By Dan Scott: Even as a boy I knew I was different.

I choreographed Amy Grant songs, played dress up, and loved my Cabbage Patch Kid. Boys were supposed to wrestle, play with GI JOES, and throw the ball around with dad, but I just didn’t want to do any of those things.

It was no big deal at first. None of my guy friends noticed that I was any different from them ... until junior high.  I cared how my hair looked, how I dressed, and who was topping the charts on Casey Kasem. Very few junior high boys cared about any of those things.

And that’s when it started.

“What are you, a homo?” “Don’t ask the Mama’s Boy; he won’t want to play.” “Fag!”

At first, I didn’t even know what they were calling me, but I knew it couldn’t be good. When I did discover, I did everything I could to change that perception.

I played soccer and basketball. I became fast. I got myself a girlfriend and made sure that I kissed her.

But whatever I did to compensate for that perception, it didn’t change who I was or what I cared about. I didn’t want to focus on my soccer skills or becoming a better basketball player. Even I knew that I was too young to have a serious relationship. I just wanted to be myself, but I didn’t have a choice.

I needed to “act like a guy.”

High school was worse. I was a drama and music nerd. I balanced theater with soccer, and always had a girl by my side. Still, no matter how hard I worked to change the perception, I was still labeled and was never “one of the guys.” It hurt.

I was confused and unsure what to do, so I did nothing and kept everything to myself. Inside, I wondered if I had any real friends. I questioned everything about who I was and wondered if what they were saying about me was true. I questioned what God was thinking when he made me an artist. Didn’t he know what would happen?

But I found hope.

My parents always encouraged me to be myself; even my father, who LOVED sports, never gave me grief for not following in his footsteps. They encouraged my hobbies and supported my decision to study theater in college.

Thankfully I encountered college professors who were just like me. In them, I found mentors who loved Jesus, were true artists, and were real men.

God also gave me a wonderful wife. She loves what I create and champions everything I do. We have four kids. And funny enough, my sons love playing sports, so now I do too. I have a blast watching their games and playing anything with them. (Just please don’t ask me to watch televised sports any time soon!)

I wish I could go back to the 15 year old me and tell him that everything will be all right. That all my questions would be answered. And that regardless of any perception, being a creative is one of the greatest professions in the world.

One thing I can do is go back and thank the amazing people who taught me that manhood isn’t defined by how many deer you kill or points you score in a game. Manhood is a state of mind that takes responsibility for his life and the lives of those under his care.

My name is Dan. I’m an artist. I’m a real man.