From Andy Bell, Michael Musto, and many more…
Born This Way: Real Stories of Growing Up Gay is a collection of adorable childhood photographs accompanied by sweet, funny, and at times heartbreaking personal stories of those who grew up LGBTQ. Based on the popular blog of the same name, Born This Way is a celebration of growing up gay, childhood, and community.
Andy, age 5
Peterborough, England (1970)
"Basically, I felt like a girl — or an overly sensitive boy with a very vivid imagination. By age ten I was called a sissy and poofter before I even knew what it all meant."
Andy is Andy Bell, solo artist and singer in Erasure.
Eamonn, age 4
Brighton, Michigan (1991)
"I was in 3rd grade when I first learned what gay meant. And by age 12, I decided that gay was how I planned to live the rest of my life."
Clinton, age 13
Bronx, New York (1979)
"Other children often asked me, 'Are you a girl or a boy? and 'Fruitloop' and 'Girlboy' were just two of the names I accrued in my early years"
Clinton is now actor and drag performer Miss Coco Peru.
Kevin, age 7
Basking Ridge, New Jersey (1990)
"I remember an obsession with swords at this age. Why? So I could pretend to be She-Ra. Never He-Man. And I grew up from a little lisping gay boy to into a big gay man."
Frank, age 7
Little Falls, New Jersey (1969)
"As a kid I dressed like Charles Nelson Reilly, had posters of David Cassidy on my walls, and owned my own food processor by the time I was age 15!"
Frank is Frank DeCaro, host of the "Frank DeCaro Show" on Sirius XM.
Rae, age 5
Barstow, California (1974)
"When I came out in 2009, the majority of my family's response was 'We've known forever. We just wanted you to be comfortable enough to tell us.'"
Kent, age 8
Scottsdale, Arizona (1971)
"My dad turned our backyard into a beautiful oasis with Roman columns and replicas of classical statues. When my sister suggested I give Caesar a little kiss, I went for it!"
Kent is now writer, singer, and drag performer Jackie Beat.
Sutan, age 7
Bali, Indonesia (1982)
"I would turn a box in to a stage and put on shows for my family at three years old! I remember being called names in grade school and people had to explain to me what those words meant."
Sutan is now Raja Gemini, the Season 3 winner of Ru Paul's Drag Race.
Michael, age 9
Brooklyn, New York (1964)
"I knew I was different — more sensitive, let's say — than most of the kids in my Italian neighborhood, but I wasn't sure just what that meant."
Michael is Michael Musto, columnist for The Village Voice.
Sia, age 3
Adelaide, South Australia (1978)
"Honestly, it wasn't until a few years ago that I really realized I was queer. But the truth is, those labels don't matter."
Sia is Grammy-nominated singer and performer Sia Furler.
Reprinted with permission from Born This Way: Real Stories of Growing Up Gay, by Paul V. & Quirk Books, © 2012