At 27, I've come to realize that I'm more attractive than I ever expected to be. Attractiveness is all relative. I'm not saying I'm the hottest thing around, but that I never thought I would get to whatever level you currently find me (this is the part that is meant to convince you I'm not being narcissistic or crazy).
I was a cute little kid, but at age 10 things started going downhill and they continued that way until I turned 20. At 10, my blond hair started to darken and become red and then suddenly I was the red-haired kid with freckles and nobody wants to be the red-haired kid with freckles. In my early teens, I had a great hatred for my hair color and pale skin. There are hardly any attractive male models, actors, or singers who have red hair. We are the devil's children. I wasn't like any of the cute boys that paraded around with dark hair and tanned arms. I was awkward. I also have really large ears, which many kids seemed to think I didn't know, because they would tell me daily and refer to me as "Dumbo." From age 12 to 14 I had braces, which only added to the fun. By the end of high school and into college, I had found a group of people I fit into and was having a fine time, yet I never truly felt attractive. I had "cute" days, but those were followed by feelings of complete grossness.
At 20, this changed. I can remember the very first time I noticed the change. I had just returned from Europe after spending two months in England and Ireland. I was a little tan. My red hair had some blond highlights and I was wearing it different. I had also bought new clothes in Europe that felt more me. Oh, and I had just come out of the closet. Yes, I didn't come out until I was 20. This might shock some of you because of how open and frank I am about sex and gayness now, but it's true. I came out to my entire family and friends in the spring of 2003 and then got on a plane and took off to Europe. I returned feeling like myself for the very first time in my life.
It has only been recently that I've put this all together. Am I really more attractive today than other times in my life? Perhaps, a little, but that might have more to do with fashion and haircuts than my physical body. What changed was my inside. I never felt attractive because inside I always felt something was wrong with me. It wasn't until I let go of all my fears about being gay that I could truly feel sexy.
They always say attractiveness has everything to do with confidence. If you told that to a 16-year-old Stephen he would have laughed it off, but at 27 I realize how true it is. Does confidence come easy? No, of course not and I still have my weak moments. I'm still like a teenager when a guy thinks I'm cute in the gay club and wants to dance with me, because somewhere inside me the old Stephen is still there thinking, wow, how could this guy think I'm hot?
Oh and the red-hair? I've realized it's not so bad. In the gay community there are many men very interested in us "ginger" boys. We are exotic, which is something I never expected. With my acceptance of myself, I've become more open. I like my body. I like guys to compliment me. I like guys to flirt with me. But most of all, I like to be able to walk into a room and be myself, flaws and all.
-Stephen (Staring into the Water)