1. SortOfAnon says

    Oh, if I only had photographic evidence of, at age 4, I would cut out the pictures of mens’ pants from the Sears’ Catalogue and paste them on construction paper. When I came out to my mother, it was the first thing I asked her: “didn’t you wonder about that?”

  2. Paul R says

    My best friend and I used to dress in drag in preschool, and the teacher thought it was adorable. But my mother destroyed all the pictures. I also won a Halloween contest when I was 5, dressed as Betty Rubble (Flintstones). Which I had those pictures.

  3. says

    Everybody, I am FLOORED by the response to my blog, which only started this past Sunday afternoon! The response has been beyond incredible, so thank you all for not only sending in the submissions, but by doing that – STARRING on the blog!
    xo Paul V., LA CA

  4. Anthony says

    Am I the only one that has a problem with the implication that dressing up in women’s clothing or acting feminine as a young child means you’ll turn out gay, or that each person’s experience of being gay started with some moment like this? It only gives straight people something to point to and say, “if my child starts acting like this, it’s behavior I want to discourage because I don’t want him to end up gay.” I think kids are kids, and expressions of cross-dressing, femininity, and same-sex affection is common among all sexualities, and not an authentic indicator of sexual orientation. But that’s just my opinion.

  5. says

    @Anthony The blog is requesting “snapshots that capture them, innocently, showing the beginnings of their innate gay selves.” You get to decide what that is. I think Jackie Beat’s snapshot above of him kissing a male bust is a great example of that.

  6. Joe says

    @Anthony, I don’t think dressing in drag has anything to do with being gay. it’s more common than one would think for children and lots of straight males have those pictures as well.

    However, it’s rather cute and it is pretty culturally gay, if not sexually. Also, in some of those photos some of those kids are pretty fierce. More than anything else, it’s about a celebration of gay culture and pointing out cute evidence of kids being attracted to gay culture at an early age.

  7. TANK says

    I never dressed up in drag as a child, and know plenty of gay men that I don’t want to know those things about. In fact, that’s pretty much the assumption I go with, like how ugly people are all asexual and old and overweight people are fictional characters told to frighten young people into behaving.

    Nahh, this is great…er, something.

  8. Paul R says

    @Rowan: thank you, that’s sweet. I’m not really hurt that she destroyed them, more disappointed because they’d amuse me and because they obviously reflected her fears. She didn’t destroy them until I was in my teens and it became clear that my female friends were simply friends. She also refused to take pictures of me from ages 13-16 because I had dyed hair and, later, earrings. But despite their crazy religion, she and my father fully accept me, and my long-time ex was always included on family vacations. People change, thankfully.

    @Anthony, when I dressed in drag as a child it was for the reasons Joe noted: it was just fun to put on costumes, not some indication that I was gay. And the gender and other lines that adults recognize and enforce don’t occur to kids (I was 3 or 4; my brother’s son also often wants to wear his sister’s clothes or ribbons because they’re “more fun”). It was also a practical issue—most of the clothes in my preschool’s play bin were for girls, so we just went with it. The Betty Rubble costume came about because my mother had inherited a wig that looked like Betty Rubble’s. (I didn’t have some obsession with Betty or anything; I think my mother just went along with it because it was easy.)

    What children do (or don’t) provides little indication of how they’ll turn out as adults. I’ve had acquaintances from a dog park who I’ve seen several times a week for years, and only recently did several of them find out I’m gay. One guy I’d known for four years was telling his girlfriend that he’d been talking to Paul, “the only other straight guy in the park,” and she had no idea who he was talking about. Once he said my dog’s name, she broke the news.

    Anyway, the nicest thing about Paul V’s collection is how many posts mentioned that their parents were supportive and didn’t try to make them be “manly.” That said, after the Betty Rubble incident I realized that boys were supposed to dress like boys and never did drag again until I was about 30—and that was with my ex on Halloween, dressed as Spice Girls from Beyond the Grave, with lots of fake blood and such. But who cares? Doing drag as an adult or a child, for whatever reason, hurts no one.

  9. JOE 2 says

    ANTHONY, I completely agree with you that cross-dressing and other behavior that doesn’t conform to gender stereotypes doesn’t necessarily indicate a lesbian or gay sexual orientation in a child. But I think the blog is funny and amazing and moving, and I think that parents who are going to say “If my child starts acting like this, it’s behavior I want to discourage…” are going to say it regardless of these images or this blog. People either get it or they don’t, IMHO.

  10. CoMo'mo says

    This is a remarkably sweet (non-cloying) set of photos and text. My own early pictures look more like a potential ax murderer, so I’m a bit jealous. I was a Robert Conrad fan at an early age, but also liked (lusted for, thought I didn’t understand it then) Guy Madison and most especially Nick Adams in THE
    REBEL. And, as a 2nd grader, I thought the high school boys across campus were gods–well, 3rd graders were hot, too. Again, no idea what I wanted to do with them , i just wanted to do it. Never did, sadly.

  11. TJ says

    Yep, a little hindsight bias going on, but identification with atypical gender norms seems reasonable as a point to consider. I don’t know. I never wanted to be a girl. But girls are the ones allowed to like guys. As a child, how does one work that out?

    To more important matters – the early celebrity crush. For me, the defining, electric moment came while watching the movie “Camelot” on tv. Lancelot holding the fallen comrade. As he embraces the comrade, Lancelot’s face touches his. His lip lingers, gets caught, on the comrade’s cheek. The hot, unsettling, crackling flush was like an orgasm.

  12. Vincent says

    I spent half an hour scrolling down through, and the best word to describe it truly is ‘sweet.’

    I’d be the first to point out that kids are hardly as innocent as adults like to think, but these images of children for the most part just blissfully doing what they enjoy doing–dressing dandily, sitting on a motorbike, twirling a baton–has a quality of innocence, a guiltlessness that is radiant.

  13. says

    On Halloween, I always got dressed in drag, not because I liked dressing as a girl, but because it didn’t cost anything to use my sister’s clothes. I guess it was not always the best idea. As a freshman in High school, I was sent home on dress up day, because I dressed up as a pregnant girl, wearing my sister’s maternity outfit. Now how many guys OUT there can say they were kicked out school for being pregnant?

  14. Matt says

    “ANTHONY, I completely agree with you that cross-dressing and other behavior that doesn’t conform to gender stereotypes doesn’t necessarily indicate a lesbian or gay sexual orientation in a child.”

    I’m sure MAJORITY of kids who do that are gay and I’m sure you know that too.

    Why obvious things like that bother gay people?

  15. Paul R says

    @Matt: Obvious things don’t bother me at all, but I played dress-up with three other boys, all of whom grew up to be straight. There’s a big difference between what a 4-year-old will do and what an 8-year-old (much less, say, 11) will do, because in the intervening years kids start attending school, learn and/or are forced to conform, and tamp down their natural impulses to have fun.

    Even 5-year-olds quickly learn (though don’t understand) the negative repercussions of not being like everyone else, especially if they act like a pansy. Children and adults alike will (at the least) openly mock them. In most cases it’s got nothing to do with gay or straight, which is genetics, and everything to do with external/environmental influences.

    Not to mention, in adults transvesticism (basic cross-dressing; not transsexualism) is more common among straight than gay men, and among the straights is more closely linked to kinks and sex, whether fantasized or realized.

  16. Matt says

    “In most cases it’s got nothing to do with gay or straight, which is genetics, and everything to do with external/environmental influences.”

    But it has to do with being gay or straight – only gay boys want to be princesses.

    All this “straight boys do that too” is a nice way to imply that dressing up and gay femininity is a bad thing.

  17. Sam says

    Who cares what this says to straight people? Seriously? Who cares? It is no coincidence that so many of us have shared common experiences in childhood that we laugh about as indications we were gay at an early age.

    This is not proof that somehow our environments made us gay. Our gayness just changed the way we perceived our environments.

  18. Kas says

    The only thing about the development that seems fairly certain is that it is unalterable fairly early in childhood, I believe one study I read said it was set before age six. We have never had conclusive evidence regarding its origins in nature or nurture.

    I don’t know that I would agree that cross dressing at an early age is any kind of indicator. I never engaged in the behavior and I have next to zero interest in women. I know of gay men that did or at least say that they did, I am never certain how seriously to take such statements.

  19. Lexxvs says

    Horrible. Just so stereotype focused. It’s like really wanting to believe that being gay is liking feathers, catwalks and stuff like that. By those standards every little boy showed some “symptom” sometime, unless he hunted animals with his bare hands alone in the woods and never pleaded for his mommy. Or every little girl was showing some “indication” if she ever played with his brother “manly” toys.
    Come on. It’s about the person you choose/like/feel attracted to sleep with; not about the cultural stereotypes assigned for each gender and those who don’t follow the lane. Straight people also have many of those pics, but either they hide them (by the same reasoning) or they don’t over think them.

  20. Gothsexual says

    When I was a little girl, I saw the film Titanic and I was completely mesmerized by the drawing of naked women, simply because both the quality of the drawings and the female form was just so entrancing to me. I drew pictures of naked women all over my little notebooks (I’ve been drawing since I was two, and by five I had a bunch of notebooks that I would do nothing but draw in), and my mom tried to throw them away because it was “inappropriate”, so I just covered the ladies with underwear.

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