The majority of same sex attracted (gay, lesbian, bisexual) adult participants in a reliable research study, said it was during childhood that they recall realising they were not opposite sex attracted (straight).
I was recently asked this Question: "So then, you say that sex is not for children, and children do not experience sexual desire or intent, how can they have known they were same sex attracted when they were in primary school?”
Essentially the answer is the same as the question:
When do 'straight' children realise they are 'straight'?
Answer is: Opposite sex attracted children (Heterosexual) and same sex attracted children (Homosexual) probably realise their sexual orientation at around the same ages. However the 'straight' children may not have been as conscious of it, because it was seen as 'normal' in their society.
Another way to think about this is using the Gender bread person Model:
The physical attraction component of sexual orientation develops at puberty regardless of the gender you are attracted too.
Sex is not for children, children do not experience sexual desire or intent.
But they do have an emotional/romantic idea of their sexuality/sexual attraction, even in childhood. Regardless of same or opposite sex attraction.
The 8 yo girl who wants to marry Justin Bieber is an example of this, the Prep boy who has a 'girlfriend' in his class is another example.
Thanks to Roz Ward from Safe Schools Coalition, for the following information: A study of over 3,000 same sex attracted young people in 2010 called ‘Writing Themselves In 3’, conducted at La Trobe University, found in response to the question ‘when did you first know you were same sex attracted?’;
10% always knew, 26% knew by age 10, 60% knew by age 13 and 85% by age 15. Five percent were unsure when they first realised their sexual difference.
Roz says; If we asked the same question of all children, opposite sex attracted children would also probably have a sense of their feelings and types of relationships that felt right to them during childhood.
However, opposite sex attracted children are able to find almost constant affirmation of their attractions and relationships in the world that surrounds them. There are examples of similar relationships in books, on tv, at school, in family conversations, etc. etc. For same sex attracted young people there may be very few examples of same sex relationships in the world they occupy. They may also hear homophobic comments, suggestions, or are given a general impression that only ‘boyfriend and girlfriend’ relationships are ‘normal’.
When Does Sexual Attraction Start?
'OLDER CHILDREN - Sexual Attraction
Around the time or after Puberty, sexual attraction involves all of the following complex components:
If adults think back, most will recall that their first sexual attraction, that is, attractions that are similar to your adult sexual attractions, only occurred for you at, or after, puberty - during adolescence. This age of first sexual attraction will be different for everyone as the very definition of adolescence is variable as is the range of behaviours that they engage in. The age of these experiences will be the same regardless of sexual orientation.
Before puberty, it is possible for the following to occur:
The Interpretation Of The Word 'Sexual' Is Important.
Child hood same sex attraction is about their SEXUAL ORIENTATION or ATTRACTION to the same gender, not their PHYSICAL SEXUAL ATTRACTION to another person, which develops around puberty for the majority of children. So this gendered attraction, is not the same as feelings of sexual attraction that comes with puberty.
Same sex attracted children:
Same sex attracted young children are emotionally or romantically attracted to the same sex, not physically/sexually attracted to another person of the same sex.
Opposite sex attracted children:
Opposite sex attracted young children are emotionally or romantically attracted to the opposite sex, they also don't experience physical sexual attraction to another person of the opposite sex.
Being same sex attracted or opposite sex attracted are both normal versions of human sexuality.
After 24 years experience as a Sexual Health Nurse, 15 years as an Educator and literally 10s of thousands of conversations about Sex and Sexuality - I hope I can help you with information & support to encourage essential conversations about all aspects of Human Sexuality.