My name is Alexander Zuccaro, I’m originally from Tom’s River, New Jersey.
I can remember growing up always feeling strange, odd, and different. Not just for being gay but being artistic as well. I never really hung out with the boys who wanted to play sports but I didn’t really want to hang out with the girls either on the swing sets, I wanted to do my own thing. When I kind of subconsciously knew that I was gay was when I was 5 years old which was in 1999. I had a bed spread from the animated movie “Hercules” which came out in 1997. I remember when I watched the movie, and I believe there might have been a cartoon as well for a short period of time. I just thought this muscular man is saving all these people and is very strong and heroic, it was very attractive to me as a young child and I wanted that kind of figure in my life.
I remember Hercules was on my pillow case and I remember thinking to myself, “This is my boyfriend.” And as a 5-year-old, I was making out with it. I was kissing it and holding it and thinking, “Oh my God, my boyfriend is here with me.” At five years old, what does a 5-year-old know about making out, but it was a pillow. It was just something I kept to myself because I didn’t want anyone to find out. I would do it in my room alone in the dark, it was this private secret thing that no one could know about and only I could get fulfillment from.
It was meaningful to me because it kind of gave me an escape and an outlet to release these feelings that I felt because I didn’t feel comfortable enough to approach a classmate on the playground and kiss him. I wasn’t, I just couldn’t do that, in my head something was telling me that was wrong. So by kissing my pillow case, he couldn’t talk back to me, he couldn’t make fun of me or ridicule me or tell me I was wrong. It was something that was just natural and I could just do without any problem.
That was the first time I really knew I was gay and I had these feelings that weren’t like other boys or even like other girls. And I still have the Hercules pillow case today and I still use it. It just has such fond memories I couldn’t get rid of it.