June 2000


I didn't know exactly why I felt differently, compared to the other kids. Maybe it was the fact that I was the only Asian person going to a private school in the suburbs. Maybe it is because my parents look nothing like me, that my father is Italian, and my mother Japanese American, and that I was adopted after my real parents died. No, it wasn't really any of those reasons, it's because I, Dan Maiuri, am gay.

Being in an environment! where I was constantly bombarded by Christian/Catholic values, dealing with being ethnically different, and wondering why Richard Young made my heart do back flips, all added to a very confusing and depressing childhood. I spent much of my formative years drawing, or reading about fantasy worlds, wishing I were the hero in the perfect world of predictably happy endings and spectacular adventures. But those adventures never happened and those endings never came to pass, and I grew up.

Entering middle school was both heaven and hell. It was heaven, because I got to go to a public school, make all new friends, and be around people who looked like I did. No longer did I feel ostracized because of how I looked. But it was also hell on earth because, my sexual identity became more and more confusing. During those turbulent years I learned a lot about what was acceptable to others and what was considered "gay." What was this new term "gay"? Living a very sheltered life, I didn't even hear my first cuss words till middle school, and to my dismay and excitement, I also learned a word that would change my life forever.

"Fag", "gay", "homo", I heard them all, and it frightened me. Why am I being treated like a sub-human just because I act a certain way? I didn't see much difference between myself and the other students, I liked some of the same foods, I played the same sports, and I had the same classes. But all of that didn't matter because as a guy, I was supposed to have crushes on Michelle, Sabrina, or Katie, not Kyle, Logan, or Darren. So I had to put up a mask. I became "one of the guys." I pretended to have crushes on girls, and I was slowly assimilated into the "normal group", but I wasn't completely satisfied. I drifted through middle school, going through the motions, but with a heavy heart.

Then came high school. WOW! What a difference, I was meeting people who had the same feelings as me, and others who didn't care who I liked or what I did in my private life. I dated, I had my first kiss, I had anxieties about seeing the cute guy in my psych class, and I could actually tell people about it. Of course it wasn't always perfect, but nothing ever is, and this was close enough for me.

I'm still in high school now, and I'm having the best time of my life. I'm coming out more and more to my friends and relatives, and so far it's been without much controversy. I'm finally getting comfortable with my identity as both an Asian American, and as a gay teenager who will soon be a gay man, so even though it's a little late, I know I still have time for some great adventures and a happy ending.



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