Sunday, May 23, 2010

I played with dolls

My sisters had dolls and I liked to play with them. My parents gave me toys for boys like trucks, trains, Lincoln Logs and Erector Sets. I also had weapons including toy rifles, pistols and fake knives made of rubber. Some of this stuff was kind of interesting, but not anywhere near as cool as dolls.

I also liked purses. It seemed to me that guys got ripped off just having a little wallet, when girls and moms got to have these interesting and colorful compartments to keep their stuff in. Evenually I outgrew my fascination with dolls and purses. Maybe it's because my parents steered me in other directions.

I don't have any early memories of being called a sissy, pansie, faggot, queer, homo. Not when I was a little boy. But the I think I got called all of those in junior high. It's not like I was dragging dolls to school with me or carrying around a woman's purse. But I wasn't interested in sports and I wasn't good at them, and I was interested in art. I also remember that as boys my age talked about how wonderful girls were, I was noticing the guys. Everything about them seemed noteworthy: their eyes, their hands, how they combed their hair and if they could grow decent sideburns. I couldn't.

I wonder if there had been gay-straight alliances in Utah schools 40 years ago, if I would have participated. Probably not. I knew I was gay, that I was strongly attracted to the same sex. I could admit it to myself, but not to anyone else. I remember thinking I will never, ever tell anyone. I also remember the first time I made out with a girl. I became aroused and I thought, maybe I'm not gay after all. I enjoyed dating girls. I enjoyed kissing them, but I didn't want to go beyond kissing. I heard other boys talk about their sexual adventures with girls and I thought that sounds gross. Sometimes I'm amazed that I made it through junior high and high school. Sometimes it seems a miracle that I fell in love with a woman, married her, and that together we have raised a wonderful family.

When I look at this painting of the little boy sitting on the steps, I think, I know that boy. I was once that little boy. I'm glad he got so much love and affirmation for who he was. I'm sorry that he was sometimes taunted for being different, but he did the best he could with what he had, and somehow life has turned out pretty good for him.

Other little boys who liked dolls were not so lucky. Many have died from a variety of causes. Some have been murdered. Some have killed themselves. Some have lived lives of isolation and loneliness. And some have flourished. They've lived, loved and learned. Some have married women. Some have married men. All of us are human. What we have in common is greater than our differences. All of us have the need to touch and be touched, to love and to be loved, to belong to and contribute to something greater than ourselves, something that matters, something that makes the world a better place, even it it is for just one child sitting on a step holding a doll.


  1. Thanks for a sweet and touching post. My thoughts growing up were much like yours though I never heard any name calling and my dolls were limited to GI Joes. But as long as there is name calling, we still have work to do.

  2. Thanks, Rob! Something else we share is discovering the thrill of athletic competition rather late in our lives. I know it is not everyone's cup of tea, but it has certainly been a positive for me, and I know it has been for you, too.

  3. Hi,

    I feel pretty new to this whole blogging thing but I really loved reading what you've written here. It seems incredible to me that you've managed to even get married. I would love for that to work out in my own life, but I haven't quite figured out how to make it happen or if it even will. You've said some really inspiring things and I just wanted to say thanks.

  4. I never played with dolls, but I remember playing "house" with my friend Janice who lived a couple of houses down the street. We played in her room almost every day until I was about 8 years old and then I was told that I shouldn't be playing "house" anymore and that I should be playing sports outside with the other boys.

    I think it was then that I was first aware that I was not like the rest of the boys. I was different. I didn't want to play sports with the other boys in the neighborhood. I didn't understand why I couldn't play "house" anymore with my best friend. From that day, I started isolating myself from others and I started pulling away from everyone... I started drawing and creating things in my basement by myself. To this day, I draw and use my creativity in my basement...

  5. I love this new (blogging) world I have found! Ned, we continue to find more things we have in common. I, too, used to play with dolls. You have inspired me to dig out the one picture I have of me holding a doll and standing in high heels. (My sister and babysitter liked to dress me up.) And by the way, you write beautifully. Thanks.

  6. My son't partner was talking at dinner this evening about the buckets of Barbie dolls he had as a child. He preferred playing with the Ken dolls. :)