The first time I realized I was gay was when I was in third grade. I went to use the boy’s restroom at school and three of my classmates cornered me as I was washing my hands. “You can’t be in here,” they said, disgusted. “You’re gay!” I remember my ears turning red and my palms begin to sweat. I knew they were right, somehow, and I’m not even sure I truly understood what gay meant at that time.
I repressed it for most of my life, even though that was the moment that I realized I was gay. I spent most of my formative years trying to do mental acrobats in order to justify my mannerisms, interests, and desires that never seemed to line up with most of my male peers.
I understand that I’m not alone in my realization of my sexuality, and after being out of the closet for three years, I’ve heard incredible stories about people becoming aware of their sexuality. I asked 10 of my friends what their a-ha moments were. It’s clear that we knew ourselves from a young age.
“The first time I realized I was gay was when my best friend in middle school got his first girlfriend. I was devastated and tried to chalk it up to me wishing I had a girlfriend. In retrospect I was so jealous of him being with someone other than me.” – Brad, 25.
2. Super Smash Peach
“I realized I was different than my peers when I would only want to play as female characters in video games and all my friends starting pointing it out as if I were a freak. Peach in Super Smash Brothers was my shit.” – Oliver, 28.
3. Here’s Johnny
“The first time I realized I was into women was when my best friend told me Johnny in our grade wanted to kiss me and I pretended to be sick for the entire week I was so freaked out. Later on I realized I was afraid of any sort of contact with a guy, but at the time I was confused by my repulsion.” – Jamie, 29.
4. Dancing Queen
“I think it was when I cried for an hour over my parents buying me an A-Teens CD for Christmas.” – Morgan, 26.
5. Locker Room Fears
“The first time I knew I was different was in gym class when I refused to get changed around the other guys. It was so full of anxiety I couldn’t bring myself to do it.” – Ryan, 23.
6. Virgin Realizations
“I think the first time I really knew for sure I was into women was when I had sex with my boyfriend for the first time. No matter how much he warmed me up or we made out I just couldn’t get into it. I began to realize that even though I liked him as a person we weren’t sexually compatible, and beyond him no guy would do it for me.”- Caroline, 25.
7. Pink Ranger
“I realized something was different about me when all the guys in my grade always wanted to play the Red Power Ranger on the playground and I would always want to play the Pink Ranger. It seems so silly, but I think that is the first memory I have of feeling “other” than my peers.” – Paul, 30.
8. Life After Love
“I remember being very passionate about choreographing Cher’s song ‘Woman’s World’ in my living room. There are videotapes of my older brothers trying to learn the steps as I bossed them around.”- Elliot, 32.
“I think the first time I remember thinking I was different than my peers was when my mom bought me a Superman costume for Halloween and while we were out trick-or-treating I looked at this girl in a Cinderella costume and I remember being insanely jealous of her life.” – David, 24.
10. Birthday Boys
“The first time I knew I was really different was when I was at a birthday party that involved playing out in the snow. All the boys were playing an intense snowball fight so I stayed in with my friend’s mother the entire time and helped bake the cake. I remember feeling way more at peace in there with her than I ever would have out there with them.” – Frank, 25.