Being A Gay Child: A Memoir
Updated: Sep 8, 2018
The 90’s were full of homosexual temptation.
I’ve always known I was gay. Even before I knew what it meant. That knowledge sometimes led to carrying an unknown weight on my shoulders as a kid, but it also led to some entertaining anecdotes and many an awkward moment. Each paragraph of this post is a chapter in the book of my gay childhood.
Let’s take a little trip down memory lane.
My first known incidence of homosexuality was my interest in my grandmother’s vintage Barbie dolls. Now, let me be careful: straight men might have played with Barbie dolls, too. Gender roles are dumb. But I remember the little floral case containing a single Barbie and Ken set was one of the most intriguing things in Mimi’s house when I was younger. Even when my older sister didn’t want to play with them, I would seek out the Barbie set. And I would take a vested interest in undressing Ken. I told myself it was because he needed to change his hideous outfit, but we all know why Little Evan was doing that. Can you say thirsty?
I enjoyed going to the pool. I’m sure little straight boys loved this too, but the difference is that I wouldn’t pay attention to bikini-clad teenagers or fit moms in one-piece bathing suits. I was more interested in the myriad of shirtless men in varying forms of wetness. I was always intrigued by the male form, even when I didn’t understand why. Me to my past self: you’re gay.
I loved a wide range of male cartoon characters. Fred from Scooby Doo was always intriguing, despite his lack of intelligence - he was just a blond-haired, blue-eyed knockout. Hercules was an obvious fan-favorite, with his muscular form, godly athletic ability, and pet pegasus - which, let’s be honest, was nothing more than a glorified unicorn (gay). Then there was the androgynous, possibly very gay devil character from PowerPuff Girls (featured in the photo for this post), who happened to be the most fabulous villain in cartoon history, as well as a Gay Icon. So multi-talented.
Avril Lavigne was my queen. I have so many memories of my sister and I belting angsty Avril Lavigne songs in the back of our family van on road trips. Her album Let Go, released in 2002, was the anthem of my elementary school years. I remember listening to it when I got sent to my room and I needed to work through all of my complex little emotions. I was too young to actually relate to the lyrics, but my baby self thought that I had been wronged by so many men in my short life. Only Avril understood that. She got me.
I always got along with everyone and never went through an awkward “ew, girls” phase. I was confused by the period of late elementary school/early middle school in which all of my straight pals suddenly became terrified of and/or disgusted by the opposite sex. I was like “these girls are my friends, and these guys are my friends, why are they being weird?” I was too naive to know that I was gay - I just knew I didn’t have weird feelings for girls. And my weird feelings for boys had no precedent to draw from, so I was just… an enigma. Go me.
I learned very quickly how to escape from my own life by diving into a book. It’s not that I was a depressed child, but I think I knew that I was different somehow. It always helped me to crack open a book and immerse myself in fictional problems from fictional people - as well as learn from their mistakes and triumphs. And that’s held true to this very day. The only difference is that now I read stories that feature LGBT people as often as possible. Score.
I had a list of male celebrities that I found attractive stowed away in my room somewhere like a middle-aged suburban mom’s stash of merlot. I don’t remember all the people on it, but I remember that Chris Evans was on the top of the list. I think I saw him first in the Fantastic Four movie from 2005, and I was like… omg. In case you were wondering, he’s still at the top of the list. But I used to Google these random celebrities in clandestine encounters with the family computer when no one was home. Scandalous, I know.
To sum it all up: I was awkward, I was confused, I was bold, I was sassy. But through it all, I think I somehow managed to be myself. I’m thankful that I was raised in an environment where that was allowed, even though I was never really educated by my loved ones on what being gay was and what it meant and how it was okay. I knew that I could be who I was.
I can only hope the same is true for others, even though I know that isn’t always the case. Let’s start teaching kids that they can be whoever they want to be, and giving them the room to figure that out for themselves, shall we?
This post was brought to you by I’m With You by Avril Lavigne, because it’s incredible to this day, but also because my sister and I used to belt “it’s a damn, cold night” in the backseat of the car while convincing both ourselves and our parents that the actual lyric was “it’s a damp, cold night.” Children are crafty creatures.
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