DARE TO ASK: Is fastidious 5-year-old possibly gay?
By PHILLIP MILANO, The Times-Union
My 5-year-old son is very sensitive and fastidious. Last night, he told me he
was going to marry his friend, a boy. I will love him the same no matter what,
but it does worry me and scares his dad to death. When do boys begin to know
something is different about them?
Renee, 35, San Antonio
I always knew I was "different" but didn't associate this with sexuality
until 11 or 12. Others know at a very young age, around 5 to 7. Your boy may
know he likes boys, so make sure your husband tries not to scold him for acting
"gay," as this could be taken as rejection.
Kevin, 17, Los Angeles
It's more likely he's just developing his personality, and his fastidiousness
may be a blessing in disguise. At least you won't have to nag him to keep his
M.C., 31, male, Omaha, Neb.
I know a lot of very camp straight men! Equally, young tomboy girls who climb
trees are not necessarily lesbians in the making.
David, 45, United Kingdom
This boy needs a stronger male role model pronto, says the Rev. Jim Venice,
founder of Pure Heart Ministries in St. Louis, part of Exodus International,
which works to help free people of "unwanted same-gender attraction."
"The chances of homosexuality go up . . . if there's a vacuum," he said. "Not
having a connection with the father is the No. 1 contributing factor in gender
In A Parent's Guide to Preventing Homosexuality, clinical psychologist Joseph
Nicolosi lays out a father's duties:
"He can play rough-and-tumble games with his son . . . help his son learn to
throw and catch a ball. He can teach him to pound a wooden peg into a hole in a
pegboard, or he can take his son with him into the shower, where the boy cannot
help noticing that Dad has a male body, just like he has.
"Psychologists call this process 'incorporating masculinity into a sense of
self,' and it is an essential part of growing up straight."
Did we mention that other people don't buy it?
"Gay people realize they are different at all stages in life," said
Jean-Marie Navetta, national spokeswoman for Parents, Families and Friends of
Lesbians and Gays. "And there aren't 'signs' of it. There are plenty of gruff
gay men, and many sensitive straight men who cry more than I do."
She called it "crazy" to try to steer a child a certain way.
"That's been rejected by every major medical and psychological association as
not only wrong, but incredibly dangerous. It can lead to depression, self-hatred
and even suicide."
The parents here need not fret, but if so inclined can monitor the situation,
talk with a group like PFLAG for advice and watch how their son is treated at
"If he's gay, they should face their own guilt or second-guessing, almost
like a grieving-and-acceptance process," she said. "Then they should be there
for their child, gay or not."
Phillip Milano, author of I Can't Believe You Asked That! (Perigee),
moderates cross-cultural dialogue at Y? The National Forum on People's
Differences. Visit www.yforum.com to submit questions and answers, or mail to
Phillip Milano, c/o The Florida Times-Union, P.O. Box 1949, Jacksonville, FL
32231. Include contact information. For Dare to Ask podcasts, go to
Jacksonville.com keyword: milano.