My Five-Year-Old Brother Outed Me to Santa

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.

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  1. Alex

    You brought a tear to my eye. We should write a gay Xmas memories book!

    Posted December 22, 2009 at 3:22 pm | Permalink
  2. Kenneth, I found that very moving…:)

    Posted December 22, 2009 at 10:01 pm | Permalink
  3. I had one of those long haired dolls! She had a dial on her back for reeling the hair back in. I gave her a crew cut and dressed her in hand-made Kleenex tuxedos xxx I would have given her to you gladly (if you’d shown me your willy! 😉

    Posted December 23, 2009 at 1:07 pm | Permalink
  4. Grelef

    Thanks Kenneth. That helps blunt the pain of having asked for white twirler boots with tassels when I was five. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

    Posted December 23, 2009 at 4:45 pm | Permalink
  5. Santa, please bring this acceptance to all gay kids for Xmas. Amen.

    Posted December 24, 2009 at 2:39 pm | Permalink
  6. Craig

    Kenny, I loved your story, just explains how emotionally intelligent young children are (“,)

    Posted January 2, 2010 at 1:19 pm | Permalink
  7. I remember asking for a Sylvanian Families dolls house once. I never got the Sylvanian Dolls House for Christmas, but my mum & dad built me one themselves for my birthday. That was pretty special. I guess I was luckier than other gay children.

    Posted January 2, 2010 at 4:02 pm | Permalink
  8. What a beautiful and touching memory. Thank you for this.

    Posted January 10, 2010 at 5:43 pm | Permalink
  9. Your brother sounds so sweet.

    Posted January 12, 2010 at 1:22 am | Permalink
  10. Frank

    I just read this post. What an incredible story. When you were older did your brother accept you when you came out?

    (I wanted a Barbie that had a gold striped swimsuit and 3 wigs. The girl across the street had one and I was very envious.)

    Posted August 1, 2020 at 5:53 am | Permalink
  11. Frank

    A sweet story.

    Posted December 27, 2020 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

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