First, this all certainly teaches me not to post in a hurry. I was rushing past the set-up to get to the main question, but the set-up has become the focus of this thread.
There is a lot of context that was left out that I would have included (or emphasized differently) if my question had been "should I have said this?"
That's not really what I was asking. The discussion has been interesting, though.
So, it honestly never occurred to me that, for example, the eye contact thing would be read as me presenting evidence that Ryan is gay. Not at all. I see why you could think that, but that's not the case.
He's also not effeminate at all -- big athletic guy, gets along well with his peers, no "signs" of any stereotypical type.
So why did it cross my mind? I've been thinking about that. Still not sure, but if I had to guess I'd say a certain watchfulness
Several kids I grew up with turned out to be gay/ were gay. (Again the awkward phrase, but while one of them was out since 4th grade, another one of them knew she was gay from early on but tried to fit in and pass. Went through a suicidal period, etc., finally came out in college, I spent a lot of time listening to her after her roommate had a virulently negative reaction. Then others were straight without question until they met a specific person. Etc.) I've also known a lot of not-out gay people (either before and after they came out, or people who were mostly closeted but were out to a small group that included me).
have that watchfulness because I'm deaf and need to scan for information all of the time. It's default mode for me. So there are things that I notice that aren't necessarily obvious at all.
Ryan has that watchfulness. The slightest air of a tourist in a foreign country, trying to follow the local customs. He DOES follow the local customs -- he does very well socially. But there's this extra level of awareness, very subtle, that I've noticed. I know he's very smart, so it may just be curiosity. He may have some hidden disability I don't know about, and he's keeping his antennae up to see if it has been noticed/ how people are reacting to him. There's no obvious reason for that watchfulness, though, so that's, I think, part of what made me think of it.
Again, I have not come to any conclusions -- he might turn out to be gay, he might not. If I were to bet, I'd say it's more likely he'll turn out to be straight. Again, as dlowan explains well, this really is more general than Ryan.
But the combination of watchfulness -- really noticing how people are reacting to him, in a way that's unusual for kids his age -- and actually doing extremely well socially made the thought cross my mind.
Now, on to "plant a seed." I mentioned some other seeds I planted -- that when someone is being uncharacteristically mean, for example, maybe take the time to think about what's going on in her life and why it might be happening. Or that while the Amazonian Indian lip plate might seem odd to us, there are probably things we think are normal, like high heels, that would seem odd to them.
This is a seed that I purposely planted. The issue is the nature of the seed. Remember, sozlet does not think being gay is a bad thing. And she really doesn't -- this has come up in any number of ways. She understands that there is a lot of homophobia out there, and so that while people shouldn't
have problems because they're gay, they often do
, and it's something to be careful about. So she absolutely would not say anything that would indicate Ryan is gay, for that reason. (And I understand that all of you have to take that on faith -- I do get the discomfort around that. I'm 100% confident that it won't be an issue, but that's two levels of say-so that all of you have to accept -- hers and mine that I believe her).
This incident, such as it was (took 30 seconds initially and one minute in follow-up, and was never a Big Deal), happened several weeks ago. Sozlet and Ryan remain friends, same as ever.
Another casualty of my rushing through the set-up was "taken aback." That was stronger than warranted, and I think helped along some misconceptions. "Blinked" would have been better. It was the same moment I saw when she started thinking of what Amazonian Indians would think of high heels. It was "oh wait -- I know there are gay grown-ups, but they were kids at some point too weren't they? huh."
This was a minor, minor moment. Part of what I've learned from being a mom -- maybe this is just my kid -- is that I need to layer on the concepts. Not just one lecture where everything's covered and that's that. I mention something here, something there. Then a more in-depth discussion at some point. Then another minor mention. Then another in-depth discussion. And on and on, starting from when she was a teeny little thing. (But again this is probably about 2% of our total interactions -- it's not like I'm in constant teaching mode.)
So if Ryan asks her out in high school, there is no "seed" that would prevent her from saying yes, even if she carries any memory of our brief, long-ago conversation. Because the seed is NOT "be careful, he might be gay." The seed is "it's likely that not all of your peers will turn out to be straight."
I can't see where sexual orientation, as defined above, could apply to prepubescent children, and the term really isn't ever used with regard to children in that age group.
A quote from the definition:
Sexual orientation describes an enduring pattern of attraction—emotional, romantic, sexual, or some combination of these—to the opposite sex, the same sex, both, or neither, and the genders that accompany them.
That certainly applies to crushes, while the "some combination" at this age is mostly emotional and romantic attraction.