I’m often asked “how do you know if your child is gay?”  After all, there is no litmus test for sexuality.  Adolescence is a time of exploration and trying on different identities, much like adapting clothes to a new persona. So, what’s the answer?

If one believes Freud is right and we’re all born bisexual and sexual orientation is a continuum on the Alfred Kinsey scale, then when do you know what your sexual orientation is?

Caution: Unreliable Internet Tests to Solve the Riddle

Pretending to be gay, I turned to internet quizzes for questioning teens and was appalled at the inane insane questions penned by non-respected writers without credibility in the mental health field.  For example, http://www.all the tests.com/quiz 31/quiz/1407277397/ Am-I-Gay-Test was completed 71,700 times and asked me to give one of three answers for the question “what kind of porn do you watch? or “your mom asks you to go shopping and you say?” or the best one, “when you’re at the bar, you order?” All the questions smacked of stereotypes, not unlike the portrayal of gay characters on television sitcoms.

Or how about http://www.gay-test.com/gay asp.? Maybe it was meant to be amusing because it was laughable.  This multiple choice test asked “Who won Season 1 of Project Runway?”  “How much do you spend on haircuts?” “ Which of the following designers does not produce men’s shoes?” There are gays who don’t “live and breathe” fashion.

As parents or teens looking for answers to the riddle “Is My Child Gay?”, even articles on Huffington Post, particularly, http://www.huffingtonpostcom/2014/02/20/am-i-gay-website_n_can be skeptical.  On that day, it mentioned a website, Gay Check online, that scans the face of the user through their computer’s webcam and delivers a resounding verdict about their sexuality. Really? Reliable?

The Best Online Advice

You want to find accredited mental health professionals such as Richard H. Reams, Ph.D. to lead you closer to a conclusion. Reams authored  Am I Gay? a guide for People who Question Their Sexual Orientation by Richard H. Reams, Ph.D.  online. This psychologist has a lengthy multi-faceted discussion with such breakdowns as explanations of sexual orientation and sexual orientation identity; addressing 7 myths about sexual orientation; helping gather and examining evidence about your sexual orientation; exploration of 4 obstacles to sexual orientation identity development; a recommendation of the next step depending on the outcome of your examination of evidence; and finally, identifying resources for the LGB population.  The guide was similar to an outline for a scientific experiment.

Ellen Friedrich. MA, is a health educator with extensive experience working with GLBT teens on sexuality and relationship issues.  Her website is enormously popular and is written in layman terms and covers many aspects of being gay, including how to tell if you are. It’s definitely worth a look: Ellen Friedrichs-LGBT Teens-About.com

Time Will Tell, If It Hasn’t Already

With no test for homosexuality yet, the most reliable method may be for a child to look at his  history, his feelings and make an educated guess. He should take into account his thoughts, emotions, and behavior.  Time will tell as his or her orientation solidifies.

How Can A Parent Tell?

Most parents know their kid or think they do.  They may have had suspicions that their children are gay.  However, not always so as the child may have kept their sexuality orientation under wraps for fear of disappointing the parents.  When a child tells you he/she is gay, chances are he has known for awhile so don’t doubt his judgment.

If a child comes out or tells you he’s questioning his orientation, you might ask him how long he has known he’s gay and why he thinks he’s gay. If he’s basing his decision on same-sex attraction common to heterosexuals as well or taking non-reliable tests online, you might explore those perceptions. In any case, take his coming out seriously and not as an adolescent behavior that will change tomorrow. Then the dialogue has a better chance of continuing.

When Your Child is Gay

When Your Child Is Gay: What You Need To Know

For more detailed advice, see book, co-authored with a mother of a gay son and a psychiatrist, Jonathan L. Tobkes, M.D.

Wesley Cullen Davidson

Wesley Cullen Davidson is an award-winning freelance writer and journalist specializing in parenting as well as gay and lesbian content. For the past two years, Wesley has concentrated almost exclusively on the lesbian and gay community, specifically on advising straight parents of gay children on how to be better parents and raise happy, well-adjusted adults

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