Were You Born This Way?
When he saw the photo of the little boy (age three) wearing a one-piece plaid jumpsuit tucked at the hips, his knee slightly swiveled inward, he could also see the writing on the wall – or at least on the blog.
“The pic isn’t me,” says Paul V. “It’s a friend named Dennis.” But the vintage photo of his gay pal inspired Born This Way! – and also inspired hundreds of LGBT people to submit family photos of themselves under the age of 12.
Beauregard says the photo of Dennis – and all of the photos on the site – showcase something important to him, something that defines many LGBT people he knows. “Do think his mom or dad prompted him to cock his heel or swivel his knee like that?” he asks. “This little gay boy knew exactly how he felt and wanted to pose, on his own.”
Since Born This Way! launched this year – with more than one million views and counting – the blog has stockpiled lots of quirky photos and heartfelt stories about growing up gay and lesbian in America. There are little boys playing dress up in mom’s red pumps or big sister’s prom dress, and little girls butching it up with baseball bats, suspenders and cowboy hats.
Each photo, like Juston’s at age five, from Pontiac, Mich., who poses with his hand under his chin on a tacky chair from the 1970s, is accompanied by a story. “Because of my longer blonde hair I was often mistaken for a girl,” says Juston. “My Aunt Biggie always says that when I was three, she knew I was gay. Her proof of my gayness was that I was the smartest kid she knew, I was always polite and sensitive, and loved to sing. My first song was ‘Puff the Magic Dragon.’ She says I loved to sit and listen to Elton John records in the basement.”
Born This Way! founder Paul V. is famous on the West Coast for creating Dragstrip 66, L.A.’s longest-running underground dance event. He also spins at gay bars around the country, including Bootie and The Echoplex, and has played with Robyn, The Gossip and Little Boots.