When I was 16 I was completely incorrigible, fanatically driven. So horrifyingly insecure that I acted secure. And I was quite beautiful actually, I was a looker. If I could go back to that boy now I’d just congratulate him on surviving. The odds were pretty stacked against me, considering my delusional state about how the world worked. But maybe that delusion saved me a lot of trouble. I believed in something that didn’t exist. I had this feeling I was going to be a unique creation that everyone would love. I would have the answer to everything. I would conquer the industry. No one would care that I was gay. The truth turned out to be the opposite on pretty much every point. But I just kept plugging away.
I might reprimand my younger self a little bit for… I was 100 per cent dedicated to my career and my art, my conquering of show business. Maybe that was necessary to get there but I think along the way I could have stopped more to smell the roses. To just enjoy the now. But I was always setting goals. Ah well, you know, youth is wasted on the young.
My simple, racist, Southern little grandmother was actually the most helpful. There you go.
I officially said ‘I am out’ to my parents when I was 18. But I knew it from the age of 13, and they knew too. I was sneaking out of the house, wearing weird clothes, getting strange phone calls. It was a turbulent period. My parents could have handled it much better. Looking back, I’m a bit more forgiving now. It was the late ’80s, Aids was everywhere, massacring everyone. But neither of my parents apologised. My mother died a few years ago. I don’t think my father will ever apologise. But hey, your parents are your parents, they’re not supposed to make you feel better.
My grandmother, God rest her soul, she was from Georgia in the South, and somewhat… racist, and not the smartest tool in the shed. But she was very loving and she said she knew I was gay but she loved me and it didn’t matter. So my simple, racist, Southern little grandmother was actually the most helpful. There you go.
Not to sound too old-school gay but I’d advise my younger self to get to the gym right away. I didn’t really hit the gym until I was about 35. It’s been great but if I’d started at 20 it would have been a lot easier. But that wasn’t part of my persona back then. I was a romantic dandy, smoking cigarettes. And I’m not sure I would go back and change that. But it would have saved me a lot of money now.
I think I’d still really like the teenage Rufus. He had a spark. What I love most about that 16-year-old was that he was always game. He would try anything. Whether it was a play or singing a song or wearing a weird outfit or dyeing my hair purple. I would try anything. And that’s the kind of kid I like now. Even if they’re naughty and subversive, at least they’re engaged in what life has to offer.