Yes, I had an Easy-Bake Oven as a child. I was remembering it when I was at a recent party with a bunch of middle aged gay men, know as bears. To my wonderful surprise, I met several other men who either had one, or played with their sister’s Easy-Bake when they were little. I got to thinking about gay culture and how for many of us it began before we even knew we were gay. I remember asking my parents for a Barbie doll too! Yes, I had G.I. Joe, but I wanted a talking Barbie. I remember that my father was against it, but I whined so much that I eventually got one. I had so much fun playing Barbie with the girl next door, I didn’t see any reason why I couldn’t have one. It never occurred to me that I could only play with certain toys. It made no logical sense to me even at a young age. In my later childhood, I became obsessed with The Wizard of Oz and Judy Garland. I had never met a gay person, but somehow I was quickly becoming a stereotypical one.
In my teens I loved Valley of the Dolls, Barbra Streisand, and Liza Minnelli. Gay, Gay, Gay! From my earliest memories I had been on the path to raging homosexual. I hated gym class, always thought of girls as pals, and found I had a strange attraction for men’s underwear ads. Before I came out to myself and the world I thought I was some kind of freak! I now know that I didn’t have such a unique childhood after all. The stimuli that I had responded to were the same that many gay men from my generation also found appealing.
How come I can quote Mommie Dearest? Why do I adore Kathy Griffin? No matter what our upbringing, or part of the country we are from, many gay men share the same likes and experiences. What are the odds? Gay people didn’t recruit me. I didn’t know any gay people when I was growing up. Sorry, right wing America… I was born this way!