(Above) Trent, Age 4, 1976: "Growing up Southern Baptist, I was taught that being gay was bad. My mom thought gay people were mythical beings, 'like werewolves of vampires,' she once said. One time at dinner, when my parents found out that I went to a drag show with my then-girlfriend, my father told me he used to go to gay clubs to 'beat the shit out of fags.'"
Just in time for National Coming Out Day, a new collection of childhood photos called Born This Way: Real Stories of Growing Up Gay hits bookstores nationwide today, featuring 100 heartfelt, homegrown photos of some of today's most notable LGBT faces. The new book, authored by DJ and blogger Paul Vitagliano, and published by Quirk Books, features adorable, often campy childhood photographs of people who today are proud members of the LGBT community. The photos are accompanied by first-person stories, which speak to anyone who has struggled with feeling different, coming out, and discovering what it takes to reach a day when it gets better.
Based off Vitagliano's popular blog of the same name, the author says he wanted to create a book to document the cultural experiences of growing up gay from the 1950s to present-day. "I wanted the larger message to be: I faced the same adversity you do today, and I ended up as a happy, loved and proud gay adult," said Vitagliano. "I omitted particularly brutal memories simply because I wanted this book to be appropriate reading material for kids as well as adults."
Check out the slideshow below for a sneak peek of some of The Advocate's favorite photos and stories featured in the book, and pick up a copy of Born This Way: Real Stories of Growing Up Gay today.