James Holmes

My Own 'Growing Up Gay'

Filed By James Holmes | October 09, 2012 3:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment, Living
Tags: drag queens, growing up queer, Statue of Liberty

Jim-Drag.jpgIf you have never taken the time to check out the site Born This Way: Real Stories of Growing Up Gay, you should. A place for adults to share campy photos from their youth and share what life was like for them as a child - I personally relate to many of the stories posted.

Now the site creator, DJ Paul V., has released a new book, out today, also named Born This Way: Real Stories of Growing Up Gay. It is a collection of stories from the site, and I'm hoping for a copy.

I discovered the site a few years back, and have always wanted to post my own story, but have never actually taken the time to do it. Well here it goes:

When I first came out to my mom at the age of 18, I asked her if she was surprised. Her answer - "No. I just kept hoping everything was a phase." At the time that slightly horrified me that I did such a bad job at hiding, but when I look back, those "phases" started much earlier than when I first attached the word "gay" to myself as seen in the picture.

In the picture, I am wearing one of my favorite outfits of the age - one of my mom's nightgowns and a lovely straw hat, normally hung on the wall as decoration. To me, it was just a costume, and the gender bending drew laughs and attention. But the story that I would like to tell is of my favorite use of the dress - and it involves patriotism and the paranormal.

I was born the same year the original Ghostbusters movie was released, so the sequel has always been my favorite. At the end of Ghostbusters II, the Statue of Liberty is brought to life for the purpose of saving New York from an evil creature in a painting that is drawing power from the assholiness of 1980s New Yorkers. Possibly the origin of my strong desire to make it to an east coast city someday? Maybe.

Most boys upon watching an action movie tend to act out the role of the heroes. But this little gay boy never had the slightest desire to slap on a proton pack and fight the ghost. No - this gay boy wanted to be a national monument and transform into the walking statue itself.

The green nightgown in the picture served as Lady Liberty's toga, a plastic butter dish cut into a tiara served as her crown, an old copy of the Bible served as the plaque she holds (for years I actually assumed she was holding a Bible), and the top off of a vase served as her torch.

We had recorded the movie off of HBO so I could re-watch over and over, and I occasionally sped things up to get to my favorite part (remember I am around five years old here). As "Your Love Keeps Lifting Me Higher and Higher" started playing, I would step off a small chair that served as Liberty Island, and take off marching up and down the hall until I smashed in the roof of an invisible museum to save the day. I would then fall on my side lifeless until the credits rolled.

I have no clear memory of my mom or dad reacting at the time, and looking back I am grateful to have had parents that always let me be myself, no matter where they stood religiously or politicly. Maybe they were just hoping a phase would end, but I think they knew, and just waited for me to figure it out, and let them know - and also pray that maybe - just maybe - there would still be grandkids someday.

If you have never seen the movie, it is a must. I now watch the DVD regularly, and though I haven't dressed for the finale in years, I still always remember being the little boy saving the day as his favorite hero - a green French woman with four guys in her head.

Check out a clip of the scene below to get an idea.

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