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Reader Luvmy3kids07 loves her kids, but she's especially concerned with her 10-year-old, who she thinks might be gay. Here's what she had to say followed by a few responses from other readers:

Luvmy3kids07: I'm a step mom to 2 boys and a mommy of one girl. My hubby's has two wonderful wonderful kids. my concern is the youngest who just recently turned 10.

He's special to me. Very sensitive, sweet and I know he's been through a lot in the past. (He witnessed a lot of emotional and verbal abuse in his previous home as a young child). Anywho, he has a bad tendency to lie about a lot of things. He seems insecure to me and almost as if he needs to pretend and make up things to "look" like he's "cool." He cries a lot and tends to hold things in. And no, these aren't the reasons I suspect that he may be gay. I don't know if I'm an idiot or not...

I catch him wearing my 6yr old daughters clothes, shoes and painting his nails. I don't yell at him, I just tell him that it's not appropriate because he's a lot bigger than my 6yr old and he may break her things. I also tell him that these clothes were made for girls not boys. He just replies that its fun. Oh yeah, he loves Barbies, Bratz and watching ballet on t.v. with my daughter and her female friends and/or cousins. He has an older brother but I honestly feel like he has more fun playing with the girls.....

Russ: I guess the question I have is why do you need to pinpoint his sexual orientation at 10 years old? If he has issues with his past then perhaps seeking counseling would help for that. Call me crazy, but I see no need to provide any different guidance than you would provide a 10 year old boy that you don't suspect of being gay.

ERM51: If there is any way you might be able to engage him in a one on one session, maybe he would open up to you and then you could discuss any issues or questions he might have.

U_Nome: I am 14. I have had some of the same things happen to me. When I was younger that is. I think that you really should just be there for support and make it very clear that if he ever wants to talk that he just let you know, and you will listen.

Libbiloos: I definitely think the being gay is something that is nature not nurture, So yes I believe that he could be gay. Gay people in our society are faced with so many challenges. I am very active in the gay community in Massachusetts although I myself am straight. I have two children of my own, so I understand what you must be going through. But he is healthy and not terminally ill, so there is nothing "wrong" with him. Gay is just a variation in genes and as far as I'm concerned its no different that blue or brown eyes.

Read more of this discussion or reply to this mom wondering about her gay 10 year old.

Image © Bryan Medders.
August 30, 2007 at 7:09 pm
(1) PalePhoenix says:

Well, for starters, thanks for asking. The rest may confuse or annoy you, but if you’ve made the step to publicly ask what you have, then I think it will be useful to you and to others who may be curious about their children’s future orientations.

1. These are ALL your children. – I can tell, just by your wording, that you care, but for the sake of all of them, you might consider suspending any other possessive pronouns. The Potential Gay Son doesn’t belong to your hubby. You’re his parent, and obviously a devoted one. A ten year-old of any gender or past experience is still extraordinarily impressionable and vulnerable. He or she can also do things that completely baffle you (just wait until they’re teenagers, if you don’t believe me).

2. Do not consider him “special.” – There is really little more insulting to the GLBTQ community than to be lumped in with any other group, in the pejorative sense. I know you meant well, but a lot of post-modern, cognitive-behavioral psychology is reliant upon thinking about things differently. Not “convincing yourself that exceptions rule,” but to be only as judgmental and perceptive as you would be with any other child. Gay men and lesbians are rarely raised as such. You have to separate your own interests, as a parent, from the independent nature of each child.

3. Your idea of a “tendency” is someone else’s concept of self-defense. – Children, by nature, have no guile, no desire to lie beyond what will, black or white, protect them from harm or discomfort. When they learn to lie, unfortunately, this is an interesting first move toward adulthood. It really depends on the level of shame associated with their activities. If a little boy “knows” (by culture, not necessarily from you, directly) that he shouldn’t have dolls or play dress-up, then these are messages you can choose to counter. I recommend that you be as candid as possible.

4. You’re not an idiot. – But that doesn’t mean you’re right, either. At least you’re paying attention, which is more than I can say for many biological parents. Most people wait until their offspring are older to accuse them of “going through a phase,” but for a 10 year-old, it can be just that. All children–depending on which behavioral treatise you find online–go through periods of mimicry, self-expression, and modeling. What you’re seeing now could as easily mean nothing, or it could represent a so-called “acting out” in response to earlier experiences.

5. Your version of “appropriate” shouldn’t matter, either. – Ultimately, it’s up to what creates a social or personal problem FOR THE CHILD. Leaving sexuality out of the equation, entirely, may help. If the boy was eating mud pies, then you’d disagree on the wholly scientific grounds that he’s dramatically increasing his chances of disease. One cannot regard gender role-play in the same light. If he dresses up in female garments, or copies supposedly feminine mannerisms, then making these “strange and forbidden” may have the opposite effect you desire…if you’re looking for a solution, at all.

This is not a situation with correctional or punitive reactions. Every parent wants his or her children to be happy, well-adjusted, and eventually loved by other people. While I won’t pretend that–in this day and age–the gender of these people doesn’t matter, I will encourage you to open a dialogue with the child about what he thinks he’s doing, and not to condemn or condescend. You can’t get an answer like, “Yeah, he’s gay,” especially if it’s not going to be a productive response for you. Were it not for how we socialize and stereotype our kids from nearly the moment they’re born, boys could play with dolls, and girls with trucks, and it would have the same effect on their eventual sexuality it always should have : NONE.

June 8, 2009 at 2:50 pm
(2) Joe says:

I’m 12 and I recently discovered that I am gay. I found myself attracted to the same sex and loved dressing up in my sisters clothes. If that same thing is happening to you, he might be gay

June 17, 2009 at 1:53 am
(3) grant says:

who cares if hes gay! be proud of his feelings and love him for who he is. Being gay is fun and a good experience!

March 20, 2010 at 9:37 am
(4) Rusty says:

My 9 yr old step son tells us he’s gay constantly and comments on how he finds various male actors and singers attractive.
I don’t have an issue with that, but it’s abit too intense I think for a 9 yr old.
Also, at 9, he’s not equipped to understand all the implications that need to be considered before declaring his sexuality – he doesn’t understand sex and can’t get his head around the thought that two men can be intimate.
I have an issue with him and his mother, grandmother and aunt referring to him as ‘gay’.
I think labelling at this young age may fixate him and not allow him to develop naturally, whatever the outcome.

August 23, 2011 at 10:28 pm
(5) serenity says:

My grandson has always felt like he is a girl trapped in a boys body. He was only 5 when he asked his Mum if she could help cut his penis off. He always played with dolls and he was so excited when his cousin gave him her whole collection of bratz dolls. His uncle didn’t want to believe it and bought him a batman suit costume and he cried, threw it on the floor and said this can’t be for me it must be a mistake. He likes to dress up in girls clothes at home where no one can see him as he soon realised that other children would tease and bully him if he didn’t dress like a boy. When he came to visit me for a holiday I asked him what his dreams and goals are and he said he wants to be a cheerleader, which is sad as he can’t be that. He is now 12 yrs old, he is the only boy in the netball team and I admire him for not allowing anyone to mould him into something he isn’t. He’s artistic, kind and thoughtful and he’s very interested in fashion and is doing well at drama classes where he can dress up in all sorts of costumes. He has two brothers who both play rugby and rugby league and wouldn’t be caught dead with a doll in their hands. The reason for my post is to show that yes as libilloos said in earlier post. Gay is by nature not by nurture. Make sure your child knows that he is loved and accepted for who he is. The insecurity and the lying could have a lot to do with being unable to be totally himself. We all want the best for our children…………and for our children to grow up to be the best they can be they have to feel happy with who they are.

April 27, 2013 at 11:06 pm
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