Social Question

DominicX's avatar

Is there a relationship between homosexuality and defying gender stereotypes as a child?

Asked by DominicX (28706 points ) March 31st, 2011

When I was younger, I was definitely a little more on the effeminate side. I defied many gender stereotypes and played with girly toys like dolls and the EasyBake oven. I had mostly female friends, I liked playing dress-up in girls’ clothes and my favorite color was pink. (There were also many stereotypical male things about me, but the female things outweighed them). As I got older, this got lesser and lesser (though I do retain many stereotypical “feminine” interests).

I’ve talked to several gay guys my age who are not very stereotypical (read: “flaming”) now, but they said that when they were younger they played with Barbies and things like that. Has anyone else noticed a trend where gay [guys] act more like the opposite gender when younger and it gets lesser and lesser as they get older? Someone noted that the age at which they come out can sometimes determine how “effeminate” they will be.

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16 Answers

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

In both my niece and nephew’s case I would say that is true,but I don’t think it is the same for everybody by any means.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

This is an interesting question. I was just doing a Google search and was unable to find any studies on the matter. As a gay man, I can report that I had a tendency to play with more feminine toys as a young child, but I did change as I grew older. How much of this was a natural progression and how much was forced on me by parents who couldn’t (and still can’t) tolerate the idea of having a gay son, I don’t know.

SpatzieLover's avatar

I have nothing to contribute but…My son is wearing a dress right now, singing, while preparing the house for a tea party. His best friend (a girl) will be coming for a sleepover tomorrow and he “needs things to be perfect”

dxs's avatar

I used to have one or two barbie heads. I love to style hair. I also had a few dollhouses because I loev architecture. Now, I don’t hairstyle anymore (I bet I’m probably still good) and as far as the dollhouse thing goes, I don’t play with dollhouses anymore but am still interested in architecture.

marinelife's avatar

Here is one source:

“Though children gain a gender identity sometime between one and two years old, they do not yet have a sense of gender constancy. A little boy may believe, for example, that at some later point in life he will be a girl. Even though the overwhelming majority of children soon realize this is an error, many keep wishing they were of the opposite sex and try to act like they are, and this seems to be a strong disposing factor for later transsexualism and homosexuality.”

Seelix's avatar

I don’t know that it’s true, but a guy I’ve known since kindergarten has recently come out. He always hung out more with girls than boys when we were little, and has always been very effeminate.

He’s the only gay person I know with whom I spent any time as a child, so that’s all I have to go on, personally. But it wouldn’t surprise me too much if effeminate boys often end up as gay men. What I’d be interested in is whether gay women self-identify as tomboys more than straight women.

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tinyfaery's avatar

Mmm…if that were so than every tomboy would turn out to be a lesbian and that is nowhere near true. But, we do know that there is more evidence of male homosexuality being biologically based, so boys might start expressing their nature younger than girls—by dressing-up and such.

geeky_mama's avatar

If I understand the question it’s.. have I known guy who might have been effeminate (if boys) or masculine (as girls) but as they grew older they seemed…less effeminate (if boys) or less “stereotypical gay” aka flaming?

A few anecdotal data points to add to the discussion:

One of my dearest friends from high school – came out as gay in his early 20s, but dated girls all thru high school.
In Kindergarten he wanted to dress up as a princess for Halloween (and bless his mother, she supported him). Pretty dang progressive for the 70s! Flash forward to High School..no one would have guessed he was gay (he always had the best looking girlfriends) but on looking back we might have had some clues (apologies in advance for stereotyping here) because he had basically NO male friends, spent more time on his hair than any of us girls did, and painted and re-decorated his mother’s house beautifully.

He is now pretty flaming. He’s a make-up artist in NYC and..some of the phrases he uses are definitely…what I’d call “flaming” lingo. (Sentences that start with: “Bitch, please…” come to mind.)
So…effeminate->denial/fitting in->flaming?

My husband’s cousin (who’s been with his partner for 20+ years) has been out of the closet since college—but was NEVER effeminate. Even now doesn’t fit the stereotype at all…unless you count their lovely antique furniture in their well-decorated home? G has always been athletic (jock) and is built like a Marine (even now..and he’s in his late 40s, he is so fit / muscular he reminds me of a Marine drill sergeant). He hunts, fishes..if you didn’t meet him with his partner you’d probably have no clue.

I guess it’s the same with my cousin, too. He came out at the end of high school and..nothing about him or his actions (even as a kid) ever clued me or any of our family in that he was gay. He’s just…him. He’s wicked smart, funny..talented..tall, bearded..a school teacher. I guess his love of the show GLEE might be a small tip off? (laughing)

My own son – at age 2 and 3 loved nothing more than wearing his pink tutu and dancing to “Bella Bella Dancerella” (a ballet videotape). He loved beaded necklaces and dress up with his sisters. Begged for (and was given) nail polish. He’s now a 1st grader and will actually not wear some colors (I had a purple shirt for him that looked too close to lavender in his opinion) because he finds them too “girl-y” and says (and I quote): “Nick would kick my butt if I wore that to school.” He’s more into bb guns and Legos and skateboarding than anything…but sometimes I wonder if he is changing his behavior to “fit in” with the kids at school.
So, did my son start out effeminate and change his behavior to fit in at school..or was he just too little to associate colors to gender and liked playing with his big sisters’ toys? Or, was it because we didn’t gender specify toys he didn’t either when he was a toddler?
Hard to say. I guess only time will tell. I’ll be happy if he falls in love with a wonderful person who treats him well—irregardless of what gender his mate is one day.

And, though I think you’re asking about specifically guys.. I was a full-on tomboy (lived for climbing in trees and riding my bike – had a short boy-style hair cut for my entire childhood)...but have only ever had an interest in/fallen in love with men.

geeky_mama's avatar

Short answer: I agree with @noelleptc

bkcunningham's avatar

@geeky_mama I guess he was just being a little boy.

DominicX's avatar

Thanks for your answers and stories, everybody. Keep in mind that I am not trying to make an absolute statement that every boy who does stereotypically feminine things as a child will turn out gay and every girl who is a tomboy as a child will become a lesbian. I’m merely wondering if there is a higher incidence of defying gender stereotypes as a child for homosexuals. And that’s hard to gauge. For some people, it was the case; for others, it was not. My experience speaking to other gay teens online revealed that more than half of them were more stereotypically feminine as a young child, even if that is no longer the case for how they are now. And thanks for the link, @marinelife.

perspicacious's avatar

I’m sure you can find examples both supporting and the opposite for such a relationship. I’ll not do the research for you, though.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Of all of the boys I played with as a child, there is only one that was quite content playing with girls and girl-games. Unfortunately, his family moved when we were about 6. In looking back on his words and actions, I feel sure that he is gay. I wish I could find him…he was a dear friend.

As for the girls, there were a few tomboys (meaning sports-oriented), but only one that crossed some invisible line of gender. I know how she ended up, and it isn’t a pretty story.

Judi's avatar

My best friend growing up was always considered a “Tom Boy.” She had little interest in dolls and was more interested in football and sports. In those days we weren’t as aware as we are now, but when she came out in her early 20’s, although I was surprised, I could see that her whole life she had masculine stereotype interests even though she was the cutest looking little girl you could ever know.

geeky_mama's avatar

@bkcunningham – agreed totally…a boy with two older sisters..so it’s not surprising he started out wanting to play with their dolls and toys.
Though..come to think of it.. we do have a VERY funny early picture of him at about 10 mo. old driving a Matchbox car across a doll baby’s face…

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