Is My Friend Gay?

September 3, 2011

I got an email the other day. The summary is as follows:

“Les, I’m a straight girl, but I have a question about a friend. Everyone in our group of friends is convinced she is gay. We’ve thought so for years, but she keeps dating boys. What gives? We totally don’t care if she’s gay or not, but we’re confused. Are we wrong? Is she in the closet?”

I’m not a sexuality expert by any means, but I’ll take a shot at it, ok?

Could be anything. Your friend might be gay, straight, or even bisexual. I know, very helpful, right?

But let’s break it down. I think you really have two questions here. First of them being, if she’s gay, why does she date boys? And the second one, if she’s not gay, why do we think she is?

She might be bisexual, in which case both of your questions are resolved. Your gaydar’s beeping, she’s not straight, but happens to be dating boys because she wants to. Cool.

Maybe she’s straight and you’re all wrong. That may happen if you’re relying on appearance points stereotypically associated with lesbians – short hair, baggy pants, interest in cars or sports… In that case, it’s best for your group of friends to re-evaluate whether it makes sense to apply general stereotypes to your particular friend.

And finally, your friend might be gay.

Who Can Tell?

Could be she’s gay and in the closet and doesn’t want anyone (including you) to know. Maybe she will come out at one point when she feels more comfortable. Or maybe she will decide that other aspects of her life are more important than being out. For example, some people value religion over all else and want to lead a heterosexual lifestyle even though they recognize that they are gay. Though there are some that will disagree with me, I don’t think that this is always necessarily wrong. If you’re consciously making a choice like that, it’s not all that much different from priests choosing abstinence. In any case, being open about being gay is a personal choice, which you should leave up to your friend.

On the other hand, it also may be the case that she is gay and doesn’t even know it herself yet, but you do. Many times, our friends and our families pick up on the fact that we’re not straight way before we get it. We’re socialized to be straight, to “think straight” for years, and it’s no wonder many of us don’t realize that we’re gay after years of failed boyfriends and hundreds of The L Word episodes. But as it is our nature, we are subconsciously attracted to women and don’t pay the same type of attention to men. Friends and family often notice those subconscious signs, though they don’t necessarily know what it is they’re noticing – what we look at, how we touch, where our interests lie. I remember in the first week of college, I met an openly lesbian roommate of a friend, who immediately said to my friend, “your gay friend is so pretty!” My friend: “Who, Les? She is not gay!” Well, fastforward to this day and me writing this blog.

Whichever option your friend’s situation falls under, it should be pretty simple for you. Keep an open mind; don’t criticize her choices; talk to her about her feelings and thoughts. Thanks for asking, and hope this helps.


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