February 28, 2013


Karl, age 3
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.

At school I figured out that I was more interested in music than most other boys. I wasn't good at sports, so I thought my feelings toward guys were just hero worship.

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"

February 15, 2013


Eve, age 13
London, United Kingdom (2004)

I've always been very dramatic. But my coming out wasn't as dramatic as I'd have liked it to be, as I kind of trickled out of the closet. It started with telling a couple of my close friends at 14 about being in love with the girl who played Sky Masterson in our school's production of "Guys & Dolls."

I went through the usual 'Do-I-want-her-or-want-to-be-her?' feelings. Or wondering if maybe I just liked girls because I didn't know any boys? Thank goodness for my all-girls schools though, because our drama department introduced me to the wonders of cross dressing (and ladies in suits).

I tried coming out to other gay girls I knew. But they told me I couldn't possibly know if I'd never been with a girl. After that I shut up about it.

I decided coming out at school was a bad, bad idea. I thought everyone would either hate me, or think I was doing it for attention.

So, I tried dating boys. By the time I got to University I thought, 'Why am I doing this when I could be with girls?' So I ditched the guy, cut off my hair, and bought about a million checked shirts. I was finally part of an accepting gay community!

My mum eventually found out when she found a postcard from my girlfriend signed with kisses. After all the months of her asking "Are you gay?" and me replying 'No. Why do I have to be gay to have a short haircut?' - I finally said 'Yeah, OK. I have a girlfriend'. So it was all a little anti-climatic.

My mum immediately phoned everyone she knew to tell them the news.
And that's how I came out. I'm still with the girlfriend who sent that postcard,
and I still wear men's clothing to this day.

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

February 06, 2013


Joey, age 7
Bell Gardens, California (1973)

As a young boy I knew I was different, but never really knew how or why.

In the 4th grade there was a boy named Steve in my class. He was much tougher than me and walked me home every single day that year.

I'm not sure if he walked me home to protect me or did that because he knew I was different.

Or, if he felt different too and felt some kind of unity in our daily walk.

It took me 27 years to come out as a gay man. I had a teenage girlfriend and married my ex-wife at the age of 23. Could my life have been easier if I came out earlier on? That is a question I really can't answer.

Today I'm 46, and these are the happiest days of my life. I have a partner of six years and someday soon, will be able to say we are married. I also have a daughter who is 7 years old - around the same age that I was beginning to question why I felt different.

My coming out as a gay man has let me express my true self, create the family I have always wanted, and find the peace and joy that this 7 year old boy was always looking for.

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

February 01, 2013


Marty, age 6
Los Angeles, California (1968)

Every summer my parents would take our family on a camping trip to various places in California by a lake or river. My dad did his best to teach me and my brothers one of his favorite past times - fishing. Where my brothers excelled at this, all I ever wanted to do was goof off and practice casting the reel.

This would inevitably cause my dad to send me away to play with my sisters, which was fine with me. Of course when it came time to be posing the camera,
I was always a willing participant!

My childhood was basically a happy one. Although, school was difficult at times and I did my best to stay invisible to stave off the inevitable bullies.

I had a large loving family that provided a happy oasis, and my siblings were all welcoming to how I chose to express my identity. In fact, my older sisters often took pleasure in dressing me up in various "costumes" from their closet for photo opportunities. Again, I was a willing participant.

Coming out to my siblings was pretty much a non issue. I remember calling to tell them, and the response was always the same: 'Oh, I know' followed by 'I love you.' I just wanted to get it out in the open so we didn't have to pretend anymore.

I never had the nerve to formally come out to my parents, but eventually it was just how it was. As a kid I endured 'faggot' jokes at the dinner table from my dad. But as we both matured, he couldn't have been more loving or supportive of me.

My mother was pure love at heart, but sometimes hid behind the world of denial. I remember visiting her once with my sister and talking about love and pining for when we'd each have a relationship. My mom's response to my sister was not to worry, it will come. But to me, she said that I didn't need that.

Thankfully, as we both matured, knowledge led to her acceptance.

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

January 16, 2013


Ashton, age 5
Athens, Georgia (1989)

It was all The Nutcracker's fault. Well, that and my sister's tap shoes. Every Christmas since the age of 1, my family would drive to Atlanta, stay one night in the grandest hotel, and see The Nutcracker at "The Fabulous Fox Theatre"

It was the grandest of occasions, and the best part was dressing up. I'd wear white buck shoes, seersucker pants, suspenders - and therefore felt invincible.

It was my gay childhood version of the Superhero Costume.

In those rags, no one could stop the Sugar Plum Fairy from leaping out of me - and down the stairs, across the front lawn and all the way through the lobby of the glitzy Ritz Carlton.

I was spoiled rotten with love and support. Today, I'm a set designer living in New York City.

And I have this life because my parents knew exactly how to channel my desires into a constructive path for myself. So, thanks to my Mom & Dad - who are celebrating their 39th wedding anniversary this year!

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

January 04, 2013


Lynn, age 5
Clovis, New Mexico (1961)

Both my parents thought I was adorable, though not as much as I did. That's my dog Queenie is in this photo with me. I was in 2nd grade when I knew I was attracted to boys. His name was Butch and he had a sweet blonde flat top haircut, and was a little stocky. And I thought singer Bobby Sherman was dreamy!

By 7th grade I was teased about being queer by other kids. My parents (mainly my father) started having trouble with my lack of masculinity in Jr. High.

Not only was I gay, I was fat - the double curse.

I was horribly beaten in Physical Education class. Even the PE teacher called me a pansy! I had to pay them to stop, and I relentlessly tried getting out of going to the class.

My middle school years really beat me down.

At age 21, after 3 years at a fundamentalist Christian college, I came out. At age 22 I came out to my mother when I was in the hospital and on narcotics.

She had no idea and said:
'We mustn't tell your father. And who did this to you?'

She was sure that my being gay was her "fault."

I adore this photo and the sheer luxury I had to express myself. But that freedom was soon taken away and not rediscovered until many years later. Today, I am a very well respected psychiatric nurse practitioner and my life's work is to comfort people with challenging lives. Part of that includes supporting all kinds of people to be exactly who they are meant to be.

My message to young LGBTQ kids is to be patient.

Do all you can do to be your genuine self. The more truth you tell, the happier you will be. Who you are matters, and tell yourself that truth first.

No matter how trapped you may feel, it will get better. No man, woman, religious leader, politician, or teacher can define who you are. ONLY YOU define who you are. Be YOU and be proud, and keep a sense of humor.

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