Wednesday, May 09, 2007

A reader who accidently outed himself to a friend

About two weeks ago, I got an e-mail from a reader who was upset with himself for the way he reacted when a close friend was joking around and asked him whether he was gay. It's another example of the kind of thing I mentioned in the posting about Conversational Evasion Techniques. In that posting, I pointed out that guys can ask other guys whether they've got a wife or girlfriend with completely friendly intentions, however if the guy on the receiving end of the question is gay and doesn't want to say so, then the question is perceived as hostile. The reader's story isn't about that situation but none the less, when the reader was asked a question about being gay as a joke, he wasn't ready for the question and treated it differently to the way it was intended. This is what the reader said:

I got myself into a rather messy situation few days ago. I was sitting on the lawn at uni and having lunch with two friends (a girl "A", and a boy "E"). Somehow we started chatting about jeans. "A" used to work in a clothing store, so she knew a whole lot about expensive jeans. While we were talking, she saw someone who works in the same clothing store as her. Then the conversation went like:

A: Look at that dude over there, his jeans are worth $500. He has got a twin brother who works in the same clothing store. Oh my god, they look so gay. Twin gay brothers. I wonder what they would do to each other.

Me: $500! That is expensive. It is a waste of money really. Jeans over $200 look the same to me. His shoes (a pair of Nike) are so ugly. I have got a pair as well, but in different colour. I barely wear them. They are not very comfy.

E: Yeah, I agree.

A to me: Are you into shoes?

Me: Yeah, I enjoy buying shoes. (Realising I don't sound very macho here, so I said) But hey, the last time I bought a pair of shoes was like two years ago.

A: Are you gay seriously? You can tell us.

Me: Hmmm... [ I was like, 'Not again!'. "A" is my best friend. But I keep a certain part of my life private. She has been annoying me at times with that question, specially after I dumped my girlfriend with a txt msg. So when she asked me that question again, my mind just went blank. ] ... Hmmm, I am not too sure to be honest......

I soon changed the subject, but it was too late :(.

Later, "A" and I had a one-on-one conversation

A: Hey, are you really ...?

Me: You see, I am not too sure. I think I am bi.

A: Oh sh*t, I am so sorry. I never thought you would be. I am such a dumb arse. I was just kidding. I use that gay joke all the time. I am such a dumb arse.

Me: What??? You were kidding? You sounded very serious when you asked me that question. You b*tch! I can't believe this. I should have kept my mouth shut.

A: I am so sorry. If I were serious, I would have asked you in private.

Me: B*tch! You better not broadcast it, big mouth! Sh*t, what about "E"? He is not religious, is he? I just don't want to ruin our final year project. [ "E", "A" and I are doing our final year project together. ]

A: Don't think he is. Do you want me to talk to him?

Me: I don't know. Maybe just leave it.

This was the first time ever I told someone about my sexuality, well, apart from the guys I've hooked up with! Even though I managed to convince "A" that I am yet to have sex with a guy, I totally freaked out and I almost threw up when I went for a jog that afternoon. I hated myself for letting my guard down. Things really happen when you are least expecting them. Few days have passed; I pretend as if nothing happened. "A", "E" and I seem to get on like before. Nothing seems to have changed because of that conversation. But I still cringe whenever I think about it.

In a subsequent email, the reader who sent me the above story was clearly worried about the fact that he's gay:

Whenever a 'gay' question pops up, I panic. It is so frustrating, because I feel that I constantly have something to hide. It is frightening to think I might have to live a double life like this forever. Oh well, I guess this is the way it is. I will need to be tougher and wear a thick armour to protect myself lol.

In my reply, I tried to reassure him that eventually he won't feel the need to hide being gay, and then life will become much easier. These feelings are certainly quite normal when one is first coming out. I can certainly remember feeling exactly like that when I was younger!


Daniel said...

Yes! I agree with you. There are so many upset things around you. The best way which one friends on told me is that do not pay more attention to the bad things but think more about the happy things, then your life will be easier.

Sir Wobin said...

The reader is having a strong reaction to being out of control. He felt that he could control people's knowledge of him perfectly and having that bubble burst isn't fun. We often put on some act all the time to try to set people's perceptions of us, about how gay or straight we are, how smart an capable we are etc.

It's a pretty manipulative way of approaching interpersonal relationships. It's exhausting to keep it up most of the time and hides who you really are from people you call your friends.

First thing that stands out is that the reader's friend doesn't mind. He didn't need to hide this from her in the first place. If the friend E does freak out, then they're a friend not worth having. For all the reader knows, E is also putting up facade and now E's gob-smacked that his crush bats for the same team. The point is that the reader does not know how E feels about religion or a range of other issues. Much of the reader's fear comes from not knowing.

Like GB said, we all felt that way after coming out. In time you'll know more about people and won't have to fear them the way you do now. The truth is that most people don't care since they have issues of their own to deal with. Folks who make a big deal of it are probably keen to deflect attention away from themselves.

Well done on taking the first step (however accidentally.)

Anonymous said...

hmmmm... i think ivfelt abt coming out to only two ppl in my life... the rest were, happily, a breeze. :) despite the preceding drama! :) i guess, this fellow will soon realize dat, too. :):):)