Before "gay" had any meaning in my life beyond what one makes the Yuletide, I thought I had a crush on Kathryn, a girl in my first-grade Catholic-school class. She was tall for a 7-year-old, tan, blonde, full of confidence, and wildly popular -- perfect, according to every TV show, commercial, and movie that taught me I should like tall, tan blondes. And girls.
Kathryn and I were never exactly close in school. She was in the cool crowd, while I received "O"s for "outstanding" on all of my spelling tests, earning me the nickname "The Walking Dictionary" from our teacher, Sister Graham.
But I would venture to say we were friendly. We both played basketball, served on the student council, and practiced after school for public-speaking competitions -- where, in those small groups with fewer people to impress, Kathryn didn't show her usual superior attitude. In those moments, she and I sometimes chatted and laughed. I saw kindness there that was too often overshadowed by her need to be popular.