Not too long ago, Lee Stern, a music educator, was accompanying his 11-year-old nephew in an elevator in his Chelsea apartment building. Mr. Stern is gay, and so is his brother, who adopted the boy with his partner and lives down the hall.
A man got in the elevator, and after he left, the boy proclaimed, “He is so gay.” Mr. Stern inquired after the response, and his nephew explained that he’d reached his assumption based on a potent whiff of cologne. Mr. Stern responded that cologne had nothing to do with sexual orientation. After all, he and the boy’s fathers didn’t wear any, and they are gay. Then the child said: “No. I mean he is gay,” Mr. Stern recounted. “He was talking about the muscles, the shorts. He was Chelsea,” Mr. Stern said, laughing.