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Worldwide Ace » A Child’s Sexuality

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A Child’s Sexuality

23 July, 2010 (18:36) | Social Commentary

“Besides, it’s not like there will be any girls around to make them fell embarrassed,” he told me, as if the presence of girls were the only possible reason they wouldn’t want to play a game aimed at younger children.

“What makes you assume their interest is in girls?” I asked.

He could’ve told me that his cousins had expressed interest in girls before and the conversation would’ve ended there, his answer directly addressing my question. He could’ve explained that he was making an assumption and he didn’t actually know or care about their sexuality. He could’ve explained that the event was just going to be family so it didn’t matter who they might be interested in, they wouldn’t be there regardless.

He did none of those.

“Are you calling my cousins gay? Cause if you are, that’s kind of low.”

“Are you calling them straight?”

It was the beginning of the end of our evening, my questions clearly eliciting what could have been a homophobic rage.

My second question was clearly argumentative and unnecessarily pointed, but the implications of my first question were honest. Each and every one of us makes assumptions about others. We must in order to function as a social entity. We assume that a uniform denotes a job, that the sex someone presents in their appearance is their sex (or at least the one they choose to present). I certainly don’t hold that against my friend as there’s not a person alive not guilty of it.

The social norm in society is to assume a sexuality and gender identity for children even though there often isn’t a defined sexuality until the formative years. Certainly, there are tales of people who knew, early on, that they were gay or straight, but translating this into a part of one’s personality and making it known to others often doesn’t come until later. We often act out of curiosity as much as interest, and children far more so than adults.

The young men in question, 12 and 13 respectively, I’ve only met very briefly in passing. My friend, however, I know well, and I’ve never really seen any significant homophobic prejudices in him before. His last serious girlfriend was very much involved in gay rights and supporting the GLBT community, something which tempered some of the rougher edges he had shown early in our acquaintance. His use of “gay” in the pejorative sense is hardly enough evidence for labeling him a homophobe, but his reaction to my question, however loaded or innocent it might have been, has raised questions. I strongly doubt that the sexuality of his cousins actually matters to him, but his reaction surprised me.

It seems to be the general consensus to let kids be kids for as long as possible, but language, media, and the social norms pushed on children hardly allow it. We may not actively meddle, but we cannot avoid it either. In a realm where the influences of adults are both necessary and often detrimental, even when the intention is to be helpful and supportive, how are we to proceed?