There are few better vehicles for outing yourself as a gay-in-the-making than the Christmas list you write up for Santa. What’s on it says a lot. When I was a kid, I asked for things like watercolor sets, musical instruments and books. Hmmm.
Equally revealing is what isn’t on your list. I never asked for baseball mitts or footballs. At age seven, the closest I got to boy toys were my G.I. Joe and Major Matt Mason. Were these early crushes, or dolls that a boy could legitimately own? Probably both.
[Bonus links — photo: G.I. Joe Steals a Barbie Jeep, and video: homoerotic subtext of 1968 Major Matt Mason commercial?]
I didn’t dare ask for the things I really coveted. With all my heart, I wanted an EZ-Bake Oven and a doll whose hair you could brush and it would “grow” like my friend Helen across the street had. I knew full well that those things were for girls though. The mere suggestion that I might like to have them too was not only off limits, it also said something about me that I wasn’t yet prepared to defend.
It’s sad to think that even little gay seven-year-olds know what they’re not supposed to want. For those whose desires are outside of what is considered gender appropriate, society gets an early start on teaching them to hide certain parts of themselves.
Enter my baby brother Brian who, in all the wisdom and innocence of a five-year-old, took it upon himself to put in a good word to Santa on my behalf. In effect, my brother outed me to Santa with this:
The photo above is of Brian’s actual Christmas list, a document that is now almost 40 years old. Our grandmother stashed away things like this and it surfaced several years ago, framed, a gift to Brian from Grandma.
What my brother asked for shows him to be the boyish young fella he was. His list: football, electronic shooting gallery and trucks. Keep reading and you will see that scribbled in the lower right corner were also these four powerful words:
Kenny wants a doll.
I didn’t get the doll. What I did get was a brother who saw me for who I was and asked Santa to bring me something I couldn’t ask for for myself. Looking back, that’s a pretty great Christmas present.
PS: Here I am with Santa. He’s a slightly creepy-looking Santa if you ask me, and obviously doesn’t know how to wear a belt, but I had a huge crush on this guy my whole life and even had dreams as a teenager (OK, it’s still a fantasy) in which St. Nick and the grown-up me would make sexy-time on Christmas Eve. But that’s a whole other flashback.