SL Letter of the Day: I Saw U


Excellent advice, Dan.

And a word to CU: I came out as an 18 year-old undergrad. This was in 1975! I survived, I thrived, and I wouldn't have it any other way.
"They might be able to have furtive, secretive, and shame-driven sex with other closeted heterosexuals, if they could find 'em, but finding love—find true and lasting love—would be difficult." --the universal undergrad experience at Brown, back when I went. Only gays and lesbians were out.
Are we sure this guy isn't actually 31? Because I think I dated that guy.
Excellent in both tone and content, Dan! Gawd coming out is hard, especially if one's upbringing creates risk of family loss.
CU- listen to Dan and come out as soon as you can. You'll regret having missed out on your college years staying in the closet. My biggest regret is that I waited until I was 29; should have been out at 18.
Isn't there a big zone in college between "out enough to find romance" and "out to your family"?

What about going to a gay bar near campus? Sure, people at the bar will realize he's gay, but they're mostly gay too, and he might meet some people who seem cool. Once he has a friend or two who are gay, that will make the whole process seem easier.

Also, aren't there gay/straight alliance organizations, where he could go to support the cause of gay rights, without saying he's gay? That would also allow him to make more gay friends, and they won't be surprised or upset when he eventually comes out to them.
Well said, Dan.
CU, it's nobody's business whom you fall in love with, have sex with, or date. But when you treat such basic information as a secret needing Q-level clearance, it turns into fodder for gossip mills.
Go to a meeting. Come out. You're 18, you have brown hair, your favorite dinner is your grandma's spaghetti, and you're gay. End of discussion.
I bet you'll find a bunch of people at that LGBT meeting who don't broadcast or flaunt their sexuality in that "too out" way.
Good luck.
Perfect advice, Dan.

CU, that's the whole Catch-22 about being in the closet. If nobody knows you're gay, then how are you going to find someone worthwhile to have a meaningful relationship with? If you come out, and your friends and teammates and dormmates know, then they become an entire network to help you meet other gay guys they know in their other classes, teams, and dorms. Guys just like you, only out.

And don't be too quick to dismiss the student LGBT organizations. Sure, some of them are probably a bit too loud and proud for you, but not all of them. I met my boyfriend in a LGBT student group meeting, and we are still together more than 20 years later.
I went through much the same thing, CU. I was from a small town and figured I'd come out at college in the Big City and everything would be hunky-dory; I went to a theater school, for God's sake! But it's never as easy as you want it to be and I was still coming to terms with my sexuality myself, never mind the other people I had to live and go to school with.

My solution was to not come out, but to not stay in the closet either. I was just gay. I didn't make a point of telling everyone, but didn't hide it either. I figured I could be open about who I was without having some kind of big "coming out" scene. But it didn't work. My oh-so-progressive approach was interpreted by others as my being in the closet or, even worse, in total denial. I would have saved a lot of time if I'd just said I was gay.

So start small. Tell one person. Tell your best friend at college so far. Or go to a party and find the hippie chick dancing around by herself and tell her. Or find one of the out gays and tell him. Once you tell one person, it'll get easier to tell another. Remember, everybody else at college is doing things for the first time ever in their lives, too. You're not alone.
"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 because the gay rights/liberation movement would never have gotten off the ground without 'em."

There's another reason they're gayer than the average gay dude. When they come out many feel they can't just be gay, they have to be GAY. Did you know I'm GAY? I know you want to talk about today's class but let me just mention that I'm GAY! And you know how you're straight, well don't assume I am because I'm GAY!

To use a cliche: not that there's anything wrong with that. It's just that many get over it and settle into a more even keel when they've been out for a while. They recognize that they can just be a person who happens to be gay and that being gay doesn't have to be the defining characteristic of their personality.
I'll add that freshman year of college is all about putting your business in everyone's face. At various parties, seminars, dorm meetings, student groups, etc., you'll hear all about someone's life-changing trip to Europe over the summer, someone else's anger at their father for divorcing their mother, someone else's annoyance at always being stereotyped, etc.

Freshman year is a giant bucket of overshare, and letting folks know you're gay is pretty low on the list of "in your face" freshman behaviors.
Good advice. Don't despair, you will find happiness. You are so young and life takes time. Concentrate on school and teach yourself to be happy. There are a great many people who have it a great deal worse than you, so learn to be thankful. It's a step toward happiness. And be kind to yourself.
What they all said CU.

Dan's point about how much straight people are "out" naturally is one I often use when closeted gay guys give me the "I don't see any reason why I need to tell everyone" line.

Because being in the closet isn't just a matter of not saying "I'm gay" to anyone. It requires active hiding, which requires both passive and active lying. It takes a lot of effort to stay in the closet. A lot of self denial, and a lot of stress.

If you just lived your life without lying, hiding, and actively keeping the fact you are gay a secret then everyone would know within a few days anyway. Keep that in mind.

You don't have to come out until you want to. But at the same time college IS a great time to come out. You have enough freedom to explore without your parents breathing down your neck. You are in close proximity living and studying with a bunch of other horny young college students who are also exploring who they are in some way or another. You will never have another opportunity like this again. It would be a shame if you didn't take advantage of it while you have it.

Coming out is always scary, but people in a lot worse situations than you are in have managed it. There is no reason you can't too. But you have to make that decision for yourself.

At the same time coming out isn't an instant cure to all your problems. You still have to find people you are compatible with to date and go through all the initial relationship drama that young people go through before figuring all this relationship stuff out. You still have to deal with potentially disapproving family. You will almost certainly have at least some people in your life who will give you a hard time. It's not like The Wizard of OZ, where you come out and suddenly everything goes from black and white to color.

But it is the important first step, and the great life you have in front of you isn't going to really begin until you do. I hope you don't wait too long.
CU - change your major to English or Theater! That's when I started meeting the kind of gays I clicked with. It was a little bit of a curse because the professors in the English Dept were the hottest and the couldn't date. But they were very empowering people to be around.
CU, just come out, but don't make a big deal about it.
What does 'too out' mean? And why is it a problem? I think Dan missed a chance to unpack some of this guy's internalized homophobia.

LW: Maybe there are gay dudes on campus like you, who aren't into the whole flaming queen scene (I assume that's what you mean by 'too out') and so avoid the campus GSAs as well. Why not show up anyway, then, to demonstrate that not every gay college boy is one of those 'too out' people.

Also, if you don't want to be out in meatspace, what about online? Set up an OKCupid profile wherein you mention that you're gay and looking to date local dudes. Once you've established a gay-and-out identity online, incorporating that identity into your offline life might be easier.

Lastly - lots of folks in college are 'too out' about everything. I expect most of those 'too out' gay boys grew up in places where being gay wasn't fully acceptable (you know, like most American high schools). For the first time in their lives, they have the opportunity to be honest about who they are without being shamed or mocked. Most of 'em will probably calm down around graduation.
Hey CU:

I'm assuming you're at Cornell based on Dan's picture posted earlier and your abbreviation. I was there from 1995-1999 and it didn't get better for a variety of factors -- a lot involving the strangely closeted culture that persisted at the time and a group of gay guys who called themselves the A List. I've heard from grad friends that the gay scene hasn't improved that much since I left. I hope that's not true.

REGARDLESS of all of that, coming out will feel better. A lot of people probably already know/suspect. And letting people know you're gay is a great way to get introduced to people you might like or might date who aren't part of the "overly out" scene. There are good and bad LGBT groups and they can change in character a lot from year to year -- it might be worth giving one another chance. You don't have to be political if you don't want to. Being honest with friends and classmates will improve your life immeasurably and can also be an activist act that lets people know there are all kinds of gay people and not just the kind that fulfill the stereotype.

Also, if you are at Cornell, NYC is just a short bus ride away. Don't forget that.

Good luck, be safe.
Don't forget that for EVERYONE the first time you are out in public with someone you care for (likely) will be nerve wracking. No parents, no chaperones, no one to determine how you should behave except YOU, YOURSELF! That freedom is one of the headiest intoxicants of college life, and, if you aren't careful to moderate the associated freedoms of alcohol and drugs, one that can get you into trouble (you are at college to succeed academically. So don't screw up your primary mission!). So why not try starting with a classic: go on a study date to the library, or some such. First and foremost, have fun!

@14 What a weird suggestion. I mean, I guess I can see the logic behind it, but presumably the LW might want to major in something else, and might not want to push back the ol' college graduation date (though if the economy keeps up as it is, he may want to do just that, I suppose). Meanwhile, it's not as though there won't be gay people in other majors, and then he can meet people who he has more in common with than sexuality. Relating on multiple levels! It's a beautiful thing.
@16: I think it's fair to not want to hang out with people who are working through their identities by fulfilling every possible gay stereotype. That's not internalized homophobia -- it's finding an appropriate peer group.

I grew up in the country -- do I have internalized ruralphobia because I didn't listen to country music or race dirt bikes? Or did I just choose to be a little less of a cliche?

I think a wonderful thing about this generation of gays is that they have a little more latitude in their ability to express themselves. He can choose to be "straight-acting" or indie or flaming or all of the above. I think that's something to celebrate and not to pathologize.
Also, chances are, everybody already knows you're just need to come out.

To wit: "You are gay. You are gay. You are a homosexual. The opposite of straight, you're gay. I know it. Your family knows it. DOGS know it!"
There's a great documentary making the festival circuit called "Out For The Long Run" about LGBT college athletes and their coming out stories. CU might find it interesting, inspiring, and maybe see some parallels to his own situation.…

Playing Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival Oct 23:…
@14--As an English professor, I appreciate the comment about how hot we are :).

To CU: there are more than twenty comments, and not a single one of them is from somebody condemning you to hell or advising you to get psychiatric help. I know this is SLOG--a more liberal venue than most--but there is still a message there. Once you start coming out to people, you'll probably find a lot of support, and also find that it's a bigger deal to you than it is to most other people.

How do you do it? Except, perhaps, for your parents, you don't have to stage a big scend, prefaced with "I need to tell you something really important." That's sooooo 70's. All you have to do, when an appropriate moment comes up in coversation, is to say, "I thought I'd take Dave to the party," or "I've got a date with Mike on Saturday," or "John and I have been seeing each other, and it's really good."

Best of luck, CU.
I ordered one shipment of sex toys from Adam and Eve and have been getting mailings for pornographic DVD's. These might be alright for other folks, but in my house, these should probably not be something that are coming through the mail periodically. The default setting on any orders should be that my name and address are not to be used for marketing purposes or sold to 3rd parties. Thank you, John
@23 raises an excellent point, CU, which is that your gaiety is an excellent litmus test.

You're a college freshman. You're meeting a fuckton of new people. Some of those people are really fucking awesome, and some of them are conceited narrow-minded pieces of shit. But you all probably have your best feet forward in this crucial "meet new people" stage, so it can be hard to tell who is worth knowing and who isn't.

Enter your mention of being gay, which can be as offhand as @23 mentions. Pay attention to the listener's reaction: if he or she is at all cross or judgmental, walk away and never talk to that person again. You've been talking to a bigot, and your life is better with them not in it. On the other hand, if the listener doesn't give a shit, then you're likely talking to someone who is open-minded and accepting. And those are people well worth knowing.
I don't understand why letting the heterosexuals throw all their business in your face constantly is better than not throwing your business in theirs, frankly. Or, to put it another way, you don't have to announce to the world that you're on a date when you go to a game with Mike or Lars or Jamal. You don't have to announce to the world that the two of you are dancing the horizontal tango if a study date ends up with sharing a toothbrush. The world actually doesn't care that much. You do have to admit to yourself that you want more than a hook-up and set about taking the steps that will get you more than a hook-up. And please, since you are just beginning all this and since nobody else bothered to mention it, PLAY SAFELY when you play.

I came out by degrees at the age of 18 when I went away from my rural hometown to college. It took me all of three months to go from never-had-a-date to steady-dating-a-really-nice-guy. I bless every active agent in the universe that I made up my mind when I got on the bus to leave home that I was going to be myself when I got off, and that was close to fifty years ago -- you can probably tell that from the way I write. If I could do it in those repressive days, you can do it now and you'll be glad you did. Good luck and best wishes.
@20: Well, no one is protesting "God hates dirtbikers!" and rural-acting teens aren't being accused of being filthy Okies. So I think the analogy fails.

I brought up internalized homophobia because I'm following Dan's lead on this one - it's the advice he gives to some gay men on his podcast who talk about being uncomfortable around queeny or femme gays. This guy is obviously having a hard time coming out, despite obviously wanting to date, so gee, maybe internalized homophobia has something to do with it? Especially because he used the phrase 'too out', which reminded me of the phrase, "I don't mind gay people as long as they act straight." I'm only *assuming* he meant the flaming queens. For all I know, he could consider two men holding hands or a guy talking about his date with another guy to be "too out." Or maybe he's secretly worried that if he's seen hanging out with these flaming gays, people will assume he's gay, too.

And not wanting to date queeny or femme guys? Nothing wrong with that. But out gay men usually know a lot of other out gay men, who may or may not also be 'too out', and I think the LW is missing out on a chance to at least make some gay friends or get set up on dates by avoiding campus GSAs.
CU don't be me. I was so closeted in college that I lived by myself & spoke to fewer than 15 people during the entire 4 years. And, those brief conversations were only for class projects or the occasional study group. After college I was then extremely closeted at work. In fact, I took a job that involved travel just so I wouldn't have to work in an office setting where people might get to know me. My efforts worked. Nobody thought I was gay. Most thought I was simply an aloof, nerdy CPA type. A few thought I was arrogant.

My "fuck this shit" moment came when I was in a plane crash. After an engine failure we knew there was a very serious problem. The cabin very quiet & i saw people clutching their spouses/boyfriends/girlfriends/children or furiously writing notes to them. All I could think was that I was 26 years old, about to die, & nobody would care because I'd never allowed myself to get to know anybody out of fear of being outed. (Sure, my parents would have cared, but they don't count cuz they have to care. Plus, they would have missed the person that I pretended to be.)

Many people died in that crash, but I was lucky. I never looked back. I surrounded myself with straight & gay people that I liked & liked me. I don't lead a stereotypical gay life if there is one. I have a partner. We live in the burbs & we have twin five year olds. Most people see my wedding ring & kids and think I'm straight. I find it funny because I think I'm sort of obvious, but whatever.

I so regret the years I wasted by socially isolating myself just to keep a secret that most people really don't give a shit about.
@ 14: I'm **still** in love with my Autobiography professor and he was straight but cool beyond cool.

@19 & 25: I don't disagree with you. Follow your heart. I ended up with a BA in Early Childhood Education and a second BA in Creative Writing. I was a parent with a child in school and I wanted to be able to understand my kid's experience in school and try to be with her. I wasn't following my heart. I was following my kid. So, I had to have a fifth year of classes just to qualify to teach and I bundled it all into creative writing.

Fate intervened.

While I was looking for a job I worked as a substitute teacher in 54 elementary schools and I continue taking English classes. A couple of things happened:

1. I was out in college and when I went to my *first* job interview, my "out" statue had preceded me. This principal who interview me literally screamed at me within five minutes of the beginning of the interview. I was pretty devastated, to say the least. I went back to substitute work and about 2 months later go notified of another interview - with the *same* principal. Needless to say, I declined.

2. I continue substituting until something life-changing prevented me from continuing; I lost the hearing in both ears. I was deaf. That was 25 years ago. I'm still deaf.

As it turned out, the training I got in writing was the most useful for me. I followed my heart, really. I was a life-long fan of women's fastpitch softball and sports is one thing you don't have to hear in order to know what is going on. Since nobody would hire me because of my deafness, I worked as a volunteer publicist for a college varsity softball program and eventually created and published their first web site. I had to teach myself how to build a web site to do that and I did it all in my back bedroom. Well, long story short, I produced the first live, internet based play-by-play of an NCAA championship in the history of the NCAA - single-handedly. I did it in a year that the college I volunteered for won the NCAA Div. I national title. I ****THEN**** got a paying job to create and publish the web site of the world's largest softball coaching organization. They had one when they contacted me and it had seven pages on it. When I launched their new one, it had 15,000 pages on it. I made $500.00 a month from that. But USA Today hired me to write a brand new softball-only column. $100.00 a week. You see, I never really made a living, but I was happy as hell. I got to hang out with a lot of *very* talented and competitive women, many of them lesbians, some gay coaches, and get to be a voice in an emerging sport. I had a blast. I was forced to follow my heart. Dan Savage was a theater major. Look at us now!
I dunno Dan. It takes more than opening your mouth and saying the words. It isn't just hard to summon up the bravery to say it out loud, to say it to other people.

It takes emotional stamina. It helps to have a supportive peer group and allies in the family. Saying the words might put you beyond the point of no return, but it still takes a sustained effort to teach the people around you about this thing that is still embarrassing even if you don't want to feel that way anymore. Building the friendships and coming out under gradually under a semi-controlled situation may not be feasible in the age of facebook.

This 18 year old does need to come out for his own sake, but don't trivialize the fear and the effort. Immature people who come out abruptly are all of sudden thrust into a role they haven't read for before and it can be difficult. A former student of mine who came out early in HS had some eloquent things to say about this on NPR one time... words I wish Jamie from Buffalo could have heard. Coming out is not the destination, it is a new beginning, and it doesn't solve everything. So yeah, it is hard, but not just because of the internalized homophobia.

Anyway, I think the writer sort of knows all this and was asking for a shove out the closet door. So he got one. I hope he has a few extra good friends to talk things out with over time. Life will get better but it isn't a straight line from closeted to happily settled.
You don't have to come out of the closet with your rainbow feather boa on. Come out in degrees as you're comfortable or open the door, and make a casual exit.
If your school has a GSA join it and just go about your business, because you could be the straight and support LGBT rights. And, some of the apparently straight guys may be bi, "str8-acting"/masculine or questioning. If something clicks with someone, good. If it doesn't, make friends with their friends.
And you don't have to introduce yourself as gay when you meet someone, it's a much better feeling to be "my friend John, who happens to be gay" than "Gay John."
And you, or anyone else, can be as private about their dating life as they please. In fact - people only make an issue of something if you let them. "Who was that?" "My boyfriend." "Oh. You're gay?" "Yeah. I'mma get a soda, you want one?" "Naw, dude." Basically treat is as a non-issue, and most people will take it in stride.
You also don't have to be out to everyone all at once (or at all).
@30 wow,

I read your post and started to cry. At many levels, as a parent, and as an individual, your near miss at dying alone really hurt. And, you'll pardon my saying so, all because of a fucked up society hangover. But you lived, and the fear died. And you lived and grew, and lived and grew, and... Your story is truly wonder-ful.

I'm glad to have "met" you.

@29: I think the metaphor holds, even if imperfect: There are any number of class issues associated with where one is from, especially on a wealthy college campus. But that's not the important point here. I just hate seeing the term internalized homophobia thrown around lightly. It implies you or Dan or I somehow know more about his motivations than CU himself does. Maybe he has valid reasons for not wanting to hang out the LGBT/GSA group at his school. Maybe he doesn't. But when we start analyzing these choices based on our belief in his "subconscious dislike/lack of acceptance of his sexuality," we make a lot of unfair assumptions. I'm not generally a big fan of the overtly political queer contingent either -- I think there are other, more productive ways to make change. I don't that's a sign of internalized homophobia.

Sorry -- this is getting a bit off topic.
Dear CU:

I'm going to try to give you an encouraging nudge to open yourself up to the possibilities that you don't even know exist.
I have thought about joining the LGBT organizations but those guys are too "out" for me.
Um ... have you actually seen Every. Single. Person who belongs or attends? Because, if you've only seen the ones who wear club tees or other identifying paraphenalia, then you don't really know who belongs ... and I'll bet you there's a huge variety of people whose behaviours are not carbon-copy-pride-floatish.

Right now, you're okay with arranging hookups via CL. But that's ONLY sex. What about being Who. You. Are and living it? Belonging to a GSA or strictly queer group will empower you. You'll have the support of strangers from all over the campus and not only whatever faculty/programme you're in. Imagine being able to go out with like-minded people on a regular basis (say to dinner), or socializing in other not-strictly-gay ways on or off-campus.

Right now, you're scared because you don't know how coming out will affect you or others around you. Is there a way you can contact any of the organizations on campus by e-mail (even if you have to create a new fake account) and tell them you're afraid. You won't be the first person to have been in that position. Ask them if they have any coming out groups. If they don't, then ask if you could chat online with someone who did come out during first year, someone Just. Like. You. Then, when you feel more comfortable after having shared your story virtually and anonymously, go ahead and meet your mentor in person. I can't believe there wouldn't be anybody who would not be happy to help you find yourself.

I hope you will consider starting to live your own life. If you're reading these comments, please pay special attention to the one from the person above for whom it took a nearly fatal plane crash to realize that life was too short to not take full advantage of it. But, please, please start somewhere. Don't let your freshman year be only about envy and resentment because most of your classmates are taking the opportunities offered to them. And, even if most of them are straight (but, then again, you don't really know), they've used being away from home and SO away from high school to escape from their own worries about fitting in or finding friends. [Case in point: I remade my image when I got to university. I wasn't going to let my shyness or social clumsiness from high school prevent me from blossoming. And I did!]

You CAN do it, too.
Keep your ears open to see what the scuttlebutt is after Dan Savage's filming. If you hear someone talking about it in a positive way, then you can say you're sorry you missed it. And you will have made a connection with a sympatico person. Good luck!
Hey take a breath. I pretty much think I was gay too by 18 (AIDS was new, no one understood much about it, gay men were suddenly very sick and dying). But I was scared shitless. So I hid it from myself, friends, and family. (Even had the obligitory playboy centerfold or two on my dorm room wall--pathetic and stupid but I did it). Later, I busied myself with anything not to think about it (studying, work, helping family and friends). Which didn't work. Cause I thought about it, a lot, a whole lot.

Eventually I learned stealthy ways to admire to landscape. But I crushed on the dudes that I wasn't supposed to have crushes on (straight college roomates and co-workers). Which only just got in the way of school or the job. I was a fucking coward and deluding myself. I felt trapped and totally miserable because I couldn't act on my feelings and attractions. I tried to be what I thought everyone else wanted me to be except for me. And watched everyone else date wondering when it was going to be my turn. Stood up at friends weddings, saw their kids born, etc. Life was missing big time.

When I was 18 I didn't really know any gay people. I was so uncomfortable with myself that I couldn't talk about it with anyone. There was a gay organization on campus sponsoring a movie. I thought about going but talked myself out of of it. Wonder what my life would be like now if I had gone. Its taken me till now to come out to myself and a few family and friends. I was terrified. But it went ok. I sweat buckets but what a fucking relief not to be locked away in the closet suffocating.

I'm scared out of my mind but I really need to find some gay friends and I haven't a clue what I'm doing. I'm definately no better off than you CU. At least at 18 its ok to make mistakes. At my stage people think you're supposed to "know everything". But you know what, I want a life. I really want one. And I'm determined to try. I'm going to make mistakes and embarrass myself. That's what happens when you learn. Learn from what I did to myself and don't make the same mistake, you'll never forgive yourself. You don't get the time back for good behavior. Good luck CU. Much happiness in your future dude. And if you aren't too busy, think about running for president in about 20+ years.
If you're religious at all, you might try one of the local churches. Look for the ones that that mention something like "open and affirming" on their websites and have some sort of rainbow banner out front. If you're somewhere that has a pride parade, go to the next one and look for the congregations that march. Church will probably be a lousy place to find romance at your age, but it should be a nice safe place to come out, and there will almost certainly be a few older gay couples you can befriend.

Just a thought.
"you're trying to have sex and the closet too, CU, and that's bringing the weird" <-yeah, exactly that, right there.

Not saying it's easy, CU, but being closeted is warping your life even more than you think it is; it's the kind of stress you can't fully assess until it's gone.
Only a minor quibble: "They're out in part because they can't be in," plays into the inference that They all WANT to be in. Yes, some people would have had easier lives had they not been widely perceived to be Different with a difference, but surely it's possible to acknowledge that without assisting those who glamourize the SASASSes.

Applause to Ms Helenka for going into the likely composition of the organizations and what might be available to CU in depth.

Kids like this make me sad. They remind me of the curious story of one of my college friends. I always thought it was so weird that he seemed like a very charming guy, but he never dated anyone. I was starting to think that he might have been asexual. About 3 years into college, he finally came out. I think he might have felt really silly, because none of us thought any differently of him for it, and he wasted 3 good college years hiding who he really was from fear that any of us would care. He was from one of those wacko conservative southern states though, so maybe he was more worried about what his "friends" back home would think.

Anywho, CA, college is probably the best place to come out, so you can start making real connections with people, and shoo away the assholes that might hold it against you that you're gay. Start now!
I was EXACTLY like this guy until age 25. Then I realized, being "out" is the price of admission for dating, getting laid, or just generally having some cool gay friends to hang out with. And I learned pretty quickly that being "out" wasn't all that bad and didn't change much. I drifted away from some semi-homophobic straight friends, but that actually made my life better.

Being out doesn't mean you have to make a big announcement to every single person you meet. If the subject comes up, it comes up. If it doesn't, it doesn't. Don't fret about it.

One thing I recall from my coming out days, one person I met said, "I'm not telling my family or anyone, because I'm not political." But then another friend reminded him that the personal is often political, even when you don't want it to be. Passing yourself off as straight is just as much a "political" choice as coming out, in that you're trying to influence other people's opinions about you, so that you retain some social benefit -- whether it's something as simple as retaining certain people's opinion of your social standing, or something as big as an inheritance, or whatever. Just remember, whatever your choice, to stay closeted or not, you're doing it to shape other people's opinions of you for a reason. You can't say "I don't want to be political", because the situation is already political. It already is other people's business. The more honest you are, ironically, the less it becomes other people's business, and the easier it is for you to get on with your life with people who accept you.
A simple, powerful response. This is why Dan should stick to writing about what he knows and give that other crap a rest.