Supporting One's Gay Child

Archived Q&A and Reviews

My friend thinks her 4-year-old might be gay

March 2003

Friend of mine has a 3-4 year old son, wonders if he's gay. 'Course the boy is really young, but my friend asks ''what do parents do to make their children's lives easier, to support them? Are there communities where gay parents and/or kids are a more common phenomenon? What about those years between 8 and 18?'' As a gay future dad, I'm also interested. Thanks. David

My son is nearly 3 and very often makes choices that line up with the stereotypical gay male scenario--shiny and/or silky fabrics, glittery things, flowery things, pinks and purples, ribbons, hair doodads, etc. I am queer myself and made silly jokes to friends about him clearly being gay. Then a friend rather gently pointed out that toddlers do tend to like a lot of these things! Sexual orientation is not usually clear this early. Perhaps my son and your friend's will simply be sweet and sensitive heterosexual men.

I think it's more rarely seen in toddler boys because there is more of a societal pressure, even this early, to suppress those choices. ''No, not Barbie, honey; don't you want this GI Joe?'' an extreme example, but not an absurd one.

Please encourage your friend to give his or her son whatever sorts of things the son likes! I finally bought my son flowered pants at Target, and as I suspected, he adores them.

To answer the question, well, there are queer communities, but they're not really in a specific area... Our Family Coalition does plan family activities and has a wonderful huge picnic on the 4th of July every year ( I encourage *you* to go, if nothing but to see all the happy gay dads!

Signed, a mom whose son is often mistaken for a girl; who cares?

David, First good resource is PFLAG. I think it stands for Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. Lots of parents there. I'm sure there are many chapters in the bay area.

I'd caution anyone jumping to the conclusion a 4 yr old is gay; i'm assuming their seeing non-norm-for-boys behavior in their toddler. I'd be careful to allow them full expression while not categorizing their behavior. Maybe he's just a very creative heterosexual. There are those. Key would be, as with a ''straight'' child, assuring them that either is valued and that you love them and will help them become comfortable with what ever their sexual identity is. Dana

How can you tell if a 3-year old is gay? If you want to be somewhere where attitudes are generally accepting toward gay parents, I would say there are places in Oakland with large lesbian populations (Glenview, Piedmont, though I have doubts about the public schools there) and Berkeley and Albany, of course. My child went to Berkwood Hedge School in Berkeley, which is a private grade school, and several of the parents were gay. One boy in his class had 4 moms (divorce and remarriage), all active in his parenting. A main focus for them is diversity of all sorts. anon
You're lucky you live in the Bay Area! There are lots of queer resources for young people. Just pick up a copy of the free paper, ''The Bay Times'' next time you're at Cody's, and check the Resources section (don't be turned off by graphic ads). There are teen support/social groups like ''LYRIC.'' In The City there is a new and wonderful queer center ( and in Berkeley there's the Pacific Center located on Telegraph Avenue.

As far as books go, I just got this in a post: Jacqueline Woodson is a Coretta Scott King Award-winning novelist, and author of ''Hush'', ''The Other Side'', ''Autobiography of a Family Photo'' and many other novels. Much of her work focuses on GLBT [gay / lesbian / bisexual / transgender] Teens.

I do remember reading some picture books about GLBT kids, but I can't remember the titles. One was about a little girl who liked to hammer instead of playing with dolls.

Lots of people liked the recent French movie, ''Ma Vie En Rose,'' about a probably gay little boy, but I thought the family and some of the film makers views were pretty oppressive.

Good for you for being proactive. As a teen, it really helps to have support at home. --Lesbian from birth