Stigma and/or self-loathing are often the cause of robot-itis, so I'm always happy to hear when someone finally takes the plunge and goes for it. I didn't until I was nearly 25; me and a friend had both fallen asleep watching a VCR tape of "A Room With A View" (who hasn't?) and when I awoke and saw him there I just got on top of him. Even with my famously bad gaydar I called that one - he reciprocated in spades.
And I'd known I was gay for ten years prior.
You asked for a eureka moment, and here's the one I had at 15, involving a string of weird coincidences, including me seeing the man who made me gay, and a near-recreation of that moment, played out on a major network nighttime soap opera by that same man.
You know how you have to suspend your disbelief watching "Glee" because (among other things) so many graduates move from that podunk high school to New York and make it? Well, that actually happened in my suburban high school - two drama club kids a couple years before me each landed roles on major '80s nighttime soaps.
I had a crush on both. The first was a beautiful brunette who played "Nurse Ratchett" in my high school's production of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." I was a freshman, she a senior. She enjoyed some fame, landing roles as a "Dynasty" vixen and as the lead southern belle/ingenue on the network miniseries "North & South." The other was a handsome blonde senior who played the title role in my school's production of "Pippin" when I was a sophomore. He was high school thespian royalty, the one with the then-look and talent that got him into Julliard. Several years later I'd heard he'd landed a role on "Knot's Landing," like Alec Baldwin, but you've heard of Baldwin. I never even knew what role this classmate played.
I thought about him recently because I'd seen "Pippin" (on Broadway yet) for the first time since my '79 high school production, and how he cleared up any confusion I had about being gay during our one encounter. I didn't act but was on the crew, set building and selling ad space, and since I sold a record amount of space he graced me with a look and a few words of thanks, allowing me to be in his orbit for a moment, and my world stopped. We never spoke directly again.
So after the Broadway revival last week I did the thing you're never supposed to do - I google image searched him and though I hadn't seen him in over 35 years I immediately recognized him. It turned out to be his LinkedIn profile photo, where I found that he was in LA in the operations side of the biz. But what struck me was how much he now looked like Ted Shackelford, "Gary" on "Knot's Landing." Here I'd always thought that "Pippin" was the role he was born to play; now, I immediately knew what he played on "Knots," that for which he was perfect - "Young Gary Ewing."
I googled "Knot's Landing" + "Gary" + "flashback" and not only found him but saw him play the scene where he and TV wife "Valene" first met, and how he gazed into her eyes with laser focus while flashing that smile, and how she reacted to it first with dumbstruck numbness, then a dopey grin. It exactly mirrored my experience. Watch along with me; when I watch it's like someone's stepping on my grave.
It's barely 10 seconds out of the entire clip - 1:37 to 1:47; I still feel like "Young Valene" when I see it. **goosebumps**