Saturday, February 18, 2012

Gay at 5 Years Old?

Me at five years old - 1947 - gay already 

Recently I read an article on Huffington Post about a 7 year old who announced he was gay.  I'm sure the reason for the article was "How does a 7 year old know he is gay?"

Hey folks, I'm here to tell you a seven year old knows.  I was four years old when I knew I was gay.  I didn't know the word "gay."  This was way back in the last century, 1947 to be exact.  I knew I was "different" before I started first grade in 19147-1948.  The picture at the beginning of this blog posting is of Your Truly (that would be me).  It is my first grade picture taken at the East Ward Elementary School, Downingtown, Pennsylvania.  I think you can tell by the tilt of my cute little head that I was gay already.


Me in my second grade picture - I'm in the stripped shirt, third row back far right with the mop of hair - 1948

So you ask, how does a little kid, who has no sexual awareness, know he is gay?  My answer is, I KNEW I was different and I should keep it a secret.  Now remember this was the time before TV, the Internet, and I couldn't even read.  At that age of course I had no sexual awareness.  I didn't know my "pee-pee" had a dual use.  I would find that out until I was 12 years old when my good friend Larry told me how his parents had sex.  Up until that time I believed I was "delivered" by a stork at the Chester County Hospital.  In fact, I always wanted to go to the hospital and see where the storks landed daily.  Oh yes I did.  I was that naive. I remember exactly when my friend Larry told me.  We were both riding out bicycles up a step incline (Chestnut Street over the railroad) and when he told me, I had to get off my bike.  I could not believe what I was hearing.  My father peed into my Mom and that's how I came about?  I was in shock.  But this is a subject for another whole blog posting (or two).

Anyway, back to four year old "Little Ronnie" (as I was known in those prehistoric times), I knew that I had a "special feeling" whenever I was around one of my ten uncles (my father had ten brothers).  Nobody molested me but I did get some winks which thrilled me to no end.  And then when my Uncle Bruce's friend Earl came around (he was only 13 or 14, same age as my Uncle Bruce who lived with us for awhile because both of my grandparents were dead), to play "horsey", I got a little more out of riding his back than my little friends (both boys and girls did).

I had some favorite aunts too who were always nice to me but when one of my uncles would say my name ("Ronnie") and give me that Special Wink, oh how my heart fluttered.  Maybe it was because I never got this attention from my father, I don't know.

What I do know is that when I went to first grade I was immediately attracted to a little, goofy looking blonde haired boy named Dennis Kozolowski.  He was sort of buck toothed and had a serious cowlick, but I had that "special feeling" again when I saw him.  Of course all my Little Buddies at that time were the girls my age.  I was One of the Girls, for sure.  I wasn't in the Little Boy Crowd who played marbles at recess of Mumbly Peg with their penknives.  Oh no, I ran off with the little girls.  Back in those days a little boy like me was called A Sissy.

Even though I hung out mainly with the little girls I did have little boy friends.  Of male friends I had there was nothing sexual or "special feeling" about them to me.  The ones I had a special feeling about I looked on from afar.  I knew I had different feelings for them and I also knew that this was my secret.  That I should never tell anyone.  I thought I was the Only One In The World with these feelings.

My Uncle John (with my cousin who is the same age as me and is also gay) - 1956
Uncle John was straight as they come but so very kind to his nieces and nephews.  Maybe it was because he was a prisoner of war (he was a paratrooper) who escaped twice from the Germans and was recaptured both times - our family thought he died in the only to be surprised when he returned home after the war ended, His mother died a few months before he was repatriated from the German prisoner of war camp.  I can still remember his gentle baritone voice saying "Hi Ronnie" and giving me a friendly wink.

Some years ago I was watching a Phil Donahue show (tells you how long ago that was).  One of his guests was an "expert" on homosexuality.  Of course this "expert" wasn't homosexual himself (isn't that always the way with the "experts?")  The subject of the show was young children being aware that they were different at a very young age.  This "expert" said it was impossible, because children that young don't have a sexual awareness.  I got very angry when I heard this because I knew my situation.  I was the EXPERT on my situation, not this self-appointed "expert".  By the way, how do these people get to be experts?  Do they take a course in college?  Anyway, I knew this guy was all wrong.  Even though I didn't have a sexual awareness when I was four years old I knew I liked the smell of men (a woody, axel grease smell) as compared to the smell of women (a "pink" smell).  I knew I liked to see the crease move in the seat of a man's pants when he walked away from me (this was back in the Forties with the baggy pants).  And I knew that my heart fluttered anytime I was given special attention by a man, more so than by a woman.  

My sexual awareness didn't happened until I was in 6th grade when I was eleven years old.  Now that was a whole new world which I could write several blog postings about!

But to answer the question does a child know he is gay at seven years old?  Absolutely!  Take it from me because I am an EXPERT on this subject.

Me (tall and skinny kid on the right) with my cousins and my brothers 1956 

20 comments:

  1. This is a MOST interesting blog, Ron - and I can relate to so much of what you say, but I'm going to leave all that until explaining it on my own blog sometime rather than vying with your experiences here. I'll just say for now that I also knew that I was 'different', certainly by the time I was five, your own very age at the time of the first of these pics, which I have no way to compete with as they just don't exist.
    You were a cute little kid then. I'd like to think that despite our few years age difference, if we'd met we might have mutually recognised that we were both 'special' in the same way.

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  2. I agree. I knew something was different when I was about 5 or 6, but I didn't know how to articulate it and how to grow into it responsibly. Years later, when I "came out" to my older brother, he asked me when did I know. He was a bit suprised that I knew so early (and didn't say anything).

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  3. Great photos and a wonderfully informative post.
    Was I a late bloomer at probably age eleven??

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  4. Ray,

    The two things that my straight friends always ask is "How could you have known when you were so young?" (I just did) and "When did you make the 'choice'? They just have a hard time wrapping their brains around that it isn't a CHOICE to be gay (I ask them when did they make a "choice" to be straight and they say "I didn't, I just WAS" and I say the same thing "I didn't, it just was." I tell them that just as they knew who and what they were from their earliest memory I did too. It always amazes me that so many of them still don't believe me.
    I look forward to reading about your story Ray. I too think if we met we would have had a lot in common.
    And yes, I was a cute kid. I didn't think so then, again I wasn't aware of it but looking back on it I was often told that. Both of my brothers got the same reaction. "The Tipton Boys" were known to be cute but our parents kept us grounded. :)

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  5. Will J.

    Having this knowledge we did at such an early age is what leads be to believe in reincarnation. I think we're living a "Groundhog Day" life. I just knew I was different too even though I couldn't articulate it.

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  6. Jon,

    Don't feel bad for coming out "so late." Bill (my partner) didn't realize he was gay until he was in his 30's! I've asked him time and time again didn't he ever think about it. He said "no." He said he just realized when he was 32 or 33 that he liked men. I was way ahead of him. I had an eye for men since I was four years old. He still finds that hard to believe.

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  7. anne marie in philly5:20 PM

    my friend mark knew from age 6 that he was "different", as he put it.

    at age 6, I knew I liked boys (never girls).

    but at that age, how to put that feeling into words. you can't until you are old enough to appreciate those feelings.

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  8. Anne Marie,

    You put it exactly right, at age six you knew you liked by (but not girls) That is exactly the way I felt at that young age - I knew I liked boys "that way". I had my little friends who were girls but they were just friends. Boys were special. I didn't know why but I knew it was a different "like." :)

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  9. I'm looking forward to reading about 6th grade.

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  10. Ron,

    Oh, I believe you. I don't think we ever thought in sexual terms in our minds, but something in our bodes knew. I kissed Michele in first grade and there was quite a to do about it, but I didn't think of it as a sexual thing. But I knew that early I had feelings for Mary jane and they weren't just as a friend, though I couldn't have defined anything then. I certainly didn't know anything about sex. It was a pretty quiet subject then.

    Are you sure it was I told you anything about the birds and the bees. I didn't know anything. I knew that the baby was inside the mother because there was an embarrassing incident and my mother felt compelled to explain that to me. But I had no idea how the baby got in there. I knew by 12 that boys and girls were different somehow below the belt, but had no idea how.

    I know you once told me babies came out the belly button and I think I told you they came out the rear end or something.

    I mean I was pretty dumb about the whole sexual thing at 12. I didn't even discover masturbation until I was 15.

    Lar

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  11. Ron,

    Say, you sure that is you in the class photo? Every other class phot I have you are half hidden behind somebody else with only your forehead and hair showing in the picture. How'd you manage not to be hiding in this one?

    Lar

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  12. Yes Larry, that is a rare picture of me not hidden behind someone else. Either I was absent (the sixth grade picture) or I missed the train (the Class Trip to New York) or I was behind someone in pictures. I didn't even see this 2nd grade picture until my 35th class reunion. I never saw it before. I look like a regular little ruffian don't I?

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  13. Larry,

    You were the one who told me about the birds and bees. I don't remember anyone else telling me. I remember it so well because I was shocked. Shocked I tell you! Masturbation? I didn't know about that until I got in the Army. I heard about it but didn't know how to do it. I didn't learn until I was 27 years old! Believe me, I've made up for lost time.

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  14. Oh Cubby, what a tale I have to tell. It will probably take several posts. My hormones kicked in whenI was in 6th grade. Not that I could do anything about it. That didn't happen until I was in the Army. Prior to that it was all fantasy. Nice fantasy and many wet dreams but still nice.

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  15. Larry,

    See that space between me and Denny Myers? That's where you should have been! Where were you? The swamp. Some friend. :)

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  16. Ron,

    Yes, in second grade I was in the swamp and I have no second or first grade photo.

    Lar

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  17. This is a great post! Plus, once again I love your photos! You were such an adorable 5 year old! I just wish I could pinch your 5 year old cheeks!

    I don't remember a specific age that I knew I was gay, or more specifically that I prefered the company of males in a way that most other boys didn't.

    I do remember at a young age drawing naked pictures of Mr Brady and his 3 Brady boys, and having recurring dreams of Superman flying around with me in his arms.

    When I was a teenager (14,15,16) I knew what gay was and I knew that I was definitely gay.

    I also definitely knew that I would rather make out with other guys, but there weren't many other willing guys around when I was that age, so I made out with girls. I didn't get all "thingy" about it, and kissing girls defintely did not confuse my identity of being gay.

    At 16 I stole my brother's ID and started going to the all the gay clubs and bars met many, many, many, MANY other guys who were willing to make out (and, you know, whatever else).

    I never made a decision to be gay.

    I am gay, the same as I am male, I am caucasian, I have dark hair, I have green eyes, or I am American.

    Those things are circumstances of my birth.

    I can dye my hair blonde, but it doesn't make me blonde.

    I can move to Australia, but it doesn't make me Australian.

    I can have sex with a woman, but it doesn't make me straight.

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  18. Hank (I forget your real name again)

    Thanks for the compliment. I was a pitiful looking five year old wasn't I? I remember being on my own most of the time whereas my brothers always hung around together.
    Your early history is much the same as mine except that I never made out with girls. I liked girls as friends but to make out with them would gag me. They had that "pink" smell that I couldn't stand. I like the "smell" of the boys. My gay gene was ingrained in me from birth, believe me!
    I used to get the hots for Guy Madison as Wild Bill Hicock and the blonde Buster Crabbe as Flash Gordon. I still believe that if there is a heaven, Guy Madison will be waiting for me just like those 144 virgins are waiting for the terrorist bombers.

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  19. I also knew at a young age i was different,having that special felling towards women, I didnt know why it was, I grew up in a Army community in the 70's-mid 80's, so there was no definition around for how i felt.
    when I was about 8 or 9 i had come inside from playing to use the potty, and i over heard a conversation between my mom and some friends of hers they were talking about lesbos and fags and how they should be in a mental hospital, later when i asked my mom what lesbo and fag meant she told me it was girls that liked girls and boys that liked boys, I said i like girls does that mena i need to go to a mental hospital? my mom told me you dont like girls that way so no its only for girls that like girls the way they should like boys, so until i was 32 i lived the lie because i didnt want to go to a mental hospital and had my firs girlfriend when my mom found out i had a girl friend it wasnt nice and her and i didnt last because she didnt want to be a secret, so back in the closet until i was 40 and i finaly just said im tired of living a lie i want a girlfriend and have been very openly out since then.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for sharing your story with me. When I came out to my Mother she tried to have my brothers and father forcibly take me to a hospital for "the cure." Can you believe it?

      I was living a lie until my Mother visited me in my apartment one Saturday morning and discovered my boyfriend (who was married and had a family of three young children by the way). I was 21 years old then and I've never been in the closet since.

      Being out and living the Truth is the only way.

      Good for you.

      Ron

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