How old were you when you learned learned that homosexuality existed?

(That was the best title I could come up with.)

Blunt, even churlish way of putting the question, but I’m kind of curious—I’ve heard plenty of stories about people (straight and gay) growing up not knowing there even was such a thing as homosexuality. But thinking about it, I realized I have absolutely no memory of when I learned about it. No more than I can remember learning—I dunno, that Finland existed, or, hell, even that heterosexuality existed, for that matter.

Some background: 30 year old (straight) man, born and raised in Northern California, perfectly tolerant immediate family, no gay family members or friends of the family (that I know of) when I was growing up, or any loudly bigoted relatives/friends of family, either.

I actually recall remember thinking when I was about…5ish, that a couple of characters on Fraggle Rock were girlfriends—Mokey and Red, who were roommates, and best friends. I guess I just noticed the living situation, and how close they were, and just thought, “Oh! They must be like my uncle and his girlfriend. They’re a cute couple.” And didn’t think anything else of it.

And I think I might remember watching Danger Bay on the Disney Channel around the same time, when the main character’s son got an ear pierced in one episode, and having some vague awareness about wearing an earring on one side meant you were saying you were “gay.” (I have no idea where I would have even learned that—overheard it on the news. Or Newhart, maybe.) But I don’t think I had any idea of what “gay” was—maybe that it had something to do with being in a rock band.

But the most concrete age I could give is 11 years old, when my family was house-hunting, and I remember knowing what all the rainbow flags in the neighborhood stood for. But it was just a non-issue matter of fact—the same as, like, recognizing what kinds of trees were common, or recognizing a lot of white flags with blue nordic crosses on them.

Well, that’s my boringly progressive, tolerant story. No screaming, or anythin’. But I’m curious to learn what everyone else’s experiences were.

Hopefully, it’ll be a lot of similarly boring stories—the world should be so kind. :frowning:

Six or seven, I guess. But that’s because my mother was a co-founder of our local chapter of PFLAG, and I was marching at her side in the Pride Parade by the time I was eight.
Having said that, I hadn’t had sex ed yet, so I probably wasn’t up on all the details.

I remembered hearing certain adults in our small town referred to as ‘queers.’ I asked what that meant. One of my parents told me “It means he dates men instead of women.” Not sure how old I might have been, 9 or 10, maybe.

Somewhere between 5 and 8. I already knew what homosexuality was when we started discussing homosexual acts and rock stars on the playground. And I knew I was going to fall in love with girls.

I don’t think I knew the word “homosexual” until middle school.

Yeah, 7,8? Something like that. It was an explanation from my mom after watching Dog Day Afternoon in a hotel room in San Francisco.

Really young. I learned about homosexuals being killed in the Holocaust.

In 4th grade I remember kids saying that if you missed a belt loop when you put on your belt that meant you were “a queer”. I had absolutely no clue what that was. I also remember my dad discussing two guys that shared a house in our neighborhood. I don’t remember exactly how he put it but years later I figured out he was trying to explain homosexuality to me and it was totally going over my head.
We moved when I was in 6th grade and in the new neighborhood there was a little kid about 5 that everyone said was gay* (he is) and I knew exactly what that was all about by then…so I guess I learned somewhere between age 9-11.

*I don’t think gay as a euphemism for homosexuality was in use around here in 1968.

Eight years old(1968). I said something about playing “smear the queer” and I got a talking-to about how targeting a group of people with violence was not acceptable.
I had no idea what “queer” meant in that context and mom just said it’s men who prefer other men rather than women. It was 2-3 years later(health ed class) that I learned what that meant.

Like you, I can’t remember in the slightest. So I asked my mom. She can’t recall how old I was either. She says it was during elementary school, she thinks, and I asked “what’s gay?” and she said, “it’s when two boys are boyfriends or two girls are girlfriends” and that was the end of that. Neither of us have any recollection of what might have prompted the question.

If you were to ask me when my son (21) or daughter (8) learned that homosexuality existed, I couldn’t tell you either. They certainly do, but it wasn’t a Big Reveal or anything. Might as well ask me when they learned that horseradish exists.

Really little 5 or 6. There was a hardware store in our neighborhood owned by two gentlemen. I sensed there was something more than friendship and asked my mom. She said well you know how mommy and daddy love each other? John and Bob love each other the same way. She did not specifically say homosexual.

It’s nice to see all the stories in which it was explained in neutral or loving terms.

I think I was nine or ten. But I think it was one of those things that I didn’t really believe existed because another kid had told me about, and I knew kids were full of myths and lies.

When I was 7 or/and 8, the kid across the back fence (about a year older) and I played around. Only actually heard of the idea of homosexuality five or six years later. We were just playing.

I was around 10 or 11. My older sister (18 or 19 yrs old) came out, and was banished from the family for a while. She moved to California. My parents finally got over themselves. She was back in my life when I was 12. I wasn’t aware of what gay was in the beginning, but it seems like I learned it from osmosis. Nobody really explained it to me.

Probably about 9 years old, somewhere around 1992-93, during all the debate about LGBT people in the US military. I was watching a newsmagazine (either “20/20” or “Primetime Live”) about a woman who had been kicked out of the military and I was curious to find out why. “Because I was a lesbian,” she said. “What’s a lesbian?” I asked my parents, and it was explained to me. I might have been surprised at first that male/male and female/female relationships were possible, but it made sense pretty quickly.

I don’t recall. I know I knew about it by the time I was in high school in the 60s. There was the old “Green on Thursdays” myth (if you wore green on Thursdays, you were homosexual and might be teased about it), though I had no clear idea what that meant at first. By the time The Boys in the Band came out (just before my graduation), I understood the concept.

It wasn’t something anyone talked about, and what talk there was didn’t interest me (I was not very curious about sex until around 18). I do know that my grandfather refused to believe it when he was told in the early 60s that Benjamin Britten (who had spent a summer as their guest) was homosexual. “Not Ben,” he said. “Not Ben.”

And it wasn’t until 1992 that my father discovered Britten was in love with him.

That’s an interesting question. I grew up in the 60s, when homosexuality wasn’t discussed much. I honestly don’t know. I’m sure I knew about it by the time I hit high school, but I doubt I had any idea what it was in elementary school.

One thing I’m sure of-- when I first learned about it, it was not explained in neutral or loving terms!

In the first grade I was aware some kids had feminine traits and were different but I didn’t really comprehend sex at that time. By the second grade I was aware of homesexual and sexual acts but still didn’t comprehend sex. My guess is about 11 before I really comprehended homosexuality.

I couldn’t say. I knew about the concept fairly early. But it never dawned on me for a long time that people actually were gay. I may have been out of high school when the light came on and I realized Freddie Mercury was gay. I guess I thought the band was named Queen because they were British or something?

There really isn’t a point that I could nail this down to. Growing up - certainly by age 5 or so - I was always aware that older people kissed, got naked, slept together, etc. I even once walked in on my parents. I knew that this was mostly between men and women, but I also was vaguely aware that sometimes it was same sex and that people mostly disapproved of that.

As I got older and figured out what romance, sex, etc. actually were, that initial realization was fleshed out, but there wasn’t any big epiphany.