My First Gay Crush

By: Rick Andreoli

In celebration of National Coming Out Day (October 11) will be sharing stories throughout the month from several members of our community who not only kicked down the closet door, but continue to inspire, encourage, and give us hope for a brighter future.

Kelly Nelson was my first gay crush. At least that's who I thought he was.

Kelly Nelson was a character on The Guiding Light, a daytime soap opera my sisters watched religiously, and because I was the youngest in the family that meant I had to watch as well. I didn't mind, though, because as I followed along with Kelly and Morgan's romance—wondering why the boy and girl both had girl names—I found myself fascinated by this beautiful man. He was often shirtless, and I would stare endlessly at his sculpted chest, beautiful arms, rock hard abs and tight bum. He was often in a Speedo-cut bathing suit, something I'd never seen before, and I told my sisters I wanted one for the summer as well. They laughed, saying that only TV stars and muscle men wore those things.

I vowed that one day I would have one for my very own.

But there was more to my crush than dreams of having a hot body and discovering a possible spandex/bathing suit/underwear fetish. In those early years I quickly realized that what I really wanted was to have this man hold me close so I could stare into that beautiful, chiseled face.

John Flash I soon learned the actor's name was John Wesley Shipp, whom younger readers may remember as being The Flash in the short-lived, live-action super hero show. Even then he was magnificent, and though I'd long-since come out and knew my fondness for Kelly Nelson was actually my budding homo feelings, I was delighted to find that a small part of me was still crushing on Shipp.

A short time later I moved to Los Angeles and actually met him...

I'd forgotten this story until reading about My First Gay Crush, a new blog which asks you to relive your youthful fantasies and share your stories with the public. The idea for the blog grew out of a popular feature from Paul V.'s famous blog/site, Born This Way. This new version is a photo and essay project in which LGBT adults reflect on when they realized they were gay and which asks participants to name their first same-sex crush. According to The Advocate, Paul V. says the impetus grew from a recent episode of Modern Family in which the gay characters revealed their secret teen crushes. Paul views the new blog as "a cool generational study."

Which brings me back to Kelly Morgan, a.k.a. John Wesley Shipp, and how I met him after finally moving to Los Angeles to pursue a writing career. I was 21, leaving the gym—my first LA job and the perfect place for a budding young college gay to meet new friends—and there he was, standing on the corner chatting with a co-worker.JohnWesleyShipp52

Shipp was tall in real life, somewhat older than I'd remembered but far more handsome than I'd imagined, and he had a smile that was as bright as the California sun setting behind his head. No joke, it was like a moment out of a romantic comedy, where time seems to stop and music swells... then screeches to a halt as the actor realized I was standing frozen, staring at him, probably with crazy gay eyes.

My friend chatting with Shipp turned, saw it was me, and happily introduced us.

"I've loved you forever," I blurted with a kind of gay Tourette's I'd never known possible.

"I'm John," he laughed, leaning out his big, muscular frame to shake my hand. His grip was firm, and for an instant it happened: I was standing there, looking up into that chiseled face, just as I'd dreamed of doing as a child.

"Nice to meet you," I said, pulling it together. "Sorry. I just never thought I'd meet you."

"Nice to meet you, too," he said. And with that, the conversation ended. My sanity returned and I continued on so as to not embarrass myself further. But as I sat in my car I paused, then started laughing with genuine glee. In that moment it felt really good to be in LA, and absolutely perfect to be gay.

Read stories and submit your own at My First Gay Crush.

John Wesley Shipp photo

John Wesley Shipp picture