Okay. I don’t know about you folks, but this week has really knocked me back a few paces in one way or another. Can’t believe it’s only Thursday. Looking forward to the weekend. But! In the meantime, what does one do to de-stress?
Well, there are lots of options, but the one I’m going to share here is my new favorite blog: Born This Way!
In its own words, Born This Way! is “A photo/essay project for gay adults (of all genders) to submit childhood pictures and stories (roughly ages 2 to 12), reflecting memories & early beginnings of their innate LGBTQ selves.”
|Heather, age 1|
Quite simply: How could you not become addicted to a blog devoted to posting adorable pictures of queer folks when they were children, alongside stories of their early memories of growing up not-quite-straight? Sometimes the snippets of life are hard, sometimes they’re heartening. I know not everyone will agree with me, but I find every single one of the photographs completely compelling — no matter how awkward they might be, particularly when read alongside stories of childhood marginalization. I think the thing I love most about them is that, almost by default, every single child in these photographs has grown into a self-possessed adult who believes in themselves enough to submit their story to this blog. They are, by definition, all resilient survivors.
|Clarissa, age 4 (Bronx, NY)|
“I loved being a tomboy! I wanted to be tough and dirty, and would go to work with my dad the mechanic. I didn’t always wear coveralls, though. My mom found a way to get me to wear dresses by making them herself, patterning them after Lucy Van Pelt of the ‘Peanuts’ cartoon. I acknowledged Lucy’s toughness, and felt tough in those dresses, too!”
|Isaac, age 4 (Lodi, WI)|
It’s interesting to me, reading these submissions, how often gender-atypical behavior (being a girl who resists dresses, a boy who likes makeup) gets identified by the author of the post as one of their earliest signs that they were “different” … even though gender-atypical behavior doesn’t actually correlate with a non-straight sexual orientation. I wonder if these narratives of being gender-atypical are a product of adults looking back into their own childhoods in search of confirmation that they were queer from their earliest memories — long before they would have had conscious feelings of adult sexual desire. I certainly know that since realizing (as an adult) my fluid sexuality, I’ve caught myself looking backwards into the past for signs of queerness in my childhood. Sometimes I question whether that’s the most accurate or valid approach to self-confirmation!
Heather Ervin said:
Ha, that's me (Heather)! Thanks for the post, and the book is out now!
Yes! I won a review copy, but the publisher has been slow in getting it to me — I'm hopeful yet!