Years ago, when I came out to my parents, my mother kept asking if it was something she did that “caused this.” She seemed to quickly decide that this was “just a phase” and that I would grow out of it. It’s been over 10 years and I still haven’t grown out of it.
On Sunday, 60 minutes ran a piece attempting to answer the same question put out by so many parents of gay men: Why’s my son a homo? The piece explained that the more boys you give birth to, the chances of one of the boys being gay grows considerably with each boy born. However, there is no cause/effect associated with girls.
The signs were there throughout childhood—I joined the baseball team because I liked the uniforms: I don’t have an ass to speak of, but in baseball pants, I looked good—plus, who doesn’t love stirrup pants and a cup? I put on plays in the backyard with my friends and everything was dramatic: waterskiing accident leaves a girl blind (no, I did not play the girl), period piece where a girl constantly was beheading subjects and putting their head in an ice bucket* (no, I did not play the girl) and a comedy about a funny family and the kooky things they do (no, I did not play the girl… I played her mother. Hey, no one else was able to get the character right). Yes… there were signs.
But the biggest influence and the biggest sign that I was a gay kid was Big Jim and Big Josh: Gay Icons of the highest order. BJ and BJ (hmmmmm?) were ‘action dolls for boys’** like GI Joe. However, unlike GI Joe, they weren’t into the army, they were into the gym and traveling. They had lots of costumes… er, clothes and had a private jet, campers, cars, athletic equipment, gym equipment. It was like they were on a never ending mission to be ready for the White Party. Looking back, I’m surprised the box just say: “Hey Mom & Dad! Make your kid a homo, today!”
Just look at the pictures above. Ennis and Jack have got nothing on these two. Jim and his sculpted muscles—with nary a hair on his perfect chest. And Josh… so masculine, with that beard—you just know he’s a top… Unlike Ken, with his neutered genitalia, Jim and Josh came in permanent sexy red briefs… with a nice bulge and bubble butt you could bounce a dime off of.***
These guys rocked my world as a kid. I had the plane, the camper, and the jeep… Oh, the adventures they had! Thankfully, this was before puberty, because the adventures they could have had later would have shocked the world—especially my parents and their 1950’s suburban mentality.**** I can only imagine what I would do with them today***** and what my parents would say if they caught me:
"If it’s a dance, how come there are no women—and why isn’t anyone wearing a shirt?”
“Why is that one tied up like that?”
“So that’s where my clothes pins went…”
“How cute, the cowboy and Indian seem to be wrestling… and the cop, construction worker, sailor and Hell’s Angel fellow seem to be having a sing-a-long!”
“Where did you find such a tiny ball-gag?”
When my mom first asked the “why” question a decade ago, my first thought was to blame Jim and Josh, because they clearly influenced me, however, thanks to 60 Minutes, I now know that my being the youngest boy of four, it is my parent’s “fault” I am this way. What a wonderful gift! My question is, with my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary is next month, how do I wrap this?
*The ice bucket was supplied by my dad, something that was left off the original Playbill and has been bugging me for the last 35 years. Thanks, dad!
**Before “Action Figures” came along to butch it all up. They're still dolls, people.
***and I often did…
****Even though it was the 70’s, my parents lived in an Ozzie & Harriet world, where kids were respectful (and never used drugs) and no one ever had sex (because with the lights out and the door locked to mommy and daddy’s room, no one knew how the baby got into mommy’s tummy…)
*****Oh, and you knowI have…