Daphne or Dorothy

For Halloween my ten-year old nephew, Mitchell, went as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. During an iChat with the entire Kundler family present, my sister explained how they borrowed the costume from a neighbor and made pig tails using his own hair. His two older brother rolled their eyes as my sister went on to say that it was either Dorothy or a Cheerleader, but in the end Mitchell chose Dorothy . When I asked the two older boys what their reaction was to their little brother’s decision, they declined to answer, stating only that he received an appropriate beating when he returned home that evening. They were only kidding, but it was apparent that they did not support their little brother decision to dress up in a costume that is intended for girls.

The youngest of four children, Mitchell is quite special. He loves to play football, does well at school and given the chance, he loves to play the clown in most circumstances. At ten years old, weighing 75 pounds, he stands approximately 4 foot 5 inches tall with big, wonderous, green eyes and extra long eyelashes, the kind that Chad desperately tries to grow using Latisse.

Two years ago, that same sister, a former teacher, confided in me that she and her husband thought Mitchell might be gay. I immediately said it was too early to tell. Psychiatrists have stated that gender identity is solidified only after puberty. If a child identifies with the opposite sex, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re gay. Since Mitchell is pre-pubescent it is still too early for any of us to  know, especially him. Even her husband, a psychiatrist himself, agreed that it was too soon to make the call, but in light of this latest Halloween selection, I’m beginning to think my sister may be correct in her assumption. Of course they’re is the blaring red light going off in my head that Mitchell chose to be Dorothy, a character with strong ties to the gay community, played by Judy Garland, the number one gay icon of all time.

“Dorothy! You can’t get any gayer than that,” said my best friend Eric.

The very next day, a photograph of a five-year old boy dressed up as Daphne from Scooby-Doo surfaced on the Internet. The picture has gone viral with the tag line, My Son is Gay or He’s Not. His mother posted the photo of her son on her blog in response to the negative reaction he experienced at school from the other mothers. The story was picked up by CNN who interviewed the mother. The CNN reporter asked her why she posted the picture. She said her decision was to show support for her son. CNN psychologist, Jeff Gardere said, “It’s the worst nightmare” of both heterosexual and gay couples “to have to fathom that their child might be gay.”

What bothers me most about the mistreatment of this story is how often little scientific information is provided. Instead homosexuality is once again regarded as a choice. This boy chose to dress up as Daphne. His mother allowed him to. Whether or not he is gay isn’t the issue. He’s only five years old. The real dilemma is that the other mother’s were visibly upset by his mother’s decision to allow him to dress up as a female cartoon character. Unfortunately, CNN failed to present any scientific data: that the youngest boy born after several male births is likely to be gay, that a child born in a family where a gay relative exists has a higher likelihood of being, that boys who like to dress up as girls tend to grow up to be gay as opposed to “Tom boyish” girls who don’t necessarily become lesbians.

Again I’m reminded of Ron Howard’s upcoming movie The Dilemma, in which Vince Vaughn reacts to an absurd situation by exclaiming, “That is so gay.”

I support a child’s freedom to express themselves as whomever they wish to be, whether it is Daphne or Dorothy. I am ashamed that this is not handled more maturely by news makers who refuse to acknowledge that this innate behavior may be sign that they are gay but their expression should be respected regardless if they want to dress up as Daphne, Dorothy or Wolverine. But I’m not stupid. I know if you put a man in a wig and a dress it will get laughs. And if you see the picture of the boy dressed up as Daphne or my nephew dressed up as Dorothy, you will laugh out loud. What I don’t understand is why we can’t analyze these stories maturely with the same journalistic integrity that is reserved for any other developmental observation. We have to stop treating homosexuality as if it was a disability. If anything, history has shown us that gay men and women often exceed, if given the chance, in almost every field they choose. I find the mistreatment of this story is once again steeped in humor and the psychologist’s comments as cautionary. Wouldn’t it have been more informative for Gardere to have said, “Although it is too early to drawn any definitive conclusions about this boy’s sexuality, it is clear that this child identifies with Daphne for some unknown reason and his mother should be commended for supporting his growth, development and imagination.

Gay health is still ignored in medical schools and is only taught in relation to HIV, and for the most part, Americans still consider homosexuality a choice.

I applaud both mothers for supporting their child with love and respect. I hope more will do the same in the future. And if either of these boys grows up to be gay, I’m certain they will be very well-adjusted, considering the support they’ve already received by both their mothers.



  1. Posted November 13, 2010 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    Well, at least he didn’t want to be VELMA! She was the questionable one.

  2. Posted November 13, 2010 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    I also wonder why nobody ever mentions that the majority of transvestites are heterosexual, at least that I what I have read.

  3. james
    Posted December 6, 2010 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    Once again the great unwashed mass displays ignorance. Assuming that the boy in question is developing a female identity, then he may become a transgender person later in life. Sexual preference has nothing to do with wanting to dress like a girl. At least half the male homosexual world has to be firmly male in gender orientation for any male homosexual relationship to work.

    There is enough observational, anecdotal and some scientifc evidence around to suggest that gender identity is biological, not social and is influenced by masculinization or feminization of the brain in utero. Hetero or homo sexual attraction on the other hand is not understood at all – but since one finds homosexual animals, who presumably were not screwed up by their mothers or fathers or life at home, one can assume that sexual orientation is likewise a brain function.

    Effeminate homosexual men are just that, effeminate. The fact that they are also homo. is a coincidence that makes people think being effeminate and homo. naturally occur together. They may in fact simply have a neural feminine schemata and have not opted to change their gender but if they did change, then all would be normal, not so? Man and woman together, what could be more normal?

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