As queer adult women, we tend to look back over our lives and think about things that made us stand out from other kids, offering a glimpse into the utterly fabulous life we would one day embrace. No matter if the things were obvious or subtle, the one question we still ask ourselves is: "How did my parent(s) not know I was gay?"
We asked some queer lady friends about their experiences growing up gay and bi and asked them to pinpoint what they thought were the obvious clues their families should have picked up on:
1. Dressed to Bawl: For as long as I can remember, my only interest in the opposite sex was how can I beat them athletically. My male cousins always included me in all of their soccer and hockey games, and they treated me as an equal because I could keep up with them. I was obsessed with sports, playing everything I could try all of the time. Plus I was always the one wearing baseball caps or crying when I thought my mother would make me wear a dress. --Laura F.
2. Straight Girls Make Out With Other Girls, Right?: My dad should've known I was gay because I was the only girl on my baseball team. Additionally, I was obsessed with my older sister's friends and would always dare them to kiss me. Memories. --Brittany
3. Caboodles Are the Worst: One Christmas when I was around 10, my mother bought me long johns that had roses on them, a hot pink "caboodle" (plastic jewelry box), and a doll that had a dress. ... I just about threw up! I was so emotionally distraught, I told my mom it was the worst Christmas I ever had.
What I really wanted was a cassette player, a new basketball and a Nintendo game. My mom told me that Christmas, "If I wanted another boy, I would have had one." Nice, Mom. --Rachel
4. Gay or Pregnant: My parents were old-school Italian and completely clueless to my sexuality. When I said I had something I wanted to talk to them about (that I'm gay), they immediately thought I was pregnant. --Natalie
5. Lesbians and Boyfriends: I surprised myself and my family. I had a boyfriend in high school. We broke up before college. I had never thought I was into girls until my new college "friend" at the time made out with me at her dorm. After that night it all made sense. --Noelle
6. No Bikini?: A couple of months ago, my mom shared with me a bunch of old family photos I'd never seen before, including this one from Vietnam when I was 4. I thought it captured a sweet, candid moment of my dad and I on the beach, but I had to ask: "Mom, why'd you dress me like that?" With a bit of side-eye, she said, "I didn't. You picked out that outfit." --Kim B.
7. Dressed for Comfort: One of the many signs that should have given my parents a clue to me not playing for team hetero was the fact that I always felt comfortable in male clothing. It was always short hair, jeans, and a T-shirt. --Laura C.
8. No Dolls for Her: I was about 5 years old. We were at our cottage and I went with my dad to the garage sale at the neighbor's. They had all kinds of Big Tonka trucks. I wanted them all. Luckily, my dad saw that, and he bought them all for me, when we got home my mom flipped out on my dad and asked why he bought boys' toys for me. "Because that's what she wanted," he explained. Duh. --Kristianna
9. Don't Worry, We Were All Obsessed With Shannen Doherty: I cried whenever I had to wear a dress, which made church and funerals even more fun. I also had an unhealthy obsession with Shannon Doherty and Alyssa Milano, and never wanted Ken dolls to go with my Barbies. Yes, I had Barbies, and they had the best parties in the universe. --Faith
10. Baby Pride!: By the time I was in middle and high school, I'd squeal "gay pride" each time I saw a rainbow sticker. I don't remember doing this, but my mom said it was a "clue." I honestly think I did it unknowingly. --Katie
11. We're Not Sure About This One: Rick James was my spirit animal. --Naylene
12. The Snapper: In sixth grade, I wouldn't stop snapping Lori Fryman's bra. On class trips. During math tests. I could not get enough of her bra. Cut to today: I'm a butt girl. Go figure. --Nikki
13. Girls! Girls! Girls!: As a kid I could be found playing cops and robbers, or simply playing in the dirt. I was also infatuated with one of my female friends in grade school, and had to have her around at all times. --Jess B.
14. It's Complicated: I was fairly good at hiding my gayness, so I can't say my parents missed any clues. I was always a bit of a tomboy, but so were my very straight friends. So I guess the ultimate "clue" that gave it away was when I announced at dinner one night that I had a girlfriend. Pretty sure they got the message across. --Erin
15. Gay Ladies and Their Turtles: All I wanted to do was wear boy clothes and indoor soccer shoes, play in the woods, and play sports. Another clue should have been when I was really little: All I did was play outside with my brother and the other boys in the neighborhood. We would play sports, catch turtles and frogs, and get dirty while running through the woods. --Jen
16. The Giveaway: My extremely religious parents were entirely blindsided, seeing as I didn't then, and don't currently, have any stereotypical telltale gay signs or clues. Ultimately, it was guilt by association that led to a cloud of suspicion: My butchy (read: obviously gay) girlfriend spent a large amount of time at our house. --Missy
17. Oh, the Humping: I was always a tomboy and always played the boy parts whenever I played house with my friends. One time at a babysitter's house, I got in trouble for humping my "wife."
Another time my brother got a Batman cape and I was super jealous. I put it on and made him go outside and play Batman and Robin with me. It was mainly just me in a Batman cape feeling weird. --Ever
18. Mullets 4 Eva: I was always the dad when I played house, was better than the boys at sports, beat up the neighborhood boys, humped everything I could (including a red velvet chair), convinced all of my friends to go to the Lilith Fair, then made all of my friends cuddle. Oh ... and I had a mullet for five years. How could I forget about that? --Jess V.
19. Arts High School, Anyone?: I went to a performing arts high school that was about 80 percent loud gay teens and 20 percent loud soon-to-be gay teens. My mom basically knew. I think parents can take clues from their kid's friends. --Heather
20. Overalls Are Always Questionable: Aside from the entire week that I refused to wear anything but overalls, there were zero clues of gayness. There were constant signs that I was a big weirdo, however, and those should have been sufficient warning that I might pull something "unusual" later in life.
For example, I was really into wearing sweatsuits under dresses, with fake pearl necklaces, and socks with strappy sandals. They probably should have been waiting for me to turn into an alien burlesque dancer, not to come out as gay. Maybe they still are. --Caitlin
21. Clear Signs: I never dated boys, was a total jock, cut my hair short, and wore tank tops and button-downs. So my parents called me out on it. They knew three years before they asked and I confirmed. No surprise. --Anonymous
22. Good Dad: My father had said he thought I was a lesbian because of the way I dressed and how I never really had a boyfriend. I stopped wearing "girl clothes" around the age of 11 or 12, when I had the option to pick out what I wanted to wear. I wore mostly shorts that were knee-length and boys' T-shirts. I often would wear hats, and would always have my hair up. My parents never really cared or said much about it, they just kind of let me do as I wanted. Coming out to my dad was actually quite funny. When I told him I liked girls, he chuckled and said "It's OK, honey. I like girls too." --Kim C.
23. Femme Problems: My gayness was pretty masked since I was (and still am) such a girly girl. I loved Barbies, dolls, and playing house and being the mom. What should have given it away was hanging out with my one older (by three or four years) girl "friend" in high school more so than the others. I also only had three or four boyfriends throughout high school. Never hanging out with boys should have been a dead giveaway. --Jess L.
24. Just One of the Guys: I always had guys as best friends. When I would ask to go out with "my buddies," my parents always had this fear. "Does she want to date these boys? Does she like-like these boys? Can we trust these boys?" And when I would look at them as if they had three eyes and exclaimed "that's gross!" they knew I was just one of the guys. --Holly