Not ready to leave the closet
Q: I am writing to you because I have a problem with the whole gay scene. Let me tell you what I mean.
Everyone these days seems to think it is not only OK but normal to tell everyone they know that they are gay. They not only share this information about themselves but about me. Well I don’t want everyone to know. For one thing I am a very private person and I don’t want people to know what is going on in my bedroom. There are several reasons for this: I’m not out to my family or most of my friends. I am not out at work and on top of that I don’t think it is anyone’s business about my sexuality. The other day I was out with a friend that I met at a gay bar. We haven’t known each other that long. Anyway, she met up with some of her friends that I didn’t know. Before long she was telling everyone that I was just a “baby dyke.” I guess that she was saying this because I have not been out very long and I am pretty young…I’m 19. All this took place in the middle of a busy restaurant. I was very embarrassed by her telling everyone and afraid that there might be someone listening that I know and that they would tell my family and friends or even people at work. I have a very conservative family who would probably totally reject me if they found out that I am gay. My church would certainly have nothing to do with me, and I might get fired. I guess others don’t have anyone or anything to lose by spreading the news, but I do. And besides, I am just trying to accept this whole thing myself and I am just not ready to talk about it. When I told Sarah that I didn’t want her sharing this information about me, she said that everyone will know anyway by the way I look, and when they see us together there will be no doubt, so why not be open so that people aren’t just speculating. She thinks I should come out to my family and friends and job so I don’t have to “sneak around” to have a life. Believe me, I have a life now. I realize that just going to gay bars and parties I have a chance of being discovered, but I don’t want to increase the odds by talking about it in public with people that I don’t know. How do I get people to see that I have a right to my privacy, and when they are with me they need to change their behavior?
In the closet
A: I know that when a person is first coming out and is not out to her family, friends or work, the world feels pretty scary. You may need to decide not to go out with people who are more out than you are because they are at a difference stage of the coming out process and they are not likely to change their behavior for you. Once a person is out and open about his/her sexuality in the world, it is really hard to crawl back into the closet. Not only hard, but once you’ve made it out, it is such a horrible thought to have to go back in. Therefore, I would suggest that you go to a group that deals with coming out issues. You can find a list of groups or LGBT centers by going to www.pridesource.com. The issue that you wrote about is some of the things that would be discussed. These groups also help people decide how far out they want to be, who they want to tell, and how to tell folks in a way that has the best possible outcome. These groups also give you an opportunity to look at the risks when coming out, and how much risk you are willing to accept. You would also be more likely to meet people who are in a similar stage of the coming out process. These are people with whom you could socialize and feel more comfortable with. Good luck with the coming out process. Let me know how you are doing.