Alex Blaze

Straight, now gay: How do you come out every day?

Filed By Alex Blaze | October 05, 2009 9:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: coming out of the closet, Dear Abby, Facebook

Who was it that said, and I can't quote directly since I can't find it, "Whenever I read Dear Abby I feel the world is dark and mean..."? I used to read Dear Abby every day, along with Ann Landers and Miss Manners (less than daily), and I had to agree when I heard that. Dear Abby's world is one of squalor and suffering; Miss Manners is filled with the ludic, the greedy, and the socially awkward; and Ann Landers just publishes letters from people who could be my grandma.

Anyway, this Dear Abby ran this question from a gay boy last Friday. How would you respond?

DEAR ABBY: I spent my high school years chasing girls and participating in sports. I made good grades and was popular with peers and faculty.

I have since graduated and entered college. I have also come out of the closet as gay. Due to popular sites such as Facebook, I have reunited with old friends who are interested to hear about my "new life."

With those not "in the know," I feel uncomfortable having to come out of the closet again and again. I don't feel ashamed about myself or my boyfriend, but I feel a certain discomfort when my former and present lives meet.

I have many friends, old and new, gay and straight, who I care about. But I feel some anxiety over the reactions I get from some of those people, even though they no longer hold a prominent place in my life. I'd greatly appreciate it if you could tell me how to handle and deal with such situations. -- Betwixt And Between In San Antonio

I'd say he should just add something undeniably gay to his FaceBook, etc., profiles and leave it at that. People will get the message if he puts up a pic of him kissing a dude in front of a rainbow flag with a post about how much he loves Madonna's new album (because only Europeans and gay boys can listen to that stuff, and this guy isn't spelling color with a "u").

Abby takes a different approach, asking Mr. San Antonio to accept the fact that he was deceitful, get used to the idea that he'll lose friends and loved ones, and sloth through all those conversations as a means to practice for future awkward conversations, since there is no sense in hoping for an end to his anxiety.

She falls short of telling him to accept the cruelty of the universe we're placed in against our will, so obviously Friday was a good day for her.

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I agree, it would be far easier to just add something ridiculously and obviously gay to the facebook. One click onto the profile and he's out, no awkward convo necessary.

I would tell him to handle it in whatever way he feels most comfortable, and then probably provide a 2500 word lecture on why being out is sooo much better than being in the closet or "not out".

I can't say there's much on my FB that says, point blank, I'm trans -- although I doubt most people would assume I'm not given my activities.

I have, of course, my dyssonance site -- and then I have another site (woefully ignored) that talks about everything *but* being trans. Indeed, it's ignored there, and on purpose.

And while dyss links to it, it does not link to dyss.

I haven't heard Madonna's new album, but odds are as a long time fan, I'd like it. I only disliked one of her albums thus far, and it was around the same time as her coffee table book, lol.

So odds are good I'd like it -- and I'm neither gay nor spelling color with a u...

I bought all her other albums. But these last two from her have been painful.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | October 5, 2009 11:56 AM

Another example of someone younger needing to talk to someone older.

And what would you, as someone older, tell him? Dear Abby Amalgamated Advice-Dispensing Industries, Limited, was rather short on specifics.

Being a gay male and out requires a certain amount of "balls" (don't mean to be sexist here) and those "awkward moments" when you are not guaranteed good responses are evidence of that. I've had awkward moments, some I handled well, some I didn't. But with time, you learn it's almost always best to be honest, and you can only allow the other person's response to bother you only so much. (I say "almost always": If you find yourself in a dark alley late at night with a gun pointed in your face, that might not be a good time to initiate a discussion about your sexuality with your assailant.)

And by the way, black people, latino people, women, and people who closely identify with any particular religion or ethnicity have "awkward moments" like that, too. No matter who you are, there is probably someone out there who disapproves or even hates you over something. So get over it --- and concentrate on increasing your capacity to be comfortable in your own skin whether others approve of you or not.

P.S. I'm not surprised --- "Dear Abby" wasn't that helpful when I wrote her her myself at about that age.

I find that when I assume it's not such a big deal letting people know I'm gay, they tend not to make a big deal about it either.

My response to him would be:

Think about putting something specific on your facebook page which lets people know. Don't rush into it, but when you're ready, consider a picture of you and your boyfriend, or a symbol, or a line about being happily out of the closet.

Be calm and low-key in responding. You're not obligated to explain yourself or spill intimate details. Figure out a couple of quick-and-easy responses that fit, like "Yeah, I didn't see this coming in high school, either, but I love my life now!" or, "Yeah, I pretty much knew a long time ago, but it took time to accept it," or, "My new life? It's the same as the old one, except for the cute boyfriend!"

It gets a little more complicated if old friends raise religious concerns, but again, stay calm. Walk away from folks who get belligerent or try to bully you.

Here's the good news: It will get easier, more natural for you. Coming out as a young adult, you are likely to connect within social, professional, and neighborhood circles where lgbt people are welcomed without batting an eye. The day may come when you won't even talk about being gay to folks from your past or present, you'll just mention your husband!

Her assumption that he was being deceitful by not coming out in high school pisses me off. More pre-teens and teens are recognizing their orientation than in decades prior, but not all. It's unfair and unwise to suggest that youth who don't come out early will suffer a loss of credibility when they do so later.

I think it's very possible not to know your orientation, or at least not to be sure of it, especially if you are bisexual or have gender identity questions. People have to pick their own time to come out, and their own way.

I don't see the young man as having been deceitful - I see him as having practiced survival techniques in an unaccepting world. I did the same thing - in my high school, if you came out, teachers could ban you from their classrooms. I wasn't about to jeopardize my scholarships and college future over somebody else's nonacceptance.