Is my boyfriend gay or am I crazy?
September 2, 2006 5:25 PM   Subscribe

I am a female in my late twenties dating a guy in his mid thirties. We live together and have been together a few years. It's the best relationship I've ever had and I would like to marry him some day. Nevertheless I am sometimes plagued by fears that he's going to turn out to be gay.

The "evidence" I have collected in my feverish little brain is thus:

-He owns the movies "Lost Boys", "Y Tu Mama Tambien", My Own Private Idaho" and the LOTR trilogy...all movies featuring gay love/sex scenes or subtext; he works out and lifts weights and dresses well and has more clothes than I do; he crosses his legs occasionally; he works in the gay part of town (but not at a bar or anything); he told me he used to hang out with his friends at a gay bar in college b/c it was the only non-sports bar in town; his sister-in-law and a few other people (but not most of his social circle) thought he might be gay because...he was single for eight (!) years before he met me AND he lived for two of those years with a roommate and close friend who IS thought to be gay by most of the social circle but hasn't come out yet

ALSO: I had to make all the first moves in our relationship; from asking him out to initiating sex for the first time. He said he wanted to take things slow since he hadn't been with a girl in 8 years; he has a lower sex drive than me; he doesn't tell me I'm pretty or beautiful very often...which is something other boyfriends I've had did all the time. Seriously, I get more physical compliments from guys on the street.

BUT then I'll go back and convince myself that I'm being stupid because:

-He's an indie movie buff who owns plenty of movies, 90% of which don't have gay subtexts. (And heck, my favorite movie is Heavenly Creatures); straight guys like to look good too; I worked in the gay part of town too (aka The Yuppie Part of Town) and sometimes I wonder if I got so accustomed to gay fellows being the majority there I've started to believe they are the majority in the world at large as well; once I got the ball rolling on the whole dating and sex thing he seemed very much into it; ditto for our sex life now: when he's up for it...he's up for it

IN ADDITION: I am a highly insecure person sometimes and I wonder if I'm not letting myself be happy now that I have a great boyfriend. The whole "If it seems too good to be true it probably is" thing. Also, I've had this fear about other boyfriends too, though not to the same extent; I am almost 100% certain that he's never cheated on me.

So from the perspective of an outsider given the facts on both sides: which is it? Is my boyfriend gay but just doesn't know it yet. Is my gut telling me something? Or am I just completely and utterly neurotic with more issues than you can shake a stick at? In either case, what should I do? And is there any way you can bring this up in conversation to a loved one without completely emasculating him?

Every time I think I have this sorted there's another story in the paper about men on the "down-low" and my anxiety starts spiraling out of control again.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (76 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
My favorite "type" is the gay-seeming straight guy. None of such fellas I've dated have been actually gay, nor have I worried about them being gay. Other people would say, oh, he seems so gay, but I always trusted my own straight-ar, and so far have been right (as far as I know so far). But as to your situation, well, anything's possible. Has he ever "experimented"?
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 5:43 PM on September 2, 2006

It's possible that he's gay. It's equally (possibly even more) likely that he takes his cues on movies/music/etc from the dominant culture around him, as everyone does (whether by adoption or rejection), which happens to be a gay culture.

Lost Boys, Y Tu Mama, etc--these are all fantastic films. One doesn't have to be gay to like them, any more than one needs to be a coke snorting gangster to like Scarface.

Works out? Dresses well? Most women can only dream of having a boyfriend who does these things. Has more clothes than you? So what? Lots of men have lots of clothes. The rise of metrosexuality has shown that, finally, men are allowed to present themselves just as women do.

And, FYI, there is no gay subtext in LOTR. Tolkien very specifically talked about platonic love and affection between men. Any gay subtext is projection, and not the stated intent of the author.

I have more to write, but I have to run. Bottom line? Maybe he's gay, maybe he's not. Either way, there is absolutely nothing you can do about it, and no way you can get a straight (pardon) answer out of him that you will trust 100%, so you need to decide whether you can live with the uncertainty or not.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 5:47 PM on September 2, 2006

Doesn't sound gay to me, and some of the reasons you gave for thinking he might be were reeeeally reaching. ("he crosses his legs occasionally"?) He could very well be bi, I suppose, but if he were gay he wouldn't be having sex with you and enjoying it.
posted by squidlarkin at 5:47 PM on September 2, 2006

he crosses his legs occasionally


That righ there's a big 'ol checkmark in the insecure girlfriend column for me.

Weird attitudes about proper storage of appendages aside, I suppose it's possible he's gay. Could also be bi, which could actually be a... bonus... for you. Has he been with men? Ever been curious? Maybe have a few drinks with him and ask - playfully, casually, not obsessively as I think could be an issue here.

But it's especially possible you're close to talking yourself out of a boyfriend with nice clothes, good taste in movies and open-minded social mores, all on the basis of a very impressive buffet spread of stereotypes.
posted by poweredbybeard at 5:54 PM on September 2, 2006

For what it's worth, I broke up with my very butch, punk-rock, bass-playing, hard-drinking exbf because I found out he was having casual hook-ups with men. There were no signs at all. Nothing makes a man gay or bi except for being attracted to and/or having sex with other men.
posted by kimdog at 5:59 PM on September 2, 2006

I think you're overreacting.
if he's with you and straight or bi, who cares?
posted by k8t at 6:03 PM on September 2, 2006

Bottom line: this is clearly really a big issue for you, since you're over-analyzing the HELL out of everything he says and does. (Does he own a queen size bed? Maybe he's trying to tell you something!)

In either case, what should I do?

It's pretty evident from your text that you're highly insecure about this. If you've been together several years, live together, and you're thinking about marriage, you need to clear this up--it's festering and it'll eat away at your mind until you get to the bottom of it.

Have you talked about if he's even attracted to guys? If you put things in a context that makes him open up to saying things (I have no clue--"Would you be up to a 3some with another guy?") or "I had a big lezbo crush in college, have you ever had the equivalent?"

We can play the flip side here: I hate shopping, I don't own any of those movies or other "gay love/sex scenes or subtext" as you call it. Most people own more clothes than me, I don't hang out all the time at gay bars, all of my roommates up until a month ago have been straight. Most of my social circle is straight. Does that make me, by your implications, straight? Hell no.
posted by gramcracker at 6:05 PM on September 2, 2006 [4 favorites]

I think you just have to connect some dots here. He was single for eight years because he doesn't make the moves on girls. That doesn't make him gay, that just makes him lonely.

Plus, he's having sex with a woman, so he can't be that gay.
posted by smackfu at 6:05 PM on September 2, 2006

My college sweetheart started dating men after graduation. He always knew that he was attracted to men (and women, too- he's still figuring out the "label" thing). Your boyfriend has lived with (possibly) gay men, hung out at gay nightclubs, works with/around gay people- don't you think if he was gay he would know it for sure by now? Do you really think he's that stupid? This isn't about him being gay (crossing legs? Come on!)- it's about trust. You don't believe all he has done toward being in a relationship with you is real. Trying to pin that on him being "gay" is just the easy way out.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:07 PM on September 2, 2006 [1 favorite]

I've known gay guys with rather straight lives and straight guys with rather gay lives. Unless he's speaking with a lisp, goes to drag queen shows and has a special friend he spends the night with -- well then he's straight. Especially at that age. Don't be a square.
posted by geoff. at 6:14 PM on September 2, 2006

In the circles he moves in, what reason could he possibly have for staying in the closet? It's not like he lives in a conservative small town where his social standing would be devastated if someone found out he was gay or something. Maybe he's just a sensitive, stylish guy with a small libido.
posted by leapingsheep at 6:21 PM on September 2, 2006

Plus, he's having sex with a woman, so he can't be that gay.
don't you think if he was gay he would know it for sure by now?
well then he's straight. Especially at that age.

Just to play devil's advocate--having a sex with a woman, and spending many years hanging out with gay people does not make someone who hasn't come out yet straight. While it's hopefully less common now that being gay is a bit more acceptable, there are still plenty of people that come out in their 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s.
posted by gramcracker at 6:29 PM on September 2, 2006

I've had girlfriends ask me indirectly if I'm gay (the exact wording is usually something like, "Have you ever considered dating a guy?"). I've never been offended.

It seems to me that you're being very neurotic though. Your list of evidence could apply to most of the straight guys I know, including me.
posted by aiko at 6:44 PM on September 2, 2006

Or am I just completely and utterly neurotic

I vote for "completely and utterly neurotic". I mean, seriously -- "He owns LOTR, dresses well and crosses his legs occasionally"!??

posted by martinrebas at 6:56 PM on September 2, 2006

Another vote for the, "Um, he sounds normal and you're neurotic" camp. Specifically, I don't think you make any valid reasons why he's turn gay. Movies, dresses nicely, crosses legs? Meh. You could always make, "You're gay!!!" jokes and see what his reaction is.
posted by jmd82 at 7:07 PM on September 2, 2006

You should consider yourself lucky as stated before that you have an openminded, stylish, health conscious man.

Heterosexuality is not predicated on pro sports, muscle cars, or Larry the Cable guy.

I'm interested in what part of the country you live in, because here in the midwest, the gay areas of town are the only places you can get away from the NASCAR and Bud Light crowd.
posted by pieoverdone at 7:07 PM on September 2, 2006

Well, I have The Lost Boys on DVD (this movie does not seem even remotely gay to me though - possible exception being that sassy saxophone player at the boardwalk concert scene).

And I don't know if I dress well, but I do spend a lot of money on clothes...I also listen to a lot of Madonna, Pet Shop Boys, and house music. I've even gone to gay nightclubs on more than one occasion.

I've definitely considered the implications of my cultural tastes...and I've come to the conclusion that my sexuality is well represented by my porn, which is all straight. Very dirty, but very straight.

I've been single for seven years now and every single relationship I've had has been initiated by the girl; the asking out, the makin' out, the sex. This is because I've got issues, not because of my sexuality.

If this really is the best relationship you've ever had, get a grip on this anxiety before you fuck it up. I personally think that maybe you should let him know about your anxiety simply because my completely uneducated and wildly presumptuous guess is that if there wasn't this "is he gay thing", it would be some other issue you would be making yourself crazy with. But the point being to communicate to him that you do have anxieties that may be rooted in your own self-esteem.
posted by giantfist at 7:18 PM on September 2, 2006

i'm hardly an expert on sexual orientation, but i was under the impression that people are gay because they're attracted to men, not because they watch certain movies, go to certain bars, know certain people, cross their legs or happen to be introverted and sexually passive

i don't see how you could possibly ask him something like this without it affecting your relationship

bluntly, you sound like a rather shallow person who looks at surfaces and stereotypes and doesn't know people very well at all ... i'd strongly suggest you work on that, as it could well create problems in your relationship later on over other issues ... perhaps a class or some brief individual therapy on the subject of emphazing with and understanding people better would be appropriate
posted by pyramid termite at 7:19 PM on September 2, 2006

Some alternative hypothesis:

1. All of this could be explained with mental illness. Perhaps he's been depressed/bipolar/GAD/OCD or something (Aspergers, etc) during those eight years. People like this often lack social skills thus the 'he doesnt put the moves on me.'

2. This is very iffy but he might suffer from low testosterone.

3. He may be different. Many straight creative/artsy people I know set off the occasional gaydar. The gaydars are 100% wrong.

4. He could have some form of gender dysphoria, but if hes able to maintain a straight relationship with you and have sex with you (arousal) then probably not.

None of this matters. You should just ask him if when he masturbates if he ever thinks of men. You can trick him by saying "Sometimes when I masterbate I think of women, do you ever think of men?" If he does then youre probably dealing with some kind of bi/gay sitation, but so far your evidence is not so good.

I think youre being a tad neurotic. LOTR and Lost Boys are hardly gay movies. Id be more concered about musicals, him disappearing for a night and staying with an old buddy, not interested in sex with you, etc. Also if the gay part of town is the yuppie part town and this guy is a yuppie, well, where do you expect him to work?

To me he sounds like a typical urban artsy late bloomer. The kind of guy who rebels against starting a family, serious dating, etc to find himself in his 30s and being deathly afraid of being alone after seeing all his friends getting married. He may also have other issues, but who doesnt?

I say you just bring it up or ask the masturbation question. Especially if youre thinking marriage.
posted by damn dirty ape at 7:21 PM on September 2, 2006

My mother harbors suspicions that her brother might be gay because he never married, never talks about dating women, lives in San Francisco, and has gay friends. If she saw the Harvey Milk documentary he's got on his shelf (and actually knew who Harvey Milk was, which I seriously doubt she does presently), she'd probably be absolutely convinced. However, if she knew about his markedly heterosexual pr0n stash, which I had the unfortunate (and somewhat scarring) experience of stumbling across, she might change her mind. I'm personally trying to forget that I know, so I'm not going to be the one to tell her.

My point is that circumstantial evidence does not a gay man make. Is it possible he's gay? Sure; anything's possible. It's also possible that you're so worried about it that you're grasping at straws. You admit that you're insecure, and that you've had similar concerns about prior boyfriends... maybe the "is he gay" panic is really a "is he going to leave me" panic? In any case, I agree with those who say it's something you're going to need to deal with before you get serious about marriage, either by talking to him or doing a bit of soul-searching on your part (or both).
posted by Aster at 7:36 PM on September 2, 2006

The reasons you gave for thinking he may be gay have nothing to do with his sexual orientation. Based on that alone, I would say he is not gay if he is sleeping with you. However, I am a big believer in trusting your gut instincts. Perhaps your gut is saying he is and in the rational world you found these examples as evidence.

If you are insecure about the whole thing, it will be hard to do, but have you considered asking him? "Are you attracted to men sexually?" is not a relationship breaking question if he is not. If someone asked me, I would simply say "no" and maybe add, "Why do you ask?"
posted by JohnnyGunn at 7:37 PM on September 2, 2006

You want to find out via not-so-moral but non-confrontational means? Go through his browser history. If you find a decent amount of gay porn, he's probably gay. Only chicks? He's probably straight. A mix? Probably bi. Nothing? He either has a low libido, or not interested in visual stimulation, or hiding something, and you're back to square one as far as figuring it out.
posted by Bugbread at 7:39 PM on September 2, 2006

Break up. Break up now.

Walk away from the computer, and don't come back until you have broken up with your boyfriend. You may need to access this thread at an internet cafe if it gets unpleasant, but don't worry, we'll wait for you.

OK. Done?

Now -- you just broke up with your boyfriend because...
  • you live together
  • you say it is a good relationship
  • you may want to marry this man
...And you think he's gay but cannot begin to address this with him, so you asked me.

You love him, he loves you -- doesn't that mean you can talk to each other about even the hardest things? If he knows you love him, isn't he going to understand where you're coming from? Maybe he'll think it's an insecure place, but he'll know it's not an insulting or hurtful one. How would he feel if he did marry you, and then found out that all the time you had such huge doubts about him, and didn't even give him a chance to clear the air? Give him some credit. He loves you; he wants you to know who he is.

So ask him -- and also let him know you.
posted by Methylviolet at 7:40 PM on September 2, 2006 [7 favorites]

Oh, and regarding the browser history check:

If you do it, keep in mind that you may find stuff more disturbing than you expected. "Ok, so he's straight, but I don't think I can keep dating a guy whose browser history is full of scat."
posted by Bugbread at 7:44 PM on September 2, 2006

Why not just ask him?
posted by petsounds at 8:09 PM on September 2, 2006

Hey! Knowing who the sassy saxophone player in The Lost Boys was got me laid. By a girl. Ahem.

Anyway, yeah ... you could always snoop on him, try to trick him into saying something. If he's gay, it probably won't work out ... but have you thought about what you'd do if he batted from both sides of the plate?

Eight years and you having to initiate doesn't mean very much. A lot of the more sensitive guys right now don't have any positive models for approaching women, only an endless lists of no-nos, which leads some men into a kind of dating deadlock where they either don't know what to do or just have decided it's not worth it.
posted by adipocere at 8:16 PM on September 2, 2006 [1 favorite]

Any way you could casually wire up his gonads to a polygraph and "accidentally" slip Shaving Ryan's Privates (link SFW) into the DVD player to gauge his reaction?

Thought not. Obviously, traits noticed are just that, not dead giveaways. But if you must know, ask him. (I suspect, however, you'll just tell yourself that you got the answer he wants you to hear.)
posted by rob511 at 8:17 PM on September 2, 2006

petsounds, because she doesn't know how? "And is there any way you can bring this up in conversation to a loved one without completely emasculating him?"
posted by bleary at 8:20 PM on September 2, 2006

I think JohnnyGunn gets it 100% some point in the relationship, your gut started telling you that something wasn't 100% "right" with the sexual side of your relationship...because you didn't have a name for this problem, you pointed to stereotypes to support this feeling. Well, maybe those traits you noticed don't really mean anything, but that doesn't mean the feeling behind your stereotyping is unimportant or ought to be ignored - it absolutely shouldn't - sweeping it under the carpet is the worst place for these feelings...

Everyone who says you have to learn how to communicate with your partner about these issues is telling you what you probably already know you have to do...

Whether he's "gay" or not, there's something that you feel isn't quite right, and you need to explore that with him.
posted by extrabox at 8:21 PM on September 2, 2006 [1 favorite]

(Crude language ahead)

Does he eat your pussy or enjoy eating your pussy? If he's a gay man dating a straight woman, chances are he'll do some things in bed and not others (he won't go down on you). If he won't go near your pussy, either 1) he's got ISSUES and get rid of him, or 2) he's gay, keep him around for decorating tips.
posted by BigVACub at 8:30 PM on September 2, 2006 [4 favorites]

Wow. I just refreshed and was gonna post what BigVAClub was gonna say. Except the last bit. I have been told by at least a couple gay men that the best way to out a guy is to talk about eatin' pussy.
posted by notsnot at 8:59 PM on September 2, 2006

If it was him asking the question, not you, it would go something like this:

I'm in my mid 30's and my girlfriend is in her late 20's. We live together and have been together a few years. It has been a great relationship. I'm a bit shy and she had no problems making the first move. However there's a problem. Her insecurities are becoming a serious issue. She is constantly paranoid I'm gay to the point of commenting on my purchase of Lord of the Rings (WTF?) and asks me why I cross my legs occasionally (double WTF!?). It's led to her taking the insecurities to the bedroom which doesn't really help me a lot since I already have a lower sex drive than she does.

Of course nothing I do can convince her that I'm not gay. I'm sure if I started watching football with the guys, she'd see the homoerotic overtones in that, or if I spend all my spare time in strip clubs I was just overcompensating. She's even mentioned that my natural shyness makes her think I'm gay (which just makes me more withdrawn!)

I'm afraid this will escalate and she'll start doing things that are even more destructive to our relationship, like snooping in my email and grilling my friends and coworkers. (Not that my email has anything in it, it would be the lack of trust that snooping shows.)

Should I break up with her? This seems like it's only going to get worse. The only reason I'm hesitating is that, again, I'm really shy and last time I was without a girlfriend for eight years and I really don't want to be alone that long.
Yes, break up with her. You're right, you can't prove to her that you're not gay, and if she's as insecure as you indicate (she sounds out of her mind! Crossing legs? You're joking!) she will escalate this until it drives you apart. Make the stand and break up with her.

As for being alone for another eight years, get some counseling or an assertiveness trainer. 8 years alone isn't for anyone.
Get the hint?

Poor guy. Probably very nice. You need some serious (professional) help if you're not going to bring a lot of unnecessary pain to this nice and likely straight guy.
posted by Ookseer at 9:01 PM on September 2, 2006 [10 favorites]

What kind of car does he own? If he's driving around a Subaru Outback or a VW Golf/Jetta/Rabbit, then he's gay.

No straight man would be seen driving around a farkin VW Rabbit. Puh-leeeease!

Ask him what he thinks about gay marriage. If he goes on a 30 minute rant about the evil Republicans suppressing the free spirit of his people, there's a chance that he's gay.

Or you could just sit down and ask him if he's interested in men. And on preview, BigVACub has a good one.

Oh, and stop being so paranoid. If you have a talk and you decide he's not gay, are you going to look for something else to freak out about? Try and work on that paranoia issue first, because it can't be good for either of you.
posted by drstein at 9:01 PM on September 2, 2006

Completely and utterly neurotic.

Just like my ex.
posted by a. at 9:09 PM on September 2, 2006

Is my boyfriend gay but just doesn't know it yet?
Your boyfriend knows if he's gay or not. He's probably known for a while if he is and no amount of second-guessing gay-seeming lifestyle choices is going to give you a straight answer (no pun intended).

Someone I am very close to came out a month ago. It was honestly not a conversation I ever expected to have with that person, because he didn't meet a single one of the stereotypes I had ever associated with gay people or had seen in the gay people I knew. But guess what, he likes guys. Doesn't matter what he wears, what he watches, his taste in music, or his cooking ability. It's not about how where you hang out or who you've lived with, it's about whether you are attracted to those of your same gender. Given the folks your BF is associated with, it's not like he seems to have any problems with the idea of gay people, and ThePinkSuperhero is right that he possibly would have already come out if he were. But the only person that knows is him. You need to be able to discuss this with him. If nothing else, do it for your piece of mind, since you can't go marrying someone if you have such a huge doubt that he is gay that you are willing to ask us our opinion.

Or am I just completely and utterly neurotic with more issues than you can shake a stick at?
To a degree, maybe. But I don't think you have too many issues (all I can see is this one). However, you do sound a little neurotic and like you're looking too hard for "clues".

In either case, what should I do? And is there any way you can bring this up in conversation to a loved one without completely emasculating him?
Talk to him. There are books out there about how to do this. Some of the advice upthread will probably work too. Be prepared to know that you'll either get the answer you don't want to hear, or that once you get the answer you do want, you'll need to let this paranoia go.

Good luck, and seriously, where are you reading all these stories about guys on the "down-low?" I have never ever seen a story like that in the press.
posted by ml98tu at 9:09 PM on September 2, 2006

But the only person that knows is him. You need to be able to discuss this with him.

Also, the only person who truly knows if he is actually a robot is him. Discuss that as well if you can sneak it in. And might as well check for Islamo-Fascist while you're down there.
posted by poweredbybeard at 9:20 PM on September 2, 2006 [1 favorite]

FWIW, I had a friend who didn't figure out he was gay until he was around 30. (Late 20s, at least.) On the other hand, he also wasn't dating women, since he'd never met one he was attracted to (oddly enough). Eventually he figured it out and his love life improved considerably.

That said, though, I don't think ms. anonymous' friend is probably gay; but it also sounds like he wouldn't be offended if she asked him directly.
posted by hattifattener at 9:25 PM on September 2, 2006

I like the robot suggestion.

There was an interesting episode of This American Life that talked about one man's experience with testosterone. I believe he was gay, and he had to take some and he said it totally rewired his personality. At the risk of sounding like Archie Bunker or worse, maybe his passive sexuality is biological, but not gay-o-logical.

If he is gay, you need to post back here and ream out everyone who said you were neurotic.
posted by craniac at 9:29 PM on September 2, 2006 [1 favorite]

If he is gay, you need to post back here and ream out everyone who said you were neurotic.
Can't both be true?

I'm all for gay men not being involved with women. (I have a good friend who was married for 15 years and had several children with a gay man, before he came out. So gay men, please get out of the closet and quit messing up nice women's lives!)

However: She's complaining about occasionally crossing his legs and enjoying blockbuster films and you think she's not neurotic?

I would say it's more likely that he's gay than he is a lesbian.
posted by Ookseer at 9:43 PM on September 2, 2006

WTF is gay about "Lost Boys"? I mean most vampire stuff tends to have a slightly homo-erotic subtext when there's man-on-man neck biting, but I don't recall any of that sort of thing in LB. Now, "Interview with a Vampire" is so teh gay.

Wait, what was the question? Oh, that's right. You're being neurotic. Über-neurotic, even. But you better work it out somehow because you'll always be second guessing him as long as you're together.
posted by friarjohn at 10:15 PM on September 2, 2006

I dont think you're being neurotic- one can have very strong intuitions about this type of thing. However, I think honesty is whats needed. If you're going to be in a relationship with someone you have a right to know if they're bi-sexual and you should not be ashamed to ask about sexual history. You could say something like "One time in college I made out with a girl.. what about you, have you ever hooked up with a guy?" Just make sure you dont present yourself as being threatened by it.
posted by petsounds at 10:30 PM on September 2, 2006

I think Dan Savage (of "Savage Love") has the best system of replying to this kind of question (which he gets all the time, apparently). In response to a question like:

"When I'm giving head to my boyfriend, he really likes it when I stick my finger up his butt. Does that make him gay?"

Dan's response is: "No. If he enjoys my finger up his butt, he might be."

Short of finding an enormous stash of gay porn (which I do not recommend looking for - it's sneaky, deceitful, dishonest, and panders to your own insecurities) or catching him making out with a guy, the easiest and most logical assumption to make is that your boyfriend is not gay. Acting, dressing, walking or talking a certain way does not make someone gay. Instead, you might want to ask yourself why you're second-guessing the sexuality of the man you love, and what that might say about you. If, on the other hand, you don't feel you're desired enough, you'll want to have that conversation with him.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 10:51 PM on September 2, 2006 [2 favorites]

Put me down in the "yes, I'm afraid you are insanely neurotic" camp, no pun intended.

Your boyfriend may well be secretly gay. Happens all the time, despite all the "why wouldn't this person just come out?" arguments.

But your "evidence" is just laughable. If you're prepared to put forward "he owns Lost Boys and LOTR" as arguments, you really are losing touch with reality in some fundamental way, let alone the "crossing his legs" thing. It's as bizarre as believing that he's secretly a werewolf because he owns "American Werewolf In London", or in fact less logical even than that, believeing he's secretly from London because he owns "American Werewolf In London".

Now of course, it may be that you have some very strong instinct that he's gay, something that just won't go away, subconsciously, and it's bothering the hell out of you, and your rationalisation of it is to look for "clues" everywhere.

Here's your problem: you can't stop thinking your boyfriend is secretly gay, despite the fact that there's no reasonable evidence you can put forward.

So you should talk to him about it as soon as possible.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 10:54 PM on September 2, 2006 [2 favorites]

Having not read any of the 44 comments before me, let me ask--does it matter? What if he does have some feelings for his sex but loves you and you have a relationship that meets your needs?
posted by Ironmouth at 11:00 PM on September 2, 2006

Actually, yeah--I gotta go with what everyone else said. You are hopelessly neurotic, and he deserves better.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:26 PM on September 2, 2006

I know what you're going through. I went through it myself. The difference is, I dealt with it six months into my relationship. I didn't wait for years to go by. The most crucial thing that you need to do, is talk to him. It's the only way your fears will be placated.

Also. Admit it. This really isn't about him. It's about you. You and your insecurities about being abandoned. This is the greatest relationship you've been in and that crazy paranoid part of you is telling you it's too good to be true. So you're searching for signs that is, any signs. And you take things like "crosses his legs occasionally" - that a person with a normal psyche wouldn't give two hoots about - and fabricate it into some elaborate dramtic thing that one day will all come out and you'll be left alone. You're trying to protect youself but what you have to realise is, that in a relationship you can't protect yourself from the other person. You have to give all of you to him otherwise it's not fair to either of you.

The only problem here is the one that you've created in your head. Chances are, he knows something's up but he's waiting for you to bring it up. You need to do this. You also need to preface it with the fact that you know you are crazy and insecure, because I think a lot of you don't even believe what you're saying.

I once accused my boyfriend of being gay because he had like shows with "homoerotic" overtones and is quite hygenic. It took me a while but I realised that it was me that was projecting this on him. Look hard enough and you'll find cracks. That's what you're doing.

You don't feel like you deserve happiness, that probably won't change for a while. What you have to accept is that you do have this great guy, that loves you and yoú will regret it if you lose even over something as crazy as this. So please, talk to him. I know it's hard but it's for the best.
posted by liquorice at 11:38 PM on September 2, 2006 [1 favorite]

Ew, lots of typos and such. Sorry.
posted by liquorice at 11:41 PM on September 2, 2006

Ug. This is disgusting.

As someone who has been asked "are you bi-gay since college", I really feel bad for this guy.

Anecdotal evidence about why your doubts are total fallacious:

1. I'm an actor, and have acted in musicals.
2. I love fashion. I buy expensive clothes.
3. All my college roomates were gay.
4. I talk *gasp* WITH MY HANDS!
5. I've even kissed guys on stage.

And yet, I got the most ass of all my friends in college. Go figure.

This really isn't about whether he's gay or not. It's about control in your relationship.

What really I think you need to evaluate what it is that threatens you so much about the relationship... because you know what? Even if you marry him, he might turn out gay. Even if you ask him, he might turn out gay. And if he ISN'T gay, he might cheat on you. It's the risk we all take when we enter our relationships.

I'd advise against the loaded questions... they're duplicitous and very easy to see through. If you really want to address your concerns I'd ask him about why he was single for so long.

But what really sounds like is happening is that your insecurity is poisioning the relationship. My guess is that if you weren't worried that he were gay, you'd be worried he was cheating on you. You're not getting constant reinforcement that you're accustomed to("all my other boyfriends told me I was pretty, he doesn't so maybe there's something wrong with him"). You're unable to deal with your insecurity so you're selfishly projecting the problem on him.

I think you need to do some serious introspection and work on yourself before you bring this up.

Or you could always dump him and find yourself a nice burly manly-man who played football. (But guess what... a good number of the football players I knew looked at gay porn, so you're screwed there too!)
posted by dentata at 11:44 PM on September 2, 2006

dirtynumbangelboy : "he deserves better"

You know him personally? He might well be just as neurotic, if not more, about totally different issues.
posted by Bugbread at 11:58 PM on September 2, 2006

First, I agree with the general consensus that you are probably over-analyzing. However, if you still want to find a way to bring it up, there are a few. If he's been hiding it for this long, he's unlikely to tell you if you ask him straight up.

None of this matters. You should just ask him if when he masturbates if he ever thinks of men. You can trick him by saying "Sometimes when I masterbate I think of women, do you ever think of men?" If he does then youre probably dealing with some kind of bi/gay sitation, but so far your evidence is not so good.

I agree that this is a good way to bring it up. However, most people do sometimes, or at least have at least once, thought about the same sex. I have, and you probably have too, so you're not really "tricking" him. The trick comes in getting him to talk about how much he does. If it's really quite a lot, them he could be gay. However, be extremely careful not to over-analyze his answer or to fish for the answer that you are looking for. Try to get him to answer honestly and do not lead him, aside from saying that you have done the same, just to get started.

Asking why he was single for so long could also be good, but again, you must be careful. First, he obviously isn't going to just say it's because he's gay if he's been hiding it for so long, so you'll be looking for cues that he is lying or trying to hide something. However, whatever the actual answer is, it is quite possible that he'll be uncomfortable talking about it. Most people do want to date, so whatever the reason was, he might be ashamed or insecure about it, and thus reluctant to talk about it. Be very very careful not to read to much into it.
posted by gauchodaspampas at 12:23 AM on September 3, 2006

A roundabout answer to your question:

I encounter, at seemingly every party I go to these days, 30-something married couples -- often with one or two lovely toddlers -- where the wife is about 25 pounds overweight, and the wilowy husband should be a line-drawing on Wikipedia under the heading, "Flamboyantly Gay."

Are these men actually gay -- as in butt-fucking-other-dudes gay? Who the hell knows. (Note that the amplitude of their queeniness is the same as the machoness of the iron-pumping leather-daddies at any gay bar in town.) Will they wake up 20 years from now, and finally admit what everyone else thinks they already know? Maybe. Are they happy, and deliriously in love with their spouse and children now, at this moment? Yes, definitely.

So please, stop trying to talk yourself out of happiness. Who knows what the future holds. Maybe you'll wake up 20 years from now, and realize YOU'RE gay.
posted by turducken at 12:23 AM on September 3, 2006 [1 favorite]

Yah you are probably looking a little too hard at all of this. But I think this is something that you should be able to discuss with someone you would consider marrying. Bring it up. Now. It's obviously bothering you. If you can't tell him that this is how you feel, then it has nothing to do with his sexual preference and more to do with your inability to communicate with him...among other things already mentioned. I would personally hate to find out my significant other was asking this question and not coming to me about it. Ask him. I imagine if he was hiding something from you, which I doubt from your list of evidence, he would be incredibly defensive. If he's got nothing to hide he will probably wonder about you and maybe you guys could, oh, talk it out (for a change I would imagine.) Relationships fail if you can't talk openly and honestly. You're not going to be doing yourself a favor by keeping this inside and then marrying him.
posted by smeater44 at 12:50 AM on September 3, 2006

You need to stop over-analysing things. Unfortunately, as with most obsessive things, the only way to stop doing them is to stop doing them (which is hard) - but to follow dentata, if you want some anecdotal evidence that might help, most of the characteristics you describe in your boyfriend apply to me. Lots have people have thought I'm gay on first meeting me; my old flatmate and best friend is gay; one of my favorite plays is Beautiful Thing; I'm told I dress quite well, and yes I cross my legs sometimes. I was also single for years before meeting my current girlfriend - who made all the first moves - but who is now my fiancee.

I think advice above along the lines of wondering why you're thinking this - would you fixate on something else if he didn't happen to cross his legs, like a close female friendship - is useful. liqorice's answer in particular is excellent. But good luck, the fact you're asking is indicative of the fact you know this is an issue, and you want to solve it. He sounds like a cool guy, I hope you sort things out.
posted by greycap at 12:56 AM on September 3, 2006

"Is my boyfriend gay or am I crazy?"

You're crazy. I don't know about your boyfriend, but the reasons you cite for your suspicion are way out in left field.

As an aside, there is no homosexual subtext in LotR. Those that claim it exists are projecting their own desires or discomfort with close friendship and platonic love between men (or hobbits). There is no evidence or reason to think that Tolkien, a practicing Catholic, was homosexual. Even if he was a closet case, the notion that he would have included this subtext in what he considered an essential christian work is highly implausible. Likewise there is no reason to believe that the heterosexual writers and actors would have introduced such a subtext.

As a further aside, "Y Tu Mama Tambien" was a fine movie, and despite having it in my collection, I'm pretty firmly in the breeder camp.
posted by Manjusri at 1:04 AM on September 3, 2006

errr, essential = essentially
posted by Manjusri at 1:06 AM on September 3, 2006

You listed only two things that mean anything and neither is well explained:

he told me he used to hang out with his friends at a gay bar in college

Ok, reality check - did he go to one a couple times, or did he spend 4 years of free time exploring the gay bar scene? Does 'in college' mean one weekend or 200 weekends?

he was single for eight (!) years

By 'single' do you mean not living with a woman in a common law relationship, not dating any one woman more than a few times, not dating any women at all, or never having sex with a women (under any circumstances including 'paid for')?
posted by scheptech at 1:28 AM on September 3, 2006

I encounter, at seemingly every party I go to these days, 30-something married couples -- often with one or two lovely toddlers -- where the wife is about 25 pounds overweight, and the wilowy husband should be a line-drawing on Wikipedia under the heading, "Flamboyantly Gay."

In a few years, I'll be that woman, with that husband. Well, assuming I stay at my current weight, which isn't in the game plan. My fiance? Slender, well-dressed, tidy, fussy about his hair, and sings along to musicals in the car. Does a damn good Mark-from-Rent impression. Is he gay? Noooooooooooooooooo.

Which means?

Clothes, music, hair, cooking, tidyness doesn't mean a darn thing about sexuality.

I'd wager the last guy I dated was gayer than the one I'm with now. And he was an ex-football player.

His hobbies, his music, the movies on the shelf - even the fact that he doesn't have a great sex drive don't mean anything. And rumor has it that guys' sex drives start dropping in their 30's, so that might very well be a factor. Talk to him. If you want him to tell you that you're pretty, let him know. Ask him why he likes the movies he likes. Take advantage of that fashion sense.

If you're worried about his sexual preference, engage him in conversation. Heck, if you have to, tell him you think it's hot when two guys are kissing and see how he reacts. Or at least tell him you think Sam and Frodo are hot together. If he screams blashphemy and hides under the couch whimpering about slashistas, it's not my fault.
posted by FritoKAL at 2:38 AM on September 3, 2006

Another possibility: do you have any gay friends you could talk to about this? Because your gaydar sounds like it's seriously miscalibrated. Not that gay men neccesarily have perfect gaydar, but if you ask and your gay pals fall about laughing and tell you he's as straight as can be, it might put your mind at rest. I say this as someone who is pretty camp, has the complete works of Derek Jarman on the shelves, a significant collection of Hi-NRG records, gay friends, drop Palare words into everyday conversation etc. - women often assume I'm gay, gay men always know I have, er, a fairly significant preference for women. Admittedly, that last point may not be completely reassuring for you, but it still might be worth checking with someone who claims expert gaydar.

WTF is gay about "Lost Boys"?

Previously on AskMe (I'd say it's spectacularly gay).
posted by jack_mo at 3:52 AM on September 3, 2006

I'm suprised nobody has said that there's nothing emasculating about being gay. Sorry. Ask him if he's ever fucked guys and you'll get your answer-- it's not insulting. if you think it is, and he thinks it is, you're not the open-minded friend of friends of dorothy you think you are.

And, by the way, the pussy-eating is totally not dispositive, sorry to those who think it is. I once received amazing oral from a gay man in the bathroom of a gay bar in Chicago. And I am definitely a woman.

And on to your question: sure, you're being neurotic. It sounds to me like you're just looking for an excuse for why the relationship won't work out that has nothing to do with you. unfortunately it's not that easy. Go out. Get drunk. Give your boyfriend a great bj. And tearfully confess that you're plagued by doubts, but you love him, and you don't want to lie to him any more.
posted by miss tea at 5:51 AM on September 3, 2006 [1 favorite]

Wow -- I go through this all the time.

Just to turn things around and make it a bit uncomfortable for you -- it could make you think:

"I don't think you BF is gay. I'm thinking you might be"

Why? Because since I decided to have this angle on you, I'm able to find indications backing up my suspicions.
posted by NewBornHippy at 6:01 AM on September 3, 2006

There's nothing in your analysis that suggests your boyfriend is really more likely to be gay, though of course it is possible. But it is overwhelmingly clear from what you say that your most significant problem is lack of trust. It sounds like what you are really worried about is that he is cheating with you on the DL, when you don't provide a shred of (even ludicrously inadequate, stereotyped) evidence that he might be.
posted by nanojath at 6:56 AM on September 3, 2006

I am chiming in late.

Why was he not with women for 8 years? Shy, introverted, insecure? Maybe he is not gay, but I would worry about that. Do you have a feeling he was sleeping with men during this long stretch of time?

You being the one to initiate sex each and every time may get old. You may come to resent him for it. My husband sometimes is shy about initiating sex, and we have been together for 13 years. But, he does initiate more than half of the time. It may be fine and well at this stage in the game, but what about years down the road? What if several years go by and you still don't feel desirable to him?

Maybe you could hold off on initiating, and see how long it takes for him to make a move. If it's forever, I would seriously think over this relationship. Some would say this is game playing, or setting him up. I say it's a good test. If you don't mind initiating for the rest of your life, than you have no worries. If it's something that would bother you, then seriously think this relationship over.

My husband also has a hard time giving me compliments. Like you, I receive compliments from friends and other males often, but hardly nothing from my hubby. His idea of a compliment concerning my appearance is, "nice pants." I was continuously frustrated that he never complimented me. We got into a many discussion about it, and it's something I still have a hard time with. A woman needs to be told she is attractive by her SO once in a while.

You say this is the best relationship you have ever been in, and you want to marry him some day. Ask yourself why is it the best relationship, and why you want to marry him. Do these great reasons outway the "bad"?

All of us that are in long-term relationships have problems or quirks that will never go away. He could have a low sex drive for the rest of his life, he may never compliment your appearance, and he may never initiate sex. Is this something you can live with? Think about it very seriously before you marry him. People don't change.
posted by LoriFLA at 7:10 AM on September 3, 2006

an article you may be interested in, if you haven't read it already.
posted by LoriFLA at 7:44 AM on September 3, 2006

And is there any way you can bring this up in conversation to a loved one without completely emasculating him?

He works in the gay part of town, and used to go to gay bars. He's clearly comfortable around gay men and doesn't think of them as "emasculated." What makes you think he would then feel insulted by a question about his sexuality? I would imagine that he would, however, feel insulted by a question that demonstrates such paranoia and lack of trust.

What if he's bi? What if he's bi and monogamous and faithful to you? What would it take for you to trust him? What would it take for you to trust him enough to talk to him about this as one of your issues?
posted by heatherann at 8:28 AM on September 3, 2006

I'm suprised nobody has said that there's nothing emasculating about being gay. Sorry.

I thought that was screwed up and insulting. So much else was going on with the post that I left it alone at first, but now you've prompted me to reply with what I was thinking: that she's immediately worried he would feel emasculated means something else is going on. Maybe she already thinks of him in those terms because of the traits that have lead her to ask this -- she's questioning his masculinity more than his sexual orientation. "Honey, sex with you sucks. Are you gay?"

Get advice on cognitive reframing. I can't think of good keywords for a search but, for example, not "You make me so angry!" but "I get angry when this happens"

Oh, and I'd like to pipe in with the answers about not asking leading questions. That's manipulative. Don't encourage that behavior. And DO NOT snoop.

people are queer. even straight people. just accept it.
posted by bleary at 8:39 AM on September 3, 2006

given your boyfriend's proximity to and comfortableness with gay culture and all, it would seem unusual that he either would not know he is gay or that he would have a motivation for hiding it if he were...unless there is some other motivation there we are not hearing (fear of judgment of his parents or someone else, concern with image/appearances in relation to work, etc.)...

...also, an interesting phenomenon i noticed after moving to san francisco is not only that straight guys can be comfortable around gay men, but they will subtly play to it, the way some women will use sexuality...i don't mean in a clumsy, overt way, just in a kind of under-the-radar flirty way...i think it's kind of a neat thing...but anyway, maybe he on some level enjoys that sort of attention yet has no interest in taking it any further...

...and maybe he's so comfortable with gay culture that he doesn't see the distinctions anymore...

there is no gay subtext in LOTR

sean astin said at some point that he played his character samwise as if samwise were in love with frodo...honestly, it worked for me...i thought astin was freaking adorable and would have taken him, hobbit feet and all...
posted by troybob at 9:21 AM on September 3, 2006

Jesus! Jesus Christ! Please, break up with him. He doesn't need someone as insecure, neurotic, and anal-retentive as you.

Fuck, just open that Big Book O' Cliches and pick your boyfriend based on the "manly man" traits inside. Would that make you happy?

I'm really pretty disgusted that people are even entertaining her ridiculous notions. Yes, he might be gay. But he also might be straight. Maybe he's bi! But none of this, none of this, can be read by the movies he watches and because he doesn't tell you you're pretty often enough.
posted by schroedinger at 10:35 AM on September 3, 2006

I had a similar experience once. His sex drive dropped after the first month and in general he seemed very inexperienced, he made lots of jokes about gay buttsex, had some stereotypical gay mannerisms (voice, gestures), and occasionally dissappeared for a day suddenly with an excuse that seemed weird. (Some of this also might be attributed to his depression.) I tried talking to him about it, both subtly and then just flat out asking whether he had ever thought about it. He would not talk about it direxctly with me, and turned the question back to me to make it my issue. Maybe it was. I still don't know if he is gay, and its 8 years later. Are you dating my ex?

In any case, its much better for me to be in a relationship without these issues. The fact that we couldn't talk about these things meant we weren't right, and the way that we both handled the ultimate talks cemented it.

Btw, as miss tea says, oral is not dispositive.
posted by Go, now. Go! at 11:56 AM on September 3, 2006 [1 favorite]

You seem to have a deceptive, narrow (and frankly peculiar - leg crossing??) notion of what a heterosexual man is, coupled to an equally deceptive, narrow notion of what a gay man is.

Your bloke falls in to one group and not the other but it is important for you to think about how that is down to the self-deceptive nature of your framing, rather than reality. The things you think are signs of him being gay are not. The things that I would guess you think would be signs of him being straight are not.

The degree to which you are worrying about this is not good for you. You are reading signs that are not there in things which don't carry the meaning you are putting in to them. It's the sort of thing a person does when they think their partner is having an affair. Suddenly, with that framing, a new haircut becomes a sign of infidelity. Buying some new clothes, a dead giveaway. Increase in libido? Affair. Decrease in libido? Affair.

I'd also advise against the few suggestions to try and fish for info by saying "I think about women sometimes when I masturbate, what do you think about?" Because then either the poor man will think you're up for a threesome and every time you invite a female friend over his eyes will go all excited and shiny, or next week on AskMefi we'll see a question called "Is my girlfriend gay or am I crazy? : I always thought my girlfriend was straight, but out of the blue the other day she told me she fantasised about women, and once I started worrying about this I noticed how well, sensible some of her shoes are, and then there's this kd.lang CD, and..."
posted by reynir at 1:27 PM on September 3, 2006

schroedinger writes "He doesn't need someone as insecure, neurotic, and anal-retentive as you."

You know him personally? He isn't insecure, neurotic, or anal-retentive?
posted by Bugbread at 3:54 PM on September 3, 2006

As I think some other people have said upthread, I think you need to uncouple the worries about teh gay from the concerns about the low libido and the seemingly low level of sensual engagement. As other people have said, based on what you've presented, I don't think there's a high percentage likelihood that your guy's gay. But if your gut is telling you that something is off, then something very well may be.

Just as there's a continuum betweeen gay and straight, there's a continuum between being highly sexual and being asexual. He may just be closer to the "asexual" pole than you are. It's also possible that he's been through something that left him leery and unsure about that part of his life. Or it may be that he has kinks or needs that he's too shy, awkward, or unaware to bring up with you.

The only way you're going to understand what's going on is to get him talking about his erotic life, his history, and what his wants and needs are. If you're thinking about being with this man for the long haul, this is a conversation you simply can't afford not to have.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 5:46 PM on September 3, 2006

"[H]e's having sex with a woman, so he can't be that gay." and "If he's a gay man dating a straight woman, chances are he'll do some things in bed and not others ...."

Uh, no. Not if my (gay) ex-husband is anything to go by.

If your gut is telling you something is wrong, it probably is. If you want to know you're going to have to ask.

So gay men, please get out of the closet and quit messing up nice women's lives!

posted by redheadeb at 8:01 PM on September 3, 2006

These threads always top the "unintentional comedy" scale for me. Keep on entertaining!
posted by Big Fat Tycoon at 11:51 AM on September 4, 2006

Is my boyfriend gay or am I crazy?

You are crazy.
posted by chunking express at 7:52 AM on September 5, 2006 [1 favorite]

I meet all the same criteria as your BF and believe me, I am never going to leave my girlfriend for a man. I sometimes find certain guys attractive, and I even experimented with trying to date a guy or two back in my youth. But so what? The news you need to hear is that not everyone is 100% gay or 100% straight. You're also confusing cultural identity with sexual preference. I like the gay part of town. It's colorful and fun and hedonistic and a haven from mainstream USA. Does that mean I think of sucking cock whenever I have sex with my hot girlfriend? No! Movie preference is movie preference. The day you find your boyfriend's penis inside another man, you might start to worry. But finding a copy of Lost Boys on his shelf?

Sheesh, sister. If this really is the best relationship you've ever had, lighten up, appreciate it, and give your man some space to be himself. How would you like it if he freaked out and thought you were a lesbian because you danced with one of your girlfriends once at a club? This is the 21st century, and at long last it's becoming OK for guys to be a little metro.

I had a women refuse to date me once because I told her some of the above facts. Turns out she'd dated a guy for a while only to learn he was gay. I can understand that was painful. But she turned up her gay-dar all the way to 11 and insisted on "100% straight, not just 99%." I would be interested to see who she wound up with who met those criteria and never tripped her sensitive radar, not even once, not even a little.

And I'm pretty sure if I told my GF about her, she'd laugh all the way to my bed and count her lucky stars.
posted by scarabic at 12:05 PM on December 14, 2006

Does he eat a lot of soy?
posted by klangklangston at 12:42 PM on December 14, 2006

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