I had an older friend, a kid who lived in the Mayfair towers, next to the Dakota. He was 14, I was 12. He was rich, I wasn't. He was pretty slick about things, too. First, he talked me into trusting him to carry me across a shallow part of the boat lake in Central Park, instead of getting muddy feet walking around it's edges. I was a naieve child, when it came to friendships. Of course I ended up swimming in the filthy water, and got beaten with the scrub-brush when I got home. Yes, beaten on the butt, and screaming on the floor.
This was Mom's message to me, telling me that something was wrong with this.
I was leery of hanging out with this kid again, but I went over to his apartment to play with GI Joes. Yeah, well it got kind of weird. He started undressing, saying we were going to play with GI Joes in the bathtub. Ever the diplomat, I said I didn't want to do that. He ended up rolling around on his thick shag carpet naked, as I hastily excused myself.
I took it in stride. I had other friends that I knew were gay, even before they admitted it, when I was 12 years old. We were still kids; I thought of this as an embarassing invitation that I rejected. Only today do I realize that this kid was probably molested at an early age, which made him so open about what he wanted to do at 14 years old.
I was lucky for my upbringing. I was exposed to NYC in the '70's, and it wasn't a pretty sight, except to me. I thought I lived in a great world, even with all of the crap my family went through. I am a product of my times, and I'm proud of it.