From the Wikipedia article on Sylvester: about Sylvester:
The young Sylvester was often accused of effeminacy and recognized his own homosexuality from an early age. At the age of eight, he engaged in sexual activity with a far older man at the church—at the time rumored to be the church organist—although he would always maintain that this was consensual and not an example of sexual molestation. Sylvester was taken to a doctor after receiving injuries during anal sex with this man. It was this doctor who informed Letha that her son was gay, something that she could not accept, viewing homosexual activity as a perversion and a sin. News of Sylvester’s homosexual activity soon spread through the church congregation, and feeling unwelcome, he ceased his attendance at age 13.
From the book “The fabulous Sylvester: the legend, the music, the seventies in San Francisco” by Gamson, Joshua, 1962, S. 17-21
One day in 1959, when Dooni was eleven, he complained of pain, so his mother took him to the family doctor. The doctor examined him, and ordered surgery in the rectal region. Letha Hurd did not really understand the sexual implications, so Dooni explained how he had been injured and, in the process, himself. Even then, he had no shame, although it was a shock for his family. “I was let down and disappointed, in a way,” Letha Hurd said later. “Letha didn’t know how to handle Dooni,” says Esau Joyner, so she tried to get some help from a psychologist, who told her that some people are homosexual, and that her son seemed to be one of them. “She was so disgusted,” Joyner says. “She’s from tlie South. They just wasn’t used to that.”
It turned out that Dooui had diseovered not just Ciod hut sex at PaliTi Lane. By tlie age of eight, Sylvester later told the journalist Barry Walters, he had been introduced to “the life”—homosexual life — by a choir leader.
Sylvester never named the man publicly, and he didn’t tell his family about it until many years later. He did not exactly blame the man who had seduced him (no one knows how forcefully); even at eight or ten or twelve, Sylvester did not see himself simply as a powerless victim of abuse. That never seemed to change, though he seemed to realize the gravity of what had happened. When they were grown, Bernadette asked him how he got started in gay life. “One of the choir leaders turned me out,” he told her, matter-of-factly. As Sylvester himself described it twenty-five years later to his friend and pastor Yvette Flunder, he was doing what he wanted to do. “He had sex,” Dr. Flunder says, “but he never called it sexual abuse. He never called it that. He was a younger man who slept with some older men. Everybody learns from somebody.” In 1981 Sylvester told the writer Lee Hildebrand, “Obviously I had to want it to happen or else it wouldn’t have happened.” Speaking to Barry Walters in 1988, he did describe the experience as “abuse,” yet not as something he regretted. “He did a real number on me,” Sylvester said, “but it never made me crazy. I was a queen even back then, so it didn’t bother me. I rather liked it.”
But at Palm Lane, people began to talk about Dooni. A bouncy and prim six-year-old was charming, but when the child was twice that age people began to wonder. His effeminacy was now hard to write off as child’s play, and Dooni wasn’t working very hard to be like the other boys. His voice was changing, but he still preferred to sing in the high range. Rumors circulated, too, that he was doing unmentionable things upstairs with a man from the church. Some folks in the church knew, or tliought they knew, that the man in question was the organist at Palm Lane, who was married to “a cute little thing,” says Dreda Slaughter—and had a child, too.
According to members of Sylvester’s family, those folks were right. Still, no one at Palm Lane seemed concerned about Dooni. Instead, a lot of people just started getting chillier toward him. “The biggest hurt you could ever get is from church people,” says Dreda Slaughter. “They slice you and dice you and dog you, and they think they are right and think they are helping you.”