I knew I was "different" by the time I was six. I doubt if too many of the other little boys on the schoolbus (or any of the little girls, for that matter) harbored secret fantasies about "being alone" with the bus driver. I didn't know too much about the mechanics of sex in those days, but I knew that I wanted to be very much alone with him.
And I also knew that that was one little thought that I really couldn't share with anybody else. So I didn't. Thus was born my first secret shame. There'd be lots more, later.
By the end of my first week of grade school I'd managed to latch on to a new best friend whom, decades later, turned out to be both gay and a recovering drunk like me. Two years later the duo became a trio when we transferred grade schools.
It's interesting how even the smallest children automatically gravitate towards others who share their secret pains. Or their secret plots. I wouldn't be at all surprised to find out, for example, that fledgling Republicans latch onto each other by the time they're five or six. Or serial killer wannabe's. Just like us queer drunks had done, and probably continue to due in grade schools all over the world.
We three budding queers (two of us budding drunks), who'd yet to have our first cocktails, or to suck our first c*cks, had identical, insane, home lives, which we never talked about. We didn't need to. We all felt very comfortable in each other's homes AND we never needed to explain to each other what was going on. We intuitively understood the dynamics of crazy, alcohol-fueled, families. We also intuitively understood that the craziness inside our homes was NOT the norm for the rest of the human race and, therefore, was never to be discussed in the world at large.
Nobody told us that. We just knew.
Secrets. Lots and lots of secrets. Even from each other.
I found out, later, that the two of them were sexually experimenting with each other by the time of puberty (I was saving myself for the boy next door, Michael.)
I forget which one of us came out first. I think my First Grade friend did. But I was the first to do it so publicly. And, self-centered drama queen that I am, I waited until a time when it would have a) the maximum effect on others and b) the minimum consequences for me.
I've always had a few things about me which I strongly felt gave me my sense of identity. When I was little I thought that it was being part Irish and fully Roman Catholic, but now I know that it's being gay and a recovering alcoholic.
The first two things were told to me by others.
The second two things I had to find out for myself. The hard way.
Of those four things, guess which two mean the most to me.