raided” a gay bar in Asbury Park, New Jersey, where Lois played matchmaker for the guys inside, deciding who looked good with whom!

Presently, there are many positive LGBT role models, and I hope LGBT kids will look to them for encouragement and affirmation.

Today, I'm a 55 year old man, happily partnered with another 55 year old man. As I look back at my childhood - and especially this picture - it makes me smile.

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