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"I'm 14 years old, gay, and my dad is in the military so we move around a lot. How do I deal with having to come out over and over again?”

- Question submitted by Anonymous and answered by Shane Billings as part of Everyone Is Gay: Second Opinions

Shane Says:

Dear Over-and-Over-a-Gay:

The coming out process has actually been on my mind quite a bit recently. I’ve noticed that, even ten years after I started coming out myself, it can still be a challenging task. You’re not alone.

The sort-of-bad news is that coming out is rarely a one-stop shop. And by “rarely” I mean sometimes Olympians like Tom Daley date Oscar-winners, then come out with a viral video, so…. if you can pull it off, there’s that option.

But, silver lining! The coming outs can be whatever you want them to be, and can happen however you want them to happen. You have the added challenge of moving around military-family style, which can be exhausting every time you have to rehash your personal intro. But if you add a little creativity to coming out, it can alleviate the anxiety that usually goes hand in hand with being vulnerable around new people.

For example, you could set up a Secrets Booth, where people come to trade secrets with you. That way, you level the playing field when it comes to disclosing personal information. There’s also the right-off-the-bat approach, which goes something like…

“Bonjour, I’m Shane and also gay, smell ya later!”

If you’re inclined towards the written word, some of my closest friends have had positive experiences in writing coming out e-mails. You can preface with something like, “I’m figuring out the best way to do this, so here goes….” Writing letters, e-mails, or private messages gives you the literary freedom and control to articulate yourself the precise way you want.

You’re also totally justified in saying, “I don’t feel comfortable talking about it,” if your sexuality comes up, or you’d rather come out after you get to know people a tad better.

If you let it, coming out can become an ongoing skill and a helpful tool, rather than a burden. My big picture advice: within safety and reason, come out as often as you can. Say it to the mirror, sing it underwater, write it on a bathroom stall. Make prank calls and say, “Hello, I’m gay. Have a wonderful day, sir or ma’am.”

Don’t pass up an opportunity to be courageous, even by yourself. You are an extremely important figure in the big gay narrative. Stories like yours, that demonstrate continuous courage, those are the stories that inspire others to do the same, to be themselves.

It’s an enormous responsibility and a fabulous privilege. Your coming out helps build a safer community, by outnumbering the fears that keep us in the closet. It doesn’t have to be HIGH KICKS and GLITTER every time. But every time a gay kid comes out, a drag queen gets her wigs. Let that comforting thought be the wind beneath your wings.


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"I want to come out to my parents, but my dad is in the military, and he’s always talked really shitty about gay people… so I have no idea what he will think when he finds out that his son is gay. :/"

- Question submitted by Anonymous and answered by Shane Billings as part of Everyone Is Gay: Second Opinions

Shane Says:

Dear Young Baller: It has been my experience that people who talk really shitty about gays do so because they feel threatened and/or scared by the gays. Which is understandable because, like, have you SEEN that picture of Neil Patrick Harris holding a snake?!

I don’t know your father, but if I had to make a guess, I’d say he doesn’t hate the gays so much as he’s nervous about how the good gays (the ones that practice good gay sorcery) undermine the system that says “masculinity” is superior to “femininity.” We represent a huge change in social and cultural thought, and that is pretty effing scary.

Let me pause to say how much your situation resonates with me: my parents served in the Navy, so I know firsthand how military traditions — which essentially tell you to follow orders, fall in line, and cut your LUSCIOUS HAIR — can directly challenge the process of proclaiming, to yourself and to others, “I’M HERE AND I’M QUEER, Y’ALL.”

Let me also pause and ask that you please be safe, Young Baller. If at any point in the coming out process you feel like you’re at risk — bullying, abuse, or being thrown out by your parents — there are resources in place to help you. And whatever you do, do NOT trust anything you see or hear from an episode of Glee.

Try this: casually force your parents to watch The Birdcage with you. Tell them, for school, you have to compare and contrast a French work (La Cage aux Folles) with its English adaptation. Or just tell them to shut up and behold: Nathan Lane and Robin Williams conjure perfect cinematic comedy.

The reason I mention The Birdcage is because the whole story is about heterosexuals coming to terms with the gays, and gays coming to terms with themselves. It’s also about parenthood, and what it means to love selflessly, with some of the most AMAZING 90s hairdos and outfits (speedos) this world has ever seen. There’s even a hilarious mention of gays in the military, which might be useful common ground for you and your dad.

If you need reference material, GQ featured profiles of gay servicemen back in 2011, with the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”. You could also mention Alexander the Great (huge queen) or the hundreds of lesbians who made up the WAC Battalions during World War II.

And if it’s any consolation, my dad instructed me explicitly as a kid: “Don’t be gay.” Whoopsie! But when I finally came out to him (right before I boarded a plane back to college, perfect exit strategy), he told me how proud he was, and how brave I was for coming out. And like, they give MEDALS to military personnel who demonstrate bravery.

Best of luck to you, Young Baller! Personally, I think you and anyone who comes out to his or her parents deserves a medal, because there’s really nothing quite like facing the terror of Coming Out. Except NPH and that effing snake.

Queerly yours,


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“There is this girl I've been involved with for a while, and we're getting close. But she's leaving for the Army, and she wants a relationship. I'm too scared to be with her because I don't want to be the reason they kick her out of the army. Her recruiter was already asking questions about her sexuality and she had to lie. She told me I'm worth the risk, but I don't want to ruin her career. What should I do?”

-Question submitted by Anonymous

Dannielle Says:

I mean, if you want to break up with her, break up with her. Don’t chalk it up to her being in the army though. If she is willing to take the risk, support her and love her and be there for her. Your pride never has to be worn on your sleeve. If you want to be with her, do it. If you’re running around on an army base yelling ‘REMEMBER HOW WE DATE AND YOU’RE A LESBIAN’ then you’re a TOTAL bitch.

I seriously doubt this is your plan, though. Just continue loving each other and don’t worry about it. If you put stress on the situation it will only stress your relaysh.

Just have a serious conversation with yourself. Are you willing to compromise a little and not run around waving a sign that says ‘my gf is a total ‘mo, oh also she is in the army’ ???

I think you are.

Kristin Says:

Listen, your existence on this planet is not what makes your girlfriend gay, and it is also not what would get her kicked out of the army.  Her sexuality stays the same whether or not she is dating someone, and she has to lie either way.  So, if you love her, this is the easiest advice I have ever given: stay with her.

I mean, are you really going to make me sit here and toss around the thought that, because our INSANELY RIDICULOUS GOVERNMENT has a CRAZY AND PREPOSTEROUS law in place, you are going to break up your otherwise wonderful relationship?  Please, please don’t make me do that.

If your girl isn’t scared, you shouldn’t be scared. Hopefully, if this country can get things right (I know it’s a lot to ask for), you will be one of the first people EVER to be able to hold your fatigue-wearing girlfriend’s hand out in public.

PS: Her recruiter should go fuck herself.  Seriously, I thought you WEREN’T SUPPOSED TO ASK.