Yes, Young Children CAN Know They Are Gay

Yes, Young Children CAN Know They Are Gay

I was reading this wonderful post, and a comment annoyed me. It was just one, among many wonderful supportive comments, but still. (Yes, I know. Even though I tell my friends never to read the comments, I was reading the comments. I’m a bad girl.)

The commenter (you can find it yourself if you like) asked how a seven year old could know he was gay. How he knew of such things, and if the parents would really accept any wild statement the child made–as children do.

It pissed me off.

Let me deal with the last thing first. When my daughter announced that she would be the first female president of the U.S., I did not say “Pfft. No, you’re not.” I suggested that an understanding of history would serve her well.  When she announced she was going to be an astronaut cheerleader, I suggested science might be a good area of focus. When my daughter proclaimed she was bisexual, I was also fine with that. I am privately, where she can’t see, quite amused that she has never had a crush on a girl in her life, but I tell her “whatever. I love you.”

That’s my job–love and support. Help her grow into the person she was born to be. Maybe she will be the first female president. Maybe she will be an astronaut cheerleader. Maybe she’ll marry a woman. As long as she’s happy, I really don’t care.

The commenter asked how a child “would have an understanding of what a relationship like that is all about?” Oh, about the same way my daughter understands how she and her two friends will have an apartment when they are sixteen, and all have jobs and cars and yes, finish high school. Imperfectly, through the lens of childhood, but understanding the important things–who they love and want to spend their time with. (Don’t get me wrong. She loves me. But I am bossy. Odd thing, that.)

As for how a seven-year-old could know he was gay–how does a 7yo know he likes football but not baseball? Chocolate ice cream but not rocky road?

My friend’s son knew something was up when he was six. His brother’s friends were talking about a man kissing another man, reacting with disgust, and the gay child thought that sounded pretty nice. Of course, this would have been in the 1960s, so that boy didn’t know anything more than that he might like to kiss men one day. And that everyone would probably think it was disgusting.

Why do people think gay kids can’t possibly know they are gay until they are at least 15? My first crush was Luke Skywalker. I was seven. I knew nothing about anything, except that I liked looking at him and I wanted to be around him. At seven. Am I so alone? When do “normal” people have their first crushes?

I’ll tell you how a kid knows he/she is gay. Look at nearly any movie made for kids. Heck, go with what everyone thinks of as the most innocuous–let’s look at a Disney movie. How about Mulan? (one of my favorites, by the way, because it’s NOT about the “princess” finding a boyfriend.) What if a gay kid is watching that, and he finds that he likes the dynamic between Mulan and Shang when Shang still thinks Mulan is a boy? Or the Little Mermaid, and a little girl would much rather live in the ocean with Ariel than in Eric’s castle?

Kids know that they are supposed to fall in love and get married. Heck, our culture preaches at them that life is all about love and marriage and babies, but that’s a whole other rant. Is it really a surprise that a 7yo might think about how he wants to live happily ever after?

Edit to Add: I’m getting a lot of hits on this post, so I wanted to add a hopefully-helpful link. On this blog, contributors write about their first gay crush.

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35 comments on “Yes, Young Children CAN Know They Are Gay
  1. When I was 5 I told my mom I was going to marry this boy I went to school with. I think the commenter expects the kid to understand the dynamics and hardships coming out as gay is for adults. To kids, it’s simple. Little boy says “I like girls” or “I like boys” and that’s that. They don’t worry about what other people are going to think or if someone finds homosexuality wrong. They are just feeling w/o worrying. They don’t HAVE to understand what it means.

  2. KD says:

    I can see that–if the commenter thinks being gay is a choice. “Don’t they know how hard it will be? Make them choose something easier!” Grr…

  3. BBea says:

    I have not looked for the comment. I try to avoid those things (she types into a comment). >_>

    But my first crush was when I was 4. Brian Geiger. I named my tiger salt-and-pepper shaker (both! in one shaker!) after him because it was nearly as cool and amazing as he was.

    (I shall refrain from getting all sappy and maudlin over your comment section, because it’s been One of Those Weeks, but you’re a good mom.)

  4. KD says:

    So I was actually behind the curve? Interesting!

  5. BBea says:

    Well, I don’t know. I think I’m a possible outlier. Who has love issues. I mean, I spent most of my childhood and teenage years frantically looking for love just about anywhere. But maybe.

  6. Lorrie says:

    My daughter has known since she was 7 that she sees herself with a girl and doesn’t see herself with a boy. When they have children, she will be the dad. Is there any more info about this anywhere? I would like to hear from other parents too. My daughter is 9 and has a crush on a girlfriend.

    • KD says:

      Welcome, Lorrie. I’m not sure what information you want, so let me offer a few links. In this article, I bring up some more points and some important links. If you want to talk to other parents, PFLAG (Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) is an excellent place to start. That link leads to the “Get Support” page of their website.

      There’s nothing WRONG with your daughter. It’s society that needs fixing.

    • Kristie says:

      A heart only sees another heart. Hearts don’t see man , woman, penis, vagina, ugly or beautiful. They just want to feel free enough to love the one that sees their heart, without facing judgmental ignorant, hateful people ruining their happiness. The human heart will always be an enigma. That Kristie & Mary are as much a couple as Joe & Sally. She will face enough negative energies on her journey. Just be there to reassure her that she is NOT AN ABOMINATION, that she’s NOT CONFUSED, that she’s NOT perverted. Let her be loved.

      • KD says:


      • Curious says:

        Do you think someone who has been with boys and men at age 30 says she is gay? Could she be confused?

        • KD says:

          At 30, I’d think more likely she was becoming UNconfused…? I don’t know. With questions of someone else’s orientation, my opinion is that I have no right to an opinion. If she says she’s gay, who could possibly know better than her?

    • Lori says:

      Any info. I’m dealing with the same & my daughter is 11. Please help.

  7. Anonymous says:

    My 10 year old step son told us he thinks he might me gay. He says he likes a boy down the street. Why would he even say that if it was not true? Is he confused? he has been acting different lately he’s been nervous and been biting the outside of his hand. I hope he’s not but I wouldn’t trade him for the world he’s has the biggest heart and super funny I love him dearly! Does he know at 10 if he’s gay? He went to see the counselor at school today to talk to her we have a meeting with her tomorrow.

    • KD says:

      He might know. Many kids do know that young and younger. I’d imagine the nervous behaviors are due to being afraid of what people will think. If I were in his life, I think I’d want to tell him I love him no matter what. PFLAG can help if you don’t know what to say after that.

  8. Shelpn says:

    My eleven year old just told me he was gay last night, but asked me not to tell other family members. I told him I loved him no matter and I just want him to be happy. Since I’ve thought about I, I’m worried about him being treated badly by others, of course, but otherwise I’m glad he trusted me enough to confide in me.

    • KD says:

      I think being trusted like that is a great honor. I wish you and your son joy. I hope that we can continue to make progress towards a world where he will be safe.

  9. Fran says:

    Our Grandchild that is 11 said she is gay. I said ok to that but I did ask her how do you know. She said last year she saw this young girl her age and had feeling for her. I told her we loved her and well standby her. But I did say one thing through I told her to watch out who she tells that to, because some people say bad things and they might hurt you. I know she well hear it through. My first husband died and remarried about 27 years ago and my husband son is gay (46yrs old). I have two nieces that are gay and live up north. One just left high school and the other is married. The number one thing in my life is that my children and grandchildren are happy. We raise them the best we can but we can not tell their heart what to do.

    • KD says:

      I’m glad she’s got you on her side, and I’ll hope for a day when she can tell anyone she wants to.

  10. Alice in Wonderland says:

    The news is buzzing today about a comment Hilary Clinton made on a Twitter post of a photo of a boy who appears to be about 6 or 7 wondering what his like will be like because he’s gay. Now, I’m not saying children of that age can’t already have formed preferences, but I have a hard time accepting that they could truly understand the concept of “gay,” much less the ramifications that might have on their future lives. Little kids just don’t think about those things that way. Yet here is a group (Humans of New York) that has decided this would be a good way to get a message across, and that disturbs me. It’s almost like child labor, or worse.

    • KD says:

      I don’t see the reasoning behind the “you’re too young to understand” argument. Understanding is irrelevant–orientation is not a choice. Kids don’t understand heterosexuality either, but no one questions it if they say they prefer the opposite sex.

      I think it’s our job to make the world safe for children, whatever their preference. I think it’s important that kids know that it doesn’t matter if they are gay. They are perfect as they are, and loved.

  11. Polly says:

    My 10 year old told me last night he was gay and that he has known for a long time, my boy has been having troubles lately with his anger and he was so upset when he told me, he also said he felt so much better that me and his father know and I am totally behind him whatever choice he makes but as any mother I am scared about how people will treat him as he is a very caring and loving boy. Me and his dad are 100% behind him with everything. I am now hoping he can now be himself x

    • KD says:

      I’m so glad he was able to trust you, and right in doing so! This stranger on the internet is behind him too. And you and I are on the same team–the one hoping to make the world a safe place for our wonderful kids.

      • Polly says:

        He knows he will have some hard times as he knows there are people out there that are not kind we have reassured him that whatever happens his whole family and the people that cares are always here, its also made me feel like I’m not on my own with reading this. Thank you for having the time to message me back x

  12. Just discovered that you linked to “My First Gay Crush” blog here – thanks! Of course I agree that every human child already knows/feels same or opposite gender attractions at a VERY early age. But the PROBLEM is that society assumes that if it’s a gay child talking about a crush, it involves their knowledge of the sexual act. And this infuriates me! If a 6-year old girl today proclaimed her crush on Justin Bieber, no one would say “She’s only 6. How does she know?” or include a thought about an actual sex act.

    As for mom Polly, my advice to you is keep doing what you’re doing! Dad, too! Just keep assuring your son YOU LOVE HIM NO MATTER WHAT! Assure him you’ll always have his back, and to stand strong and be proud of exactly who he is. Yes, he might face bullying and hatred, but your support will mean everything to his self-esteem and self-pride. And perhaps my other blog might give you some insight in to the experiences/stories of gay kids – – cheers!

    • KD says:

      Hey, thanks for stopping by! And for giving people platforms to share their stories.

    • Ettina says:

      “Of course I agree that every human child already knows/feels same or opposite gender attractions at a VERY early age.”

      Not every child. I’m aromantic asexual, and I have never felt those sorts of attraction for anyone, as a child or as an adult.

  13. Stacy says:

    My 11 year old daughter told me yesterday that she was gay. Her dad and I reassured her that we love her unconditionally and we will support her 100%.She said she knew that would be the response we gave her but hesitated to tell us because of the monster of society that says we would reject her. She told her favorite aunt and her response was “you are too young to know what you are” which devastated my daughter. I am so heartbroken for her now.

    • KD says:

      I’m so glad your daughter has loving parents, and sorry her aunt is confused. I wonder how old she was when she felt HER first attraction?

      I hope she does some research and some soul-searching and apologizes to your daughter.

  14. aeropaws says:

    I also realized I was pansexual when I was seven (Okay, i thought I was bi because I didn’t know there were more than 3). I tried to come out when I was 13 but my mother told me it was ‘just a phase’

  15. Louise says:

    I’m reading this article bc my 9 year old daughter told me yesterday that she thinks she is a lesbian and that she’s not attracted to boys, but has “weird” feelings for girls. It shocked me, but I maintained my composure and began telling her that she has to follow her heart and do what makes her happy and I would love her no matter what. She asked me what her family would think (her father, cousins, brother, etc.) and I told her that we all love her for who she is. She then said that she’ll never be able to have children and I explained to her that she could still have a baby and get married. They would need to borrow seed from a man though. She hugged me and was really happy. It was like a tonne of bricks came off her shoulders and she was smiling ear to ear.

    I am heart broken inside though bc never in a million years did I think my kids could be gay. I picture my daughter falling in love with a man and walking down the isle to a man, not a woman. I will not share this disappointment with her as I love her and I want her to accept herself for who she is.

    • KD says:

      Hi, Louise. I think as you go on loving your daughter with this new information about her, you may find that what you really were envisioning is her future happiness. The gender of her partner is not a factor in that! I encourage you to check out PFLAG and get support in supporting your daughter.

      Congrats on taking that load off your beloved’s shoulders!

1 Pings/Trackbacks for "Yes, Young Children CAN Know They Are Gay"
  1. […] Thoughtful post from the father of a seven-year old who’s identified himself as gay. (Thanks, Jase!) Plus a post from KD Sarge about one of the comments on that post. […]

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