I'm on vacation. Please enjoy this golden oldie from October 12, 2011.
I'm a college freshman. I thought that college would be the place to come out, but the sad fact is that college hasn't changed anything. I'm still unable to admit my sexuality to my friends, teammates, classmates, and hallmates. I have thought about joining the LGBT organizations, but those guys are too "out" for me. Not that there's any problem with that. I just don't think that being gay is anyone else's business unless I want them to know. The hardest part is seeing other freshmen go out to parties, hook up, and date when I don't have the opportunity to do so. I've resorted to going on Craigslist, but my encounters have been weird. What should I do?
My response after the jump...
You're not required to disclose who you're going out with, CU, or the gender of the folks you would like to go out with. But keeping your sexual orientation a secret indefinitely—not your sexual interests (which you can keep to yourself), but your sexual orientation—will ultimately warp your psyche and your life.
Think about it from the other side: What would the straight guys on your team have to do in order to hide their straightness from you? They could never mention their girlfriends, go out on dates, or hook up with someone they met at a party. They would have to hide their porn and be careful not to check out girls in public. They could never get engaged, get married, or have kids. They might be able to have furtive, secretive, and shame-driven sexual encounters with other closeted heterosexuals they met online or in places where closeted straight people gathered to have anonymous sex, but finding love—true and lasting love—would be extremely difficult.
It wouldn't be impossible—some gay people managed to find lasting love back in the bad old days—but it would be difficult. And the sneaking around and hiding and lying would ultimately warp their psyches and their lives.
If you don't want to get warped, CU, you're going to have to come out. And once you're out, you don't have to hang out with gay people with whom you don't click, and you don't have to be gay the way, say, the LGBT groupers on your campus are gay. Remember: Gay men who are out at your age (18?) tend to be a bit gayer than the average gay dude. They're out in part because they can't be in. And God bless 'em and more power to 'em and the gay rights/liberation movement would never have gotten off the ground without 'em. But since you can pass, CU, you've had the option of waiting.
You have, of course, the option of never coming out. But as you're discovering, CU, it's hard to date in the closet, and DL-enabling sites like CL and Grindr aren't going to deliver the kind of connections you want. So long as you're limited to quickly arranged hookups with guys you don't know, can't risk getting to know, and can't be seen with in public, all of your encounters are going to be weird. Not because all the guys on CL or Grindr are weird—there are good guys on both sites—but because you're trying to have a life and keep it secret, and that tends to attract weirdos without lives.
Look, CU, you're only 18. You've got time. But what you're going to realize, in not too much more time, is that dating and finding love—or even just sex—inside the closet is nearly impossible. You can remain in the closet and keep your business secret, but you won't have much of a life in there. And when you realize that, CU, you'll come out. First to a friend or two, then to your family, then to everyone. And once you're all the way out, you'll find that the guys you've been focusing on—the "too out" guys—aren't the only gay guys out there. Just some of the best.
I know it's hard. But you can do it. All it takes is opening your mouth and saying the words.