So... gay dopers: how did you know?

I know for a lot of people, this is a stupid question. It was just obvious. It’s pretty simple. That isn’t the case for everyone, though. So for those who didn’t find it obvious, how did you know you were gay?

How did you know whether you were straight or in denial? How did you know if you were gay or some subconscious part of you wanted attention? Or wanted to shock your mother? Or wanted to be different, or to be like people you admired? How did you know if your level of attraction to the same sex was more than would constitute “straight” when straight girls talk about other women and their bodies and how hot they find them all the time? How did you know it wasn’t a reaction to bad experiences with the opposite sex that made you wary of them and you’re mistaking wariness for disinterest? Or that you weren’t just going through a phase?

My first crush was in kindergarten, my earliest “pre-sexual” fantasies were about super heroes. I also learned early on that my feelings toward other guys were out of the norm. It really just never occured to me that I was anything other than gay, although I didn’t have a word for it or knew there any others until I was in my teens.

I’m interested in the responses you’re more looking for as well since the idea of not knowing is rather foreign to me.

I always knew. I had no doubts about it. Although, when I was going through puberty and started to have those urges was right around the time my dad was trying to quit smoking. The Jetts sent out free t-shirts to join the “Smoke-Free Generation” and my dad bought a set of hypnosis cassettes to “cure” him of smoking while he slept. I remember looking at the back of the big black box that had words like “cancer” and “dragon breath” on it and noticing all of the other things that other boxes could cure; being overweight, anxiety, lack of confidence, et al. I hoped that there was one that would cure “the gay” but since it wasn’t listed, I gave up hope.

I even remember my first moment of arousal was watching Elvis (the younger one, not Vegas Elvis, tyvm) on TV and getting wood. Personally, I’m a Kinsey 6, never had any attraction to the opposite sex.

This. I’ve met people who said that they ‘didn’t know’ and that doesn’t make sense. I guess if you’re bisexual it would make a bit of sense to me because “hey, you can be attracted to the same sex, sure, but you’re also attracted to the opposite sex and that’s what society would seem to want, so you ignore the other impulses”. But to not know, that’s a headscratcher for me.

In 5th grade I suddenly realized that my favorite part of gym was the locker room change and boobs had no appeal to me.

I’m not gay so I couldn’t tell you.

But years ago I was on a different message board, and there was one poster there who had no interest in sex. Nobody really judged him for it or questioned it, it was just taken at face value that he was not sexual.

I left that board for a couple of years. When I returned, he was talking about all the great sex he was enjoying – with guys. And everyone was applauding his courage in coming out.

He was in his early-mid 20s at the time.

Well, there’s an expression, “Coming out to yourself”. Even if you aren’t out to your message board, that doesn’t mean you’re not out to yourself. It might seem like a big epiphany to the guys on your message board when you finally out yourself, but I bet you five dollars this guy didn’t out himself to the message board the day after he figured out that he was gay.

That’s possible, but I got the impression that his coming out was a process of discovery. That’s the way it was talked about, anyway.

And people on that board are pretty open about what’s going on in their lives.

I had my first crush on another boy when I was around three or four. At least, that’s the first one I can remember. Life before three is fairly fuzzy. But as far back as I can remember, I liked boys. I didn’t necessarily know what I wanted to do with them at that point, but I knew I wanted them.

I applied the word “gay” to myself when puberty kicked in and I fell prey to jaw dropping, pants ripping, painful lust about every ten minutes. But I’d known I liked boys long before then. I just didn’t quite see the connection between my romantic, passionate friendships and this gay thing.

I read the OP with a bit of a WTF are you talking about view, but I’ll try to express something of value. The OP lists several questions that I don’t think need to be answered to realize one is gay. If anything the questions are means to deny a gay sexuality. While it is true that one can rationalize same sex attraction as ‘admiration of the human form’ the realization of orientation comes from the fact that one is admiring men and not giving a rats ass about the female form.

As for the other questions (seeking attention, going through a phase), these are blocks to prevent one from acknowledging the truth – not the other way around. Seriously, if someone gets to the point where they are self identifying as gay, they aren’t going through a phase. I suppose seeking attention might happen, but it seems backwards to me. The phrase “oh he’s just seeking attention” is a way for someone to deny gayness not a way for someone to become introspective.

If you are clinging to the idea that it’s just a phase or that you are seeking attention, then you are gay.

Yeah, another early bloomer here, in my case I was seven when I realized. I didn’t develop actual crushes, though, until I was 11 or so and on the cusp of puberty.

I knew it was the real thing because I didn’t want it to be true, I was thoroughly ashamed and as much in denial as it was possible to be. There was no confusion.

I can’t ever remember not liking men. I used to be 4 years old and watching old Tarzan flicks and wrestingling to see guys without shirts on etc etc

In fourth grade when we had sex education and we learned how to “make a baby” I knew that was something I had no interest in. I guess I was in the 6th grade before I was able to apply a word to it.

Are the people saying that their first crushes were at 3 or 4 years old remembering accurately? I’m straight - Kinsey 0 in action, maybe a 1.5 in my head - and had no romantic, sexual, or crush-like feelings until I was about 8 or 9.

Yeah, I know, everyone matures differently. But it seemed like my friends were on the same track, developmentally.


My first sexual fantasy was at the age of 5, and there were elements of that fantasy that have remained constant ever since. But at that age I had no knowledge and no vocabulary to understand that fantasy, yet I can remember it as if it happened yesterday. And in all the 60 years since then, I have never had that kind of feeling toward anyone female.

Of course I wasn’t “out” at that age; it would be a couple more decades before the concept of “out” came to be. Yet I knew I was attracted to other boys; there was simply no way to deny it.

In the years since, I’ve know people who had no idea they were gay until their 40s, 50s, or even later. I know all about peer pressure and repression, but it still amazes me.

And a question to the OP: How did ***you ***know about your sexuality?

I… kind of don’t.

I guess I didn’t realize that was quite so unusual.

OP, when I was 18, I would have told that I was straight, and believed it. When I was 20, I would have told you that I was bisexual. I “came out to myself” when I was 21. I think if the prevailing culture had been less homophobic, that would have all been unnecessary.

I had fantasies about other guys from puberty on, but I liked the idea of romance and marriage and family and all that, so I had a strong emotional investment in the idea of being straight. I had no other models. I constructed elaborate rationalizations for why a straight guy never dated and only thought about guys. They wouldn’t have stood up to scrutiny, mine or other people’s, so I just didn’t scrutinize them. It was only after meeting other gay people in college and realizing you could be “normal” AND gay that I came to terms with it.

For what it’s worth, my family had no specific problems with it, it was just a subject that never came up. In the silence, I took on the attitudes of the general culture. Later I found out that my father had a gay cousin who had been out to the family since before I was born, and that large swathes of the family suspected I was gay. It just never occurred to them that it would make a difference to acknowledge the subject.

So yeah, I think most gay people know quite early, but at least in a homophobic environment, even a mild one, it’s quite possible to be in self-denial in the face of overwhelming evidence for years. I thank the gods that I didn’t wind up becoming a televangelist or a prominent republican.

I remember crushes for both female and males starting when I was 3. I can still picture their faces to this day. I remember telling everyone that this one particular airman was my boyfriend and thinking he was about the best thing ever. I don’t see what is so unbelievable about it.

I’ve had crushes on different boys since I was in kindergardern (though I never went through the “girls are icky” phase until puberty). As long as I can remember I’ve been facisinated about what men & other boys look like naked (& indifferent to grossed out by naked females). In fact one of my earlist memories is of watching some raunchy sex comedy from the 70s/80s where college guy got caught in a sorority house, stripped buck naked by the sisters, and had to make his way across campus back to his fraternity. Where all this frat brothers were lounging around in tighty-whities. (Damn I wish I knew what the title was).

In grade school I had a crush on a pair of indentical twins (almost indentical, one had a bit more skin than the other ;)). And at 10 I went off to summer camp (bible camp) and was surrouned by naked boys in the showers, in our non-airconditioned tents. :smiley: Some of the counselors also showered with use (including our tent counselor). Then of course I started ready those guide to puberty books. My favourite was It’s Perfecty Normal which had illustrations of naked boys & men off all ages.

By then of course I was at that tender age when I’d just discovered masturbation, and all my friends, classmates, cousins, and neighbors thought various ways of ejaculating was just the funnest activity and most interesting topic ever. Started playing Truth or Dare (which most boys wouldn’t play unless a girl was present), skinnydipping (same deal). By middle school I was certain. By the time I did come out all I did was confirmed what basically all of my non-senile relatives long suspected. Except my mother, who was completelyshocked and somewhat offended that every else had already though so. :rolleyes:

Interesting, wha those gay dopers who felt considerable pressure from a young age ‘not to be gay’ due to the environs they grew up in? Though I’m sure as the World is majority hetrosexual and society is geared that way it may well be that all felt pressure to different extents.

I’m straight as well, but I know that I was interested in guys at least as early as kindergarten.

Basically, I was attracted to women and not men, not at a physical level, anyway. Then I kinda fell in love - with a straight woman - and that gave me the courage to try something physical (with someone else), and then it was like ‘woah, so this is what I’ve been missing!’ Until then sex had been sometimes a bit nice and sometimes just something you do for your boyfriend.

I came out to my online friends pretty quickly after I’d come out to myself. Besides, if they were applauding him for coming out, that could just mean being pleased that he’d come out to them. As I’m sure you know, coming out isn’t a one-off thing.

Actually, five days after I’d come out to most of my online friends I went out on a big offline meet-up from a lesbian messageboard. It was just a friendly board like this one, not a dating site, and the club was supposed to be an ordinary nightclub, plus me accompanying someone purely as a friend to a play beforehand.

On the night, I got a text saying the venue had changed to One Night Stand, which was a fetish club. So it ended up that, within a few days of me coming out as gay, I was also talking about a fetish club. A slippery slope it was - must have been all that lube. :smiley: