Ask Wendy

Is it Wrong for Me to Stay in the Closet?

Friday, January 10, 2020
Hey Wendy,

My family and friends are not homophobic. But I don’t really feel like coming out to them because I know it would be awkward. I don’t intentionally hide my sexuality. If anyone asked, I wouldn’t deny it.

My girlfriend is upset that I’m not out. She really likes to be open completely with everyone about her sexuality. I love that about her, but I don’t really do that. She feels like I’m trying to hide her from my family, and that’s not true at all. I never lied about her, and my family has never asked if I’m dating anyone (and if they did, I would say I was dating a girl). I don’t want her to feel like I’m ashamed of her, so should I just bite the bullet and tell my parents I’m gay or wait until it just naturally comes up? Thanks for your help.

Maya

Hey Maya,

I can appreciate how uncomfortable it is when you and your girlfriend have two very different styles of expressing yourself. You have every right to be private. However, she also has every right to be public, and chances are your relationships—with her, with your family, and with yourself—will grow in new, positive ways if your hand’s no longer hovering over the closet doorknob.

It’s not going to be awkward—it’s already awkward. Do you know why? Because you’re not living your truth. No one should feel forced to come out, and the choice should be 100% yours, not your partner’s. From where I’m standing, though, I think you’ll be a lot happier with this important aspect of yourself out (no pun intended) in the open, especially since you have a loving community who will be supportive. If you don’t offer up the information to your friends and family, they may never ask. It’s possible that they are just respecting your right to conceal, and hoping that one day you’ll break the silence.

Will there be people who have to wrap their heads around you being gay? Maybe. Or maybe they’ll be relieved that you’re finally willing to talk openly about it since they’ve known your whole life.

So instead of making the big announcement about being gay, why don’t you say, “Hey, I’d like to bring my girlfriend to dinner, I want you to get to know her,” instead?

And I feel you. I’m in an open relationship (seven years now) and it’s tricky because when your life is just outside the mainstream, some people do judge. It’s annoying. But the more of us who come out of whatever closets we’re in and have amazing, healthy, happy relationships to show for it, the more accepted and less awkward it becomes for everyone who comes after us. Coming out is brave—heroic, even—but most of all it’s freeing. Set yourself free, girl.

Happy relationshipping!

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