Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Closets Don't Keep Friends

Today while wasting valuable work time on Facebook, I started to look through my friends profiles and pictures catching up on their lives which seem to be more fun than my own. I came across of friend of mine who is gay, but closeted, and also Republican. The Republican part really has nothing to do with this story but felt it was still noteworthy. This man is in his late 20s and refuses to tell any of his non gay friends that he is in fact gay. This friend of mine literally lives two complete separate lives.

Now this shouldn't bother me at all. This is my friends choice to live this way no matter how self-deprecating it is. And if my friend who is not ready to fuse his two lives together is not ready to do so, so be it. But there are just a few things that bother me. One is the fact that he doesn't just keep the fact that he is a homo to himself, but goes out of his way to make it look like he is straight and makes up lies along they way to make his stories seem real. Now I guess this is just another closeted Republican doing what they normally do. There was also another instance during this past summer, that involved the gay softball league we were both on. Which by the way, we ended up the Champions in our league. Woot! Anyways, our team was waiting for a field to stop being used by another league which happened to be a regular straight league. Well my friend realized that one of his coworkers was a guy that was playing on it, and he got nervous that they would see each other. So he kept his head low so no eye contact would be made, and he I remember he muttered out loud, "This is so embarrassing." I was really taken back by this comment and let him know how displeased I was in him being embarrassed to be on a team full of his gay and lesbian "friends". He then became quiet.

So back to his Facebook page, I was looking through his pictures and photo albums, and started to realize something was missing from all his hundreds of photos. I looked through a few more albums to confirm. The thing that was missing from any of his photos were his gay friends. Not ONE photo showed any of them. Some of us who he claims to be best friends with were literally scrubbed from his page. It then had hit me that he had untagged himself from the pictures taken at a dozen or so parties I had thrown at my house where he drank gallons worth of my liquor and beer, because he didn't want his straight friends wondering who the queens were in a picture on his Facebook.

This truly upsets and hurts me beyond belief. I refuse to be friends with someone who is embarrassed of acknowledging who I am in a public setting or in the non-social setting of Facebook. I played straight for too many years and refuse to do it again. I am going to have a discussion with this person to let them know how I feel about the whole situation and to end our friendship until he is able to acknowledge his gay friends.

This may be a drastic an unnecessary move on my part, but I value who I am too much to allow someone to take advantage of me like this. I will not be his friend when it is convenient for him and when his other straight friends are not around.

Do you think I am being to harsh or passing too much judgement on him? What would you do in this situation? Thoughts?


Kelly said...

it would bug me too if someone untagged themself in on of my photos to hide their true identity. I mean I had someone do it and they were sitting across the table from me when they did it, and told me they were and the specific reason why (and it was gay related)...I said fine and I just don't tag that person anymore if they happen to be in pics...

As for the friend, you should tell him what you think in a nice way and let him come screaming out on his own... just let him know you wont be playing straight in front of or around anyone just for him... you are you and people have to live with it... and republicans can have gay friends... I mean, I am gay and republican friends, why cant it be the other way around...

Anonymous said...

you might be thinking kind of harshly.

do you know why he does this?

there could be any number of reasons. maybe he has an anxiety disorder. he could be working in a non-gay friendly field and doesn't want to risk his job. maybe he just hasn't come to grips with his homosexual attractions yet.

you seem like you are very sure of yourself. don't take crap from people. don't care what people say. You've got to realize that not everyone has this strong personality trait. maybe he has a hard time in this area.

without knowing his interior mind, you don't really know what he's going through. this situation could be tearing him up inside. he could be a drowning man in need of a life vest.

perhaps you got see this as an opportunity to help your fellow man.

try talking to him. coming him in a non-judgmental way. express your concerns. offer your help and understanding.

you could be the one to help him. help him come to terms with his sexuality. help him come out to his friends.

Anonymous said...

To each, his own.

You are fortunate that you had the courage to "come out," and your life is better for it.

What's that old Indian saying about walking a mile in someone's Nikes. I doubt that I know this guy, but who knows what kind of familial or professional concerns (rational or not) he may perceive.

Anonymous said...

Stick to your guns. The lesson you will give him is one he needs. And sticking to your convictions is what your soul needs.

Mike said...

Untagging the photos is an extreme- unless done for professional/incriminating reasons with employers- but is his profile private?

I can speak from experience. I was worried about people finding out I was gay at first, then suddenly had an explosion of gay friends. I was worried about adding the gay friends that were closest to me out of fear people would snoop on their profiles and identify them as gay. I was worried that they would post a status about being gay, a hot guy, etc. etc. I realized it is MY friends and their views aren't necessarily MINE. Everyone has a strange mix of friends on facebook. I figured if they comment on me, so what, again, for the same reasons. I have realized that nobody really seems to care. It seemed like a huge step for me, but honestly I am glad to call these guys friends, and don't want to hide my "secret" life. I value these guys so much more than many of my straight friends.

Anonymous said...

I think you are being kind of harsh.

The issue here, on both sides, seems to be rejection.

You say "Now this shouldn't bother me at all," and then you go on to a conclusion that you may end this friendship.

It makes me wonder how genuine and solid the friendship is in the first place.

If he is fearful, he may need understanding and support more than condemnation.

That is what I would hope for if I was your friend, and that is what I would try to give if I was in your shoes.

Anonymous said...

Trying dating someone like this. You live and you learn I guess.

But honestly, I must say I'm kind of disappointed in you. Having played straight for years (as I did) you should know what it's like, or have you forgotten? What he needs right now is your support. It could be any number of things that makes him uncomfortable with coming out as gay. Do you know his reasons for it? Based on what you have written, it seems not. I challenge you to do your part as his friend to help him through this. I'm not talking about forcing him to come out, but just ask him what makes him uncomfortable about it. Provide him someone to talk with about it, if he wishes to do so. Who knows, you may be able to relate directly to how he feels. You should remember that the more support and confidence you got, the easier it became for you personally to come out. As far as untagging photos, that seems a little childish to get mad over doesn't it? Maybe he simply doesn't want photos of himself drinking to be easily accessible to who he interacts with on Facebook. Some people prefer to reflect themselves as strictly professional online. But regardless, let that part go. Be a real friend and give him the support he needs. He obviously likes you guys enough to get so involved as joining the softball league, proving he does acknowledge you guys as friends. He can't be so bad. Gay men can tend to be a little self absorbed at times (which is why I don't get along with many). Just keep that in mind and be careful you don't fall too much into that trap. Truly consider his side of it. But, if you decide to end the friendship, just do so without being judgmental.

Anonymous said...

I am impressed with a number of the mature, constructive, empathetic comments from Jeff's readers.

The Honourable Husband said...

I agree with many of the commenters.

Obviously, you're close enough as friends that you care about him. And with "care" is how you should approach it.

I wouldn't confront him with an ultimatum to come out of the closet. That's his business.

But if his behaviour makes his good friends (the gay ones) uncomfortable, then you are justified to either express your discomfort or "detatch with love", as they say.

I'd start with a quiet conversation about the closet issue in general. Why does he feel as he does? There may be much to sympathise with, in his case.

All you can give him is the virtue of your own experience. Every gay man who comes out of the closet describes it as liberating. It's a tonic for the spirit and a rewarding emotional journey. That, rather than an ultimatum, might be a good starting point.

I stayed in the closet for many years. It was unnecessary, and my reluctance to come out had many causes, the least of which was internalised homophobia, or fear of social disapproval. I wasn't ready for an emotional journey of any kind, let alone one that involved sex.

Maybe your pal does actually need someone with whom to talk this through.

But just because he's ashamed, doesn't mean you need to pretend you are, just to make him feel comfortable. You have a right to say this, in a simple, non-threatening way. If he is, indeed, a good friend, he should expect that kind of honesty from you.

Anonymous said...

Wow, all your comments are really good. I'm closeted and just started to explore the gay world. I got to admit, I'm petrified of the negative stigma that still exist in society and sadly enough within my family circle and some of my friends. I know some of my friends would be cool with it, but that six degree of separation just freaks me out to just come out of the closet to any of my friends. I'm in my late 30s and started to realize that I'm tired of pretending; dating girls and not falling in love or have that crazy horny/passionate feeling that makes you want to jump on someone and make out. So, recently, I created a facebook account under a different name so I could join a gay outdoor facebook group. I got to admit, I reacted the same way as your friend, I didn't want people and yes strangers to know that I was in any way linked to the group after our hike. Yes, I felt embarrassed when we reconvened in the parking lot. Don't know why I felt this way, but I did.
To answer your question, yes, you are harsh. Being in similar situation as your friend, I think I would have appreciated someone saying, "hey, if you want to talk let me know" versus just being angry at me. I expect people to respect my being in the closet and will let me take my time to evolve. However, I don't want anyone to compromise who they are- just be an understanding and respectful friend. D

desmond said...

I'm very young (16), but I'm in a similar situation as your friend. I like people with the kind of confidence you have, but I also understand people who are afraid of how other people will react to them. My closest friends know that I'm bisexual, but I refuse to tell any of my family members or people who I distrust because I know that people can over react to things or be extremely cruel without a good reason. For example, my mom has made jokes about her being crushed if I turned out to be gay, but she assures me that she loves me. Even though she says she loves me, it's still frightening because of how unsure her comments make me. So maybe your friend is just like that, he just doesn't have your strength. Do what you have to, but be considerate and patient if you can :/

jimbo said...

Depends on how patient you are I guess. He could go on this way for years, busting his ass trying to project two identities. But that's his problem and you're not responsible for his personae. It's understandable that you're hurt due to be excised from his profile. How would all his "normal" friends feel being cut off, if the situation were reversed? What he's saying with this way of going through things as that the gay friends are not actual people but the straight people are.

And in the end once he does finally come out, he'll realize it was a lot of energy wasted for nothing. Many of his friends probably don't care and never will.