Stephan Lee
October 20, 2012 AT 03:02 PM EDT

Every gay adult has those photos — the ones from childhood you never want your relatives to dig up. A charming and inspiring new book, Born This Way: Real Stories of Growing Up Gay, shines a light on those photos and celebrates what they signify. In the book, more than 100 adults think back to the time they knew they were gay. For most of them, the notion came to them early in childhood or adolescence — and there’s photo evidence to prove it!

The photos can be funny, cute, or awkward, but they all emphasize that being gay is not a choice. A personal example: In pretty much all photos of me from ages five to seven, I’m standing with my ankles crossed, hands firmly on my waist, chin down, and looking up seductively. I just instinctively knew that pose would make me look amazing.

Click through for photos and testimonials from Born This Way!

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