Being an internationally known author—South America counts, right?—I have the opportunity to meet and become friends with some absolutely wonderful people. It doesn’t always mean they like me back, but because of my fame, they’re at least polite about it. That might have been a little bit of fluff there, or as my friend who you’re going to read about shortly would call it, bullshit.
I met James Taylor Jr. several years ago at a book signing I did in Ann Arbor and we’ve stayed in touch ever since. Not only did he have a successful LGBT-related radio show at Eastern Michigan University, but he was recently named Best Live Singer by Flame Magazine for the Best of Detroit 2012. It’s been my honor to get to know him—and his fabulous mother—only I never knew much about his upbringing until he sent me this for the Face of Gay blog series.
Before turning this over to James, if after reading this you’d like to tell your own story or a story about a family member who’s part of the LGBT community, please contact me. Submissions can even be posted anonymously if you’d prefer.
My Face of Gay
I was lucky enough to have been out in high school. Now, I graduated in 2004, and I went to 3 different schools. However, I had the support and love of my family that made it feel… normal. Isn’t that what every kid is trying to grow up to be? Extraordinary… but… normal?
I have two uncles who are gay, plus an aunt who passed away. I have at least four cousins who identify as gay or bisexual. In my family…this WAS normal. I’ve had cousins even joke that if I had come to the holidays with a girlfriend… they would have been shocked. There was NO doubt in anyone’s mind (besides my own young and hesitant mind) that I was a giant, flaming homosexual.
I was harassed and threatened, but thankfully never assaulted in my middle (junior high) and high school career. This is normal, isn’t it? My senior year, I walked the halls holding my boyfriend’s hand: normal. We had coins thrown at the back of our heads, but I stood tall… because this was normal. I was lucky. I was happy and alive. I had a place to live and food to eat. My family and friends loved and supported me (and still do).
But this wasn’t normal. No matter how “mainstream” I am, being gay is… extraordinary. And being as lucky as I was, I was certainly the exception among many of my lgbt peers.
It took one teacher to make me realize that… normal can be extraordinary. He told me and the entire cast of our high school musical that I… was extraordinary. That I was brave. I was not unafraid to be open… I just wasn’t going to let that stop me… and I inspired HIM as a person… encouraged HIM (and, as I would find out through the years, others) to simply be themselves, gay or straight…to be extraordinary.
I don’t feel special. I’m an amazing singer, but it’s a gift. I didn’t work for it. I do work for my career, but that’s not special. Many people work hard to achieve the life that they want. I’m smart, but not in any extraordinary way; I am simply able to hold a conversation, open to whatever information people have to share. But I AM brave. I think of that from time to time… on the days I just want to be “normal”… I remember that I am extraordinary.
And I have seen others… watched so many more… become extraordinary. All it takes is a little inspiration.
P.S. Thanks to my EXTRAORDINARY parents and family for being EXTRAORDINARY enough to make it FEEL normal. <3
James Taylor Jr. can be found and contacted here:
jamestaylorjrmusic at gmail.com
***Please feel free to leave James a comment. He’ll be responding to them throughout the day when he’s able.
Previous entries in the Face of Gay Series:
Kage Alan is the Star Trek: The Next Generation (Season 1) watching, Vangelis listening author of “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to My Sexual Orientation,” “Andy Stevenson Vs. the Lord of the Loins” and the first book in a separate series, “Gaylias: Operation Thunderspell.” He remains extremely happy with the response The Face of Gay series has been getting and hopes to continue this with additional submissions.