Even before coming out to straight friends and families of varying sexualities (usually “straight”), most lesbians seem to have already made some alternative-lifestyle compatible friendships. Baby dykes acquire queer contacts through theater or rugby or PETA, and when they decide to pursue homosexuality, there are plenty of understanding friends to dole out advice and support.
I am not that type of lesbian.
If you aren’t that type of lesbian either, here are suggestions to help you introduce the homos and heteros in your life.
How to Debut Your Gayness to a Straight, Straight World
1. Don’t Be Shady
Hiding a homosexual love life from close friends is a complex undertaking. It requires meticulous attention to detail, excellent memory, and the ability to seamlessly build lie upon lie. Unless you have no other option (or are a sociopath), keeping your girlfriend a secret is more trouble than it’s worth and ultimately futile.
Lesbians are pretty cool, so unless your friends are religious zealots, having a lesbian friend will make heteros feel super cool.
Mistakes I Made While Not Following This Advice
1. Trying to switch out male/female names & pronouns.
2. Thinking, “ My love life is my business; different aspects of life should be compartmentalized”
False: In college it’s the business of roommates, friends, friends of friends, boyfriends of friends, and drinking buddies.
3. Hiding a girl under the covers when 20 people stopped by for an impromptu 1AM party. For 2 ½ hours.
4. Believing that, because I appear stereotypically straight, my hook-ups could too.
False: No one bought that shiz.
5. Expecting my queer proclivities would remain confidential.
Once it’s out, it’s out. Keeping secrets between a couple people is even harder than keeping them to yourself- especially a whopper like homosexuality. Accept that EVERYONE KNOWS. You’ll then realize that NO ONE CARES.
2. Plot A Comfortable Introduction
First meetings are best kept low-key and natural. Don’t make a big production out of introducing her; it puts unnecessary pressure on everyone. Instead, bring her to a common group activity on neutral ground, such as margarita Wednesdays or study session at the library. Having something to focus on (margaritas, burritos, black women’s sexuality in pop culture) provides common ground to discuss and relate about. It also distracts your friends from the boi hand on your thigh under the table.
Other ideas: Frisbee in the park (unless she’s supremely un-athletic), trivia night at a local bar (unless she’s dumb), art exhibitions, or a concert. Adhere to the old adage ‘don’t discuss religion or politics’- these topics exacerbate differences. Keep PDA to an absolute minimal.
Mistakes I Made While Not Following This Advice
1. Not intervening when my GF began describing Wiccan ideology to a group of bemused WASPs. Their blatant discomfort tainted the rest of the encounter.
2. Drunkenly making out after too many margaritas. My friends couldn’t get to know the GF with her tongue jammed down my throat.
3. You Are Not We
Your friends are girls. Your GF is a girl. You are a girl. So it makes sense that you can all hang out all the time and have infinite girl time, right? Wrong. It took me a while to realize that friends viewed my GF with the same benevolent tolerance I viewed their boyfriends. No one likes a conjoined couple, no matter the gender.
As a general rule, if its one-on-one friend night or ‘girls’ night, leave the GF at home. Your friends are probably as sick of hearing her talk about veganism as you are of hearing their boyfriends ramble about how their fraternity, like, totally parties the hardest. Strive for an equal balance of friend time and GF time. Anytime the GF is present counts as girlfriend time.
Mistakes I Mad While Not Following This Advice:
1. Bringing her along to dinner with visiting Florentine friends. Their expressions of shock and revulsion when she reaches into her nose to twist her septum piercing mid-dinner still haunt me.
4. Discuss Sex With Delicacy
My favorite thing about having sex with men was always the morning after. My friends and I would snuggle, watch period films, and recount each oafish fumble and idiotic grunt of our encounter with explicit, vivid detail. Since I find sex with women 100% less comical and 100% more fantastic than sex with men, I no longer feel any urge to turn each paramour into a walking punch line. However, sex is still my favorite topic.
If you want to talk about your sex life, let your friends set the level of sharing. Bring up sex in vague, familiar terms — ‘hook up’ always works — then gauge their reaction. Answer questions happily and openly so your friends don’t feel like they’re prying. If they ask for details, share. If they don’t, don’t. Disinterest isn’t because of disapproval. It’s simply that homosexual sex has no interest or appeal to them.
If your friends are interested, ask them about their faux-homo experiences. I’ve received responses ranging from “You know, I was looking at that bartender and I do think she’s attractive” to “I went down on my best friend during a threesome with my boyfriend” to “In middle school my friends and I would sit in masturbation circles and compete to see who could come first” to “I’m, like, 10% gay”.
Discussions of sex, flirting, and male pursuit are important aspects of heterosexual female friendship. Unfortunately, when I stopped sleeping with men I stopped being part of those aspects. To be truthful, sometimes I miss it dearly. But not enough to go back.
Mistakes I Made While Not Following This Advice
1. Using hand motion to graphically demonstrate how to reach a g-spot. Crickets.
2. Explaining how to properly go down on a girl. Double crickets.
Now that I’ve written four healthy suggestions, I feel the urge to acknowledge that my coming out would not have happened without inebriated honesty. The number of bar bathrooms I’ve made homosexual confessions in now rivals the ones in which I’ve abused narcotics.
I see this as a sign of great personal growth.
Fortunately our police department doesn’t bother prosecuting trifles like public intoxication or murder.
Below is a party recipe guaranteed to break down all socio-economic-political barriers.
HOW TO THROW A GIN BUCKET PARTY
You will need:
1 enormous bowl/vat
2 (or more) turkey basters
1-2 handles gin
2-3 bottles of lemon/lime type soda
Fill bowl with gin, soda, and chopped up lemons and limes.
The joy of a gin bucket part isn’t just in the high alcohol content- it’s in the process. Drink by filling turkey basters from the gin bucket and squeezing into each other’s mouths. This makes for infinite oral sex-themed humor. Bellowing “GET ON YOUR KNEES AND TAKE IT” at each other rapidly creates camaraderie.
Talking about how you’d love to fingerblast Rachel Maddow is probably a bad idea too, right?
nope great idea who wouldn’t?
i feel like this could definitely be an icebreaker
I’ve never laughed so hard.
I’ve graduated from completely drunkenly coming out to only slightly tipsily coming out. Progress.
Oh, same. Last summer it took 2 bottles of wine to tell one of my best friends I like girls.
this is i think one of the most supremely useful things we’ve ever published and also a real high point w/r/t kitten graphics. high fives all around!
i have the same feeling as Rachel. Brilliant article!! great job :)
Loved this Chloe! I wish I had this when I was coming out back in college =)
IS THIS WHERE WHISKEY COMES FROM
“…unless your friends are religious zealots.” Yeah, it’s always unless that. Boo. I need new friends.
me too :(
the ones I have told think I am going to hell.
Holla. Also, Moose? I hate you. I wanted that name. But instead of propogatig h8, I shall extend a loving glitter covered unicorn to you.
Against relgious bigotry. HAIL THE UNICORN!
I know the feeling.:-S
I have encountered the hell problem as well.
So I tried to hide my first girlfriend from everyone. Partly because I didn’t think they would like her and partly because I wasn’t out to anybody then. My secret lasted about 3 weeks, until my friends got the idea to go to a gay bar and I got hit on by a different girl and had to explain to my friends that I wasn’t interested in that girl because I had somebody else.
Alcohol helped a lot. It was both a tool for easing the coming out process and a reward for going through with it. I highly recommend!
On another note, the bit about EVERYONE KNOWING and NOT CARING is completely and utterly true. That’s pretty much the response that I was met with.
Cats in buckets is my favourite thing.
as far as everyone knowing and no one caring, yeah, mostly true. I’d get all worked up about telling someone (and for me it’s always been sober!) and like plan for weeks, and then i’d tell them and the response was either “yeah. . .” or “oh, cool.” (with one exception. super conservative Christian sister and brother in law and a few members of the church i used to go to.)
I don’t know who added the kitty pics but amazing. I’m drinking daqs with the straight friends from this article and they’re all like “wow you are even more obsessed with cats than we thought”.
Def more obsessed with daqs than cats… thats for sure…
makes me proud to be a strai friend!
perfecto. also, do people really do masturbation circles? like, really?
i’ve only ever heard of guys doing it. apparently you get imaginary points if you last the longest?
the only circle i know is when alice said circles are good (when papi went down on her)
I heard Japanese businessmen do but I feel like that was an urban myth.
well i guess this could be something to worry about if i had any good straight friends.. I only have one that i can think of at the moment and she seems to be only straight from the waist down lol.. Anyways i think i used to have straight friends in the past.. I mean i must have?? right!!?? Hmm where did they go to..
I would like more headlines followed by pictures of kittens.
i used to come out to people by writing down my crush’s name on a napkin or something.
that sounds so much easier/cheaper than my way
my straight friends knew before my gay friends, you know. BUT GREAT ARTICLE I LAUGHED MANY TIMES. good job. and good gin bucket.
I made all the mistakes… oops.
OK, I love the cats umpteen times more now that I know they magically appeared during editing.
And word to most every point. The only thing I’d add is that it can help to have a wingman on this – if you’ve got friends who know each other & you’re planning on coming out to everyone, it can be WAY helpful to have one friend who’s already primed with the truth. Helped me to not chicken out, and to know that someone else would help me field any embarassing ‘but what about the part where you’re going to hell?’ kinds of questions.
This is perfect. This is the definition of my life right now.
This is awesome. But since I’m bi, my usual (and often drunken) way of coming out is usually saying “I’m kinda seeing someone” and when they go “OMG what’s his name?!” I say… “I never said it was a HE….” ;)
I have mostly straight friends at school, which is fine, except they knew me as straight for 2.5 years and I do not want to make a to-do out of my being gay even though it has been a YEAR that my girl and I have been together. Hardly anyone knows (maybe? idk). People in my friendsgroup don’t discuss dating all that much. I operate under the assumption that since nobody cares/would care, nobody really needs to know unless it comes up.
Or someone can just see us making out in front of the library. Whichever. (It was less awkward than one might think. “SURPRISE we are gay.”)
Kittens can help explain and illustrate almost anything…genius.
This was a great (and funny) read.
But what about us lesbians who ONLY have straight guy friends??? Lol it’s sad and true.
P.S. All my straight guy friends know I’m gay (and love me), I just get tired of hanging out with boys some times lol
So… what if you’re under 21 and don’t participate in illegal drug use? Are you up a creek or what?
then you can come out to your best friend in the p.s. to an email after a long night sobbing hysterically at the ending to six feet under because you’re about to start your period!
i’m incredibly well-adjusted.
I want every person I know to do this.
that sounds exactly like something i would do
Well, if you’re underage or just don’t drink (like me) you need to prepare yourself for possible dental bills due to anxiety-induced grinding of teeth in your sleep and/or anxiety-induced clenching of teeth immediately preceeding your big revelation.
I was not expecting the toll coming out would take on my mouth.
Ba dum chish!
Oh come on, you were all with me on this.
loving this so hard right now. probably forever. good stuff.
Combining kittens and good articles makes my day every single time. I came out to my best friend via text message. Classy. I know. She was super supportive as she was the first person I came out to and was a bit of an emotional mess at the time.
Thanks, this is really great!
Speaking of coming out to heteros, I know there was an article a while ago about how to come out to anti-gay, evangelical parents. Can you write about discussing it with parents who are liberal and accepting but don’t completely “get it”?
I’m bisexual and I’m not sure if my parents really understand what that means. My mom has said stuff like “Oh, I could have been bi, but I only liked men,” like she doesn’t understand that being bi means you’re ATTRACTED to both sexes. Also, when they talk about my hypothetical future relationships, they seem to have this idea that while I like girls, boys are what I “really want,” and keep trying to find me boyfriends even though I’ve made it clear about 1000000 times that at the moment I don’t want to date boys. It’s getting irritating, and I’m not sure how to explain it to them.
It’s a scientific fact that pictures of kittens improve any written work by 68%. When you’ve already got a helpful and fun article, adding kitties is pretty much the only way left to improve things!
awesome pictures of kittens + awesome article + awesome party idea (gin bucket? YES PLEASE) = hey this is great, chloe!
the part about your friends already knowing and not caring is spot on. when i told my two best girl friends their response was literally, “wait, didn’t you tell me this already?” i guess i talk about boobs a lot…
i would just like to say that i am not out to everyone in my life but i am getting there; and autostraddle is making it easier/better. so, thanks!
I feel like you may or may not have been in my head while writing this. It is extremely refreshing to hear from someone who shares my perspective. I enjoy being the “group gay” among the group of my straight friends but it isn’t always easy!
P.S. It took some liquid courage for me to come out to my friends; therefore I fully support the Gin Bucket!
“I enjoy being the ‘group gay’ among the group of my straight friends but it isn’t always easy!”
This! Then again, I’m the lesbian in a group of heterosexual males, more out of necessity than choice since my area isn’t well-populated with “alternative lifestyles.”
This post is weirdly timely for me. Are you like reading my mind or something? I’ve just come out to some of my friends and I’m pretty sure I’m the only bi girl in the group. Kind of awkward. :/
Anyway, this post is really helpful. And the kittens omg <3
I read “don’t be shady” and lol’d for like five whole minutes because being shady makes up 45~50% of all my activities.
So was I the only one expecting a different article. I read the title and thought it would be how to be gay among straights, not how to have gf while hanging out w straights. Article was good but I was kind of interested in reading about what to share how to be even a single gay among straits
one of my fondest beach house memories is skipping hand-in-hand with my buddy to the gin bucket. It is also the only /last memory I have of that particular day.
Why should I have to censor myself around my friends with my girlfriend? I wouldn’t do it if I had a boyfriend. I’m not going to tiptoe about topics like sex just because it might make my friends ~feel weird~. If they feel weird, then they’re not my friends. End of story.
But seriously, awesome article… I’ve been coming out to my friends one by one so far (all but two of them are straight) and hopefully I’ll work up the courage to come out to my family soon.
Interestingly enough: My friends knew I’m gay before I figured it out :)
Friends seem to know a lot more about us than we think. The “they probably already know, don’t care” mantra is pretty solid. My friends were just like uh huh, now let’s play some DKC2.
I would like to believe that (and this is generalizing and being way over-optomistic but) on a more local level, for the most part, things really are improving in terms of acceptance. It’s just not that big of a deal to a good portion of people. Of course then, there’s everyone else but let’s be hopeful for a second?
This one time…I’m dating a girl on my college softball team. the team that I also play for. it’s fun. except when we go to florida and she’s all “no touching” and I die for 7 days. ahem.
Anyways, evolution of being out to the team:
Year 1: don’t tell anyone, just have it on facebook for them to find if they feel like stalking.
Year 2: everyone on the team already knows, told the new coach in a meeting before the season began, not on facebook anymore (there was a 3 day breakup involved) and it’s joked about in one on one situations.
No one cares. I like to think that’s a good thing?
MAN, this article makes it sound sorta fun! i have forgotten all about the terrible parts and now i sorta miss coming out to people. pretty much everyone i have ever met knows i’m gay and nobody gives a crap. it’s a blessing, for sure, but i still feel like getting tipsy and watching a good friend’s jaw hit the floor now and then!
step 1: put your cat in a bucket.
awesome article- I stressed for SO MANY years about the whole ‘coming out’ thing, that now I just drop appropriate pronouns into conversations. I have no more fucks to give. If they can’t deal, then I didn’t want to be their friend anyway, I figure.
This is old but I loved it anyway!! All of my friends are straight.. :/ working on fixing that, but this helps in the mean time.
I’m straight, but open to the idea of at least making out with a chick. I don’t care if my friends are gay or not, and I support them in any way I can. My therapist is gay and I love her like a sister. She’s also fairly hot….