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"Is it bad that I created an imaginary girlfriend to come out to my friends?"

- Question submitted by Anonymous

Dannielle Says:

In 6th grade I told everyone that I had three boyfriends. IDK why I did it (I’m sure it made perfect sense at the time), but like you’re doing way better than me, so it’s whatever.

I think you can do what makes you most comfortable and the fact of the matter is… people can be the worst. There are so many people that will be like, “are you sure you’re a gay if you haven’t had gay intercourse” and then you’re like “YEA I AM BECAUSE IT IS MY IDENTITY” and it doesn’t matter because they are still the worst and don’t care unless you can prove it to them… as if…. AS IF IT IS THEIR RIGHT OR YOU HAVE TO…WHEW NO. I just got so much more fired up than I expected.

Do what you need to do to make yourself comfortable. The dumb questions people ask when you come out can be super damaging and really fuck with your self-esteem, self image, and overall self worth. Someone questioning your identity is ALREADY saying that your identity isn’t “right” or “normal,”  and the mere suggestion of HOW DO YOU KNOW / WHY ARE YOU THAT WAY / ARE YOU SURE just makes you feel shitty and like you shouldn’t identify that way.

The point is, I get it, I feel like it was way easier for me to say “hi i’m dating a girl,” than it would have been to say, “i identify this way.” I don’t know how to explain why, but I wasn’t good at talking about how I identify when I first came out. I didn’t know how to answer questions, or express my feelings with the right words. I DON’T KNOW WHY. Do what you need to do to make the coming out process easier for you. I’m throwin out support and respect vibes.

Kristin Says:

Questions like these are always a little tough for me, because on the one hand: everything Dannielle is preachin’ up there is spot on, and if you just need a piece of bullshit information to make people who are going to challenge you back tf off, or if you just needed an easy way to shout “I LIKE GIRLS,” I say hell yea! On the other hand: if this is an ongoing lie that you are maintaining for any reason, it is going to get tangled and tricky and messy.

Since I can’t talk to you and find out what kind of “imaginary girlfriend” you are referring to, let me say two things.

First, I echo Dannielle. If you are just saying, “I had a fling with a lady this summer,” I think that’s fair enough. I would like to counter, though, that you also have the very valid option, though, of now saying to your friends,

“You know what? I didn’t have a girlfriend. I made it up because a) I thought you wouldn’t take me seriously otherwise, or b) I had no idea how to come out to you bc coming out can be scary, but now I realize that I am the only one who needs to take me seriously and that you are an awesome friend and will support me… SO. I am who I am. Byeeeeee.”

Your close friends are supposed to support and stand by you no matter what. That is the definition of a friend. That means they should accept your identity without question, and that also means that they should be understanding when you tell them you were afraid they wouldn’t understand if there wasn’t an actual human in the picture.

Second, if this is an ongoing lie, where you are saying you are still dating this girl — you have to end it. Lies of any kind are generally trouble… but lies that wind into the everyday fabric of your life are a guaranteed disaster.

Did you do something wrong by creating an imaginary boo? No, you didn’t. There are a ton of humans on this planet who have very rigid ideas of how we come to understand our identity, and your fear of not being taken seriously are valid. Should you have to lie, though? Absolutely not. Even if you can’t conquer the fear of their questioning this moment, know that you can, at any point in time, claim your identity without having had a girlfriend. You know who you are, and you will always know that better than anyone else. If and when you feel ready to explain that to your friends, I promise you that the ones you want to keep around are going to hear you loud and clear.



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"is coming out really worth it?"

- Question submitted by Anonymous

Dannielle Says:

Yea. It is.

For a long time I felt like it was completely dependent upon you and your feels and if you wanted to fake it forever, go for it. But I think I take that back. I’ve had a few experiences with people who I believe are unhappy with themselves in ways they don’t understand because they are not out. The fear of being hated, the shame, the guilt they’re bringing on themselves in so many ways is just unparalleled. Not only are they feeling awful because they’re hiding a part of who they are, but they feel like shit for hiding that part of them. It isn’t like they’re hiding and feeling great about it. And the amount of time they spend arguing with themselves about why it’s a good idea to keep it locked up. The stress, the anxiety, talking yourself into not being who you are, it’s so unhealthy and damaging.

I don’t think it’s easy. I would never say coming out is easy or that it’ll be fun and cool and everyone will support you. Hell, we can’t even get our own government to support us, so I’d be REMISS to say it would be all sunshine and butterflies. I think the fear is totally warranted. But I’ll tell you the fuck what, the scariest part is everything leading up to coming out. The act of coming out just happens and it’s weird maybe, but it isn’t nearly as terrifying as when you are hiding a part of who you are, feeling unloved, unwanted, lonely, and like no one understands.

I’m here to tell you that being out, being honest with you are, being able to be proud of yourself, standing up for the things you believe in, feeling confident and comfortable in your own skin. That shit can and will change your life for the better. You will feel empowered in ways you never imagined, and you will realize, on your own, that coming out was and forever will be totally worth it.

Kristin Says:

I am going to agree with Dannielle’s sentiments here with one caveat: you always, always have to weigh the surrounding factors if and when you decide to come out.

If you are dependent upon your family for housing or food or anything of that nature and think that they will kick you out of your home, or if you know that your place of employment is one that will fire you because of your sexuality or gender identity, then you have to take some serious time and thought with your decisions, the timing of those decisions, and your long-term plan.

Coming out is important, but being safe must always come first.

So, what I say is this: ultimately, being out in an environment where you feel comfortable being who you are completely is the goal. We all know that the more of us who are able to be open about our identities, the more visible we all become, and the more we are able to shape and change the planet for the better. It is also important to remember what Dannielle has said: not only does being out help bring much-needed change, but on a personal level it allows you to begin to feel at home in your own skin.

Coming out is taking ownership of yourself.
Coming out is saying, whether in a whisper or a shout: I exist.

Tomorrow is National Coming Out Day, and to all of you who are using that day as a tool to communicate your true selves, our hearts are with you!

Be safe.
Be patient.
Be you.



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"I came out of the closet last month as a gay male. Since then, I’ve heard nothing but positive words. However, I’ve come to feel very alienated around my male friends. It seems like every day they mention my sexuality in a lighthearted way. I mean, I appreciate being a hot topic, but I hate being objectified and viewed as "the gay guy" (which I have actually been called several times) Is this a phase or will I be dealing with this the rest of my life? And how can I prove to them that I’m normal?"

- Question submitted by Anonymous and answered by Broderick Greer as a part of Everyone Is Gay: Second Opinions.

Broderick Says:

Dear Very Alienated,

You are a courageous soul. Coming out of the closet as a gay man is one of the most important, life-altering claims you will ever make in your life. To claim your place as a sexual minority – especially when you don’t have to – sets you apart as a person of deep integrity and thoughtfulness. Unfortunately, this integration of self will not be appreciated by everyone. Whereas you have done the necessary work to disclose a reality you know to be true in your innermost being, many people you interact with on a daily basis have never done such intense self-evaluation. This difference in maturity might be at the root of your male friends’ “lighthearted” mention of your sexuality. If they can’t deal with your being gay, they need to grow up. The time is over for joking about sexual, racial, ethnic, and gender minorities, especially when we’re nothing but respectful of our majority counterparts.

When you made the bold step of coming out as a gay man, you sacrificed the privilege and convenience of being assumed as a straight man. As you know, straight male privilege is the comfort zone that keeps so many non-straight men from disclosing their sexual minority status. There are numerous gay men who marry women, become fathers, and settle into suffocating lives of closet-dwelling. You, however, have chosen a different path. You have the fortitude to be honest with yourself and the people you love about the beautifully complex person that you are and that is a true gift. Anyone, I mean anyone, who cannot accept you for who you are doesn’t deserve your time, attention, or thought. If the time comes to escort them to the exit door of your life, walk them there with all of the assertiveness and gentleness you can muster.

But before you escort them to the exit door of your life, tell them that you feel objectified when they mention your sexuality in a lighthearted way. Let them know that your sexual orientation is not something you are ready to make light of and that if they are your friends, they will respect your desire to be treated like a human being, not a sideshow. If they continue to belittle you, do just as this wise child did to his playmate: assert your needs. You cannot live your life pressed under the unrelenting, insensitive social urges of people who do not care about your emotional well-being. It doesn’t matter how you make your feelings known to them – a Facebook message, a handwritten letter, a face-to-face meeting – as long as you make your feelings known. Like Zora Neale Hurston said, “If you are silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it.”

Will you have to deal with being called “the gay guy” the rest of your life? I do not know. I am an advice columnist, not a medium. I do know this, however: Being yourself is always the life-giving road to travel. Will there be unpredictable twists and turns on the path of authenticity? Yes. Will you find yourself, at times, unsure of your decision to disclose your sexual orientation to the world? Most assuredly. But there will also be moments when you can’t even remember what it was like to not be an out gay man. There will be moments when you know that the act of self-disclosure far outweighs an alternative of fear-based isolation. And through committing to being yourself, you are embodying a new kind of normalcy. A normalcy fed by transparency and genuineness. And that, my friend, is normal enough.




Click through to read more about Broderick and our other Second Opinions panelists!


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"I want to come out to my friends, who are pretty accepting of the LBGTQIA+ community, but I am afraid that they will judge me, that they will look at me differently ("oh you poor thing" "are you okay?"), and then come out to the whole fucking world for me. Is it better to just get over with it and let the truth out or to keep it in?"

- Question submitted by Anonymous

Dannielle says:

I think this is all in the delivery. If you approach your friends like you have THE BIGGEST HEAVIEST MOST DRAMATIC SADDEST NEWS OF ALL TIME, they’re gonna pick up what you’re layin down. They’re going to feel like they should respond to this big/heavy/drama/sad news, and yea, they will feel very sad for you. HOWEVER, if you approach it as if it is just another tiny slice of info about you they’ll respond more to your liking. If it were me I’d say something like, “hey.. fyi, next time I date someone it’ll be a girl…a rrrrreal pretty girl.” They’ll take a second to giggle, but they won’t feel the IMMENSE weight of sadness that you’re trying to avoid.

That’s the first part, tell them in a way that allows their reaction to fall in line with what makes you feel good. NUMBER TWO, you can very easily say you don’t feel comfortable telling everyone right this second. And they should have no trouble respecting that request.

To answer the question about whether or not you should come out: I think you should, because you said you want to. That’s the important thing about coming out, you have to do it when YOU want to. Don’t worry about what’s right or when makes sense. If you WANT to come out, go for it. No one is forcing you, and no one has a RIGHT to know anything, but if you WANT to come out and it’s making you stress to NOT be out. Do it. Come out. You can and you want to and you’re expecting support. This is a great time. I AM HERE FOR YOU. xoxox

Kristin Says:

I don’t know why, but when I finished reading Dannielle’s advice I imagined you on the sidelines of a boxing ring after your first round and her squirting you with water before the next round (what do you call things in boxing? it can’t be rounds…) and then me running in from the locker room to finish up the big pep talk.

HI ANONYMOUS YOU ARE DOING GREAT! *pats your forehead with a towel*

I agree with Dannielle on the whole ‘your-delivery-informs-their-response-front,’ and I want to take this one step further. Sometimes (if not most times) your delivery is going to be the opposite of what you wanted it to be because coming out is WEIRD. It just IS. It shouldn’t be a thing, no one wants it to be a thing, but it is totally a thing. So, when you mean to be lighthearted and casually come out and you wind up mumbling it and then spilling your soda and then getting embarrassed and glossing it over and then knocking on their dorm room door later that night and bursting into tears and saying I SWEAR IM FINE THIS IS JUST HARD, it is still going to be okay. I promise.

Let me highlight the important parts of what you conveyed to us:

A) You want to come out. That is awesome, and generally, that means that your gut knows it is going to be a-ok, and your brain is now like BUT WHAT IF IT ISN’T. Your gut is always smarter than your brain.

B) Your friends are actively supportive of the LGBTQIA+ community. This means that they likely have a lot of knowledge about the variety of ways being LGBTQIA+ can look and feel, and they aren’t going to place a blanket of sorrow over you automatically. It means that they will be able to support you if you are feeling a little overwhelmed (which, by the way, is totally okay to feel), or be totally fucking chill with you if that is how you feel.

The most important thing about coming out is remembering that it is a process. Sometimes things will feel awesome right away, sometimes things will have a few hiccups before evening out, sometimes things will surprise you, and you will be learning each and every step of the way.

I think your friends are going to be amazing, and you are going to feel a lot lighter once you get past that first hurdle of “What Ifs.” It’s a hurdle we all have to jump. <3<3<3


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"I recently found out that one of my good friends is lesbian, which I’ve always suspected anyways. Never thought about asking her as I think it’s best to let her come out at her own pace. The thing is, she’s told a couple of other friends. I wouldn’t be so hurt if we haven’t known each other for much, MUCH longer. Now it makes me feel like she never really viewed me as a close friend all along. She’s trusted me with a lot before so, why not this? Any ideas? I can’t wrap my head around it at all"

- Question submitted by Anonymous

Dannielle Says:

This is really interesting because I feel like we hear the other side of this all the time. We talk to people who say “I didn’t tell my BFF first and I think she’s upset, but I just wasn’t ready.” In fact, yours truly (read: me), didn’t tell her BFF EVER. Literally, my best friend since 8th grade and I never had a conversation about me being gay. I just one day started bringing a girl around and that was that. I don’t know why I felt so weird talking to her about it, but I did. I just didn’t know how to do it, so I didn’t.

Your friend is not using this against you. She isn’t making the conscious effort to leave you out, I promise. Sometimes telling the people who are closest to us is the hardest part. It was actually WAY harder to tell the people in my life who I KNEW would be understanding and supportive. I knew FOR A FACT a lot of my friends would be stoked, slash love me, slash be proud that I was figuring me out. Those were the hardest people to tell because what if I WAS WRONG?!?! What if the ONE person I believed would support me was THE ONE PERSON who didn’t support me? It’s terrifying.

I think you’re doing right by not forcing it out of her, but I also think your feelings are pretty valid. It does feel like she’s being distant and uncomfortable and I appreciate that you still want to give her time. Please please please know this is nothing against you, this is just a process and it’s so hard to understand even our own feelings. I still don’t know what I feel half the time. I still get nervous about telling friends certain things that I’ve kept private. SOMETIMES WE JUST DON’T KNOW HOW OR WHEN IS THE RIGHT TIME TO SAY ANYTHING. Be the supportive friend I know you are, when the time is right, it’ll be such a wonderful relief for your friend.

Kristin Says:

I agree so, so whole-heartedly. The instant I read this I thought: you are one of her closest friends, and this is exactly how you know how much she cares about you.

When you aren’t in the position of coming-out to people, it’s often completely impossible to imagine how someone might think you would be upset or offended about the sexuality or gender identity of another person. You know yourself, and you know that you will love your friend no matter who she is, who she loves, or how she identifies. You want her to know that about you, and the thought that she might be worried about this can feel really crappy… bc our brains automatically think, “Oh, that either means they don’t care or they think I am an asshole.”

From the inside of this experience, I can tell you that isn’t the case at all. Not only does your friend care  about you, but her potential fear in telling you doesn’t reflect on her opinion of you AT ALL. Fear does crazy things to our insides, and before coming out to our friends and family, most of us spend hours, days, even years, imagining worst-case scenarios that are not only unlikely, but sometimes completely impossible.

Your friend is feeling those fears, and that is okay. The thing you can and should do as her friend is twofold:

1. Support her by waiting for her to tell you when she is ready, just like Dannielle said. She will get there. When she does, don’t tell her you already knew, don’t ask why she waited to tell you, just tell her that you are so, so glad that she trusts you enough to share this part of herself, that you will love her forever, and that you are proud of her.

2. When it makes sense, bring up your support of LGBTQ issues. Things are all over the news right now, not to mention in the media at-large. In the right context, you can bring up these things and voice your support. Even though it seems totally obvious to you, those little reminders will help your friend gather the courage that she needs to come out to you.

I totally understand why you’re feeling this way — but I promise you that your friends does care about you, and this is a shining example of what happens when we care about people deeply: we become that much more afraid of what would happen if they didn’t stand by us, support us, and love us unconditionally.

Thanks for being a good friend.


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