I remember being jealous of my sisters because they could do back flips and fancy dives. I was doing good to jump off the board and swim to the edge of the pool. So I devised a story in my head.
The story I created was one that turned an ordinary boy who could do nothing more than walk down the diving board and jump into the pool into someone special. Most boys my age might have pretended to be rowdy pirates walking the plank. But not me. I had just won the Miss America pageant and was taking my victory walk across the stage, blowing kisses to all the people who wished they were as beautiful as me.
It didn’t take long for words like “fag” and “sissy” to press down on me like a giant thumb. I became shy and self-conscious. Remarkably, somehow, that little boy by the pool survived and when I get down on myself he prances by and blows me a kiss. Then I remember what really matters is that when YOU think you are beautiful you act beautiful therefore you become beautiful.
Here’s a home video Will sent along with his story, capturing his Miss America moment: