We lived in Hong Kong from when I was aged 5 to 7. One day my Dad, who liked taking photos, asked the three of us boys to pose for photos in front of the electric fire. Stephen (eldest) dressed in his scout uniform. Alan (middle) dressed in his cub uniform. Peter (me, the ikkle one) wasn't in either of those organisations. I was 6 years old. And I wanted to wear a dress.
|Hong Kong - back then|
Evil Big Bros
My brothers, quite naturally, took the piss out of me mercilessly. My dad was in the army. He was not an educated man: he had been placed first into foster care aged 8, then when he ran away, into the "Cottage Homes" orphanage near Portsmouth. The orphanage was later the subject of all sorts of child cruelty claims through this period (see here). He left school at 15 with no qualifications at all and literally no where to go. He did a motor apprenticeship and joined the army - there he served 23 years, fought in three armed conflicts, and made the rank of Staff Sergeant.
|Mutti and Dad|
|ME! On holiday in Camargue, aged 7|
What my Dad did that day, was in my opinion nothing short of amazing. I firmly believe nothing can influence your child's sexuality. I happen to be gay: I realised it when I was about 13 or 14. Whatever the cause, to me personally it's as natural as being right or left handed - we are simply that way - fight or suppress it as much as you like.
I wasn't "girly" as a child; I was happy and balanced, had really good (both male and female) friends and was enormously comfortable in my skin. I was never picked on: I was the popular golden haired boy at school and outside. I was known as the Cheshire Cat I smiled so much.
In a similar vein to your sexuality, for whatever reason some guys (straight and gay) obviously like to cross-dress. Personally, I can't say I have ever felt a pressing need to wear women's clothes again since this time. If people do, good luck to them. I do wish that a few more parents could have been as wonderful as my dad was if their children wish to dress up as many do. He showed sensitivity and inclusion, made me feel loved, and tried to reinforce to both me and my brothers that it was okay to be different.
Is my lack of transvestism because of Dad? I'm no child psychologist, but I totally doubt it. I think I would have done it, or not done it, regardless. What I do know is that by behaving differently he could have turned a happy child into a miserable one for no reason whatsoever. Dad died in March 2000 suddenly of a heart attack whilst training for the London marathon, aged 60. I love him for many reasons, but this episode sticks so clearly in my mind.
Society has the problem
Oh and the famous photo? I stole it out of the album and ripped it up at 15. I was worried it revealed early gay inclinations (totally confusing sexual orientation with transvestism, obv). What a shame, I could have posted it now and had a laugh with all you guys. It really WAS awful!