Needs a Better Title
-- this one's awful. It's a common stock phrase that goes along with the trope, but it's misleadingly broad. I just suck at titles and couldn't think of anything better. Also, this is a pretty lousy writeup. Oh well, I hope it makes sense.
Anyway, this is the idea that gay characters manifest their "difference" in childhood, long before they could be said to have a sexuality as such, by having interests and pastimes more associated with the opposite gender. Lesbians probably spent their childhoods climbing trees and refusing to play with dolls, while gay guys are likely to have eschewed sports in favor of playing dress-up. This in turn means that the character themself and/or the people around them may suspect that they're not straight (won't be straight?) well before they actually reach puberty (which is where the "always knew I was different" thing comes in).
Ties into Butch Lesbian
and Camp Gay
, as well as the whole "gay = transgender" confusion (which I know has been YKTTW
'd before, but apparently wasn't launched). It often is Truth in Television
, but also may carry the implication that (a) Straight Gays
and Lipstick Lesbians
don't exist and (b) any child who doesn't conform properly to gender roles is probably going to grow up to be gay.
- In the (ridiculously cute) film Ready? OK!, one of the protagonists is a little boy who plays with dolls and desperately wants to be a cheerleader. At one point he also dresses like one of his heroes from history who just happens to be female, in a dress sewn by his gay neighbor. It is strongly implied that the boy is gay.
- Parodied in But I'm a Cheerleader, where they "prove" the protagonists gayness, among other things, by her vegetarianism.
- In the early gay novel Better Angel, the protagonist, Kurt, has no interest in sports as a little boy and is described by his father as being "like a girl" -- though aside from a love of theatre, he's more of a bookish nerd than anything else.
- One of the Alice books by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor featured a one-shot lesbian character (just there to deliver a message about tolerance) who, when Alice asked when she had realized that she was a lesbian, responded by talking about how even as a child she'd been tomboyish and not interested in girly things.
- Glee: Kurt's father always knew Kurt was gay; for his third birthday, he wanted "sensible heels."
- Soap: Jodie tells his mother he's getting a sex change (which is the same thing as being gay):
Jodie: Mom, I should be a woman. I've always felt like a woman. Mom, remember when I was four years old, and it was Christmas, and you gave me and Danny those little plastic shaving kits, remember? Remember how Danny took that little plastic razor and started to shave his face...I shaved my legs, ma. It was obvious even then.