Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Role Model

When I was a little kid, I thought I was different from other boys.

I didn't know exactly why I felt that way, but I did.

I was a sickly child so I stayed home a lot with my mother watching daytime TV. There was an early talk show that was hosted by Mike Douglas. On one of his shows, he had a guest who warned mothers not to baby their sons or they'd make them effeminate.

I didn't understand all the man said, but I knew he was talking about me. Warning mothers not to make sons like me.

Luckily, my mother was busy doing her house work and wasn't really paying attention to the TV show.

This was the mid-60's and there weren't a lot of gay role models back then. I'd watch Bewitched and hope to see Paul Lynde's character, Uncle Arthur.  Somehow, I thought I would be like him when I grew up.

I didn't particularly like Paul Lynde, but he was the only person I saw that I thought was similar to.

But Lynde was ok because he could do magic. Maybe, when I grew up, I'd do magic too.

I know, but I was very young.

But about that same time I saw Truman Capote flounce across the TV screen to promote a book. Truman appeared in a floppy hat that looked like one my mother wore on the rare occasions she went to church.

Even at that young age, I was repulsed by Truman. I didn't want to grow up to wear floppy hats and talk like him.

I would have given anything to have had a positive role model when I was a kid. The 70's were a little better.

I watched Match Game every chance I could. There I saw Charles Nelson Reilly who was so funny. Ascots aside, he was a great role model; biting wit and smart.

Now, I look back and wonder "what if there had been a gay athlete that I could have looked up to when I was a kid?"

I'm not bitter but so thankful kids have a greater variety of role models to look up to and emulate.