New Survey: Gay Males & Females Know They’re Gay By 18
A new comprehensive survey asked LGBT people about three key moments in their journey of realizing who they are: When they first thought they might be gay, when they first knew they gay and when they first told a close friend or family member they are gay.
The new survey by the Pew Research Center, found that male respondents, on average, had an inkling that they were gay by age 10, were sure they were gay at age 15 and told someone close to them by the time they turned 18. But when it comes to females, the average age of suspecting they were gay came at age 13, they knew it by 18 and told someone at 21.
As NJ.com points out, this could present a tough challenge for parents who have a gay child. They could "spend the second half of childhood unknowingly taking care of a son or daughter who is in the closet. The message they unwittingly send during those years may impact when - or even if - they are ultimately told," the website writes.
Only six out of 10 in the survey told one or both of their parents that they are gay. The others told friends or other family members, and 13 percent did not tell anyone. Additionally, only a few respondents said they did not know they were gay until they were in their 60s.
The survey was conducted online and allowed individuals to answer anonymously, in hopes of gaining a larger range of participants. According to Ritch Savin-Williams, a Cornell University psychologist who studies gay youth, researchers apparently have trouble finding LGBT people who are not out, but are willing to step forward and take part in a survey like this one.
"He explains the gap in age at which boys and girls disclose their sexual orientation results from the social cues they receive," NJ.com writes. "Girls grow up knowing it's perfectly fine to have a best friend with whom she can hold hands, exchange friendship bracelets and have emotionally charged spats. This means it takes longer for young lesbians to realize their "crush" on a friend is somehow different."
The same goes for gay boys, who learn from a young age that physical affection between boys is not normal. This, however, helps them realize that their attraction to other males goes against what is socially acceptable.