I’ve have recently realized that I am gay. I’ve told my parents and one friend. I still have a few close friends that I want to tell because they have been my best friends since we were really little kids, but I am not sure how they will react.
I am afraid of them not being able to look past my sexual orientation and see that I am still the same person. These friendships are very important to me and I don't want to risk giving them up if I don't have to.
I know that they will eventually find out, but I want to break it to them smoothly instead of shocking them. I am not attracted to them because of our long friendship, but they might not realize that. I don't know how to tell them or if I should tell them. I know that if they don't accept me then they were not really my friends, but I care too much about them and their friendships to let them go.
— Slowly Emerging from the Closet
Dear Slowly Emerging,
Wouldn’t it be nice if telling folks that you’re gay could be as simple as expressing your love for peanut butter sandwiches or NASCAR? Well, on second thought, maybe admitting you like NASCAR would be taboo in some circles as well.
Hopefully, one day we’ll evolve into a world where no one cares if you’re gay or straight. Until then, you have to jump through the sometimes-uncomfortable coming out hoops. And coming out to your male peers may be the hardest part, especially if they’re super-macho straight guys with a grudge against gay people.
You’re right to tell them rather than have them learn on their own. For one thing, telling as many people as possible helps foster understanding and compassion for the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community. If people know and like a gay person, they’ll be less likely to vote against gay rights when those issues are on the ballot.
On a more personal note, your friends will be more likely to accept your homosexuality if they hear about it from you. I’d suggest telling them individually. Break the news gently, and if your friends are the macho anti-gay types, be certain to mention that you’re not attracted to them in any way. It might seem silly that they’d even suspect such a thing, but straight men who haven’t had any exposure to gay folks don’t always immediately understand that not every gay man will be attracted to them.
Some of them could turn their back on you for a bit, so go into the situation expecting the worst, so you won’t be let down. If these guys are your true friends, they’ll come around in time. You may just be the first gay person they know, and that can shape their ideas and opinions about GLBT folks for the rest of their lives.
Got a problem? E-mail Bianca at firstname.lastname@example.org.