Thursday, July 10, 2008
Advice Column #29
I live in a three bedroom apartment, and about four months ago we (my one roommate and I) got a new third roommate. We're all men in our early twenties, and my original roommate and I are straight. Our new roommate, a rather attractive man, spends most weekend nights hanging out with his "best friend", a really nice dude. His bf stays over often, and I'm fairly sure that they're dating, but his bf sleeps on the sofa. I think he does this so the other roommate and I won't notice that he's gay. My other roommate said he saw them kiss once, but they didn't know he was home. We don't care though. In fact, we really like his bf, and think it's strange that he hasn't come out to us, or that he would make his lover sleep on the sofa instead of in his bed. We also think the secrecy is causing tension between them. How do we tell our roommate that we're obviously not bothered by his gayness, and get him to feel comfortable enough to let his bf sleep in his room?
I wish I didn't know any gay men who felt like they had to live a charade, not just with the people who they didn't know, but for the people who were very close to the intimacies in their lives. I've been told that it's just not anyone else's business, and that no one ever had to tell anyone they were straight, then wait for the shocking gasp or the confused look, or worse. Your roommate might not care to tell you, or might not want to handle your reaction or questions. Sometimes breaking the good news to bad people makes the whole situation worse. You're not the bad kind of people to tell things to, so maybe you need to break the news. I think you need to skip the part where you expect your roommate to sit you down and tell you he's gay, waiting for you to tell him that's ok. He probably won't ever do that. You are right in wanting him to feel comfortable. Having anyone uncomfortable in a three bedroom apartment forces everyone to feel on edge, expecially when there's an elephant in the room.
Before you ask him to go clothes shopping with you, or what happened on the L-word this week, try to talk to him like you'd talk to any of your other friends about their relationships. Ask him how he met his bf. Respond like you would respond to any straight dudes talking about a lady in their lives, except don't ask about boobs (this will be good practice for your general ability to talk about feelings, not gear). Give aloof approval and talk about how bf is a cool dude and he looks really happy when they're hanging out. Hope for a look of agreement, but be ready to get the look he fears most when he tells people he's gay. He probably invented that look.
On another occasion, if he still hasn't started letting bf sleep in his room, address the real elephant in the room. Don't have a sit down talk, do it with a side glance. The most macho men I know have perfected this mention and drop strategy of talking about feelings. Generally I don't employ it, but it would work here. While playing a video game, ask him if he wants to take player two. (Or create some similar situation where you're both distracted with something else, but hanging out.) Ask him, nonchalantly, why his bf is always in the doghouse.