Why are we talking about a four year old being gay?
IT'S safe to say Prince George is the most famous four-year-old in the world.
He's the squeal-inducingly adorable heir to the throne whose first day at school makes global headlines and appearance in a wedding party brings the house down. But he's also now being hailed a "gay icon" by some thanks to his "relatable" facial expressions and supposedly camp poses, along with the fact that he was spotted holding hands with another page boy at his uncle Harry's recent wedding.
While the memes shouldn't be taken too seriously, much of the commentary about Prince George's sexuality is problematic, to say the least.
For starters, the notion that a display of affection between two young boys such as holding hands is indicative of sexuality speaks volumes about how we're socialised to view male intimacy. At the same wedding, George's sister Princess Charlotte was been photographed holding hands with a girl, but surprise surprise, there were no quips about that making her a lesbian. That show of affection, it seems, is perfectly 'normal' for little girls, but for little boys, it's seen as a sign of things to come.
Sadly, Meghan and Harry's wedding wasn't the first time little George's sexuality has been the subject of speculation, either.
In 2017, an Anglican minister was forced to apologise after urging his congregants to pray for God to make Prince George gay. Rev. Kelvin Holdsworth wrote a blog post in which he called for "the Lord to bless Prince George with a love, when he grows up, of a fine young gentleman."
And sure, the idea of an openly gay monarch has a certain appeal, in the same way that the induction of biracial feminist Meghan Markle into the royal family is sure to help shake the conservative cobwebs out of Buckingham Palace.
Picture the joyous spectacle of a royal same-sex wedding, a public endorsement of queerness attended by the upper echelons of society and viewed by hundreds of millions of people worldwide, including in parts of the world where homosexuality is less accepted.
As queer historian Hugh Ryan writes about the importance of LGBTI representation and the unlikely icon status of Prince George: "Today, there are more options - real options - for queer people looking for icons. But it's still a limited pool, and I don't begrudge those who would - in a loving and joking manner - hold out hope for England's first (acknowledged) gay prince."
But gender expression and sexuality aren't one and the same, and ill-fated attempts to link them often lead to toxic stereotyping, as evidenced by the voyeuristic focus on Prince George's mannerisms and his so called "je ne sais queer".
To be clear, I'm not siding with those who clutch their pearls at the mere suggestion of children being gay. Much of the overblown opposition to labelling Prince George gay unfortunately seems to fall into that category; among conservatives especially, there's an irrational fear that discussing alternate sexualities around children is not only age-inappropriate but can somehow turn them gay. This sort of internalised homophobia plays into damaging conversion and recruitment myths and serves to alienate young gay people.
But homosexuality is no more or less PG than heterosexuality - it's just as much about first crushes and puppy love and sex, and as equally deserving of recognition. And it's also something that people of all orientations should be entitled to figure out on their own.
So I can't help but squirm at the thought of a four-year-old's every move being photographed and scrutinised for gay tells.
My concern isn't so much for a straight Prince George, who will simply shrug off the gay rumours as he grows older, secure in his heterosexuality, but if Prince George is indeed gay then he should get the chance to work that out for himself without the mortifying intrusion of the public before he's even grown into his knee-high socks.
Can't we just let him be ridiculously rich in peace?