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At What Age Did You Know You Were Gay?

At What Age Did You Know You Were Gay?

At What Age Did You Know You Were Gay?

Is it possible to be "too young" to come out of the closet? The PRIDE team explores this in this week's episode of WerQ!

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Welcome to PRIDE's LGBT entertainment podcast, WerQ

This week, editor-in-chief Raffy Ermac and culture writer Taylor Henderson dive into a touchy subject with poet Ariel Sobel

Taylor shares the story of a viral 3-year-old boy who plays with dolls, loves dressing up as Elsa from Disney's Frozen, and declares that he is gay.

"He proudly says, 'I'm gay!'" said the boy's aunt in a viral tweet from earlier this month. "And there's nothing wrong with that. It doesn't matter if he grows to be someone he says he is or not."

The adorable story of a family that loves their child however he wants to identify was promptly picked up by conservative, right-wing websites, and the aunt deleted her tweets following harassment. 

It's a whirlwind of a story with nuances that can only begin to be covered through an in-depth discussion. The trio discusses some hard questions in this week's podcast. 

Is three too young to know that you're gay? Children that age can believe they're a magician one day and an airplane the next, and they certainly don't have sexual attraction. 

A 2017 study done by the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children found that children as early as 3.5 years old exhibited behaviors that correlated with their sexual identity later in life. The kids that played with toys not meant for their gender were much more likely to be homosexual 12 years later. 

The link between gender and sexual identity has yet to be fully explored, and oftentimes there isn't one. There are boys who play with dolls and end up straight, as well boys who didn't and are gay. While gendered playtime can be a possible sign of what's to come, you certainly can't assume one's sexuality based on it.

Psychologist Patrick Ryan Grzanka even wonders if this kind of research could stigmatize gender-nonconforming children, saying "It’s important to ask why we’re so invested in this purported link [between gender conformity and sexuality] in the first place."

Early signs of one's identity can also show up in a sense of otherness. Sometimes kids begin to understand it from an overwhelming feeling of being different. "From early childhood through puberty our future likes and dislikes begin to be shaped," noted TeenHealthFX. "If a child were beginning to feel as though they were not experiencing the same thing that their peers were, they may not understand at first why they are feeling the way that they do. It may take years for them to come to an understanding regarding their sexual preference."

In the podcast, Taylor reveals that that was certainly true for him. From as early as grade school, he felt different from other boys but couldn't quite articulate why. Taylor didn't realize he was gay until he was 18-years-old.

"Or maybe I just didn't want to admit to myself."

The Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States surveyed college students, asking when they first began to understand their identity. 

Of the college students they surveyed, 26% of self-identified gay and bisexual college students became aware of their sexual preference in college, 48% in high school.

With self-identified gay and bisexual men, 20% knew in junior high school, and 17% knew in grade school. With women, 6% knew in junior high school, and 11% knew in grade school.

While a 3-year-old doesn't fully understand what being gay means (even the aunt admitted that he could change his mind in the future), a family allowing their son to fearlessly be whoever he wants to be from such an early age could be monumental in his formative years. If children were given the space to boldly try on different hats (or dresses), to explore their identities with the love and support of family from the get-go, the years of inner turmoil and self-loathing many LGBTQ people experience could disappear.

If the 3-year-old is happy, what's the harm in letting him be whoever he wants to be?

Listen to Raffy, Taylor, and Ariel's discussion below, check out this moving story from a mom whose son came out to her at 7-years-old, and join the conversation! Be sure to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes and SoundCloud.

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