Coming out of the closet can be a difficult and traumatic time in every homosexual’s life. Each experience is different. Some people come out early and some never come out. Some of us lucky enough to have supporting and accepting families, and some of us are not.
My first step out of the closet was in my early 20s to some of my close friends. In my mid and late 20s, I came out to most of my family. When I think about it, I’m disappointed that I waited so long to tell them.
I know such labels are sometimes frowned upon, but I’m a fairly “straight-acting” and “masculine” guy. I’ve never really fit into the incredibly “stereotypical gay mold.” I don’t speak with a lisp, I have an awful fashion sense, and I’m not very good at interior design (although I like to think I am). But that’s not to say that I didn’t exhibit a few questionable signs early-on. Here are the clues that my family should have picked up on:
My Little Ponies
I’m a child of the ’80s, and while I didn’t play with dolls, I had the next best thing. My Little Ponies were all the rage, and I had a few of them. I used to just sit back and let them gallop around my imagination! My action figures would ride them all around my room. I’d brush and cut their hair, and if she wasn’t too busy, I’d bug my mom to braid it. At one point I probably had a dozen My Little Ponies and Trolls, all with braided hair. It was magical!
I never had any of the old G.I. Joes that looked like actual dolls — mine were all the 5-6″ plastic action figures with lots of opposable joints, guns and accessories. My G.I. Joes never fought each other, as intended. Mine were all in complex relationships, love triangles, families feuds and usually ended up kissing each other in the end. I still remember renaming Baroness to “Rebecca.” She was a total slut.
Most kids build cars and airplanes out of their Legos. I always built houses. Sometimes they were multi-level, sometimes they were ranch houses, and sometimes they were even on top of a boat. But they were always houses. Each had bedrooms, bathrooms, a kitchen, family room, etc. My little Lego people would live in the house. It was basically just a dollhouse that I could constantly redesign and expand upon.
’80s Plastic Charm Necklaces
These were all the rage in the mid to late ’80s. And I wanted one SO badly. Most boys my age weren’t into jewelry, but I wanted one of these necklaces more than anything! I remember BEGGING my parents, who refused for weeks until they finally gave in. And then I wore it everywhere.
Madonna & Cindi Lauper
My mom’s music influenced my young tastes. She loved Madonna and Cindi Lauper the most, and so did I. I remember pledging my love and devotion to Cindi Lauper at a young age. My plan was (and still is) to marry her. And Madonna music? I still know all the lyrics to her early hits. My mom thought it was hilarious when I’d sing along. Her favorite was, “Come on girls. Do you believe in love? ‘Cause I got something to say about it. And it goes something like this!”
Mary Lou Retton
I wasn’t sure if I should include this in my list or not … because it probably makes me more of a lesbian than anything else. After she gymnasticed her way through the Olympics, I became obsessed with Miss Mary Lou. I had a poster of her on the wall of my bedroom. (I also remember having a framed photo of Ronald Reagan too … but I’ll save that story for another time.) And at every chance I could get, I would watch her exercise-themed TV shorts, ABC Fun Fit. “Like a tigerrrrr… GROWL!”
Then of course, I grew older. I became better at hiding things and passed as straight for quite a long time. But to be honest, I’ve always been a little jealous of the “stereotypical” gay man. It’s gotta be at least a little easier to come out of the closet when everyone already knows the truth! If only my family had put the pieces together … my teens would have been slightly less traumatic!