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Am I a horrible gossip?
October 31, 2007 8:39 PM   Subscribe

Say your friend told you a year ago he's gay. Is it ok to pass that information along to a mutual friend, a year later, with whom he has not had direct contact? No one in this equation is afraid of gaiety.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! to Human Relations (37 answers total)
 
Did your friend tell you not to tell anyone? If so, absolutely not. If not, go for it.
posted by null terminated at 8:40 PM on October 31, 2007


It seems to me that you should be posing this question to your friend rather than to strangers on the internet.
posted by kitty teeth at 8:44 PM on October 31, 2007 [4 favorites]


Is your friend openly gay now? If it's public knowlege, I don't see the problem. What's the difference between that and telling one friend that another is engaged or got a new car or whatever?
posted by clh at 8:47 PM on October 31, 2007


Crap - should have added: said gay friend is overseas, out of contact for who knows how long.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 8:56 PM on October 31, 2007


And never said not to tell anyone. Never came up either way.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 8:59 PM on October 31, 2007


If it were me, and it just slipped out in conversation, I wouldn't feel too bad about it. But if I had a chance to think about it, I'd probably come to the conclusion that I'd feel like a complete douche if I ever had to say to my friend "Neener neener, you never said NOT to tell anyone, so rather than err on the side of caution (since some people don't appreciate their sexuality being a topic of discussion), I decided to tell one person, who might tell countless more people who may be total assholes about your homosexuality. You were overseas. I couldn't wait, and I couldn't just not do it."
posted by 23skidoo at 9:10 PM on October 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


I guess a lot of people are more concerned with privacy than me, but ...if it were me:
If there's some particular reason the third party may need to know, then I would tell them. For example, if they're harbouring a major hetero crush on said gay friend, and have serious intents of acting on it.
If third party asked directly, I would tell them.
I would not just bring it up out of the blue, or tell someone if it was not totally relevant.

It does depend on how you think your friend will react... is he normally quite private or reserved? Did it seem like a big deal (to him) when he came out to you?
posted by indienial at 9:10 PM on October 31, 2007


Say your friend told you a year ago he's gay. Is it ok to pass that information along...

How about asking "your friend," if such information was shared "in confidence?"

Ask him if he minds whether, or not, you acknowledge his sexual orientation to others.

Crap - should have added: said gay friend is overseas, out of contact for who knows how long.

No phone contact? No web/e-mail contact?
posted by ericb at 9:15 PM on October 31, 2007


Well, I've been a horrible gossip and it's turned out OK, so you're probably fine.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 9:23 PM on October 31, 2007


Is there any pressing need for the mutual friend to know? Like, is the mutual friend a womanly type person who seems interested in him romantically, or talking about trying to set up Captain Gay with his/her sister in a long-distance thing, or some other actual reason (s)he should know?

If not, keep your mouth shut. If your friend had wanted to tell Mutual Friend, he would have.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:25 PM on October 31, 2007


I think there's a difference between saying "Did you know Bobby HAS TEH GAI?" and saying "Have you heard, Bobby's seeing this new guy and ..."

In other words, context is everything, and nobody likes a gossip, even if the gossip is true. My barometer for this is "Is it any of my goddamn business? (Or anyone else's, for that matter.)"
posted by Brittanie at 9:25 PM on October 31, 2007


Think about it this way: if you tell, you can potentially do your friend a lot of damage. If you remain silent, nothing changes.

The correct choice would seem blindingly obvious.
posted by Malor at 9:30 PM on October 31, 2007


Well, is it any of Mutual Friend's god-damned business? If the answer is anywhere in the range of "no" to "not really," then, yeah, you're just a gossiping blabbermouth.

Which isn't to say that the subject is absolutely off limits: What clh said.
posted by Reggie Digest at 9:30 PM on October 31, 2007


Huh. Most people would tell. That's how gossip works. We're all against it in principle but in practice we like to share the goods. Why is that? If it's always better to keep quiet? Maybe there are advantages to sharing? Or maybe we're just hopeless fools with our feet in our respective mouths. Me, I think I'd just keep it under my hat until I could confirm whether the information is public or not.
posted by TeatimeGrommit at 9:39 PM on October 31, 2007


Is the gossip really relevant to future conversations?

I mean, let's say you found out a friend was Jewish. Would you then turn around and tell a different friend, "Hey, OMG, did you hear that John is really Jewish? All this time, and we didn't know! How wild is that?"

If you reframe it like that, you see how pointless it all is. Who cares? It just doesn't need to be discussed at all.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:45 PM on October 31, 2007


said gay friend is overseas, out of contact for who knows how long.

Hmmm. Don't ask, don't tell?
posted by dhartung at 10:13 PM on October 31, 2007


If you reframe it like that, you see how pointless it all is. Who cares? It just doesn't need to be discussed at all.

Well ... it might. A short illustrative story: There was a girl I was interested in, name of Nadia. She was going out with TFG for a long time, several years in fact. Nadia and I have a few mutual friends, but the only one we both regularly see is my former flatmate. Anyway, some time ago I ran into Nadia and my former flatmate out having coffee; Nadia had just returned from overseas, and was telling him all about it. I joined them, we had an interesting conversation, in the course of which she mentioned a new boyfriend. I'm like, WTF?, but I get over it and carry on the conversation.

Turns out, she'd broken up with TFG, moved back in with her parents, planned to go overseas, had been saving up for a while, met up with the new guy and decided she liked him, went overseas anyway, came back, and got back together with the new guy. During this entire time she'd been emailing my former flatmate a few times a week. (Girls email him a lot. He's happily married, but he's a great flirt, an entertaining conversationalist, and a reasonably good listener.)

But at no point during this months-long correspondence, despite seeing me at least once a week, and being well aware that I was single and miserable about it, and Nadia is exactly my type, had he seen fit to mention to me that Nadia had broken up with TFG, or to Nadia that maybe the three of us and his own GF should do something. I'm like, "I should punch you." He's like, "Huh? Wha? What I do?"

Arrgh.

Anyway, the point of this story is this: Friend B (the one you're considering telling) might have a reason to be very pleased to hear that Friend A (overseas) is gay. I understand the whole subject is tiptoed around a lot in some circles.

So my advice to you is this: If Friend B brought the subject of Friend A or Friend A's sexuality up in any way, enquire deeper into his motives, and if they seem friendly (and he may not want to talk about it with you, so give him benefit of the doubt), then email Friend A about it, and ask Friend A if you should invite Friend B to join whatever meet-up is planned after Friend A returns.

if Friend B didn't bring it up at all, and definitely isn't gay, then I question why it's concerning you and no, it's just gossip, so don't.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 10:51 PM on October 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


"TFG"?

Google reveals the following possibilities: If I had to choose one, I would have to guess that Nadia was going out with The Fat Guy. Am I right?
posted by Flunkie at 11:03 PM on October 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


This happened to me. The person is my best friend. The person I told was my then-FWB's inline-skating friend who went to an unnamed state university in Santa Cruz, CA. I mentioned best friend's name to FWB's inline-skating friend from an unnamed state university in Santa Cruz, CA and it turned out he knew him. I mentioned, "You know my friend who is also from an unnamed state university in the locale of Santa Cruz, CA is of the not heterosexual orientation?" He replied in the negative and disbelief ensued. The end.
posted by parmanparman at 11:07 PM on October 31, 2007


Okay, so I had a similar thing recently, from your friend's perspective. Some of my extended family knows I'm gay (because they divined it, not because I told them). Turns out a cousin I'm not in contact with then announced it at the dinner table, with my 90-year-old grandma present.

Now, I'm not ashamed or anything, and I'll ask anyone who tells me. BUT -- I really would have rather told them on my own terms (or NOT told them). I didn't like someone else doing it for me.

This was also made worse by the fact that I didn't know this had happened until a year later. So they all knew, and I didn't know they knew. And that sucks.

I say ask your friend whether it's cool to reveal. Or, tell your friend that the third party is curious and let him/her handle it. It's not really yours to reveal, even if the outside parties are totally gay friendly. Give your gay friend the gift of having some control over who knows and who doesn't.
posted by mudpuppie at 11:27 PM on October 31, 2007


M.C.: why do you think it important that your mutual friend be appraised of your overseas-friend's gaiety? Just because it's a fascinating fact? Given that everyone's cool about it, it'd probably work out OK, but it might not, and wouldn't you then feel like an ass? Why risk it? How will this knowledge benefit either of your friends?
posted by mumkin at 11:43 PM on October 31, 2007


Am I right?
"That fucking guy." You know the type. (Please, no further derailing on my account; if I want that situation examined in detail I'll post my own AskMefi. :) I just mentioned the anecdote to illustrate my point.)

Anyway, that's tangential to the issue at hand, for which there's a clear consensus towards M.C. not telling Friend B (the one here) about Friend A's sexual orientation without Friend A's (the one overseas) permission. And rightly so.

The point I'm making is the flipside of indienial's point: what if Friend B is gay too, and has a crush on A that might work out? Obviously it's totally up to them if things work out between them (seems gay men have diverse tastes and values in potential partners too, who'd have guessed?) but if it's a possibility, then it ought to be considered.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 12:04 AM on November 1, 2007


If he's out to everyone then you can tell everyone else. If he's only out to some people, you should spread the word until he says he's ready.
posted by HotPatatta at 12:06 AM on November 1, 2007


Uh, NO. You have no idea who he might tell, who they will tell in turn, etc. What if his mom ended up finding out via grapevine, and it was all your fault?

No, no, no, no, no.
posted by sondrialiac at 12:32 AM on November 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


It isn't gossip IMHO. For most people, their default assumption about another is that the person in question is heterosexual. In this case, that is not accurate and the false assumption should be corrected.

Plus, coming out is a major event in your friend's life. Not sharing it with other friends the same way you would share news that "Hey, Ben got a new job!" or "Ben bought a kick-ass apartment!" or other important events makes it seem like something to be hidden, and it isn't.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:35 AM on November 1, 2007


Spreading The News...Or Not.
posted by Rabulah at 5:29 AM on November 1, 2007


If your friend is in the military I'd keep my mouth shut. You would have no control over who your other friend would tell, for one thing.
posted by konolia at 6:00 AM on November 1, 2007


I would just not say anything. Your friend obviously chooses to share something seriously personal only with people that he is very close to. Sure, it has been a year. I would wait for the trickle down. If he was in-town, and out at the bars/in the scene it would probably be okay to tell. He's out of the picture to most people, so there is no real incidental reason to tell someone without explicitly thinking about it. Wait until he's back, and if he wants to be out--he'll be out.
posted by rocket_johnny at 6:14 AM on November 1, 2007


I always try to look at the truth in an economic way. Everyone is ultimately better off if everyone knows the truth. Everyone understands the dynamics of situations better. Everyone makes better decisions. Everyone behaves more appropriately.

I've always felt that if I didn't like people knowing something about me that was true, then I needed to examine why I felt that way and change something.

Gossip, to me, is unfounded speculation being spread. Truth-telling - not so much.

I realize I'm in the minority here, and that most people don't like their information shared. But...maybe they need to examine that a little closer.
posted by greekphilosophy at 6:25 AM on November 1, 2007


If it comes up in conversation, yes; if it doesn't, no. If you meet new people and are all, "dude, whathisface is so gay", then yes, you are a gossip.
posted by chunking express at 7:12 AM on November 1, 2007


NO. It's not your news to share, period.

(PS I'm an out lesbian.)
posted by stonefruit at 8:13 AM on November 1, 2007


Plus, coming out is a major event in your friend's life. Not sharing it with other friends the same way you would share news that "Hey, Ben got a new job!" or "Ben bought a kick-ass apartment!" or other important events makes it seem like something to be hidden, and it isn't.

From my perspective as a gay man, I am Ben. And guess what: Ben just won the lottery! I'd like to control who is told and when they are told. Yes, it's great that Ben won. But let him decide when to spread the news.
posted by Robert Angelo at 8:16 AM on November 1, 2007


No, if you have some doubt of course you shouldn't tell. It's a serious personal thing, you should let your friend figure out how he wants his social circle to know. If it comes up in some relevant context, then just maybe. But don't just bring it up on your own.

I'm out and gay, fwiw. I have occasionally wanted my friends to tell other people I was gay as the simplest way to get the info out there. But I did that by explicitly asking them to.
posted by Nelson at 9:18 AM on November 1, 2007


If it comes up in conversation, yes; if it doesn't, no. If you meet new people and are all, "dude, whathisface is so gay", then yes, you are a gossip.

Ha!

No, that's not exactly how I said it.

I mentioned it to our mutual friend, who has been out of the loop for a while, in the context of recounting the gay friend's globe-hopping adventures of late. Since that discussion, my wife and I have been debating whether or not it was cool to mention that detail.

The revelation was surprising, especially considering the age of the newly-identified-as-gay friend, but not upsetting or scandalous to anyone in our circle.

Great, thoughtful advice, everyone!
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 10:00 AM on November 1, 2007


If you are conflicted enough about this to ask a bunch of strangers on the internet, you probably already know more than one reason to keep this information to yourself. Telling cannot be undone.
posted by yohko at 10:00 AM on November 1, 2007


I've always felt that if I didn't like people knowing something about me that was true, then I needed to examine why I felt that way and change something.

So if you were gay and worried that someone might bash your head in or excommunicate you, you'd change something about yourself?
posted by null terminated at 12:40 PM on November 1, 2007


So if you were gay and worried that someone might bash your head in or excommunicate you, you'd change something about yourself?

I am gay.

And I wouldn't change the fact that I was gay, I'd change the conditions that made me afraid to live my life openly and honestly. It's a perspective thing, null terminated. Get some.
posted by greekphilosophy at 12:02 PM on November 7, 2007


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