There are two things I find quite remarkable about Aiden Leslie‘s submission for Coming Out Month. For starters, that he was aware of his sexuality as such a young age. While I realize that he’s not alone on this, I can’t say that I felt any attraction to other men (or boys) when I was 4 years old… And as a self-proclaimed slut, I’m almost ashamed of this?
It’s also interesting to me that Aiden’s journey had such an impact on his future career as a performer. You see, beyond being entirely handsome, Aiden is a dance-pop singer who’s been known to break it down at the club. You can listen to his latest single “Diamond Dreams” toward the end of this post.
Click through to see more pics, hear Aiden’s single and read his story:
One of the earliest memories in my childhood was of Mr. Jones. He was the father of my best friend Adam, and he had a striking resemblance to Tom Selleck. We lived on a quiet, dead-end street where we would play stickball every day in the summertime. Our dads would mow the lawn, and the mothers would socialize with one another while tending to the flowerbeds in their front yards.
It seemed pretty normal… Except I knew that I was not.
I remember watching Mr. Jones work on his house and cut the grass. He usually did this with no shirt, and for reasons I did not understand, I felt an incredible attraction to him. At 4 years old, I just knew I liked what I saw.
Growing up in Ohio, I never truly felt like I was home. I always felt as if something was missing for myself. Much of this had to do with my sexuality and the fact that I knew I was gay, but wasn’t able to fully express myself. Any way I could, I would somehow find a way to connect to the world I was told was “wrong” and “unnatural”.
I worked professionally as a child performer and was often on my own. I didn’t grow up in a conventional way and found independence pretty quickly. I was probably around 12 years old when I felt like my “coming out” started to begin.
We lived ten miles away from the center of downtown Cincinnati, and any chance I could, I would the take bus downtown and go to the bookstore on Vine Street. This particular bookstore was the only place that carried anything gay-related, such as magazines like The Advocate or Playgirl. I was too young to actually be permitted anywhere near the adult section, but I was beyond curious. My heart would literally pound out of my chest every time I would walk by. There were other men (and boys) that were there as well. I know we all felt a commonality and understanding that was unspoken, but it was comforting to know there were others like me.
Many moments like I just described lead to the turning point where I found my way out and proud. There was one gay dance club in Cincinnati called “The Dock “. It was located discreetly under a bridge that connected Ohio and Kentucky and sat right on the Ohio River. Freight train tracks and warehouses bordered the club that one day unbeknownst to me, would make me their “Door Boy”.
After carefully getting a good fake ID, I found my way into the club on one rainy Saturday night. I remember the drag queen at the door inspecting me up and down, but after a moment, she waved me through. I was 14 years old.
Walking through the club, I felt truly free for the first time in my life. I was able to be a gay man and be myself.
It was only within that small club for that one Saturday night, but it was life changing. I danced all night on a box alone and left drenched in sweat. In so many ways, it foreshadowed what I would be doing someday—performing in clubs and doing my own music.
I knew from that moment on, one thing I have never forgotten. I was not alone.
I remember what it was like then and the world we live in today. As a community, we have come so far. As we continue to “come out” and be who we were meant to be become, we ultimately will give others permission to do the same.