Role Model?

I received an email message from a young guy, age 15, who said that he visited my bootedman.com website and this blog. I do not knowingly communicate with people under age 21 via email (family excepted) because I do not want anyone for any reason to think that I am trying to have interactions (however benign) with people who are not considered adults in the eyes of the law. These days, you can’t be too careful. That is why it says on my “write-to-me” page that you can send me email, but if you are under 21, I will not write back.

This young guy said, “I look up to you greatly because of your collection and lifestyle. I have a bit of a boot fetish (Especially Cowboys and Cops in Boots) and I think it is grand that you share your collection.”

Well, thanks. Remember now, I’m considerably older and have worked for what I have for 34 years since I was emancipated. My boot collection has grown over many years. I look at it this way: some guys collect baseball cards or stamps. I collect (and wear) boots. Everyone should have at least one hobby to keep them interested, and as long as they can afford it and have room to keep it, then go for it!

Further, he said, “I am way in the closet and I wish to be out, but my Religious Homophobic Parents are holding me back.”

I am very sorry about that. I do not know you or your family, but I realize that it must be hard when parents who love you do not really know who you are. I sense you are Internet savvy and can find groups who can help you. Be assured, you are not the first and you are not alone. There are other young guys in your same situation. Hold close to your family, as they are all you have. But work toward your independence to become the man you want to be.

This young guy continues, “I want a pair of boots badly, but they don’t look right on me and not to mention my parents would be in constant question mode.”

The question about how boots look on a person is a matter of self-perception. Perhaps boots he has tried have not been to his liking. Perhaps he is concerned about the perception or comments from others. Young people notice everything, and it is unfortunate but quite common that they will made snide remarks. I hate to say it, but it is all part of growing up. Place those comments in the virtual trash can and choose boots that you like and fit well. Then stand tall, smile, and walk with confidence. Expect derision, which is a frequent teenage custom, but just hold your head high and hold your tongue. Soon, if they don’t get a reaction from you, they will move on to pick on someone else.

I observe that parents who care about their children are always in constant question mode. It indicates that they are interested in you, which is a much better place to be than to be ignored. I remember when I was about 14 and wanted a pair of Frye Boots badly. I went to my Mom to ask for her help to get them. I had saved money from mowing lawns and doing odd jobs, but I needed her to drive me to the store so I could try them on.

I asked, and of course my Mom said, “why do you want those boots?” (sorta with a mutter, “of all things!”) I had prepared for that question. I decided not to say, “all the guys in school wear them” to which my Mom would undoubtedly have replied, “so if they all jumped off a cliff, would you jump with them?” [This is a perennial parental come-back to ‘all my friends do this or have that’].

Instead, I remember that I explained to my Mom about what I liked about the boots and how well they were made. I framed my answer that such good quality boots would last a long time (they have! I still have 12 pairs!) I think I remember explaining all of the characteristics about the stitching, leather soles, quality of leather, and so forth. I based my argument on quality and durability, rather than on just wants and desires. My Mom listened, and said, “okay.” Off we went, and I got my Fryes. (Remember, back in the 70s, Frye Boots were made in the U.S. from quality materials, instead of how cheaply they are made now in China via a company that owns the Frye brand name.)

The young man continued in his email by saying, “When I move out, I want to start my own boot collection, and hopefully will find a man with similar interests.”

Just take it one step at a time. When you move out, concentrate on becoming an independent person. Work, get an education, pay your bills, keep a roof over your head, and keep moving toward your goals. Sure, buy a pair of boots when you can afford them, but don’t do that if you can’t, or if you would go into debt. There are reasons to carry debt, such as for a mortgage on a home of your own. But there really isn’t a reason to carry a credit card balance over months (or years) just for boots. A home is a “need.” Boots are a “want.” Keep the differences in mind and your financial priorities straight.

Find a man with similar interests? Man, I could blog about that for days. Sure, it is nice if the guy with whom you choose to develop a long-term relationship likes boots, but it is far more important if he is an honest, caring, thoughtful, and financially pragmatic guy. Do it like I did with my partner, who didn’t have a pair of boots to his name when we met: we developed our relationship first, then I introduced him to boots. While he seldom wears them, he will. For me.

In closing, the writer said, “When I see photos of you and your partner, it gives me hope that there is someone out there for me.”

I always believe that there is someone for everyone. It takes time, so don’t push it. It is a totally unscientific observation, but gay guys take more time to find a mate and settle down. I was 35 when I met my guy, but I know in my heart that waiting was the absolute right thing to do, because I met the man who became my heart, my soul, my love, my one-and-only. And my heart didn’t get broken in the meantime.

Thanks for the message — and thanks to all for reading. I know this was long, but there was a lot for me to talk about here!

Life is short: keep the faith (and do it in boots)!

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