By Malissa Rogers
He saw it one day in 1944, as he walked into a clothing store with his mother. In the midst of all the rows of blue, black and brown, hung one red corduroy hat; he was fourteen at the time and knew it was too girly and expensive, so he dared not ask his mother for it. However, a few months later on Christmas Eve his life changed, when he opened a present and the red hat lay inside.
“It was a big turning point in my life because I realized anything is possible. It was the 1940s, during the war; people didn’t even know what gay was. A 14-year-old wearing a red hat was unthinkable!” says David Leddick, 82, author of the recently released novel “Love in the Loire.”
Leddick, a resident of Miami, Florida, is an author of 23 books and writes for the Huffington Post. His most recent books include “Gorgeous Gallery,” a compilation of homoerotic art, “How to Be Gay in the 21st Century” and “Escort…40 Profiles of Men Who Sell Sex,” a non-fiction study of male escorts.
“I’m in the sixth career of my life right now; as a writer and cabaret dancer. People need to realize if you get unhappy, it’s never too late. If you don’t like your life, try a new one,” Leddick said.
He grew up in the small town of Montague, Michigan and although it was unheard of during the time, Leddick always knew he was gay; admitting to having a boyfriend from the age of five, which would last for many years.
Sadly, when Leddick was only 12-years-old, his father died, leaving his mother to raise him and three siblings. He worked throughout high school to help his mother make ends meet and never complained about the monetary status of his family. After graduating high school, Leddick attended the University of Michigan, where he later earned his bachelor’s degree.
Soon after graduation, Leddick joined the United States Navy as an officer from 1952 to 1955, where he was later awarded a medal for his time spent in the Korean War. During his time in the military he was stationed at Bikini Atoll where he witnessed a milestone in history; the first testing of the hydrogen bomb.
“Very interesting thing, the first time they tested the bomb. We were like 35 miles away from where they set up the bomb and it was six times bigger than it was supposed to be,” Leddick said.
In the late 1950s, Leddick moved to New York where he made his debut as a dancer, in Maria Callas’ production of “Norma,” at the Metropolitan Opera. Leddick changed careers in the 1970s and became actively involved with advertising; earning a position with Revlon as the worldwide creative director.
“I’ve always been out and I don’t ever remember a homophobic remark being made. I don’t remember ever having suffered from homophobia. I was lucky to be in worlds where it didn’t matter,” Leddick said when asked about being openly gay his entire life.
Currently, Leddick is happily in love with his 30-year-old boyfriend, who lives in South America. He has dedicated his spare time to “David’s Gay Dish,” a blog geared towards providing advice to readers, gay or straight, who have posed questions to him, about love, life or relationships.
“I always tell people there’s nothing wrong with being gay, their just doing it wrong. They’re living in a world where they think they are guilty of something,” Leddick said. “How can anyone fall in love with you if they don’t know who you are?”
Leddick has also produced 55 episodes of “Come on out! with David Leddick” on his website, where he discusses relationships, coming out stories and his future books. He has credited his “lucky life” to being genuinely interested in people and being aware that his actions influence others around him.
“Part of my charmed life is that I’m interested in others. I always give to the first beggar of the day; to avoid winding up there myself,” Leddick said.
Although most of Leddick’s time is dedicated to writing new books and working on his advertising memoirs, “We Offered Them Caviar,” he has still configured acting into his busy schedule.
In March 2013, Leddick will return to New York and perform in the mini-musical “Rentboy.” The play is a sexy comedy based on the Rent Boy Organization; a business that provides male escorts for 200 dollars or more. Leddick will also star in the murder-mystery musical “Secrets of the Chorus” later next year, where he graces the stage as the main character.
Leddick’s next novel, about being gay after 70, is due to be released in spring 2013 and “100 Things You Need to Know in the 21st Century” will be published in fall 2013.
When asked about his favorite decade and time in his life, Leddick simply stated, “Now! I’m 82…I love my life right now, I do. I am having the best time creatively that I’ve ever had.”