2 min

Pre-teen gaydar

It wasn't just because he liked his mom

IF WE'RE BORN GAY. Can you tell someone's going to be queer before they've reached puberty? Credit: Danny Ogilvie

I don’t see my friend Zoë enough, so when I arrive the other day for a visit at her place I am disappointed that some friends of hers I didn’t know – a husband, wife and child combo – have unexpectedly dropped in. Colour me bored.

You see, Zoë herself has a husband and a child, and is pregnant again. Three parents, one kid and another on the way: You do the math. Conversation was going to revolve around one thing and one thing only. To her great credit, Zoë has yet to venture to the dark side, where previously interesting people become bland child-obsessed parents. She remains as cool and wacky as ever.

But she is only human, and there she is, all preggers, entertaining Papa Bear, Mama Bear and Baby Bear.

Zoë, bravely stepping outside the boundaries of baby talk, asks how my boyfriend is. This takes Mr Bear aback. His eyes widen and he gives me a once-over.

“Just dandy,” I reply.

And then we return to tradition: “I was just saying how everyone’s promising the second birth is much easier than the first.” Juice is served.

Eventually my sleepy eyes drift over to Baby Bear playing on the floor, looking as bored as I. About eight years old, with blond hair, blue eyes and little rosy cheeks, he looks smart in a green turtle-neck and brown cords. The more I observe him, the more I am taken by a realization that makes me smile.

Baby Bear is gay.

There isn’t anything obvious, although clearly he favours his mother. It is just the way he… is. Good gaydar includes the young; Baby Bear is another of those kids you see from time to time, the kind who make you know with every fibre of your own homosexuality that you are looking at the next generation.

“What’s your name?” Baby Bear suddenly stands in front of me.

Enza Supermodel, I want to tell him, but before I can he is on my lap.

Conversation stops.

Papa Bear speaks. “He doesn’t want you on him, buddy. Why don’t you play on the floor?”

Mama Bear turns to Zoë. “That’s so funny to see! He’s always so shy with everybody.”

Baby Bear doesn’t move.

“Come on, buddy,” says Papa Bear. There was a long silence. His discomfort with his son on my lap is evident. “Play with your toys.”

“I wanna sit here,” Baby Bear whines. “I don’t wanna play.” I look at his toys on the floor. Not a Barbie in sight. Of course he doesn’t want to play.

“Do as you’re told!” Papa Bear isn’t impressed. My eyes meet Zoë’s and I know we are catching the same vibes.

Baby Bear squirms in my lap. “No!”

That’s it. In what seems a single motion Papa Bear is on his feet announcing it’s time to go, collecting toys and putting a coat and boots on Baby Bear. “I wanna sit with him!” come the screams around the corner.

Mama Bear laughs, oblivious. “Gosh this just kills me!” She looks at me. “Hope you know you’re pretty special.”

I hope you know your son’s pretty special, lady, I think.

Or, as Zoë puts it after they’re gone: “That man is gonna have heart failure in about 10 years.”

* Shaun Proulx can be reached at