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Bearded Lady

May 20, 2010

One of my best friends at college is gay. I'm a straight female with my own boyfriend. We're going to be sophomores in the fall, and I feel like this is about the age where coming out to one's parents is in order. However, my friend's parents are conservative. His older brother is also gay—and when he came out, his parents cut off all funding for college and excommunicated him from the family, so my friend is understandably terrified.

When his parents come to visit, I tag along on "dates" with him to "meet the parents." It's a free meal, but it feels a little dirty to lie to his mom and dad about how "in love" we are. Moreover, my friend is coming to my house in California this summer. I had said I would love for him to come visit—as a friend. But his parents think he's going to be staying with his girlfriend, and they're thinking of tagging along so they can finally meet their future in-laws, i.e., MY PARENTS. I feel like this is getting way out of hand. How far should we take this act?

I Should Win An Oscar

When you feel bad about lying, ISWAO, remind yourself that you're doing a good deed—you're doing God's work—every time you pass yourself off as this boy's girlfriend. Yes, you're lying to his mean-spirited, emotionally abusive parents, two complete shits who deserve so much worse than simply being misled. And he only lies to them because—for the time being—he must.

You should ask him to do three things to secure your continued cooperation in this deception. First, he has to make a solemn promise that he will come out to his parents the day after he graduates. Second, he has to reach out to his excommunicated brother and, if his brother can be trusted to keep his secret, he has to come out to his brother. Third, he has to break up with you at the end of the school year.

The course of true love never did run smooth, as someone or other once said, so a painfully messy June breakup with his college girlfriend—right before summer break!—not only makes your friend's Potemkin heterosexuality that much more credible, it also gets you off the hook for this ill-advised summer visit. Then when September rolls around, ISWAO, you two crazy kids get back together. Repeat as necessary, i.e., be "on again" when his parents are in town, be "off again" when your parents are in town, over summer breaks, holidays, etc.

And help him look around for his next girlfriend—perhaps a lesbian student with similarly batshit parents—because he can't expect you to be his beard for your entire college career.

I am a gay male teenager. I have not yet come out to my parents (I plan to soon), but my friends know. I'm curious why I relate more easily to my straight friends and am increasingly uncomfortable with my gay friends. Specifically, I have a lesbian friend who often makes jokes about "how gay I am." In your opinion, are statements like that offensive (even considering the source)? Or am I still uncomfortable with myself? Your opinion on this matter would mean a lot to me.

Lost And Disillusioned

It's good to have a sense of humor about yourself, LAD, whether you're gay or straight or bi or whatever. Shrug off your lesbian friend's comments if they're not funny, laugh along with her if they are.

As for your preference for your straight friends: Right now there are a lot more openly straight kids in your life than there are openly gay kids. That means you're drawing your straight friends from a much larger pool, and you're able to be more selective about the straight people you hang out with. You can't afford to be as selective when it comes to gay friends because (1) most gay kids your age aren't out and (2) gays and lesbians are a tiny percentage of the population and you won't meet lots of us until you get to one of those places where gays and lesbians clump up, i.e., large universities and big cities. Then you'll be able to forge friendships with gays and lesbians whom you have something in common with besides your sexuality.

In the meantime, LAD, don't write off all gays and lesbians everywhere as potential friends just because the few you had to choose from as a teenager weren't among your best friends.

I need your help. I have entered into a period of my life where I am devoting all my mental resources toward my academics—grad school—and am not interested in dating. Thus, I bought a Real Doll so that I may enjoy fantastic masturbation during this loveless period. Unfortunately, while my parents were visiting, my mom discovered it and she reacted very, very badly.

You see, my dear mother is a feminist.

She is very upset by the doll and believes that it is an indication that I have lost all respect for women. I do not feel this is true. I view myself as a feminist, and I realize this society sexually objectifies women. But I also believe that I can masturbate with a rubber woman and have wild fantasies and then come back to reality and respect everyone—men, women, others. My mother, however, is extremely upset, and we haven't been able to have a civil conversation since. I am hoping you can possibly give me some perspective.

Dolled Up

My perspective: Your masturbatory routines—including your masturbatory aids/aides—are none of your mother's fucking business. And if your mother wants to be shocked by something, DU, it ought to be that her son-the-grad- student had $5K to plunk down on a sex toy.

Your options at this stage are pretty limited. You can apologize to your mother and tell her what she wants to hear ("You're right, Mom, I'm making an appointment with a therapist and donating my Real Doll to sex-starved grad students in Africa..."). Or you can tell your mother to fuck off and butt out ("It's my dick, Mom, and I'll stick it in whatever I want. You remember that 'my body, my choice' stuff, right?").

That said, DU, your claim that you bought a Real Doll so you could "enjoy fantastic masturbation during this loveless period" doesn't quite pass the smell-of-day-old-spunk-moldering-in-the-lifeless-orifice-of-a-silicone-dummy test. Most guys manage to tough out their loveless periods with the help of the porn industry and their own right hands. And most guys who opt for insanely expensive, life-size, hard-to-hide sex dolls do have issues with women—most are plagued by feelings of inadequacy, not superiority—so you may want to entertain the possibility that your mother might be right.

But even if you do have issues with women—still an if—they're still none of your mother's fucking business.

Want more? Dan Savage will be in Questionland Friday, May 21, from 1-3 pm to answer as many of your questions about love, sex, and relationships as he can in two hours! Ask Dan Savage a question now!


Comments (121) RSS

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1 Comment Pulled (OffTopic) Comment Policy
Excellent advice to ISWAO. And everyone better not give you shit about the SLOG rerun. It was a good one.
Posted by dropdeadpoet on May 18, 2010 at 6:27 PM · Report this
if there is one thing that movies have taught us its that there is never a good place to hide a body. which is what a Real doll is... a creepy lifeless body.
Posted by deet on May 18, 2010 at 6:27 PM · Report this
It was Lysander (A Midsummer Night's Dream) who said that about the course of true love. It's actually the only line I remember from when I played the role.
Posted by tech-savvy thespian on May 18, 2010 at 6:40 PM · Report this
Having acted as a beard, briefly, for a former boyfriend who suspected his parents wouldn't approve of his chubby chasing, I enjoyed the lobster dinner. (He broke up with me because I wasn't fat enough -- beat that, if you can! -- but I'd always thought of him more as a friend, anyway, so we stayed friends.)

But don't think I could have kept it up in the long run, so Dan's "breakup" idea is great, and if you still want him to visit in the summer, you can say you've decided to stay "friends" -- and that should keep his parents at bay.

As for my former boyfriend, I was hanging out with him when he met his future (large) wife, and after she died, have had a nice dinner with his new girlfriend.

So 40 years later, we're still friends, more or less.

Keep the beard playing down to a minimum and maybe you guys can stay friends over the long run, too.

Posted by judybrowni on May 18, 2010 at 6:59 PM · Report this
To LAD - I think it's great that you can connect well to straight people. I know a lot of gays who are so insulated in their gayborhoods, which is fine, but I think that good things happen when we can mix comfortably into the straight social scene.
Posted by gayBoiNYC on May 18, 2010 at 7:07 PM · Report this
Where did the term "beard" come from? It's so interesting. I've head it used before and know what it means, but I wonder whoever came up with it and how.
Posted by dakoneko on May 18, 2010 at 7:07 PM · Report this
Love Dan and the column. Hate when he recycles Letter of the Day into said column!
Posted by Amelie on May 18, 2010 at 7:19 PM · Report this
I don't have a problem with straight girls posing as partners of secretly gay guys but it CAN go wrong. For example: In high school I had a gay friend named Bill*. Bill's parents were assholes so he had his friend Amy* come over all the time, and told his parents that was his girlfriend. But then Amy fell in love with Bill because she was whacko. She got insanely jealous over his boyfriends, went nuts at prom when she saw him flirting with a guy in his group blah blah blah. So be careful when choosing a beard.

*Not their real names. Just in case.
Posted by bloopbloop on May 18, 2010 at 7:33 PM · Report this
Urgutha Forka 10
I don't know either, but I also think it's interesting and funny.

My bet is it came from Monty Python's Life of Brian (with all the women at the stoning wearing fake beards) but that's just a random guess.
Posted by Urgutha Forka on May 18, 2010 at 8:25 PM · Report this
Bluejean Baby 11
@ 7

The term "beard" came from Shakespere, i think.
Posted by Bluejean Baby on May 18, 2010 at 8:27 PM · Report this
Bluejean Baby 12
re: ISWAO, i cannot believe that any parent would excommunicate their child and take away their means of education because of sexual orientation. I know, i know, i should grab a slice of reality.

I just cannot even fathom putting myself in that place where, if my son or daughter came to me and proclaimed their homosexuality, that i would ever in a kajillion years shun them. Just wouldn't / couldn't do it.
Posted by Bluejean Baby on May 18, 2010 at 8:32 PM · Report this
Why should ISWAO's gay friend come out to his gay brother? That's dumb. If he is going to keep this a secret from mom and dad, the best way to keep any secret is not to spread it around, and esp don't spread it close to home. And don't create elaborate lies that can blow up in your face.

And if you really want to salvage a relationship with your parents, don't let them find out that you are not just gay, but a big lying manipulative queen. If the older brother was cut from the same cloth, it's possible that the parents disowned him for more reasons than just being gay.

And the rest of this advice to ISWAO is facile and manipulative. Lying is lying, and taking charity under false pretenses is not something he will feel proud of or remotely good about, even if the marks are homophobic assholes. This isn't about respecting asshole parents who deserve nothing. This is about the gay guy's own integrity.

I've been there and I decided to take as little of the parents' dirty money as possible until I could take care of myself. And I was not actively pretending to be heterosexual with a girlfriend - just hiding the gayness, and denying it on the rare occassion when some busybody really put me on the spot and decided to make it their business to find out why I didn't have a girlfriend or whatever. And when I did come out, it wasn't the end of the world for anybody.

One of the hardest things about coming out was owning up to the fact that I was not honest about what I was for so long. It would have been much harder if I had been a huge and active liar about it. Perhaps that's why married men come out so late, and how they end up causing so much damage to innocent people (such as unwitting beards) when they do come out.

This guy will not learn the self respect he needs to avoid HIV and protect his partners from HIV, or drug and alcohol abuse, or to have healthy relationships or friendships, or whatever, by rationalizing to himself that it's OK to take advantage of other people if he can justify it by finding something they have done or would do wrong to him.

And ISWAO doesn't need to be part of her friend's lies. When I came out, I came out first to family, then friends, then anybody else if/when the subject came up. It really pissed me off when I came out how many gay people at work and elsewhere would come out to me in private, and then expect me to keep the secret of their double life for them. I came out so I wouldn't have to keep that kind of secret anymore, not to start keeping secrets for other people. And ISWAO's friend is taking advantage of her just as much as his parents.
Posted by tcs on May 18, 2010 at 8:59 PM · Report this
@12 Are you reading the Every Child Deserves a Mother and a Father posts on slog? Because there are some people out there doing shit to their children that this child-hating freak would not think of doing in a million years.

I mean, girls are still getting kicked out of the house for getting pregnant. How long have teenage girls been getting pregnant before marriage?
Posted by MegaLindyHopper on May 18, 2010 at 9:37 PM · Report this
Zergling Supermodel 15
Why does my trolldar tingle so badly when I read the "Dolled Up" letter? I can't be the only one realising it's as fake as a porn star's orgasm...
Posted by Zergling Supermodel on May 18, 2010 at 9:39 PM · Report this
#12: I can think of a few things that a family member could do to become completely and permanently disowned. Some things are just that beyond the pale.

Not that I'll defend seeing homosexuality as that huge a moral trespass, (or any moral trespass at all, for that matter,) but it's not hard at all to see how someone sold a certain message would take that step.
Posted by ChiTodd on May 18, 2010 at 9:39 PM · Report this

Um, hey have you ever thought that maybe you're picking your friends based on what kind of people they are rather than what their sexual orientation is? That's a good thing! Hang out with the people you like and trust the most, be they gay, straight, white, purple, American, Klingon, whatever.
Posted by GG1000 on May 18, 2010 at 9:54 PM · Report this
@13 - I was ready to completely agree with you until the end of your comment...

When you say, "double life", are you referring people who were publicly dating the opposite sex while being with the same sex in private? Or do you mean that they played it like you did - led a quiet life, didn't really tell anyone but you because you inspired them?
Posted by MT3 on May 18, 2010 at 10:28 PM · Report this
Agree with commenter #13 about the advice to ISWAO (beard). This is an unnecessary farce and they should stop or "break up". The gay boy doesn't need to come out if it's going to jeopardize financing his education (and if he's not personally ready yet), he just needs to be "single" in the eyes of his parents.

Tons of people go through their entire college careers without a long term romantic partner. And there are even more who may date - gay and straight, but never share about their dating life with their parents.

The lies and feelings of obligation are going to become a huge strain on their friendship - especially if the letter writer wants to have her own romantic life.
Posted by KitchenDancer on May 18, 2010 at 10:29 PM · Report this
Dan, please pass along a thank you to ISWAO from me and the half dozen or so other fellows I've known who were in her friends position with his parents. She is indeed doing a good deed for which she should feel no quilt.
Posted by Gilbey on May 18, 2010 at 11:18 PM · Report this
"I bought a Real Doll so that I may enjoy fantastic masturbation during this loveless period." Shame on you, Dan, for being duped into printing a thinly veiled advertisement as a letter seeking advice.
Loyal Fan
Posted by Loyal Fan on May 19, 2010 at 12:38 AM · Report this
If "Dolled Up" feels the need to justify himself, he should just explain that, at this point in his life, he isn't in a position to pursue a real relationship. Instead, he has chosen to spare hopeful females by using artificial means to satisfy himself.
Posted by BeingABear on May 19, 2010 at 1:12 AM · Report this

It's kind of fun to read a response from someone and think "I could totally see myself writing that". Then I realize that it's pompous, self-righteous, ignorant, asshattery, and I'm sad.


Yeah, it's nice for those of us who come from families who would accept (even if with some trepidation) any sort of revelation about our sex lives. I could admit to my parents that I'm secretly a transvestite furry into diapers, and they wouldn't blow up about it.

Does that make me lucky? Hell yes. Does that make it a good idea for me to tell them if I had such proclivities? Probably, if it were important enough and obvious enough (hard to hide, if we're wearing the fursuits to dinner). But does that mean that my honesty given parents who wouldn't react in the worst way possible would be just as advisable if my parents were idiots? Fuck no.

There's no indication that her friend wants to salvage any kind of relationship with his parents aside from the "pay for college like decent parents" one that requires such a farce. The fact that *you* could come out to *your parents* without it being the end of the world, and that you also didn't create elaborate lies, doesn't mean that there's any chance in hell that ISWAO's friend could do so with his parents. Don't mistake "anecdote" for "categorical truth".

How, incidentally, is he 'taking advantage' of his parents? Unless we accept that his parents are completely worthless human beings to begin with (willing to cut him off for being gay), then everything he gets from them is expected in the normal course of the obligations from a parent to a child. If they paid for a lavish wedding, or a house for him and his "bride", that would be different. He's only safeguarding the things he would be able to expect from any parents who aren't complete assholes.

Also, holy crap. I've been judgmental, and even called an atheist Savanorola, but you blow me away here. He can't learn self-respect without refusing to ostentatiously lie to his jerk parents? I've lied to my parents before, and I promise I have self-respect. Incidentally, what does "self-respect" in any sense tied to ones parents have to do with protecting oneself from STIs? Your argument makes no sense here.

He's not taking advantage of anyone. He's making sure his parents fulfill their reasonable obligations and promises to him by giving them no reason to break them. He's asking one of his friends for help in making sure he can do that.

Would I agree he should come out, or at least not pretend to have a girlfriend, if there were no massively negative impact from his parents being suspicious? Of course. Do I think you're full of crap in this instance, and that the facts of your situation are so wildly different as to render the comparison meaningless? Yes.
Posted by Seldon2639 on May 19, 2010 at 1:39 AM · Report this

Maybe we have very different definitions of "friendship", but unless I was requiring one of my female friends to make out with me in front of my friends, there's not a one who wouldn't be willing to pose as my girlfriend for a few weeks.

In the same way I would pose as a boyfriend for any of them if necessary. Hell, I'd pose as a boyfriend for my male friends, or as a gay best friend for my female friends.

Part of being a good friend is helping out the people you care about. How the hell does that strain a relationship?
Posted by Seldon2639 on May 19, 2010 at 1:42 AM · Report this
Good lord. Why does ISWAO's friend need to maintain the illusion that he has one girlfriend throughout every semester of his college years?! They can "break up" and he can tell his parents that he's not dating anyone, or not dating anyone seriously. Isn't that the standard college experience? This isn't the 50's. We don't expect young people to be engaged by graduation.
Posted by DC on May 19, 2010 at 3:55 AM · Report this
@23/seldon2639- best response to the dipshit ever...thank you!
Posted by aeros66 on May 19, 2010 at 4:39 AM · Report this
For the record, the people who came out to me were having gay sex and going out to gay bars, and claiming to be straight at work and to their families. Sometimes they even had long term partners. And then they expected me to keep their stupid secrets, even in cases where other poeple had their suspicions and laughed at their pathetic attempts to pass. Why would people "like me" who were not living double lives have bothered coming out to me unless I was already a close friend (and I had no gay friends, mostly because so many of the gay people I met back in the 80's always thought it was cute to insinuate that almost everyone was gay and I didn't want to have to be always denying it around them, and I wasn't ready to admit it).

I guess Dan the rest of you uppermiddle class brats think you have a god given right to a college education at your parents' expense. And then after that you will excuse your lie to them because you think you have a god given right to an inheritance.. I can't argue with people who have no integrity. Besides, when I was growing up, you were considered an adult capable of supporting yourself at 18. I guess some child support agreements require parents to support kids thru college. So if it's such a right, why don't you liars go to court and sue for your college tuition and room and board and see how that works out.

And I feel sorry for the people in your lives who are dumb enough to trust you ever.
Posted by tcs on May 19, 2010 at 5:18 AM · Report this
I wouldn't come out to my older brother in this situation - if older brother is astranged from the family he might take joy in 'outing' younger brother to the parents.
Posted by Thatdogguy on May 19, 2010 at 5:34 AM · Report this
@27: No, the parents do now "owe" the child a college education. I know my parents did not offer to help me out, I had to "work it" to get every scholarship, and grant I could to get through undergrad and graduate school. And I am much better for it, believe me!!!!!

But, the point here is that the parents are offering a college education...which they will gleefully take away if they find out that the child is not exactly what they expect him to be. If the parents were not offering a paid education to their straight son, then we would not be talking about college tuition at all here, now would we? So, the point is, he should get that offered education, and just keep quiet until he graduates. Then he can come out, and be super successful, for the good of his life, and hell, just for spite :)

I think they can break up though. He can find another beard, or just be a single student. I was not in a relationship for my entire college years, most aren't. And, she has fulfilled her good friend quota.

My two cents :)
Posted by bear on May 19, 2010 at 6:52 AM · Report this
Aaaah, Seldon, the more I see you on these comment boards, the more I love you. I may disagree with you the majority of the time, but you always lay out your arguments so clearly and, for the most part, logically (the discussions here sometimes have such a high emotional content that it's impossible for anyone to be truly logical) and it's refreshing to see such a thing on the internet. And on this occasion, I could not agree with you more. It's a mistake to view these situations through the lens of our own families. If the guy's brother was shunned when he came out, we can accept his own brother's assertion that it was due to his homosexuality. Sadly, plenty of people still do shun their openly gay kids, so this isn't really a stretch of the imagination. Also, how you chose to deal with being closeted does not invalidate ISWAO's friend's choice. If his parents will worry and nag him about getting a girlfriend when he's single, then he's better off with the beard. In any case, this course of action protects an individual from bigotry where it can do the most damage--at home, when you are still dependent on your parents.
Posted by chicago girl on May 19, 2010 at 7:30 AM · Report this
Dan was right on the money about DU. With a mom that obtrusive, no wonder he's feeling insecure and has issues with women. What is she doing snooping around his place? And um, er...if you know your mom is coming to visit is that not the time, if any, to invest in a good suitcase that locks? Just saying. Also, yeah, where the hell does a grad student get 5k for a real doll?That's the real question here.
Posted by on May 19, 2010 at 7:33 AM · Report this
@31: I've had friends blow their student loans on all sorts of things.
Posted by OnanRulz on May 19, 2010 at 8:34 AM · Report this
Having only briefly been a gay male teenager (I'd come out to maybe 5 or so people in the year before my 20th birthday), I can't speak to your exact predicament, LAD, but I also found what you found in my early 20s. I will say that I think Dan is totally right, but I also think it's more complicated. First of all, no one's chill at 17 or 18 or whatever you are, but straight guys probably come the closest. If they're chill about your sexuality too, then they can make very cool friends for those who are luke-warm on drama, especially when you consider than it's often the high-strung gays who can't hide it who come out early (which is for the better, I think; they are who they are, and that's amazing, but it can sometimes be hard for those with a low-tolerance for shriek). The other thing, I think, is possible sexual tension. That tends to go away after a few years when you've figured out more about who you like, who likes you, and how to divide friend (or even former lover) from lover. And finally, you can like yourself and not like the majority of gay people around you. There is no such thing as "how gay people act," but there might be such a thing as "how a lot of the gay people around you act," and you might not like it. It's great to have friends who get this special part of you, but it's not required. Maybe, like lots of chill heteros, you'll just have one or two close friends who also happen to be gay and who, as a result, "get it." Good luck!
Posted by beb on May 19, 2010 at 8:36 AM · Report this
@29: Yes, exactly. Parents don't automatically owe their children college educations, but they can't deny them to their children just based on their sexual orientation.
Posted by Gloria on May 19, 2010 at 9:04 AM · Report this
@#24 (Seldon). #19 here again.

Pretend relationship to get rid of unwanted attention from a creep or some similar situation? Absolutely. Gay or straight, I'm happy to do it for any of my friends and they've done it for me.

But it's a different thing do it as a quickie favour or because you think it's funny than to maintain a long-term illusion trying to trick someone that you have regular contact with - ie. parents.

The letter writer says in her letter that she feels it's getting out of hand and she feels dirty lying. And it seems like she's trying to lay down some limits (when it comes to the "girlfriend vs. friend" nature of the visit and the parents impression that it would be reasonable to come meet the "in-laws") that her friend is trying to push in order to maintain the illusion to his parents.

I agree it's a well intentioned deception that I'm sure started very innocently. But I think it's run it's course - she has affirmed her friends "straight" sexuality to his parents. Now she's not enjoying it and just seems to feel obligated to continue. That's where the friendship strain comes in.

There's just no reason for them not to "break up" leaving her friend single. ISWAO can continue to attend family functions as a close friend even if they're not dating.
Posted by KitchenDancer on May 19, 2010 at 9:19 AM · Report this
I think this kid should come out to his parents and let the chips fall where they may. If they cut him off, oh well. At least he will not be lying about who he is...He and his brother can tell the parents to fuck off.

As far as the "girlfriend", I don't think she is a bad friend. But who wants to force their parents into a charade like that? It is silly and immature. Enough already!! Grow up and own your gayness. If your parents can't deal with it, then that is on them. I think it is some kind of cosmic justice that two homophobes produced two gay sons, isn't that some kind of unbelievable coincidence
Posted by Bebe'sMom on May 19, 2010 at 9:45 AM · Report this
'those places where gays and lesbians clump up'


Also, of course the Real Doll is none of his mom's business. Which is why she freaked the fuck out. Finding porn is bad enough– finding a corpse strapped with a Flesh Light (Okay, I've seen the docs, I know it's more high tech than that) is going to make her uncomfortable, whether she believes women are humans with equal rights or no.
Posted by Shazaam on May 19, 2010 at 9:45 AM · Report this
Is there something owed to the older brother who took the wrath in the first place? Is it okay to not take that step in coming out because of what happened to him? Is it being disingenuous to the older brother to not take the same risk or be as brave - or leave him on his own without the support of, "we're both going to go through the same thing"?

I'm not out to my family, namely my mother's side of the family. My older sister is a practicing wiccan and when that side found out, they all but disowned her - the loving examples of pious Lutherans they are. I feel guilty for not being out to them and risking the same drama, at the same time I don't want to be used by my older sister to be paraded around as, "See, I'm not the only one that doesn't fit in your ideological norms!" At the same time, I don't want my relatives to look at with (more) disdain towards my parents as in, "couldn't they get one kid right?"

Any advice on that?
Posted by Drew2u on May 19, 2010 at 9:59 AM · Report this
@27, It's a fact that when you apply for financial aid all colleges and universities EXPECT your parents to contribute something, usually 1/3rd. Unless you are an orphan, if your parents are not contributing you will NOT be eligible for the financial aid your parents fail to contribute. And no, an 18-year-old in this day and age is normally NOT able to support him/herself because most apartment complexes and even hotels will REFUSE to rent to anyone under 21. An 18-year-old not dependent on a parent is dependent on a 21-year-old friend to co-sign the lease. Any parent who kicks their kid out at age 18 without contributing anything toward college is either irresponsible or a low-life scum. And I say that as a parent of two children, the oldest of which will start high school in the fall.
Posted by Diagoras on May 19, 2010 at 10:12 AM · Report this
@27 -
"Owing" your children an education isn't the issue. The issue is the unstated threat of withdrawing that financial support if they disapprove of their son's sexual orientation. Not that his parents can't pay for it it (they can), not that they don't believe they should pay for his education (they already are), but that they would only pay for the college education of a son that was fucking girls, or at least trying to.
Which, to me, is kind of a weird, "bridge too far" level of parental involvement in his private life, as well as a shitty way to form a decision on his educational worthiness. Is he flunking out of his classes? Is he well into his sixth year of undergraduate studies while he tries to find his true life-mission? Cancel the freaking check.
But to be allowed to decide who he gets to fuck as a condition of footing the bill for his education? That's actually kinda creepy, if you ask me.
Posted by DF on May 19, 2010 at 10:17 AM · Report this
a rising tide lifts all luggage :-)
Posted by onanov on May 19, 2010 at 10:33 AM · Report this
Her: Your parents want to meet "the future in-laws???" (Brief pause to hyperventilate) I'm sorry, this is just moving too fast for me. I need space. We are only sophomores, for God's sake! I'm terribly sorry, but it's over.

Him: Gee, thanks, Mom & Dad. Thanks for ruining the one great true love of my life. In the future, will you kindly mind your own damned business, and let me conduct my emotional life on my own terms?

Then after that, any time the subject of girlfriends comes up, he can mist over a bit, and then give them The Icy Stare of Recrimination not only for destroying his Epic Love, but for failing to learn from their mistake.

Think they'll buy it? :)
Posted by avast2006 on May 19, 2010 at 10:42 AM · Report this
@42: Devious. I love it.
Posted by Gloria on May 19, 2010 at 10:50 AM · Report this
Rach3l 44
@42, agreed. Would give your parents incentive to butt the fuck out in the future.

Bonus points if when you finally DO come out to them, you say they turned you gay by trying to force your ex-gf to move too fast ;)
Posted by Rach3l on May 19, 2010 at 11:13 AM · Report this
@42 wins, I think.
Posted by schnctdy on May 19, 2010 at 11:15 AM · Report this
Rach3l 46
@42, agreed. Would give your parents incentive to butt the fuck out in the future.

Bonus points if when you finally DO come out to them, you say they turned you gay by trying to force your ex-gf to move too fast ;)
Posted by Rach3l on May 19, 2010 at 11:16 AM · Report this
@27 and 29
Parents might not *OWE* their child help in college. But they are dicks if they won't.

The US Government calculates your student aid based on your parent's income. They will not let you be emancipated from your parents without proof of abuse. I had the proof of abuse, but if I used it my father would have lost his job.

My parents refused to pay for my college education, and refused to co-sign any student loans. I made it through college on my own, but I made myself incredibly sick doing so. Seriously, I got literally ill from overwork and stress. That doesn't happen to everyone, I know.

But I'm very bitter about talk of how it's "Good" for parents to be dicks to their children and not help out with their future when the US Government penalizes children for not getting said help. You don't have to pay for the whole thing. But if your child does not qualify for the military, and if they are working and getting straight A's, then you at least owe them co-signing their damn student loans.
Posted by DianeLGD on May 19, 2010 at 11:40 AM · Report this
I think the parents are awful, but they do not owe their children a college education, regardless of the reason or no reason. I also think it is bad of the student to lie -- at least the parents are being honest about their homophobia (I know, gee, thanks).

The student should cut the family strings and forego the college aid. Or possibly use the money to get through school and then repay the debt over time if the parents do not forgive. Just because the student has the high moral ground doesn't justify taking the money.
Posted by bnmc on May 19, 2010 at 12:08 PM · Report this
#42, genius. Hope that ISWAO is reading, damn.

And your parents might not exactly "owe" you a college education, but good parents do everything they can to help their kids with their education, even if it's only helping them fill out the financial aid forms. A college education, in this day and age, is not a luxury. The guy has every right to get through school on their dime without feeling guilty.
Posted by Chicago girl on May 19, 2010 at 12:36 PM · Report this
Re "beard": It apparently dates from the 1950s, referring to a practice where a horse trainer would bet on (or against, I suppose) his own horse. Since they're not supposed to do that, they would get somebody to place the bet for them, and this person was called the "beard". Dunno where it came from before that, but my guess would be that originally the trainer would just wear a fake beard to make the bet, or at least would be reputed to.

From this usage came "beard" in a heterosexual context, i.e., to hide an extramarital affair (see Woody Allen's "Broadway Danny Rose" for usage of the term in this sense), and it probably wasn't much of a jump for it to be applied to its current usage for covering somebody's homosexuality.
Posted by Kim Scarborough on May 19, 2010 at 1:21 PM · Report this
BrotherBob 51
Dan, you usually cite a reference to toys, books and products, but you didn't for this guy's Real Doll. What's up with that? How did you know it was 5K if you didn't look it up?
Posted by BrotherBob on May 19, 2010 at 1:34 PM · Report this
Chefgirl 52
These parents! I had an friend whose father tried to run over him with a truck when he found out he was gay. From loving dad to homicidal in five minutes flat. Insane.

And yet, I also knew a janitress who was very religious. She had five grown children, two of them gay men, and once told me the though she loved them all, she liked her gay sons the best. Being a walk yer talk person, she won a prize at work for donating the highest percentage of her salary to the United Way one year – a weekend in San Francisco. Her three straight children, all married, immediately started angling for her to give them the prize to use. Her gay sons went shopping and bought her a new luggage set.

See parents, what happens when you don’t disown the gay ones?
Posted by Chefgirl on May 19, 2010 at 2:58 PM · Report this
No, the parents don't "owe" him a college education. But given that this young man is partway through his, it's possible that he:

a) chose a school that is accessible to him through his parent's means, though not through his own
b) didn't do the legwork required to apply for scholarships/grants (and it's likely too late to apply for any for next year)
c) may find it difficult to apply for the student loans/bursaries he would need, which in many areas are tied to one's parents' financial situation (regardless of their willingness to pay for college.)

If it's in any way a struggle for the family, they shouldn't be required to pay for a child's education. But yanking the support out from under their son (except in the case of financial catastrophe) isn't acceptable.
Posted by DearAntarctica on May 19, 2010 at 3:14 PM · Report this
@7 My interpretation of "beard" is that a "beard" can be a sort of disguise (may be a fake beard, may hide a baby face); and also beards are recognized as a masculine feature (pubescent boys get teased about not being able to grow them, females get teased about having them)- facial hair is regarded as manly, and sometimes manly is used to mean, or confused with, "not gay". Therefore, the fake girlfriend is a masking decoy as well as a tangible sexuality cue that communicates: "not gay".
Posted by adviceaholic on May 19, 2010 at 4:55 PM · Report this
Robin8 55
@47: Diane, I thought I was the only one whose parents refused to help me, and subsequently got physically ill (plus ruined my GPA trying to work 40+ night hours while carrying a full-time pre-med schedule). Thanks for sharing. People think I'm just lying when I tell the story.
Posted by Robin8 on May 19, 2010 at 5:06 PM · Report this
I don't think Dan's advice to I Should Win An Oscar was very good. NOTHING ever good comes from being dishonest about who you are. The young lady's friends may be jerks, and as a gay guy I agree they are. That said, once you are 18 your parents owe you nothing, and more importantly, you are finally in control of your own destiny. This young man may think he is "pulling the wool" over his jerky parents, but what he is really doing is diminishing his self worth as a human being. It is one thing if he doesn't want to make a big announcement about his sexual identity, but it is quite another to engage in active deceit. I am sure this tired charade only makes him feel worthless as an individual. This young woman should stop participating in the deception and her friend should simply tell his parents that he and this woman are only friends and his private life is none of their business and leave it at that, or better yet, he should be brave and tell his parents he is gay whether they like it or not. Would coming out potentially cause him to lose his college funding and result in his family "cutting him off?" Possibly. But, at least he would start his new life with integrity and honesty and on HIS own terms, not his parents' terms. One can always go to community college and then get loans and/scholarships (if you live on your own, your parent's financial information is not considered) to finish off the remaining two years for a bachelor's degree, but reclaiming ones self-respect and sense of self-worth after engaging in willful deceit is a much more difficult proposition.
Posted by creezy on May 19, 2010 at 5:19 PM · Report this

Yes, and its not whether you win or lose its how you play the game, and cheater never prosper, and violence never solves anything and .

I love the way commentors feel comfortable deciding how another person feels in a specific situation. Especially when the commentor seems to have no idea what its like to live in said situation. First, you have no idea how his self-worth is effected by lying to his hate mongering homophobic bigoted parents. Second, he's had to live with these lies for years, probably ever since his parents terrified him into lying by cutting off his older brother while he was still a minor (presumably). Third, many good things come out of lying, the girl gets a free meal and the son has gotten half a college education, I'd call those good things. Whether the lie is worth the benefit is a subjective question.

Additionally, several commentors have stated that getting financial aid is based on parents income even if you do live alone, do you actually know your information is correct, or are you c\simply guessing. Even if you are correct, in this economy, getting a good education is of vital importance to getting a job and beginning an independent life, some small deceit on an issue his parents have no right to know is actually a much less difficult proposition than starting a new life with no money, no job and no college education.

Finally, you're use of the word possibly when you suggest his parents cutting him off was especially idiotic. Given that these miserable excuses for parents did the exact same thing to his gay brother, possibly should be replaced by almost certainly. At least have the common decency to acknowledge being cut off by his parents as a virtual certainty, not one of other equally likely possibilities.
Posted by Surety123456 on May 19, 2010 at 5:49 PM · Report this
MythicFox 58
@56 -- You know what's likely to kill a guy's sense of self-worth and feeling of integrity more than lying to his parents about his sexual orientation?

Doing the 'right thing' and being told by his parents that he's a hell-bound abomination who isn't their son any more and doesn't deserve an education because of something outside of his control. Would he have more integrity if he were to get cut off for his honesty and milk the trauma of that to help get loans and scholarships?

No matter what he does, at his age he's not going to get anything entirely on 'his own terms.' If the biggest indicator of his self-worth is going to be how he managed to pay for school and not, say, managing to successfully graduate then he's got problems that honesty with his parents isn't going to solve anyhow.

Plenty of teens do what you suggest and are driven to suicide (or, less often, killed or beaten) over the resulting fallout. I'm pretty sure far less people commit suicide as a result of going to some effort to not have to hear "I hate you and you should burn in hell" from the people who spent a good chunk of their lives raising them.
Posted by MythicFox on May 19, 2010 at 6:46 PM · Report this
As a former grad student, I had plenty of time for sex. Yeah, it's hard to sustain a relationship with a non-grad student. But grad programs are full of other busy graduate and professional students, many of whom are also busy and horny. Not to mention the undergraduate option; it's really not creepy for a 24 year old grad student to bone a 22 year old undergrad. I strongly recommend he make Saturday night a night to ditch lab/the books and go be social. I know plenty of very successful graduate students who didn't completely sacrifice their sex and social lives for their degrees.
Posted by HappyTim on May 19, 2010 at 7:23 PM · Report this

Not true that your parents' income isn't considered if you live on your own. Unless you are orphaned, or a ward of the state, your parents' income is counted until you are 24. My parents couldn't afford to help me, and I lived on my own, and paid my own taxes, and I still couldn't get independent status. You can't even get it if you claim estrangement, unless you have a priest (or someone with similar status) vouch that you really are estranged. I know that, because I had to wait until I was 24 to transfer to a four-year school.

So quit pretending it's easy to blow your parents off while in college. Remember-- I couldn't afford to pay for the portion my parents were officially considered to be paying AND THEY WERE TOO POOR TO ACTUALLY HELP ME. If this kid's parents actually can help him, then their income is high enough so that he probably can't get any grants at all.
Posted by Bon on May 19, 2010 at 7:33 PM · Report this
Yeah. And it kills me how people are always saying it's "good" for you. Builds character and what not. It builds character when it doesn't freekin' ruin your health.

I couldn't afford food, so I lost a lot of weight. I also became anemic. I started throwing up randomly, and I had a nervous breakdown at one point. It was most pointedly *NOT* good for me. I almost asked to be emancipated with the report of abuse, but my father was a cop and if it got back to his boss, he'd have lost his job. And I had a fifteen year old sister at home.

And NO-One believes that a parent would do that to their child. "Oh I'm sure your parents wanted t
My parents never went to college so they believed all these lies about college students from TV. o help." or "You couldn't have been that sick."
(ex. That college students lie to their parents to get money so they can party. Or that they waste their money on toys and extras.) Oh, and most insulting of all, my parents believed that if they co-signed my student loans I would not pay my loans and they'd have to. Because I'm an immoral dick that way. Of course.

Yeah. I'm a little bitter.
Posted by DianeLGD on May 19, 2010 at 8:54 PM · Report this
nicole sweetness 62
Great column! I really enjoyed the "Potemkin heterosexuality" reference.
Posted by nicole sweetness on May 19, 2010 at 8:54 PM · Report this
I wonder if LAD's experience with gay friends vs. straight friends also has to do with young GLBT being focusing on sexuality as a key aspect of their identity. You know, learning the new stereotypes, wanting to mark their belonging in the community by trotting them out.

I think young straight folks also can be highly focused on sexuality, like sex is still such a huge deal when you're like 19. You're thinking it all through and wanting to think it all through with your friends. I think the sexuality as identity thing tends to have another layer with GLBT folks though.
Posted by starf on May 19, 2010 at 9:11 PM · Report this
First: IMO, parents DO by and large owe their kids a college degree.

No, they shouldn’t spend their pensions or medical funds on sending their kids to college. But if they can afford it, and their kids can qualify academically and perform adequately in college they *DO* owe it to them to pay all or as much of the tuition as they possibly can. And yes the kid should work at least summers to help with those costs.

What parents don't owe their kid: an iPhone, a car when they graduate High School, Yale tuition, or a fucking wedding.

At one time an adequate education in the U.S. meant a one room school. Nowadays, if the kid isn't going to go into a trade or sales, or just live in the basement, it means seeing them through an undergraduate degree.

Second, as a straight, 60 something woman, I am amazed at all those "lying is always wrong" commenters.

You don't know what the fuck you are talking about.

He isn't just lying to get the college degree that will offer him a decent life as an adult. It is also to protect him from his parents' abuse and terroristic threat of abandonment – abuse and abandonment for which he has no legal recourse, BTW.

Given how they treated the older brother, I suspect the homophobic parents of ISWAO's gay friend have been watching him and pushing him to "behave normally" since he was a toddler. Especially once his older brother revealed his “contaminating ways”.

Who knows what kinds of things happened to this kid at the hands of these parents as they watched every move he made, or didn't make.

I bet Dad has been forcing his boys to watch and engage in "manly" stuff and ridiculing the least evidence of "sissy" preferences or inclinations. I bet the kid has endured more than one prayer intervention.

ISWAO, you have been doing a good thing for your friend - saving him from a lot of psychological abuse. What other choices would your friend have had? - get kicked out and live on the street? - let the parents haul him off to a " Gay Cure" camp or some anti-gay psychiatrist?

Third. ISWAO’s friend should be very careful and consider whether he can truly trust the brother to be as helpful as ISWAO has been.

Otherwise, I think Dan's solution is excellent. I also think @42's is the way to do it. Wonderful idea!

Posted by Liz1388 on May 19, 2010 at 9:32 PM · Report this
dan, there are a LOT of gay and lesbian folks working within a lot of universities' financial aid offices. they know which strings can be pulled for financial emergencies during the year, and usually they like to help the poor LGBT students with coming out family problems. of course, it's all quiet/hush-hush/DL, and a student can't usually just blindly walk in with a sob story - but ask around and find the helpful administrators and staff that would know whom to speak with within the departments. we are everywhere. we can help.
Posted by on May 20, 2010 at 12:14 AM · Report this
I looked up the "beard" use in the OED. I find a use of it to mean "one who bets for you" in the 1950s. In the early 70s it started being used in both straight and gay culture as Dan used it here. I, too, thought it was from Shakespeare. I do know of early uses of "beard" to mean insult/mock as in "to beard the lion in his den." I bet it did come from the idea of a false beard as a common disguise, and I suspect first use in the gay community, though the OED has no evidence of this.
Posted by Cracker on May 20, 2010 at 4:17 AM · Report this
I guess I'm naive, but when I finished reading the first letter, I went into shock when I realized it was written in 2010. This ludicrous lying-to-please-the-parents bullshit is still going on?? I guess it wouldn't be much help to recommend they look into PFLAG, would it...
Posted by wayne on May 20, 2010 at 5:09 AM · Report this
@Creezy - right, just as if being 100% honest in the rest of your life is always the right option.

If you were desperate to get out of your job, and knew your boss would fire you if you told them that, would you be honest or perhaps use half a brain and continue to look for something else whilst still in a job?

His parents want him to be educated and find a decent job - he's holding up his end of the bargain. The fact there are also unspoken conditions isn't necessarily relevant.
Posted by UKGuy on May 20, 2010 at 5:38 AM · Report this
All the comments here are right on the money--what I cannot believe is that they are already measuring their college sophomore son for a wedding tux and wanting to meet his girlfriend's parents. That is way over the line; it sounds like they are very controlling of his life generally. There might be a lot more ways for him to lose his college education than just coming out. They want him married at the age of 20? That is at least as sick as disowning their other son. I'm wondering if this is an immigrant family, as this would be typical of their approach.
Posted by tinwoman on May 20, 2010 at 5:47 AM · Report this
It's always nice to take the moral high ground of "Don't ever lie, you'll lose your self-respect!" when looking at someone else's life. Note that the people in support of that are usually ones who have not actually experienced this situation themselves, while many of the ones in favor of lying are those whose lives were fucked up due to things just like this.

The real world does not offer black and white solutions. I too can vouch for the fact that your parents' income continues to be considered, despite independent living, until you're 24. And in today's world, it is extremely difficult to live a financially independent life at 18, even if you are extremely motivated to do so. Others have pointed out how housing is almost impossible to acquire, not to mention that it's practically impossible to get a job out of high school that could remotely allow for you to pay for college. Notice how those here who have managed it only did so at the expense of their physical and mental health.

Basically, to come out to his parents, ESPECIALLY considering the earlier example of what happened to his brother, would cause an impact that might effect the entire course of his life negatively. People lie to their parents about all kinds of things they wouldn't want to know about their kids. Sometimes there are situations (like the Real Doll), where lying would have preserved more self respect than truthfulness. Outside of a situation, it's always easy to say how someone ought to act in a perfect and upstanding way, but the outcome of such acts is not universally what's best for all involved. And yes, I do think there is some cosmic justice in this guy's parents being taken for all he can get from them, after what happened to his brother. That's not what I think he's doing - it just sounds like he wants his damn education - but I'd be grinning evilly if he managed to get a new car and some other random things out of the deal.
Posted by DrReality on May 20, 2010 at 6:59 AM · Report this
My biggest problem would be feeling guilty that my brother took the hit that allowed me to not make that mistake. I wasn't entirely truthful about everything I did in college because my Mom wouldn't want to know. Did she know? Sure, but it wasn't thrown in her face.
If the parents have committed to his education and haven't outright asked if he was gay first b/c of the older brother situation, then I think he is justified in getting the education. He and the beard can love each other as friends.... so is he actively lying, or allowing them to jump to conclusions?? Not his responsibility to manage their expectations, although if that was possible probably both he and his brother would be happier people. And DrReality, if he gets a car and some other goodies, he should give them to his brother...
Posted by BTR on May 20, 2010 at 7:56 AM · Report this
The use of "beard" as a woman who pretends to be the female companion of a gay man dates back to at least the 1960s. According to the interwebs the male equivalent for a lesbian is a "merkin". A merkin being a pubic wig, first used by prostitutes in the 16th century when the shaved their pubic hair to prevent the spread of lice.

Who knew? I recommend merkin as The Stranger word of the day.
Posted by Smartypants on May 20, 2010 at 10:39 AM · Report this
What the fuck is the difference between ISWAO's buddy and any other collaborator? If a black person were to slap on some white make-up and kiss some honky ass for a scholarship, he would be shunned. This is why a lot of blacks thought you were all so full of shit in the Prop 8 battle. Have fun convincing people being gay is not just a lifestyle choice as you gleefully pull this crap.
Posted by Happily a Troll on May 20, 2010 at 10:59 AM · Report this
I'd like to thank Dan for his no-bullshit response to Dolled Up. It seems this guy probably does have some issues with women. And if he doesn't, what the heck is a kid in grad school doing spending $5,000 on a sex doll? (I've seen the Real Doll Web site before, it's pretty absurd). Both points Dan raised.
Most students who are "too busy" for a relationship do use porn, or find other people who are "too busy" for a relationship to be their fuck buddies.
I'd say anyone who spends $5K on a life-size, custom-designed fuck doll has some serious issues.
Posted by cosmosfactory on May 20, 2010 at 11:23 AM · Report this
wow, I thought I was the only one who got cut off and physically ill trying to get an education...

My parents, who were kind and loving in my early years, got more and more distant as I matured and they suspected I was gay. They flat out refused to pay for college, sign loan applications, ANYTHING, and I was in the top 3% of my class nationwide! I missed a partial architecture scholarship at Ohio State because they wouldn't budge.

Finally, they relented and let me go to art school IF I paid entirely for the first year and said they would pay for the remainder...

I spent several thousand dollars I had saved working at a grocery all through high school for tuition and room and board. During the second semester, my older gay roommate was in cahoots with my father and outed me to my family, way before I was ready. This caused incredible problems and stress for me; I was hospitalized with stomach ailments and missed so many classes I flunked out of school.

Then they disowned me. I was 19, homeless, broke, and uneducated.

I moved to Florida with ex-schoolmates and got a job in a toy store. I eventually got into graphic art and became an art director making more than $100K a year, but I often wonder where would I be today if that episode hadn't happened?

BTW, my straight little brother lived at home, got a 4 yr degree and 2 masters with their help.

Yep, every child deserves a mother and father.
Posted by desertdawg on May 20, 2010 at 11:48 AM · Report this
wow, I thought I was the only one who got cut off and physically ill trying to get an education...

My parents, who were kind and loving in my early years, got more and more distant as I matured and they suspected I was gay. They flat out refused to pay for college, sign loan applications, ANYTHING, and I was in the top 3% of my class nationwide! I missed a partial architecture scholarship at Ohio State because they wouldn't budge.

Finally, they relented and let me go to art school IF I paid entirely for the first year and said they would pay for the remainder...

I spent several thousand dollars I had saved working at a grocery all through high school for tuition and room and board. During the second semester, my older gay roommate was in cahoots with my father and outed me to my family, way before I was ready. This caused incredible problems and stress for me; I was hospitalized with stomach ailments and missed so many classes I flunked out of school.

Then they disowned me. I was 19, homeless, broke, and uneducated.

I moved to Florida with ex-schoolmates and got a job in a toy store. I eventually got into graphic art and became an art director making more than $100K a year, but I often wonder where would I be today if that episode hadn't happened?

BTW, my straight little brother lived at home, got a 4 yr degree and 2 masters with their help.

Yep, every child deserves a mother and father.
Posted by desertdawg on May 20, 2010 at 12:01 PM · Report this
The problem with a gay person pretending to be single to prevent beign dosowned by parent/grandparents whatever is that as long as they're perceived as single, those parents/grandparents/whatever will tend to endlessly parade potential heterosexual mates before them and try to set them up.
Posted by Atumornamedmarla on May 20, 2010 at 12:22 PM · Report this
I take issue with Dan's generalization that "most guys manage to tough out their loveless periods with the help of the porn industry and their own right hands." While that may be true for many, it's not always the case.

Some of us are left-handed.
Posted by leftygomez on May 20, 2010 at 12:40 PM · Report this

I suppose I could have been more diplomatic. Instead of saying it's a categorical obligation, I could have said "insofar as parents are able, and have indicated a willingness, they owe it to their children to pay for college, and not revoke it for entirely stupid reasons".

But, holy crap man, would that have been a mouthful. For the record, I paid for college myself, but my parents would have paid for it if they could. What's with the rugged individualist shtick? Good for you, that you supported yourself at eighteen, but why in the world would that mean that it's unreasonable to expect that those parents who can provide for their children's education should?

And, not for nothing, but I'm fine with lying, conniving, and cheating parents who would deny their child the benefits of paying for his college education solely based on sexual orientation. I'm honest to a fault, but people who are total scum don't deserve the respect of honesty or forthrightness.


Always nice to be appreciated :-). There do seem to be a few people here who don't devolve into personal attacks and vitriol at the first sign of disagreement. @27 notwithstanding


If it were a constant necessity, I would agree. If she had to be his beard 24/7, even to the preclusion of her own romantic interests, I would think her friend were being unbelievably selfish. Or if it were over the top; if she were expected to make out with him in front of her parents, or if he demanded that they 'catch' them together, I would agree he's being unreasonable.

But, he's asking for a relatively small amount of time out of her life in order to prevent his from becoming awkward (at best) and much more difficult (at worst). Should she set better limits? Obviously. Is he a bastard for asking? No


So, in the interest of being "open" and "honest" and "owning his gayness", you'd advise him to basically throw away the financial support of his parents, and make it much more difficult for him to finish college?

And what does he gain? A sense of accomplishment for telling bigots to fuck right off? He can do that any day of the week, just find a few Republicans. The sense of wholeness that comes from embracing his identity? Maybe, but he's only closeted to people who can adversely impact his life if they find out, and who would disapprove. He's out to the people who matter to him.

You know what'd really stick it to his parents? Graduate, and on the day of graduation, tell them that they've sent a big ol' gay son to school for four years, and now they can blow it out their ears.


Solidarity is nice. Knowing that you're in it together is nice. But screwing yourself over for no gain except to be put in the same "yep, we got screwed" boat isn't worth it.

If your brother got shot by gangsters, and lost the use of his legs, would you feel guilty if you didn't go get shot as well? If you learned from his actions that a set of behaviors (even if the behavior itself is innocuous) can be harmful to you?

Or do you think your brother would feel good knowing that his sacrifice meant you didn't end up just as fucked over as him?


Jesus. I have now learned that the only thing more pontificating and condescending than a straight-laced college student is an out-of-the-closet homosexual.

Is it good to be open, and honest, with yourself and with the people you care about? Sure. Is it necessary to throw that in the face of everyone in the interest of making a break from anyone who might disapprove? Probably not. Is it smart to do so even when it has obvious and directly adverse consequences? Hell no.


Never let the facts get in the way of a good story, eh?

But, you're trolling, and know you're trolling, so I'll not belabor the point.
Posted by Seldon2639 on May 20, 2010 at 12:45 PM · Report this
I always assumed that fake girlfriends were called "beards" because they do the same thing a beard does - make a man look more stereotypically "masculine."

And how the hell does a grad student come up with enough money for a RealDoll? I live in a college town, and most of the grad students I know can barely scrape up the $2.00 for a happy-hour PBR. His mother is probably mad because she's been giving him money to help him make rent, and just found out where it's all been going.

Seriously, dude, something you sink that much money into is NOT a casual tool to help you through a dry spell. That's a lifestyle. It's a fine one if it makes you happy, but own it.
Posted by Melissa286 on May 20, 2010 at 1:49 PM · Report this
aardvark 81
I love the Real Doll letter. I love hardcore feminists that don't believe in male sexuality. But I think what we have here is alot more Freudian than feminist. Mother wants to control her son and son wants mother to love him. Cmon Dan, you are such a pragmatist that some of the deeper things are overlooked. Oedipus, baby!
Posted by aardvark on May 20, 2010 at 4:25 PM · Report this
I agree that part of being a good friend is helping out the people you care about. However, anyone who asks you to lie for them or in any other way compromise your person or beliefs is no friend of yours. Granted there are exceptions in the case of imminent life and death situations, but that does not appear to be the case here. Once a person starts to lie and becomes comfortable with lying, they run the risk that they will choose to lie because it is easier and less painful, in the short run, than to tell the truth.

For some people it is extremely stressful to be put in a position where they are coerced into lying (e.g. you're not my friend unless you lie for me).

ISWAO is now being put into a position where she is not only deceiving her friend's parents, but would be required to deceive her own parents during the summer since I kind of doubt that her parents would be willing to participate in the deception. Even if they were willing to participate, their attitude towards their daughter may change since she will have demonstrated a willingness and ability to lie and deceive. That is not something that would bring joy to most parents.

Unless ISWAO's actual boyfriend is fully aware of the situation and completely on board with her actions, she is courting disaster and jeopardizing her relationship with her boyfriend. What ISWAO didn't say is what her actual boyfriend is doing this summer. Imagine how awkward things would be it he decided to surprise her with a visit while her friend and his parents were visiting. How would her boyfriend react if she told him she didn't want him to visit or she invented an excuse (lie) so he wouldn't visit. Think about the repercussions if he discovered the lie

Even if her boyfriend fully supports her actions, she will have demonstrated to him her willingness and ability to lie and deceive planting the seeds of distrust in their relationship. Most people don’t want to be in a long term relationship with a known liar since you always have to worry about whether they are lying to you.

To those of you who are condoning lying when you are doing "God's work". Remember, this is just another way of saying the ends justify the means, which has always been used to justify torture and an infinite number of atrocities.

Posted by a skeptic and a cynic on May 20, 2010 at 4:51 PM · Report this
Aurora Erratic 83
#81 -- I was gonna say it, but you said it first, and better.
Posted by Aurora Erratic on May 20, 2010 at 5:34 PM · Report this
lindy 84
I am so sorry to hear how many contributors have been treated badly by their parents for coming out. For the record, if any of my 3 children in australia come out in college- its off to PFLAG (yes, we have PFLAG in Oz), kisses all round, brace myself, and tell 'em how much I love 'em for being so brave. I would feel I had failed as a parent if they kept it from me.
Posted by lindy on May 20, 2010 at 5:46 PM · Report this
@39 You brought up the problem that many Wiccans and similar folks have something similar to a "coming out" moment. Speaking from experience (both my own and many of my friends), the most common pattern is very similar to ISWAO's friend: keep it carefully hidden until you're no longer dependent on parental support. And you'd better believe that most of em don't let on to their religious viewpoints in a professional context either.

There is one difference though, because being Wiccan is really a choice, whereas being gay is not.
Posted by Thexalon on May 20, 2010 at 6:08 PM · Report this
DU's mom thinks his doll means he hates women?
So do feminists' plastic dildos mean they hate men?
Posted by Darklighter on May 20, 2010 at 7:51 PM · Report this
There's nothing wrong with DU having a sex doll if he enjoys it, and has plenty of cash to spend on it.

What doesn't ring true is that he has no time for a woman. Clearly he has enough time for sex, and probably enough time to socialise, so the answer is that he's not prepared to maintain a casual relationship.

I can understand that viewpoint - I don't put up with bullshit behaviour like being asked to drop everything at short notice for no sensible reason. However, the solution is to look for a no bullshit woman - not to buy a sex doll.
Posted by UKGuy on May 21, 2010 at 2:08 AM · Report this
I assume DU's mother's reaction to his Real Doll was that he had it custom made to look like her.

"and then come back to reality and respect everyone—men, women, others"

Trolldar not just tingling but lifting my luggage!
Posted by dameedna on May 21, 2010 at 2:37 AM · Report this
The college guy's parents have shown themselves to be jerks, so the son doesn't owe them honesty, quite yet. I probably wouldn't want him to come out to his brother yet either--there might be feelings of resentment and bitterness and the brother would out him to the parents. Maybe send the brother some money and offer some help if needed. There's really no point in telling the parents quite yet. Do you tell your parents the whole truth about your life? Sex dolls, number of sex partners, abortions, same-sex experiments, fetishes? No. I don't think there's a need to have a constant girlfriend either. Take a semester off. One other good point about having the parents pay for college--it keeps them from donating this money to Focus on the Family, or other right-wing causes.
Posted by Christopher B on May 21, 2010 at 3:27 AM · Report this
Lack of a college education, on average, drastically affects earning power throughout life.

Lack of parental support adversely affects ability to pay for college, particularly as has been mentioned in the other comments, the government and colleges calculate your eligibility for financial aid based on parental income.

If parents cut off a child's tuition support that can delay or even end a child's college career, negatively impacting their future.

And about "owing" a college education -- if the parents have already MADE that promise -- which in essence they have because the gay son is already in college on their dime -- then they DO owe it to him to finish. And if they are going to renege on THEIR word because of additional conditions they throw onto it (ie, he has to be straight to keep getting funded), then he is absolutely justified in continuing a charade until he graduates and can start to stand on his own two feet.

He should try to minimize the effect on his friend the beard, like Dan and others suggest, but when the parents have already made it clear there will be adverse consequences if he comes out (ie, what happened to his older brother), then it's the parent's problem, and THEIR fault, not their son's.

"It's not lying if they make you lie".
Posted by Ianto on May 21, 2010 at 4:27 AM · Report this
@13 Since when is paying for college "charity" or anything other than meeting basic parenting obligations? No one forced them to have a child, they chose it, and when you choose to create a child in a world where that child's best chance for success and well-being is to graduate from college, you are assuming an obligation to do everything in your power to facilitate that happening. And that obligation doesn't go away because the child is gay, even if the parents happen to be bigoted Fuckasauri (that's the plural of Fuckasaurus Rex).
Posted by QueHorror on May 21, 2010 at 7:43 AM · Report this
@5: my boyfriend just dumped me because I had surgery, lost over 100 lbs, and am no longer fat enough :(
Posted by janie on May 21, 2010 at 1:04 PM · Report this
I know I am going to get some flack here, but......I am a gay man who disagrees with Savage's answer to the Gay Closeted College Student. GCCS is over 18 now, right? If he thinks that his parents will "cut off his college funding" if he comes out; well then...he should get his OWN funding. There are grants out there, even for students who have already started college. Get a part time job. By becoming self sufficient he will no longer have to live by his parents whim. Plus "using" them for their $$ is wrong if he is just biding his time till he can graduate/come out/be done with them. Plus faking a relationship with a girl, them false hope that their other son is 'Normal" going to crush them emotionally even more than if he had been dropping hints this whole time, or had even come out when he was younger. Though the parents feelings are misguided, THEY have feelings too. Plus....they might have a change of heart when they are faced with the choice of disowning ("you are dead to me") BOTH of their only sons, rather than learning to accept what he is. This might eventually lead them to welcome the older son back, someday. No matter how strict a parent is, giving up two sons would be highly difficult for any parent to do.
Grow some balls, take care of yourself, and give your parents a choice. They might surprise you. Though the PC ideal is that parents love for each child is equal, in reality parents love for each child is different.
Posted by johnlksguys on May 21, 2010 at 2:44 PM · Report this
growler 94
what the fuck is up with ISWAO???!!! HORSESHIT ADVICE FROM SAVAGE!!!

what the fuck does having a pretend relationship have to do with your friend being gay? NOTHING!!!

YOU SHOULD FEEL LIKE SHIT!! for putting on such a stupid bullshit lie to these supposed homophobes. and so what if they are, thats their issue.
if i was your real boyfriend whom you somehow keep happy on the side, i would think you insane and leave.
Posted by growler on May 21, 2010 at 3:07 PM · Report this
Some parents can help with education, some can't. Some will, some won't. I hope like hell some of the responders so bitter about not getting help really understand the difference. 'cause from here it sounds like a whine-fest. There is nothing stopping anyone from getting themselves through college. Nothing. You do have to WAIT until you're 23 to get student loans and grants, but if it's not worth the wait then I guess working for min. wage will be good practice for college life anyway.
Posted by Taomist on May 21, 2010 at 3:55 PM · Report this
Careful…although I completely agree with Dan that ISWAO’s gay friend’s parents are hateful shits and deserve to be conned out of their college tuition money, my concern is for her. Playing the “beard” can hurt if it gets hard to keep it in perspective. How much do you care for your friend? Quite a lot, if you are willing to go to such lengths to help him. Could be that if you play the role of a couple in love too long – or too well – you’ll end up wishing it was more than an act. And that can ruin what would otherwise be a lovely friendship. Just make sure you’re fooling everyone except yourself.
Posted by Magpie on May 21, 2010 at 4:58 PM · Report this
Lying is never the answer. Why can't he come clean with his parents, stop asking a friend to be deceitful and work for his tuition?

One thing to lie but asking someone else to do it is just plain bad taste.

No-one owes you anything. If you have those beliefs, then it's easier to be happier for the little things in life.
Posted by wannabe catholic on May 21, 2010 at 5:11 PM · Report this
Everyone, remember - this is ISWAO's letter, and her problem - not her friend's.

True, he's in a lousy situation and he has lousy parents. But this isn't about HIS relationship with his parents. This is about ISWAO's relationships; HER problem.

ISWAO has already gone above and beyond in helping out her friend. Lying once or twice to help him out? Fine. A good deed even. But then lying for months? And possibly involving her own parents in the lie as well? Screw that.

If her friend has to lie to his parents, it's understandable, and it's too bad. But in asking her to go to such lengths, he's trying to make his problem hers, and that's no way for a friend to act.

He needs to cowboy up, and at least tell his parents he's not seeing ISWAO anymore. Leave her out of his drama. She's paid her friend tribute; meanwhile, what has he ever done for her?
Posted by Linden on May 21, 2010 at 5:17 PM · Report this
Chris in Vancouver WA 99
13, 27, & 56 and anyone else saying Dan's advice to ISWAO sucked are right.

Integrity is important.

I think it's understood by all that ISWAO's friend coming out to his parents most definitely is NOT the easy way to go. Nobody's denying that. But is there no longer ANY value in taking the high road in life? Should situational ethics always be our yardstick? Sorry, but I don't think so.

I agree with those saying ISWAO's friend is no friend if he's getting her to participate in this deceit. ISWAO needs to end this, NOW.
Posted by Chris in Vancouver WA on May 21, 2010 at 6:29 PM · Report this
I firmly believe that it is completely acceptable for ISWAO to lie to his parents about being gay. I think his parents are twits, and right now his first obligation should be to himself. People may like to rant and rave about honesty and integrity, but compromising your well-being (your food, your housing, your education, your employment opportunities) so that your bigoted parents can hurt you is foolish. He should only tell them when they no longer have the ability to hurt him in a way that compromises his future.

That being said, ISWAO and the guy are making things too complicated. Keep "dating" until closer to the end of the year and then break up. Don't get back together. He can tell his parents he just hasn't found the right person yet. He shouldn't need to have a girlfriend CONSTANTLY in order to maintain his straight card with his parents. Lots of straight guys don't have girlfriends. If his parents start getting icky again, he can re-evaluate getting a beard again, but these should be SHORT term girlfriends (no more of this "future-in-laws" stuff).
Posted by Lorran on May 21, 2010 at 8:01 PM · Report this
If ISWAO's friend ever feels the need to atone for lying to his parents, an appropriate way would be to quietly complete his degree on Dad's dime, get an awesome, well-paying job, and then fund his brother's education.

Posted by avast2006 on May 21, 2010 at 10:25 PM · Report this
101: Perfect advice and the best I have read here.
Posted by Vanhattan on May 22, 2010 at 1:29 AM · Report this
101: Bravo!
Posted by Magpie on May 22, 2010 at 9:13 AM · Report this
BEard dates back to the forties at least and serves two purposes. 1) a pretend girlfriend for a gay man. 2) pretend boyfriend for the mistress of a cheating married man so they can be at functions. The cheat is there with his wife and the mistress shows up with the beard ( a friend or subordinate ) as a date . Then the two can chat and be at the event and even get the dangerous thrill of being in the presence of the unsuspecting wife so they can have hot monkey love later and cum real hard!
Posted by obamah8r on May 23, 2010 at 4:25 AM · Report this
I totally agree with Dan on the guy with the Real Doll. I'm also a time and money-poor graduate student, and I can't even afford to buy new shoes to replace the ones I've worn holes through walking to the library. What's he going to grad school for if he can already afford to buy a luxury item like that?
Posted by KTpants on May 23, 2010 at 9:47 AM · Report this
Something was left out of one of the letters not sure why.

The one from I should win an oscar his advice went

The consequences of telling the truth would be severe. What IS printed is so he lies to them because for the time being he must.
Posted by g2010 on May 23, 2010 at 3:27 PM · Report this
@101: BRAVO!!! I couldn't have made a better suggestion myself!

ISWAO's "boyfriend" situation with his Bush-warped parents is definitely fucked up. So is that of anybody who is ruthlessly pressured by his or her clergyman / parents/ whoever to be straight, get married and have truckloads of kids simply because their religion says so.
I hope it works out for the better, ISWAO.
Posted by aunt bee on May 24, 2010 at 3:15 AM · Report this
ISWAO's comments make it sound like she is starting to feel used. Dan's ideas provide a way for the man to continue his charade while proving less of a burden to ISWAO, but if the deception is just all too much for ISWAO, she should insist on the breakup now. After all, she did not sign up for all of this, and she can be supportive in other ways.

And Dolled Up, for your claim for being a feminist, your hatred of feminists and women is written all over your post. You go from sarcastically claiming your "dear mother" is a feminist to claiming you yourself are one two sentences later. That word is not an epithet one second and a proud badge the next. Dan was right when he gently suggested your mother was onto something. Despite a feminist upbringing, you have ended up with a woman problem. Now go figure it out.
Posted by greendyke on May 24, 2010 at 11:30 AM · Report this
I am ISWAO, but I have never registered on the site so this'll probably show up as unregistered. Oh well.

1. Thanks for all the advice in the comments, as well as to Dan for his. We are taking a combination of the two. We are going to "break up" for the summer, and he is going to find a new (lesbian) friend to be his beard in the fall. He will not be coming out until after college.

2. Our university is VERY expensive. It is a top-20 uni known for being exceedingly stingy with aid, and he could not afford to stay here on his own. period. It is just not possible. He has looked into it many times, because he -wants- to come out, but for that same reason he has decided not to until after college. That is his choice to make, not mine, and I respect it.

3. To those of you who say we "lack integrity"-- yeah, I would have agreed with you if I were an objective poster reading this on some forum. But all I can say is that it's really, really easy to make a judgement like that when you're not the one in the situation, and very difficult when you are. This guy is my good friend, he's not just using me, and we have a strong friendship outside that, so it's not like I'm trying to get rid of him.

4. My real boyfriend and I are extremely happy together, and he is cool with what is going on. He is gay-friendly and understands how hard it is. I do not have any feelings for my gay friend whatsoever. So nix that out. :p

Again, thanks guys for all the help and info and advice!


Posted by ISWAO on May 24, 2010 at 8:03 PM · Report this
I was looking for info about a topic (thanks I felt so stupid when I read the answer!) & now I'm combing through this column. Dan you're great!
Posted by La Shon on May 24, 2010 at 10:45 PM · Report this
robt vesco, jr. 111
Dan is totally wrong in his answer to ISWAO, and in fact, he is contradicting his own past advice.

If the parents threatened to hurt or kill him if he were gay, that's one thing. But to lie to his parents in order to get tuition money is immoral. They may be fucked up homophobes, but it's their money and he doesn't somehow magically deserve thousands of dollars in tuition.

It won't hurt him to go to community college or take an extra year to graduate. In fact, it'll help him grow a pair of balls and stop the "I Love Lucy" shenanigans.

Posted by robt vesco, jr. on May 24, 2010 at 11:49 PM · Report this
robt vesco, jr. 112
Oh, and my understanding is that "beard" comes from "crossover beard," which was worn by actors in small traveling companies that didn't have a backstage. When they exited Stage Left, but then had to enter Stage Right later, they would don a "crossover beard" and walk across the stage and everyone would pretend they were invisible.

Now that I write this, I'm not really sure how gays started using it, but I could make something up, like:

Around 1950, perennial Presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson, who had a background in vaudeville and summer stock (mostly small towns in Ohio and Western Pennsylvania), was spotted at Brooke Astor's "Founder's Day" ball with Rose Kennedy on his arm. When Astor raised a quizzical eye at the noted, not to say notorious heterosexual squiring a noted lesbian, he said, "Oh, Brooke, honey, I'm her crossover beard." Turns out Art Buchwald overheard the comment, shortened it, reported it, and, Voila, coined a phrase that would go on to rival "smaller elephant sibling" in the Euphemism Hall of Fame.
Posted by robt vesco, jr. on May 25, 2010 at 12:06 AM · Report this
113 Comment Pulled (Spam) Comment Policy
@111: Did you ever try to read the rest of this thread at all? "Deserve" is a dead horse here.
Posted by Gloria on May 25, 2010 at 1:53 PM · Report this
robt vesco, jr. 115
Dear Gloria,

I was following the thread, thanks.

I considered 111 to be voting in favor of not lying in case someone was tallying up the pro and con. And I added some comments for the hell of it because I felt moved to because I had a boyfriend who lied for exactly the same reasons. And guess what? He had big issues because of the lying.

Ouch, I didn't know the comments section had such strict discipline.

Posted by robt vesco, jr. on May 26, 2010 at 1:25 AM · Report this
AdorkableD 116
Anyone on here who thinks that honesty is the best policy when it comes to parents answer me this: Do your parents know what you like in bed? To take it in the ass, have your pussy wipped, enjoy golden showers? Blah blah blah etc etc. Why in the world is it ANY of their business? The same goes for homosexuality. If a childs education is contingent on being straight well then fuck them. Lie, cheat, steal I say. No I didn't have to pay my own way at Uni but I was raised by some seriously fucked up bigots who attached strings to everything they supplied from the time I was an toddler until I told them to go fuck themselves. When you are honest with narrow-minded twats it only comes back to bite you in the ass.
Posted by AdorkableD on May 27, 2010 at 10:32 PM · Report this
ScaryMara 117
Wow. I am so lucky.

As an out, bi girl who has two fantastic, supportive parents who love her unconditionally I would like to thank everyone who came before me who made coming out and being out so painless. I hope someday everybody can have a family like mine.
Posted by ScaryMara on May 29, 2010 at 4:39 AM · Report this
For parents to turn against their own children because of some moldy Old Testament — that is a crime against nature.

Having responded to the brother's honesty with nothing but cruelty, they have given up the right to the truth. Any guidance the child gives them now is a matter of Christian charity; lest they find one day that they are alien to all, and have nothing but hatred and pride to guide them through the outer darkness.
Posted by Passerby on June 1, 2010 at 12:34 PM · Report this
in response to DU: as a female graduate student who is equally focused on academics, i wonder why the hell someone would be dropping cash on masturbatory toys when clearly a fuckbuddy situation is both warranted, and likely to be highly available. if you have the misfortune of being in a male dominated technology dept, perhaps it's time to make a trip over to the vet school or sociology dept. we don't all want to marry you and have your babies. jeez.
Posted by fackingsmurt on June 1, 2010 at 6:31 PM · Report this
ex-neocon poly wife 120
Is it bad if I can see myself looking at these Real Dolls all night and only laughing my ass off? I can have them painted, elf ears put on, etc. I am fairly certain that this site really could provide more than a single night's entertainment...
Posted by ex-neocon poly wife on June 5, 2010 at 12:52 AM · Report this
It is true that lying to your parents about your sexuality can impact your self worth, but is it worth the pain that will come from being honest: Being cut off financially and losing out on the college education? Which when incomplete will not get him any more than a minimum wage job (if WA has minimum wage laws - if that's where the letter-writers friend is from). It's all well and good to pontificate and say that its immoral to not be honest, but you need to be realistic. If keeping his parents in the dark about his S.O. will allow him to become a college graduate, then so be it, but he should only use the dirty money with conditions attached for what is absolutely necessary. He should get a job at least part time for evenings/weekends and try to pay for the extras and some of the room and board costs, and he should graduate with an undergrad degree A.S.A.P and get a full time job and start living on his own.

I liked the idea someone had about making it seem like the parents coming to meet the "future" inlaws was moving way too fast. It makes a good inroad to a way for her to publicly break off the fake relationship, and a reason for him to stay single throughout the rest of his college career: Whenever they bring it up, he can say:
"Do you really want to go there, you guys ruined my chances with someone who was very very special to me, who I loved very much, blah blah" and then the issue can be dropped and left.

Once he's through with College/Uni and he no longer needs their dirty money, then he should drop them like a rock (by telling them publicly, preferably at the graduation ceremony, so that if they react badly, the public can see how horrible his parents truly are); and being ICY COLD to them in the future if they were to ever try and re-establish contact.
Posted by LTC on June 25, 2010 at 3:02 AM · Report this

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