So yeah, high school, teenage years, puberty in general is confusing enough as it already is but when you add deep-seeded gender issues, it becomes another world entirely. I wanted to take some time to explain to all of you how I saw my sexuality and what kind of boy I was to help you understand me a little bit more. I remember from as early as I could remember being in school, how I admired girls. It’s hard to explain but I will try to convey it as best as I can.
You know that game that boys and girls used to play when we were all kids growing up? Boys would say that girls had “cooties” and girls would say the same thing about boys. I just never felt like that at all. I saw girls much differently and I couldn’t help but be fascinated with them. I gravitated to befriending them in school and as my neighborhood friends. It was just different with girls, there wasn’t always this air of competition that boys seemed to always be about. It didn’t matter what, whether the latest Hot Wheel, Star Wars Action Figure, ball, game or whatever it was, boys loved to brag about how their’s was better. Girls were just cooler and I liked that.
I remember the hours of fun that I had playing with my cousin Maira, we would play house for hours and sing into my dad’s tape recorder and just had a good time pretending. When we moved to the new house I became friends with the girl that lived in the house behind mine, her name was Carrie Cave. We hit off so well and continued having a great friendship for many years until we went our separate ways during high school. I remember the time the I was invited to Carrie’s 9th birthday party. I showed up at her front door with my present in hand and her mom smiled warmly and led me to the backyard where all of the fun was happening.
I quickly noticed that I was the only boy there in a sea of girls. Carrie was so proud to introduce me to all of her friends and I remember the girls giggling and asking her if I was her boyfriend. “Paul? My boyfriend? Ha, no, he is my friend!” That’s how I saw Carrie too, I mean she was pretty and all but gosh, I thought, I wouldn’t say that she is my girlfriend. We all had such a great time and after winning the bobbing for apples game, I won the coolest prize, an Air Supply 45 single which had the song “All Out Of Love” on it. Where would I play it though, my mom and dad would probably make me throw it in the trash because it wasn’t Christian?
Carrie was my best friend and I could think of no other person that I would want to go to Disneyland with, so I begged my mom to let me go with Carrie to Disney. I asked Carrie and her mom said that it was fine with her. A few weeks later my mom dropped two 10 year olds off at the Magic Kingdom monorail station at the Disneyland Hotel. I know right, what was she thinking to drop off two little kids at an amusement park?! Looking back now, I don’t think that it was very bright either but hey, we had a great time and were none worse for wear. We took pictures, road the Matterhorn, Jungle Cruise, Pirates of the Caribbean and the PeopleMover. I was with my best bud and we were at the “Happiest Place On Earth” what could be better than that?
As the years went by, we grew more distant, probably due to peer pressure and my staunch religious convictions which got in the way. I remember going away to a church retreat and because of this newfound renewal of my Christian beliefs, I decided that I was going to live my life as a better, more committed Christian. My parents had me going to Christian school for my whole life and that continued on into high school.
If I was ever to question my sexuality in my head, I was quickly brought back down to earth by my ever-constant religious beliefs. I grew up with a long list of do’s and don’ts and any pondering of same sex attraction was definitely a big NO. If I am going to be perfectly honest about it though, I was attracted to guys as I was to girls as well. I remember that I was always just so interested in being a female. So much so, that it did not matter which character I saw on tv, whether it was Julie from Love Boat, Laura from Little House On The Prairie or Jo from Facts Of Life, I just wanted to be them.
When it came to how I felt about guys, I just felt like even if I liked them, I would never be able to express myself so why even go there but yeah, I was attracted for sure. I was not an effeminate boy but I was not a rough and tough boy either. I played sports and other than occasionally getting picked by other boys for having friends that were girls, I was not really picked on very much at all. My sexuality was deep, deep in the closet, tucked away carefully right next to my gender identity issues. I was never going to admit that truth to anyone.
I remember one day however, when I almost got found out, I was at my friend Byron’s house during a rare occasion when I was able to go to a sleepover. After playing on his Commodore 64 for hours in his house, I leaned over to him and out of the blue just asked him, “Hey Byron, do you think that certain guys are cute?” He looked at me puzzled and said, “uh, no”. That was it and we didn’t ever talk about it again. I admit, it was kind of out nowhere. There were those boys who you just knew were gay but I was never really That kind of guy. I played sports, was a bigger kid, liked to do boy things. I was musical and loved to sing and play instruments too, loved drama class and really loved the outdoors but I also loved to go shopping.
As I got into high school, I had decided that I was really going to apply myself and focus on becoming a professional baseball player. I thought that I had the skills and the abilities, so during my whole freshman year, I brought my glove to school with me and played with my friend Jerry (who eventually made it to the minor leagues) during break and at lunch time. The thing is that I had two loves, baseball and music.
During the summer I had begun to really concentrate on my singing and was really caught between two things. At the start of the school year, my high school always had a camp that we went to just before the start of the new semester of classes. It was there that I decided to concentrate on music and ditch the baseball dream. I joined band, choir, vocal ensemble and started to sing a lot more. I had my distraction from dealing with my gender questions, I just poured myself into my music. I spent hours and days practicing at home and recording. Eventually at 16, my parents paid for a professional four song recording session and I eventually sold the cassettes at different places where I was invited to sing. It was my life, music was my obsession. I would end up spending so much time behind the closed doors of my bedroom just singing away.
It started off as a cool idea, my best friend in high school, John and I were just a couple of goofballs. He had this crazy notion to do Halloween differently that year. His brother was a clown (literally) and had a bunch of costumes in his bedroom and John asked his brother if we could borrow a couple of them for Halloween. I thought to myself, could this be my chance? Would he actually have the kind of costume that I wanted to wear? John opened up his brother’s closet and quickly settled on a pirate costume and me? I looked and looked and then found what I wanted but would I have the guts to do it? The rush of excitement hit me and I tried to brush it off as a practical joke when I told my friend that I wanted to dress as a woman and wear a French maid outfit. He was like, “uh, really Paul?! I mean there are lots of great costumes in here, but ok, it’ll be fun!” So off I went to not just have a great time during Halloween but to live out a dream. I can’t imagine what I looked like dressed in fish net stockings, short black skirt and and white top but it must have been something hideous as I topped it all off by putting a long black haired wig to complete “the look”.
We left his house and went out to the local mall just ten minutes away. I remember that feeling of being out as a feux female-ish person. We walked through Sears and then the rest of the mall and I must have looked like quite the scene. My friend laughed at me but I was beaming ear to ear. I was finding an outlet to my repressed gender feelings and this was such a wonderful outlet for me or so I thought. I would look back at that moment as a key to my developing this other side to who I was as well. As the years went by, I wanted to relive that time whenever Halloween rolled around again. I would not however, dress up in any female clothes until I was well into being 21.