For three semesters I was the web editor to the notoriously named website ThatGayMagazine.com (the former name of OhioFusion.com) and telling people I managed the site became just as notorious for me.
I used it sometimes as a blunt way to come out among acquaintances. I even included ThatGayMagazine.com in the signature of my e-mail address. Since then, I think every person I’ve e-mailed either knows or suspects I’m gay. Despite that, I still go through the anxiety of coming out to new people.
When I came out to my parents in my sophomore year of high school, I imagined coming out would be a one-time gig. Once a few people knew, I thought, a wave of sensational gossip would surely spread like wild fire. Then I thought changing my “interested in” status on Facebook would suddenly break the news to the world. (It still stuns me that not every one creeps on people’s profile info.)
Truth be told, coming out is a never-ending roller coaster. I can’t avoid feeling the same unease feeling when I personally come out to new friends, roommates, and extended family members.
Roommates are the most awkward.
Throughout all three years I lived on campus, I resided in the same exact resident hall room, with a new roommate coming in either every semester or every year. Only my junior year roommate knew I was gay before moving in. I’ve never had the displeasure of being targeted or rejected for being gay, but the conversation of coming out still haunts me many times.
It took me about two full weeks to personally come out to my first roommate; ten hours to come out to my second; and I went through my entire sophomore year without personally coming out to my third roommate—though I’m sure he knew.
Most people I interact nowadays know my orientation. But even recently, I’m still coming out to people.
Here’s a few suggestions on how to best come out to roommates (or maybe even people you hang out a lot with):
- Talk to your roommate or friend about another friend who’s gay–preferably if he or she is dating someone. You might get some insight on how your roommate or friend perceives the gay community–which will lead to a great segway about your sexual orientation. Even if his or her view is a bit skewed, you might be surprised how well people change when they learn that someone close to them is gay or bisexual.
- Discuss rules on bringing guests overnight. If your roommate starts using pronouns exclusive to the opposite sex, correct him or her. Say something like “Well, actually, you won’t won’t find me sharing a bed with ANY woman. A man on the other hand…”
- Talk about ex’s and bad relationship experiences. Those are always fun conversations and it lets the roommate learn which orientation you identify as. If you’re like me though, who waits until senior year of college to pursue his first romantic relationship, just make-up something for conversation-sake. I’m not ashamed to say I’ve fabricated a summer fling once or twice in my head. Just hope your friend or roommate doesn’t ask for pictures.
Whichever way you break the news, a text message warning your roommate that you have someone of the same-sex spending the night in your bed should not be the first time he or she is learning about you sexual orientation. Not only could this lead to some erupt anti-gay drama, but more importantly, he or she may think you’re just a dirty slut.
Simon Husted is senior news journalism major and the editor of Fusion magazine.