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March 13, 2006

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Patrick

That poor kid already has gay face.

Scott A

Wow that segment is not only self-reaffirming but insightful. I'm gonna show Mom and see what she thinks. I have an older brother of 8 years, but I'm lefthanded and I'm bi so, I dunno if I'm still privy to the 1/3rd chance, hmmm.... but my dad is the 4th child with 2 older brothers and he was born 10 years later from the rest of my grandma's kids, when she was in her 40s, so I really dunno what to think...

Queer Conservative

I made the same comment about "should have been a girl" to my grandmother when I was about 7. It didn't go over well. I realize now, of course, that I didn't want to be a girl, I just like dick. Or as I told Robbie, I was trying to conform to patriarchally imposed gender norms in the only way I could make sense of them at the time.

I also had big crush on on Chad Phillips, the cutest boy in 2nd grade.

Patrick

I am the sixth child in a family of 13 and have four older brothers. I am right handed. I have a little brother who looks like me (if I weighed about fifty more pounds, poor kid) hair, eyes, nose, everything (even has scars in the same places, which is really bizarre) and talks like me and has the same mannerisms as I. He is sort of like my 10 years delayed identical twin (1971 to 1981). He is the 12th child and he follows the five brothers below me. That means he’s the 6th of that phase of the family. Yes, we have family epochs with that many kids. I suspect that he is gay, but he has been dating a girl for several years, which I never even attempted. Time will tell.

North Dallas Thirty

If your mother hasn't been nominated for sainthood yet, Patrick, she should be.

Meanwhile, oldest child, ambidextrous. Why am I always the outlier?

just me

So for somebody who has no sound on their computer (that would be me, and too busy and broke to worry about fixing it). What is the significance of older brothers and right/left handedness?

Queer Conservative

Right-handed men with older brothers are statistically more likely to be gay. The more older brothers increases the chances.

Malcontent

You can read the text version of the story here.

Patrick

Thanks for posting the link to the written version. I am unable to access the video at work. (Jerks) I have some more thoughts on this.

1. The mother should make it clear to the child that he does not have to be a girl to like all the feminine things he’s into. Her support and acceptance of his preferences do not need to detract from his manhood. Feminine behaviors or even feminine interests do not mean he is any less of a man.

2. The mother should be neutral about the whole thing rather pointing him in one direction. I would hope that she has never told him, “son, you’re gay.”

3. It really is heartening to read this story. Not that it clears things up entirely, but it does help.

NDT, my mother is a saint whether officially declared so or not. Her response to my coming out was about as anti-climatic and calm as I could have hoped for. “I know.” Turns to my father, “D. you have to know that your brother is gay.” My dad, “Yeah, I know. I don’t want to talk about it.” That was the first and last time they ever spoke of it in now 45 years of marriage.

Brad

Very interesting! Appreciate you sharing this. I did a short piece and posted some thoughts along this same line a couple days ago, but went in a slightly different direction. So it was interesting to come across this.

Dan

High cheekbones and open eyes set off my gaydar. The man doesn't have to talk or move or dress or style his hair. It's right on his face. Funny though, cause Patrick had the gay eyes, but his "straight" brother had the cheekbones. And I had quite a GI Joe collection myself as a kid, so don't count that chicken out before he's hatched. And if every male fetus could be exposed to female hormones, war could be reduced to a hissy-fit.

jey

not all people who turn out to be gay as adults, were feminine in the childhood. Those that were girly maybe easiest to predict. But then again, there are feminine heterosexual men.

Inner gender orientation does not always match physical gender orientation, and not to mention the other variables: social gender scripts, sexual orientation, etc.
Its complicated. Yay!

just me

Thank you so much for providing the text link.

The younger son/right hand thing is interesting, although I wonder if there isn't some intervening variable they are missing. Because there are tons of men with older brothers who are right handed that aren't gay.

Although the gender non conformity thing is more what I find interesting. I agree with many of Patrick's points-in regards to how mom/parents should handle it. But I already have a whole slew of "I knew it" stories, if my younger son grows up to come out as gay-while he has lots of boy interests, he also tends to like some more "girl" toys as well-no nail polish or desires to be a girl-just some of the toys he likes to play with would horrify many boys-including my older son.

Although I wonder if we shouldn't be too quick to make an issue of some of this stuff. I would hate to pigeonhole a kid into either sexuality based on their interests as a child-seems like this is where you just act neutral and let them figure it out.

xyz

Full Disclosure: I'm a straight female. See! You do have some of us as readers. And, sorry in advance for the long comment.

I strongly suspect that my nephew, age 7, is gay. We were watching a show on Noggin and he turned to me and said "Those boys are hunk-ciles." Yeah, those were his exact words. Another time he mentioned that he thought Nicole Kidman was lucky because she got to marry Keith Urban. Last year, he refused to go to school because he couldn't find the shoes he wanted to wear with his outfit. He enjoys picking out annuals for my sister's garden. Whenever I'm giving my niece and myself a manicure, then he insists on getting one too (I won't put polish on him though.) He likes to go clothes shopping and picking things out for others to try on. He prefers to wear button-down shirts because, according to him, he looks more handsome in them. On the other hand, he loves all things cars, sports and camping.

I talked to a few gay friends about him and they told me that he sounds alot like them at that age.

Is it really possible that he could know at his age? Is he capable of figuring out that when he thinks, and mentions, a boy is cute that I won't freak out? I should mention that when people refer to 'right-wing religous zealots who hate boys with sugar in their veins' (their words, not mine)they are speaking of my sister and her husband. Any thoughts?

Queer Conservative

Just Me,

They didn't say it always happens with the younger son/right handed variable. It wasn't a genetic study of any kind, just statistical data. Statistically, more often than not younger son/right handers are gay.

Robbie

XYZ - I don't think he "knows" he's gay at that age. All he knows is he likes what he likes. Only once he's older and starts going through that pre-adolescent phase when boys start liking girls will it really start hitting home that he's different from his peers in a profound way (if he does indeed turn out gay. It's not always a given).

Usually when people say, "Oh I always knew, even when I was small," it's with the gift of hindsight and the ability to contextualize all those past experiences and memories with an adult's point of view. I don't think children at that age are able to process and categorize sexual orientation with the kind of thoughtful consideration and level of self-awareness to really know what they are.

That said, the way to let him know you're fine with who he is, either way, is to accept his words and his interests at face value. I think in these situations, relatives sometimes try to be too affirmative. You know, "Oh, he's gay. Let's be supportive and take an interest in 'gay' things so he know we're ok with it!" It doesn't go exactly like that, but I think you know what I mean. Kids can get pigeonholed, even by the well-meaning.

Just be open and go along with it - let him lead you - and he'll be more than fine.

Malcontent

And if his parents are as you say they are, he will probably need an aunt like you someday.

Queer Conservative

XYZ,

Your nephew sounds a lot like I was at his age. I agree with Robbie though, he doesn't associate any of this with sex or sexuality, he simply likes what he likes. But should he be gay, as he gets older, he'll have an "a ha!" moment or two and it will all make sense.

Kind of like the time I threw a bitch fit like you've never seen in the shoe store at 5 years old because they wouldn't let me buy the white sandals I wanted. What can I say - they totally matched my Easter Suit WAY better than the ones my grandmother picked out. Oh, and I got my way, and the outfit was fantastic.

Oh, and promise me that you'll be there for you nephew when he has those "a ha" moments.

Teddy

Robbie and Mal,
you guys are really great people.

Patrick

XYZ, I would add to Robbie and QC's comments only to say that it is imperative that your nephew understand that even though he might be interested in things that most boys are not, he is still a boy and should not feel outside of the "world of men." Despite the things he likes it would probably not do him any harm to encourage him to do some "boy stuff" so that he learns how to interact well with men.

North Dallas Thirty

XYZ, I agree with Patrick. Encourage him to try everything and let him figure out what he does and doesn't like.

And don't try to rush the "a ha!" moment -- mine didn't come 'til the tender age of 26.

xyz

Teddy, I second that.

Robbie, Mal, and Patrick:
One of my concerns has been where to draw the line between encouraging him to be who he is and 'encouraging' his gayness, if it turns out that way. Thus far he seems to be striking a balance between his interests, i.e. wanting to go shopping after his soccer game and quizzing me on cars.

As to his parents, if he is, then it probably won't be pretty. They wouldn't even let the kids visit unless we stayed at hotel to avoid exposure to the gay neighbors. Not even our folks could get them to relent on that crazyness. With that kind attitude, if he is, I worry about the effect it will have. Hell, even if he's straight I worry about the effect it will have.

QC: it's a given. And, I'd bet those sandals looked kick-ass.

Thanks for giving me y'alls take on it.

Carrie

Robbie

It's seems you're doing just fine as you are. He's telling you what he's interested in, and you're going along with it. We all have natural likes and aptitudes, and by you giving him an open, accepting environment, he'll let you know how "gay" or not gay he'll develop. I think by indulging him when he expresses an interest, you're making it perfectly clear how open you are to his personality. Even if his parents have a problem with him, he'll remember that you've accepted him just fine, without judgement, without scolding or molding.

As for the parents. If they don't change, they'll lose their son. If they're willing to prefer their prejudice to their progeny, then they're really no parents at all.

At the very least, your nephew has you an accepting aunt as a safe harbor, and that is more than a lot of gay men have growing up. That is a very valuable thing that can make the difference between hope and despair in a young adult's life.

just me

XYZ - I don't think he "knows" he's gay at that age. All he knows is he likes what he likes. Only once he's older and starts going through that pre-adolescent phase when boys start liking girls will it really start hitting home that he's different from his peers in a profound way (if he does indeed turn out gay. It's not always a given).

This I think is good insight, and good reason to not push suspicions on a child-as I said my younger son has some interests that are outside the traditional "boy" sphere, but hardly sexually aware at this point. I think this is one of those things kids need to work out for themselves as they get older and sexually aware.

As for the statistical study-I still wonder what intervening variable is in place-birth order, is there something hormonal in the mom while pregnant that is more likely to occur after a first son is conceived (sort of like the rh factor issue)? Interesting things to think about.

Royce

That was totally interesting, and I'm also youngest of boys, and my mom had expected a girl, and here I am--- gay! INTERESTING!!!

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