I read about the childhood of LBGTQ friends and the struggles they went through, some of them absolutely horrific, and I count my blessings for my life. Either I was incredibly fortunate or blissfully naive, but I never felt too much of a struggle getting through childhood. I sometimes wonder if my parents shielded me from the rougher parts; I know they were both quite protective in some ways. There were some normal rules about what we could watch on TV and what movies I could go to as a teenager and the like. My sister was more of a rebel than I ever was. I was content in my own little world, whether it was exploring the woods behind the family house, pretending I had cash registers and computers in my bedroom, or roller skating around the basement before my Dad started building airplanes down there.
My childhood is neatly and distinctly divided in half with our living arrangement at the time: my first 9.25 years was spent in a 10×50 mobile home with an 8×40 addition my father built. The second 9.25 years were spent in a colonial four bedroom home built in a hay lot across the street from the aforementioned mobile home. When I left for college I moved out of my parents’ home and never moved back in. No regrets; they’d done a good enough job that I was able to sustain myself after failing out of college the end of my freshman year. I remember musing to my father that I made have made a mistake along the way; taking a volunteer leave from the second largest computer company at the time and ending up working for a department store chain. It’s one of the only times he gave me advice of this nature and told me to never have regrets, I’m doing fine, I’ll figure it out. That meant a lot to me. My dad didn’t say a lot but when he did I listened, even though I know to this day that my sister was his favorite (and there’s no hard feelings about that).
When we lived in the 10×50 mobile home with 8×40 addition we couldn’t all sit at the kitchen table for dinner and opening the refrigerator at the same time. The appliances were a wild 1960s blue color. The living room, which was in the addition my dad built, had windows that looked into the original living room. It was normal to have a metal wall that was the original siding of the mobile home. In the coldest of Upstate New York winters the addition was heated by two tiny electric heaters embedded in the wall. We made due with crocheted booties and blanket made by Grandma City.
When I hear what my contemporaries went through, and how some of them went through so much physical and/or mental abuse for not fitting the portrait their family wanted them painted in, I feel sad and I want to give them a hug. Our experiences make us who we are as adults.
I’m fortunate that my experiences have been mostly positive. I wish our world was headed in a more positive direction.