I was a weird kid. Odd. I fully admit it. I didn’t fully grow out of it–I do still have some strange tendancies. Like, having to turn the lights in my place on and back off again just to make sure that I turned them off in the first place. And, I have become really good at hiding my tendancies. My boyfriend Jeff is really grateful for this, I’m sure. However, for the sake of maintaining some dignity, I’ll refrain from fully disclosing too many of my adult “tics” right now.
But, back to my childhood, it was scary enough. Like the time at church camp when I decided to see how far I could pull my pants down before someone noticed. (This was long before it was en vogue to wear one’s pants around their knees.) Much to the horror of several other kids playing 4-square, I made it to about mid-thigh.
I guess I should be thankful that my parents simply allowed me to be… special. I think that’s how my mom put it. Special. I love that word. Special. It is just about the nicest way to say that someone has some serious issues that might require medication someday. “Don’t mind Tyler . . . he’s . . . special.” Actually, I don’t think my mom actually even said that to anyone. She just said it to me. And, well, it made me feel . . . special. Which is exactly how a kid should feel.
And she put up with a lot of my “specialness” because I loved to perform. Not necessarily for a crowd or for family members, which I was asked to on many occasions. I loved to perform for myself. So, I created these routines in the “privacy” of our front yard. It’s amazing how oblivious I was as a kid. I wish I still had a little of that cluelessness.
I would sometimes take my clarinet out front and create marching band routines. Sometimes–and I’m sure this made everyone cringe–I would take a broomstick with fabric tied to the end and create routines. I loved the high school drill team–sequins, flags and all. And, that’s where I was . . . in my head.
During the cold Iowa winter months, I would take my routines to the basement. The great thing about this was that I could strap on my roller-skates and few extra pieces of flare, maybe a skirt, and perform away. The down side was the ceiling. I had a bad habit of accidentally breaking out the light bulbs during the height of my drill team routines. I was never punished for any of this . . . and compared to other stories I hear from gay people. I was extremely fortunate.
Truly the only surprise here is that anyone in my family was surprised to find out that I was gay! My mother passed away in 1998 after a battle with cancer and multiple other health problems. I never told her that I was gay, which I do regret. But, all that matters is that I know she thought I was special. And that’s how she paved the way for me to really accept me for who I am.