I’m currently in quite a crossroad. Two friends of mine and I are talking about moving out of our parents’ houses and live together next to our work place. They obviously don’t know my deepest-darkest-secret-of-all.. and I’m contemplating whether it is a good idea to go live with two straight friends while i’m keeping this a secret. My friend kinda thinks that shouldn’t matter to them.. and that i should tell them when i’m ready. [Another] gay guy thinks that i really shouldn’t do that. He says that he can’t imagine himself living with friends and having to hide something like that from them. I’m not planning on coming out any time soon (a year or so), but in case i do… i’d really hate it should one of my friends decide he wants to leave the apartment because i’m gay. I mean that would kinda fuck things up.
What do you think?
-Anonymous from Israel
Well, I don’t know your friends, so it’s impossible for me to say for sure whether it’s a good idea or not. But let me ask you something: do you think you could live with having to tiptoe around your roommates? Do you think it’s fair to have to constantly be paranoid and looking over your shoulder while in your own home? Do you think that keeping such a secret from some of your closest friends might create a rift in your relationship with them?
Whenever you start going through your coming out process, you’re going to also start a process that Will and I like to refer to as “trimming the fat”. Simply put, as you start sharing this “deepest-darkest-secret-of-all” with people, they’re either going to accept you or not. At first, the idea of potentially losing a relationship with a family member or close friend might seem upsetting. But do you really want to associate with someone who can’t accept you for you? You’re at a very vulnerable place in your life right now, and you need to be surrounding yourself with people who are going to support you. Any friend who can’t accept you is essentially valuing their own biases and prejudices over their relationship with you. Is that the kind of friend you want to hang around with at all?
There’s also a huge difference between trying to hide your sexuality from someone in general and trying to hide your sexuality from someone you live with. It’s challenging enough trying to constantly evaluate your every gesture and mannerism and sentence to make sure that you don’t give yourself away. Sooner or later your going to need a break. How is it going to make you feel if you can’t let your guard down in your own home? What happens if you meet a guy and you want to invite him over to have dinner or a little rumpus in the sack?
Ultimately, it’s your decision as to what you want to do. But here’s what I think. You may be able to live with your two straight friends and keep your gayness a secret from them, but living in those kind of conditions isn’t fair to you. I think it’s pretty safe to say that they don’t have to worry about whether their “straightness” is going to alienate you in any way. So why should you have to worry? I say tell them. If they can’t handle it, then that’s their problem. Now it’s fine if they feel a little uncomfortable at first. In my dealings with straight male friends, many are apprehensive at first, not because they’re prejudiced, but because they’re not sure how to react. They’re going to feel like they have to watch what they say around you and make sure that none of their jokes offend you. They’re going to wonder if you have ever seen them in a sexual light. When that’s the case, you just have to show them that your gayness doesn’t have to change anything. Nothing about the dynamic of your relationship has to be any different. You guys can still hang out, pal around, tease each other, or whatever it is that you guys did together that maintains the status quo. Once they realize that, I find it hard to believe that they would have a problem.
As an added bonus, your roommates now have themselves a “gay wingman”. Few straight guys have the opportunity to take advantage of such a lucrative opportunity. Who knows? You and your friends could end up turning your coming out into an asset.
Best of luck to you!