It often seems that gay men (I speak solely from my perspective, although it may apply to the rest of the LGBT culture) bond over the Coming Out experience. You see it in movies, probably have experienced it on dates, two men sitting at a dinner table discussing the simple, easy question that supposedly creates a universal connection amongst our culture. But I do not know if this is always for the best. Sharing one’s coming out story is often too personal for a first date. It may be a painful experience and there you are, sitting across from pretty much a stranger, divulging too much information or doing your best to offer sympathy.
I began the coming out process (did you see the post going in this direction?), nice and easy, the beginning of my Sophomore year. I was extremely fortunate to have the love and support of my family and high school friends. However, it was a bit nerve racking coming out to my college friends. I had known them only for a year and our friendships were still in the early stages of development. Everything was running smoothly until my best male friend asked to speak with me in his room.
Imagine this: Face to face with your best friend, a scene you had been envisioning for a couple weeks as you prepared to tell him. Although one slight detail changed, I wasn’t the one who came out. My reaction was flawless. A simple, “I’m okay with that” and then quickly walking out of the room. My insides screaming, “Shit, fuck, shit, he’s gay, I know this should not matter and I don’t want it to matter when I come out, but this is for sure going to mess up our friendship.” “Call the therapist ASAP.”
I developed this delusional idea that because my friend and I were both gay, we would no longer be able to function as friends. There was going to be this assumption that our friendship should develop into a relationship. This assumption needs to be dismissed. Gays can function as friends. Gays can function as boyfriends. In addition, homosexuality does not ensure friendship or relationship compatibility. We all may have experienced that blind date where yes, the other man is gay, but even to an outsider standing on a satellite a bazillion miles away, it is obvious that there is nothing in common besides the sexual orientation.
In retrospect, coming out around the same time as my best friend brought us closer together. But this is because, we were already friends and had many common interests and shared experiences. Coming out should not always be used as a way to instantly connect to another man or else all openly gay men would be compatible, which we know is not the case. So the next time when you are seated at that fancy restaurant dinner table, instead of asking him what it was like for him to come out, try asking him what he likes to do in his free time.