Is it time to come out?
October 7, 2007 4:48 PM   Subscribe

Next week apparently marks National Coming Out Week. Is now the time I've looked forward to for so long?

In the many years that have gone by since it finally occurred to me that I was gay, I have confided in a whopping three people: all of them who I already knew to be gay. Frankly, I'd really like to just be myself.

I'm a senior in college. My college is celebrating National Coming Out Week.

Almost all of my friends are great, open-minded people. But there a few things holding me back:

- Current college roommates. While I have no interest in them, I worry that this will create a really awkward situation for them. (I count them as some of my closest friends.)

- I think that, while people will accept me, they won't think of me the same way.

- I'm not ready to come out to my family. I want to make sure that the information doesn't leak out. Is this is a real problem? Does Facebook make it harder to contain?

Do you think my situation warrants staying in the closet? (Especially with roommates?) I'm dying to come out, but I'd rather stay in than create really awkward situations all around.
posted by anonymous to Society & Culture (36 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
If tomorrow was national "Jump Off a Bridge Day" would you do that too?

If you're not ready, you're not ready. I'm not gay, but if I was, I would not feel compelled to make blanket disclosures to the people in my life.

I think "the closet" is a concept better suited for people who still can't admit they're gay. I know a few of them.
posted by Mr_Crazyhorse at 4:54 PM on October 7, 2007

I don't think you should tie it to a specific week on the calendar, but I do think you should come out sooner rather than later. And, really, why not make it next week?

If your roommates are your closest friends, then they should understand. It might be a little odd at first, but it will all settle down quickly enough (unless you know them to be raging homophobes, but then hopefully they wouldn't be your closest friends).

There are always going to be some reasons it is awkward or inconvenient to come out, but there will also always be a million reasons that, on the balance, it's better to be out.

The longer you put it off, the longer you cut into the amount of time in your life when you don't have to constantly think, "Wait! Does this person know?" or try to be someone you're not. I think you know this already, because you say you're dying to come out.

The short version: I'm gay. It took me too long to come out. I don't think your circumstances warrant staying in the closet any longer, no.
posted by veggieboy at 5:03 PM on October 7, 2007

Being yourself makes life so much more satisfying. And anyone who stops being your friend after you come out was not your friend to begin with. I know you've heard all that before, but I can say from experience that pretending to be someone I'm not, and being afraid that people wouldn't like the real me, cost me many years of happiness.

Unfortunately, I can't take what I know to be true and stuff it into your brain, so my advice probably won't have much of an impact.

But, for what it's worth, and unless doing so would have some seriously damaging short-term consequences (like to your personal safety or financial security), I say you should definitely come out. Your 29-year-old self will love you for it.
posted by mpls2 at 5:08 PM on October 7, 2007

If you aren't ready to come out to your family then you just plain aren't ready to come out. I suggest celebrating national stay-in-the-closet week until you are ready to come out.
posted by Justinian at 5:17 PM on October 7, 2007

There's a spectrum of options here. You don't have to make a huge pronouncement. But you could stop trying to hide it and start living your life the way you want to. Just going to the events this week, or going places with some of the friends you've told (any week you want), will let people start guessing without you having to put out a press release.

As for your roommates, most likely they figured it out a year ago and would love to see you stop hiding yourself, find a person you really like, and be happy. I think the only way things would be awkward is if you made a huge deal about it. So my vote is, just play things cool and start living the way you want to.
posted by salvia at 5:18 PM on October 7, 2007 [2 favorites]

I know tons of people who dated gayly for months or years before officially coming out to their parents. Especially in college. One friend got married without telling her grandmother. Just tell people who are likely to talk to them that they don't know, if you want to be extra-careful.
posted by salvia at 5:20 PM on October 7, 2007

I'm well out of college and don't have contact with most of my former roommates or even think about them most of the time.

I think that if I had it to do over I just would have come out to my very first roommates and worked up over the years to my family (I'm still not out to them), just because I imagine that every time you come out it makes it easier for the next one. And from the literature I've read about it, most people seem to think that's the case. That said, if you're not ready to come out to them, I'm not sure why Coming Out Week should force you into it.

There's a book called Out & About Campus: Personal Accounts by Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender College Students which I read a couple of months ago which I found absolutely fascinating. It's a collection of first-hand accounts from students at a variety of universities and colleges across the U.S. (community colleges, four-year universities, Ivy League universities--liberal, conservative, moderate, religious, etc.). Each one tells about what the student did and how and why and what happened as a result. You might find it interesting and/or helpful given the wide range of experiences present.

There are also guides at various gay-positive organizations like the Human Rights Council about what to expect when coming out, including ways of doing it which are typically helpful and ways of doing it which are typically not.

Good luck.
posted by Tuwa at 5:32 PM on October 7, 2007

my feeling is that you should be honest with your closest friends--otherwise, you are not treating them like your closest friends. yes, they probably will feel a bit weird (although you may be surprised that some of them suspected all along), but if they really care about you, they'll get past it. try telling the person you're closest to first, or who you think will be the most accepting, and go from there. it doesn't need to be a big, dramatic thing--assuming you don't live in a huge frat house, you can probably just tell each person individually in a low-key way.

don't feel pressured to do it this week, though. maybe instead of coming out, you can use the opportunity to join your college's lgbt group. come out to them first, and then, when you feel more comfortable with your identity, come out to your roommates. then worry about what to do about your family.
posted by thinkingwoman at 5:33 PM on October 7, 2007

I'm with salvia. You can come out just by making a choice not to be consciously "in" -- it's not necessarily mandatory that you make an announcement although that's perfectly OK if it helps you feel you've arrived. If you're dying to come out, why wait?

When people have come out to me, it almost never came as a surprise, and I was always happy to hear it, but I never could think of much to say in response that didn't sound totally idiotic: "OK, how great for you!" -- more or less the same bumbling response I'd give if someone came up to me and said, "Hey, guess what? Just wanted you to know that I have brown eyes."

Which is to say that if your friends say something stilted when/if you tell them, it doesn't mean they are uncomfortable or unsupportive; it just means they probably already knew and weren't expecting a formal unveiling.

You deserve to really just be yourself, and while you're not on any schedule except your own, no matter how some people react (and probably not everyone will react as we'd wish), the stress of having to actively not be yourself day after day after year is so much more stressful than the temporary anxiety of quitting the masquerade.
posted by FelliniBlank at 5:40 PM on October 7, 2007

Veggieboy has a good point. The fact that some interest group has designated an arbitrary date as the day you should change your life FOREVER -- that's not a good reason to come out, solidarity be damned. This is about your relationship with your loved ones, not about the success of a handful of activists needing to pull off a successful Day of Awareness thing.

However, you're obviously thinking about it, and you probably have been for a while. You've told a few friends, and you're looking to be more open to the rest of the people in your life. This is a good, liberating thing. It's also scary as hell.

When you're able to fully accept both of those facts, go from there.

- Current college roommates. While I have no interest in them, I worry that this will create a really awkward situation for them. (I count them as some of my closest friends.)

Okay, three things.

One: If they're really your closest friends -- and yes, this is a cliche, but it's also a universal Truth -- they'll still love you. If they don't, you need to re-evaluate the friendships. Maybe it'll take them some time to get used to thinking of you differently, putting you in a different box. This will be frustrating for you, but it'll be necessary for them. Give them time and answer any questions they have. If they have hang-ups, explain that you're the same person they knew before. If your same-sex friends' hang-ups are based on the fact that they suddenly think you're going to come on to them, kick them in the shins and tell them they're idiots. Ask them if they'd be attracted to their brother/sister, and explain that it's the same thing -- that you don't think of them like that. Then roll your eyes at them, a lot.

Two: The elephant in the room is/will be that you might bring someone home, and that your roommates might have to hear icky gay sex. Deal with this the same way you deal with the sex lives of your hetero roommates. Are they discreet? (God, let's hope so.) The situation is no different. Explain this to them. If they have girlfriends/boyfriends over, it shouldn't be a big deal for you to. Remind them that being gay doesn't necessarily mean having vocal, public sex in the common living areas of your house. (And if this is something you're predisposed to, check that behavior at the door. It's inappropriate, regardless of your orientation. It makes you a bad roommate, though, not a bad gay person.)

Three: There is a good chance that you're fooling yourself, and that they already know.

- I think that, while people will accept me, they won't think of me the same way.

This is an unfortunate probability. A few people probably will have to adjust their frame of reference for you. You need to remember, though, that it isn't about YOU -- it's about them. It's about how they relate to other gay people, how many they've known in their lives, stereotypes they believe, whether they've ever been dumped by someone who turned out to be gay, etc. All you can do is be you -- and remember that being you is really fucking okay.

Again, make sure people know that you're willing to answer any questions. (The common ones will be "When did you know?" and "Are you sure?" and "What happened to make you this way?" It might be helpful to have your answers ready.) In my experience, a lot of the weirdness people feel is that it's sometimes billed as this unapproachable thing. If you extend the offer to talk about it and you break down those barriers yourself, other people are apt to be more comfortable.

- I'm not ready to come out to my family. I want to make sure that the information doesn't leak out. Is this is a real problem? Does Facebook make it harder to contain?

This is the tough one. I wasn't ready to come out to my family when I was 19. And, in fact, I didn't. They asked me. It was horrible and it was hard, but we all got through it. [My big fear was that they'd cut me off. They were paying for college. None of that happened.]

Look, your family is your family. They will love you regardless. (And if they don't, fuck them.) Yes, again, it may take them some time to adjust their frame of reference. (Notice I'm not using the word 'opinion,' because that's not what it's about, really.) They'll get there. It may take them a while before they're ready to meet someone you're dating. That's fine -- it'll probably be a while before you're ready to introduce them. And you know what? It will be awkward. But over time, they'll get used to it, you'll be less nervous, and it'll all work out.

I say this not knowing the specifics of your family, of course. But you know what? This is something that lots of people go through. It's not a unique situation. It's frightening for everyone -- them AND you. But everyone eventually gets through it.

In short, don't do it before you're ready, but DON'T let them find out from Facebook. If your gayness is Google-able, you need to bite the bullet and tell them yourself.

(And also, there's a chance that your family already knows too. This is more common that you might realize.)

So. Steel yourself, bucko, and figure out how to do it. But don't feel like you need to do it on "National Coming Out Day." (And for the record, this is not a holiday you'll be required to celebrate for the rest of your gay life, so rest easy.)

Unless you attend Bob Jones or BYU, there's probably a GLBT support group that you could attend just to build up your courage and hear stories from others who have been through what you're going to experience. My advice is to go once or twice before telling your family. You may get good advice on how to actually say the words.

I wish you much strength. Coming out is hard, and it's going to be an emotional time. But seriously -- being able to be yourself? It's life-altering. Ridding yourself of the challenge of constantly trying to use gender-neutral pronouns? That alone makes it worthwhile.

Email's in profile if you need to chat more about it.
posted by mudpuppie at 6:01 PM on October 7, 2007 [3 favorites]

Coming out is a huge weight off your shoulders. It's not easy, it takes some courage, and there is some risk; particularly if you're relying on your parents financially. But it's a good thing to be out, it makes your own life so much easier. If National Coming Out Week is a good excuse to do it, then go for it! It can be as easy as wearing a little pin on your shirt, or simply making a point of speaking honestly and openly with your friends.

I think that, while people will accept me, they won't think of me the same way.

That's one of the best arguments for coming out, in my mind. Now that I'm out it's really kind of confusing and complicated when I meet new people and they don't yet understand that I'm gay. It's much simpler when people know.
posted by Nelson at 6:07 PM on October 7, 2007

There's a spectrum of options here. You don't have to make a huge pronouncement. But you could stop trying to hide it and start living your life the way you want to.

Quoted for truth.

Coming out isn't so much about how many people you tell as it is about how you feel about the information being potentially known. Think about it this way... Who would you consider to be more 'out' and more at ease: someone who tells every single person they meet and feel constantly anxious about it, or someone who has told their circle of friends and would feel OK about telling others in the future?

As for your roomies, if there is any awkwardness (of the is-this-gay-guy-into-me sort) it should pass relatively quickly if they're mature level-headed people. An eye-roll and a witty quip can cut that sort of tension.
posted by CKmtl at 6:14 PM on October 7, 2007

I think that, while people will accept me, they won't think of me the same way.

Well that's sort of the point isn't it? Why would you bother coming out if it meant that you were just going to be considered the same way. You don't want to be thought of the same way, you want to be thought of as you, except gay, which is you really.
posted by Pollomacho at 6:15 PM on October 7, 2007

Yes, you should come out. It doesn't have to be during Coming Out Week, but my experience has taught me the sooner the better with such things, and unless you have a major major reason to wait, you should just do it.

You are unlikely to regret coming out.
posted by andoatnp at 6:26 PM on October 7, 2007

+1 to many above. Just be yourself.

No need to be dramatic. Your sexuality is a blessedly (and surprisingly) small matter to most people who aren't you. When I was coming out, it took me the longest damn time to figure that out.

For the most part, national coming out day is nothing more than an decent excuse to break bad habits. Stop swapping pronouns, stop faking interest (or pretending you're not interested), and let go of the part inside you that chants "I have a secret". Once you start, it's not that scary.

Some people will ask questions, just tell the truth. Some people will have a problem, most won't. You can't lead two lives, or be two people. Pick the one you want.
posted by zeypher at 6:40 PM on October 7, 2007

A friend of mine came out to me our first year of college.

I'd already known he was gay for five years by then.

In other words, you may be surprised to know they already have it figured out, or at the very least won't be as surprised as you think.
posted by konolia at 6:47 PM on October 7, 2007 [1 favorite]

Pretty much everyone knows, I'd bet.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:56 PM on October 7, 2007

I'd like to second what Konolia says here. A lot of times, "coming out" is not a surprise to those to whom you are closest.
posted by Cricket at 6:58 PM on October 7, 2007

Seconding what mudpuppie said.

The awkward situations are unavoidable, but it'll pass quickly. I think that a few days of awkwardness is worth alleviating the burden of being in the closet, yeah?

From what you have describe, there shouldn't be too much of a problem with your roommates. Make it clear that you value your friendship (and hope they do to), and that is why you feel the need to tell them. If you get the slightest sense that they suspect you have feelings for them, squash that as quickly as possible. It's better to have a short awkward moment prefaced on your misreading of their signals than a long, lingering awkward situation prefaced on them misreading you.

If they really need some time to adjust or you just can't stand the tension, you can just go the movies a bit more this week. I heard Eastern Promises was pretty good.

Coming out to your family is an area you may want to tread carefully. You didn't get to choose them, remember, and they're going to be a part of your life no matter what you do. I don't know your situation, but if coming out to them is something you know they'll take as traumatic, then do it when you're not dependent on them in any way. If you think they are open-minded and accepting, better to do it sooner rather than later.

Regarding Facebook: they've only recently started to allow search engines to parse through their profiles, so if you want to put your info under lock-and-key, now would be the time to do it.

I was in a similar situation as you recently, so e-mail me if you want to chat more. I think I could give you some better advice if I knew a few more specifics. Good luck!
posted by Weebot at 7:00 PM on October 7, 2007

I don't know about the advice to just stop being "in," I think it could actually make things stranger with friends if you don't say anything. If a close friend of mine had been concealing his orientation (successfully or not) from our circle of friends, it would be strange if he one day stopped hiding it without at least saying something to acknowledge the transition.

That "something," wouldn't have to be anything more than a sentence or two, and it wouldn't have to be precisely synchronized to a change in behavior.
posted by Good Brain at 7:24 PM on October 7, 2007

Seconding mudpuppie. Your friends and roommates will be basically fine, as long as you're not crushing on them. It's pretty easy to avoid telling your family for the time being -- it'll also be much easier for you to think clearly about your family after you've gotten comfortable being out to your friends.

You sound like you want to come out. So...go for it.

The fact that some interest group has designated an arbitrary date as the day you should change your life FOREVER -- that's not a good reason to come out, solidarity be damned.

That's a little harsh. It's not a homo-mandate to come out. It's not the biggest holiday on the Official Queer Calendar. But it is awareness for straight folks that even in these "time sure have changed" times, there are people that are scared to come out (like the OP).
posted by desuetude at 7:27 PM on October 7, 2007

It seems like if your college is celebrating this event, it would be a great time. There will be others who are coming out at the same time. You would have a network of support.

I think you should go for it!
posted by thebrokenmuse at 7:31 PM on October 7, 2007

That's a little harsh. It's not a homo-mandate to come out. It's not the biggest holiday on the Official Queer Calendar. But it is awareness for straight folks that even in these "time sure have changed" times, there are people that are scared to come out (like the OP).

Didn't mean to be harsh. I realize that "National Coming Out Day/Week" (I think it was only a day when I was a pup, but now it's been extended?) provides a nice metaphor of support for people who need it -- and maybe the OP is one of those people. All power to him/her/them.

My point was that it's not like Mother's Day or Father's Day. It does not necessitate any specific act. The whole coming out thing needs to follow its own schedule, not the HRC's.

And for the record, I have nothing against the HRC; I contribute to them annually.

And to the OP, wrt what desuetude said: Times have changed. I hope this can be of some comfort to you. It'll still be hard, when you do it, but it won't be nearly as hard as it would have been 5 or 10 or 15 years ago.

(But don't let that be an excuse to wait for another decade, yo.)
posted by mudpuppie at 7:40 PM on October 7, 2007

Since, as you say, you really want "to just be yourself," that's the most important sign that you're ready. It will feel so freeing to be out.

One thing to keep in mind is that there's not just one coming-out event. You tell one group of people, but another won't know unless you tell them too. Every time you meet new people, you'll have to negotiate whether/how to communicate your orientation. This week offers you an opportunity to begin this scary but liberating process. You could start with one group of friends, and then the roommates, and leave your family until you feel ready. You can be out in person to your college friends but not yet on Facebook. You set the terms: this is your process.
posted by bassjump at 7:44 PM on October 7, 2007

The fact that some interest group has designated an arbitrary date...

It's arbitrary, but so is Father's Day. And sure, I can tell my father I love him on any given day, but there's something nice about recognizing that other people are making the same statement I am at the same time.

Personal anecdote, not universal: I came out to a lot of people over the course of a few years, and not one of my friends ever reacted negatively. Any discomfort was always from my end. The only questions I ever got were about why I'd waited so long to let them know. Oh, and some people want to know who else knows...there is at the beginning a hierarchy of the privilege of information.

Your friends, any real friends (and not just your closest friends), want you to be honest with them and want to be able to talk to you about what matters to you.

try telling the person you're closest to first, or who you think will be the most accepting, and go from there.

I second this, and actually I'd go for "most accepting" (or alternately, "straight person most plugged into/at ease with gay culture who isn't a total blabbermouth") first, because you'll find it's not so big a deal and it gets easier the more people you tell; the "not a blabbermouth" part is important because in the earlier stages, it's your right to tell people. After a while (hopefully, when you're more comfortable), things tend to spread.

The upshot: My advice is to come out to one person this week. Chances are a lot of plugged-in straight people will be aware of it and make it easier to broach the topic in conversation. It doesn't have to be an announcement so much as an acknowledgement; no need to blurt.

Good luck! Your toaster's in the mail.
posted by kittyprecious at 7:54 PM on October 7, 2007

Yes, you should come out. It sounds like you have the support network you need. Roommates are tricky but they'll get over it/adjust/deal eventually. If they don't, it'll be awkward for a few months until you graduate. Trust me, the positives of being out out-weigh the negatives of being in (when you have a safe and supportive environment/network in which to come out).
posted by sneakin at 7:58 PM on October 7, 2007

The question really is, are you using this as an excuse to come out. I think you are, and that's not a bad thing. I say this as a lesbian. Sometimes you need an excuse. I've never dealt with the roommate angle, so I'll lay off of that.

And really now, if you're careful, Facebook won't be a problem. Check out their 'limited profile' option -- you can set certain people (family, people who gossip a lot, etc.) as only being able to see some portions of your profile -- poof! your sexual orientation is hidden, at least with some. Just ask for some tightening of the lips when it comes to wall posts.

So really now. Try coming out. What's the worst that can happen? So what if people don't think of you in the same way? If I admit that I absolutely love some universally-reviled band, people will look at me differently. If I say I'm a lawyer (I'm not), people will do the stupid 'warding off evil' jokes. Everything you do changes how people view you. That coming out will also change people's perceptions of you isn't all that shocking -- it's a normal human reaction. And it won't necessarily be negative, either. It's normal. It can be good. Go with it.

Just try not to make a big deal out of it, and hopefully, neither should they.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 8:29 PM on October 7, 2007

Don't worry about doing it on the approved week, but: do come out, at least to your friends/peers, before you graduate. It's easier in college, and coming out in college gives you a chance to try out different ways of being the publicly gay you (so that by the time you're out of school, you have a head start on this).

I've known a few people who never quite came out in college, and their post-college years were fraught with this "should I? shouldn't I?" vacillating that was hard for them and made them less attractive to potential partners who had come out and worked some of this stuff out already. Much better to start in the controlled environment of college. Partners will be easier to find, support group/counseling staff are easy to access if you decide that would be useful, etc.

Also, seconding the "many of your friends probably won't be too surprised" if your school is anything like mine was. Good luck!
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:37 PM on October 7, 2007

One thing to keep in mind is that there's not just one coming-out event. You tell one group of people, but another won't know unless you tell them too. Every time you meet new people, you'll have to negotiate whether/how to communicate your orientation.

And whoo, it is a process. Before long, you'll be asking us (non-anonymously) "Dear AskMe: Yay, I came out! And I'm not freaked out about being out anymore! But jayzus, this is getting tiring. Can't my future friends and acquaintances just all get a memo or something? Is it wrong and ungrateful to be complaining about something that initially made me so nervous?"

And then we can all lovingly mock you and congratulate you and post this in The Great AskMe Roundup.
posted by desuetude at 9:42 PM on October 7, 2007 [1 favorite]

The best thing about coming out is not having to remember what you've told to which groups of people. When I came out (20ish years ago), pretty much everyone - including my mom - had already figured it out. I never think a thing anymore about saying "my girlfriend" or "my partner, [obviouslyfemalename]". It's a huge relief, and I was never so conscious of how much energy it took to stay closeted until I came out.

If you need to wait until you finish school because your family financially supports you, and you're afraid they'll cut you off, well, I can't say you shouldn't. But come out, sooner rather than later, for your own health if nothing else.
posted by rtha at 10:01 PM on October 7, 2007

Come OUT! As someone out selectively for quite awhile, I wholeheartedly urge you to come out.

This is the most freedom I have felt in I don't know when. And one thing I can say is, the sooner you come out, the sooner you can get it all over with.

You'll have us MeFi-ers here for your next AskMe question when you need some support :]
posted by fiercecupcake at 10:09 PM on October 7, 2007

Everybody knows you're gay, man. Get it over with.
posted by borkingchikapa at 10:23 PM on October 7, 2007 [1 favorite]

I think the friends/family are two separate issues. You can come out to your friends now and take the time you need for your family.

If you're thinking this hard about it I think coming out to at least one person is a good idea. Coming out never ends, no matter how progressive society seems to get.

I've been out for 10 years now. The only reason I may ever be "not out" (as opposed to in the closet, which I think is a more active state) is when the relationship I have with someone doesn't justify talking about personal life at all.

When I first came out it was all declarations and speeches, and like many other very, very few people were surprised. I had no real negative reactions. My mom freaked out a bit, but she got over it.

These days, every time I meet someone new there's always a moment of anxiety. But coming out these days is more subtle and natural. It's literally just using the proper pronouns and names.

But I couldn't have gotten so comfortable with it if I hadn't made those first (somewhat dramatic) steps.
posted by aclevername at 11:57 PM on October 7, 2007

Just to be clear, though: don't post anything on Facebook you don't want parents and professors and future employers to know about.

Mind you, I'm not saying that selecting "interested in men" on Facebook is something you should be concerned about people knowing---but if at this point you think it is , then don't do it.
posted by leahwrenn at 4:36 AM on October 8, 2007

Follow-up from someone who would prefer to remain anonymous:

My employer is hyper-sensitive to these issues, so rather than test
their discrimination policy, Jessamyn agreed to let me post anonymously.

College is a great place to come out. You've probably got a close
community, and students are so often the most accepting. Your college
LGBT group exists expressly to support you. You could wait, but this
is your chance. Take the time to come out to your friends personally
and intimately, or risk becoming post-grad alumni gossip.

There are lots of ways to come out. A lot of people do it indirectly,
by dropping jokes or talking about that hot person across the room.
But if you're worried about your family knowing too soon, you must
take the time to request discretion from your friends. This requires
a formal, if brief, conversation. If you come out too casually,
people will assume you don't care who knows.

I came out to my roommate after living with him for nearly two years.
I think it definitely surprised him, but I definitely overestimated
just how much he gave a shit. He supported me, and it didn't really
change anything. I certainly wasn't interested in him. Most people
won't imagine gay sexual tension where none exists.

I'm not sure what awkward situations you're imagining. Walking around
in towels after a shower? My roommate didn't change his shower habits
just for me. If you're worried about bringing someone home, well,
that can always be awkward, regardless of gender. But coming out
doesn't mean you'll suddenly be having hot loud sex at your place.

You worry that, with acceptance, you also get a fundamentally changed
relationship. I won't say you're wrong. I never worried about
rejection, but for a while I was paranoid that people would think of
me, somehow, differently. But that's bullshit. Opening yourself to a
friend, and sharing something important to you, certainly should
change that relationship. It makes it deeper. Don't withhold honesty,
just to maintain some status quo.

Not ready to come out to your family? That's cool, it's way easier
once you've got an army of friends supporting you. And each coming-
out session gets progressively easier, so the eventual big one with
the folks doesn't have to be terrifying.

It certainly is a worry to hide your sexuality from certain people.
However I think your family is one of the easiest groups from which
to hold back. Why? Almost everyone will be sensitive to the magnitude
of the big family issue, so if you ask for discretion, you'll get it.

I'm in college also, so I appreciate the hugeness of Facebook. Sure,
it can cause problems. But I promise your Facebook friends will
respect your level of outness. This was a big deal for me. My profile
contains no references to my sexuality - I'm in zero LGBT groups,
I've got no Ani DeFranco quotes, I'm not tagged in pics at gay clubs.
Consequently, even though all my friends know I dig guys, they keep
that off my Facebook wall. Anyone who strolls through my Facebook
profile would have no idea. You can be comfortably out to just about
everyone in your life, without filling in that "Interested In" option.

And do I think your situation warrants extended closeting? Absolutely
not! Don't waste your youth in the closet, just to delay someone
else's awkwardness. Are you maybe looking for weak excuses? Jesus
kid, live your life. You're ready.
posted by jessamyn at 6:47 AM on October 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

I can't speak from gay identity here, but I can say that with every pal who's come out to me, there's been a bit of a "Oh, so that's what you were getting all weird about" moment. It's been a huge relief for everybody. The only time that it's really uncomfortable is when you're like, "I'm gay, and by the way have a crush on you." And you're not going to do that, right?
posted by klangklangston at 10:55 AM on October 8, 2007

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