A lot of people when they come out say something like “I always knew,” and almost equally as often, those around them say “so did we.” At my coming out, neither such phrase was uttered, which may be why it took me so many years figure it out.
Sure, there were signs…
As a child, I played with my sister’s Barbies, performed in school musicals, dressed up in my mom’s clothes, and cried about everything. And while that might sound like I was obviously a little queen, none of those behaviors have anything to do with being attracted to men. Plus, I exhibited them rather infrequently… except the crying.
Recently, one of my long-time friends prefaced a story about me with: “Back when you were pretending to be straight…” I would have preferred that he say “back when you thought you were straight,” but ultimately it amounts to the same thing. As anyone who believes in biology, psychology, or Lady Gaga knows, being gay is not a choice. Whether I knew it or not, I was born this way, baby.
But as a friend who had a similar “I didn’t always know” coming out experience described, he has memories from his childhood that only in retrospect does he realize were gay. Since he shared that with me, I’ve recalled several “oh yeah, that was pretty gay” memories of my own. These aren’t memories of behaviors (certainly if I were kissing boys or beating it to gay porn, someone would have known), these are memories of more intangible things like thoughts and emotions that I simply didn’t acknowledge growing up. But is it even fair to expect a kid to know he’s gay?
Kids are dumb.
They really are. I mean, I love kids, I plan on having at least 10, but man are they dumb! When I was a kid, I was dumb, and I have a sneaking suspicion that you weren’t exactly Bobby Fischer yourself.
Aside from the inability to read or do math (so dumb!), we’re also born with the inability to express our emotions. When babies are hungry they cry, when they’re tired they cry, when they shit themselves they cry. Come on! Even when kids learn to talk, and they know the actual words necessary to express what they’re feeling, these little idiots can’t do it! (To be fair, I know many adults who still have this problem.)
Example: When a kid likes another kid – not just like, but like like – they demonstrate their fond affection for this wonderful other person by… pushing them in the sandbox, or pulling their hair, or calling them “fart face.” More often than not, kids act like they hate the ones they like the most.
But how can we expect kids to know how to respond to attraction when they don’t even know what an erection is yet!? (Thank you, failed sex education policy and sexually scared parents of America…)
In second grade, when I was right in the prime of childhood stupidity, my parents got the movie Hook on VHS. If you’ve not heard of Hook, it’s a modern day continuation of the Peter Pan story. And if you’ve not heard of Peter Pan, then maybe you’re not as gay as you think you are.
Aside from being two and a half hours long and having some weird subplot about Tinker Bell wanting to bone Peter Pan, Hook is actually a great movie for the whole family. I probably watched it a dozen times between ages 7 and 8 and memorized at least half of the lines.
As the story goes, when adult Peter Pan (played by Robin Williams) returns to Neverland, he discovers the gang of Lost Boys he used to roll with have found a new kid, Rufio, to be their leader in his absence. Rufio is scary and mean, carries a dangerous sword, has shadowy eye sockets, breaks the rules, and terrorizes Peter Pan. He’s a bad kid, and Peter Pan needed to get in there, learn to fly, and take back his rightful place as leader from that jerk with the horrible Brooklyn accent!
Or at least, since last watching that movie 20 years ago, that’s how I remembered it.
After starting this blog post, I decided to rent Hook and watch it again (making this my most expensive post yet!). Here’s how the movie actually goes:
Rufio is sarcastic and funny, does some sweet moves with this badass sword, has fierce eye shadow, and exemplifies the freedom of childhood as a character foil to the older, jaded Peter Pan. Peter Pan was a old, uptight jerk, and for him to turn back into the hero that he once was, Rufio needed to shake things up, and that’s exactly what he did! (He did still have a horrible Brooklyn accent, though.)
Why did I remember this character so differently? Why did I hate him so much when I was a kid?
Did I mention he looks like this?
That’s right. Rufio, the leader of the lost boys, is Asian.
I hated him because he was older, cooler, and had way better hair than me. I hated him because he was fun and funny and totally cute. I hated him because… I liked him – no, I like liked him.
Today, I understand my thoughts better and express my emotions with at least a hint of clarity, but I guess one thing that hasn’t changed is my taste in men (and the crying… I still cried 4 times re-watching Hook).
If I’ve always been gay, then it’s safe to say I’ve always been a rice queen.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering what Dante Basco, the actor who played Rufio, is looking like these days…
And while he’s an absolute stallion in D&G, Diesel, and Guess, I like to imagine he kept that bone necklace, feather earring, and red wig, and every once in a great while he still moonlights as Rufio, leader of the lost boys – looking for adventure, saving the day, and stealing little hearts like mine.