You Need Help: Lesbian Back-To-School Edition

Welcome to You Need Help! Where you seek advice and we try our very best to give it.

This has traditionally been done by way of individual Formspring accounts, Autostraddle’s Tumblr and a Formspring Friday column, which has all been very fun and insightful. But, because Formspring has a character limit and we’re wildly optimistic w/r/t our time-management skills, we thought we’d go one further and let you use our ASS private messaging to share advice-related feelings, too.

For more info on sending in questions, see the bottom of this post. For now, we’re going to talk about what to do as a baby queer headed to college — specifically, whether you need to come out to your randomly-assigned freshman year roommate, because school is starting basically now and you are all apparently extremely panicked about this. Let’s get to it!



I’m about to be starting college, and I’ve started talking to my roommate. Should I bring up being gay? I’m kind of freaked out about it even though she seems pretty liberal. Or should I just grow fond of rainbows, and hang them all over the place?


Should I come out to my roommate or is it none of their business?

Okay, this is just one fairly-recent-college-grad’s opinion, but: I don’t think you have any kind of ethical imperative to come out to your roommate. There are some reasons why doing so might make your life easier and ultimately be a good idea, if you want to, but we’ll get to that later. For now, I want to say this: you know who has to notify the people in their community about their status and identity? Registered sex offenders. Because they are (assuming they were convicted rightfully) actually predators. You are not. 

Actually, we (and by we I mean I) have talked about this before — back when a wildly misguided advice columnist told a queer college girl that she was ethically bound to come out to the members of the sorority that she lived with. Here is an excerpt from my (stronger and more verbose than I remembered them being!) feelings on that at the time:

This girl is gay, not a sex addict; she’s worried about lying to her friends, not about how to physically restrain herself from tearing their clothes off. Comparing her to a straight male and reminding her that these girls don’t want to be “checked out” assumes that this student is naturally wired to do just that. By the time you’ve gotten to college, you’ve probably seen every single female you know half-naked; you’ve been living in close quarters with other women for likely your entire life. By doing this, you haven’t been preying on them or violating their trust in some way. They are your friends and your family and your community, and you’re a woman too; you aren’t sexually harassing them by sharing space, and you’re not a sexual deviant who’s incapable of having platonic relationships with someone who even identifies as a gender that you’re attracted to.

Basically, the bottom line is that if you don’t know your roommate, it’s totally possible that your being gay will make her uncomfortable. Given that, if she doesn’t know you’re gay, you might feel guilty about that. But I truly think that’s unfounded guilt. You know why? Because her discomfort is unfounded too. Presumably, if she’s uncomfortable, it’s because she’s a) never met a gay person and think you might be a space alien b) think you are uncontrollably attracted to her or c) is uncomfortable with her own sexuality. And since b) (probably) isn’t true, none of that is your shit to deal with. Seriously, none of it. Did my freshman year roommate basically change in the closet for a full year? Yes. Was that my problem? Nope! Granted, I wasn’t quite so well-adjusted about it at the time, but I wish I could tell my younger self that I should try to be. The sooner in your life that you learn other people’s hangups aren’t your problem, the happier you’ll be. I think you are totally within your rights to act like this is a complete non-issue, because honestly, it should be. If they feel differently, feel free to act shocked — the world gets better when we set high expectations for it.


HOWEVER, it’s also true that while there’s no reason you HAVE to, your life might be easier if you do mention it. At best, it might save an awkward moment when she tries to set you up with her male friend or when she complains that her chemistry professor is, like, a total dyke. At worst, it might allow you to switch roommates if you find out she’s going to try to exorcise you in your sleep. How to do this? Well, Question Asker Number One, you are in luck! You are already talking to your roommate, and presumably it is not in person and is via Facebook or email or carrier pigeon, which is a way lower-stress way to come out to someone. If you are in the position of, say, already being in the room with your roommate, this will be a little less fun, but whatever, you’re a big girl/boi/human creature and you can do it.

That’s not to say that you need to Come Out in a really explicit way.* In fact, I would recommend doing it as offhandedly as possible, in order to set the tone that this is Totally Not A Big Deal. Suggestions include:

+ “Oh, you have the Buffy box set? My ex-girlfriend** was so into that show!”

+ “Are you headed to the orientation dinner now? Is it okay if I meet you there in a half hour? There’s actually a mini-orientation run by the queer student group happening right now that I wanted to stop by.”

+ “Yeah, isn’t this cute? It’s of my girlfriend and I, she had it framed for an anniversary present.”

* I’m going to hazard a controversial suggestion here and say that if you truly feel that in this first eighteen years of your life you have achieved a level of physically obvious gayness that is impossible to miss — I mean if your head is shaved so you can see the rainbow triangle tattoo on your scalp and you don’t own any shirts that aren’t from Pride parades or Lilith Fair — then you can skip this step. They know. Then again, if you’re that person, you probably aren’t asking this question.

** Normally I obvs think honesty is the best policy, but I think some fudging is okay here if it makes your life/this conversation easier. For instance: the ex-girlfriend here does not even need to be real? Or it’s cool if you talk loudly about going to the Radical Queer Womyn’s Consciousness-Raising Coffee Hour but don’t end up going. You’re trying to get a point across. That’s all.

Great, I’m glad we had this talk! Now that you’ve gotten that out of the way, you can continue on to the more important parts of college, like forgetting to call your parents and majoring in basketweaving for a short period of time during your junior year and having your heart broken between one and infinity times. Because really, your rando roommate is so much less important than that stuff, you know?


You should probably share your wisdom and overall feelings in the comments! There’s a good chance I’m totally wrong or left something out or haven’t been yelled at enough today.


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For 100% anonymity, contact us through Formspring:  Riese | Laneia | Rachel

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Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel now lives in the Midwest. Topics dear to her heart include bisexuality, The X-Files and tacos. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy." You can follow her on twitter and instagram.

Rachel has written 1142 articles for us.


  1. Pretty much in all situations I act like my being gay isn’t even a big deal.

    Honestly the best way to answer this is to use your best judgement. I was busily ignoring my sexuality when I was in college but I know now that had I known I was gay and came out to my home schooled conservative christian virgin until marriage “do you want to come to bible study with me” room mate it would have been like I set her on fire with rainbows and glitter. And it would have started World War Gay in our house. (She didn’t react well when she found out a mutual male friend of ours was a bisexual.)

    Obviously their issues are theirs’ to deal with (like RuPaul says “What some one else thinks of me is none of my business”) but if you feel like outing yourself is going to create an unsafe space for YOU then don’t.

    • Well, presumably you aren’t the type of space alien who wants to take over the universe. In which case, the MIB would totally be all over you. Obviously.

      You’re probably here to invent full-size computers that fold up and become watches or something and help out mankind a lot. So just be nonchalant. Say something like, “Oh, yeah, on my home planet, we totally put Buddha’s hand in our coffee. It’s delicious!”

      (Buddha’s hand because, frankly, it looks like it’s from another planet. But feel free to insert whatever is actually correct. Maybe you put diamonds in your coffee, who knows.)

    • Probably by bursting through her stomach but I don’t know if that would make an awesome first impression.

        • Indeed, we bisexual Time Lords require a You Need Help, which will touch on such topics as coming out as an alien, dealing with post-Time War angst, and what to do when Captain Jack Harkness flirts with you.

  2. I came out to my roommate via facebook within the first three messages. I’m just meeting her today, so here’s hoping it’s all cool!

    My feelings w/r/t college at this point are: college is awesome/I am excited/oh my goodness there are SO MANY out queer people on my campus I’m SO GLAD I’m not in Texas anymore!

    • As a college junior who felt the same way before entering college, it warms the cockles of my heart to see you so excited :) If you’re at the right school, college really can be where it gets better. Good luck meeting your roommate!

  3. “For instance: the ex-girlfriend here does not even need to be real? Or it’s cool if you talk loudly about going to the Radical Queer Womyn’s Consciousness-Raising Coffee Hour but don’t end up going. You’re trying to get a point across. That’s all.”

    THIS. I love you Autostraddle.

  4. I was in my 3rd college program and 20 years old before I even knew I was gay. At 20 years old, you have a better head on your shoulders and you understand that being gay is not a big deal and you shouldn’t have to act like it is, but having said that, it doesn’t always work out that way.

    I started dental hygiene and I ended up breaking my wrist and took time off and came back the following year with the new intake to finish the program. That summer was when I realized I was gay, so coming back to school I knew I wasn’t going to hide who I was but I wasn’t sure who I should tell etc.

    Looking back now at my awkwardly close relationships with females, my position on homosexuality and my beliefs, it was probably pretty evident I was always gay! So I already had strong beliefs and opinions and when I encountered this ignorant teacher who tried to teach cultural awareness by calling Black People “The Blacks” and anyone not caucasian “Coloured” I knew I would eventually be coming out of the closet in front of the whole class.

    In the dental hygiene clinic there are sections with 8 operatories separated by half walls, so while we were using instruments on a plastic head, we were able to talk to our “neighbours”. I ended up becoming closer to a couple girls in my section because they were from the same City I was, so I told them, and obviously they told other people and it was “rumoured” that I was gay but I had only confirmed it to a few girls.

    This ignorant teacher was now teaching about cultures and denied being gay as a culture, so naturally I defended that. Then after deciding to try to please me she started referring to anyone not heterosexual as “the gays”. Every time she said something equally as preposterous to do with “an alternative lifestyle” I would make it known she should not be teaching this class and use personal experiences. So soon enough it was confirmed I was gay…to everyone…

    What happened next you ask?…I became a sexual predator in the changeroom. Yep, it was rumoured that I stared at people in the changeroom and sexually harassed them. Because that’s what all gays do. This was obviously not true. So untrue in fact that I would keep my back to anyone changing for fear that if someone had previously known I was gay that they wouldn’t feel uncomfortable by my presence. Even more so, rumour spread that I was “trying to get with girls” in my program. I don’t know what it is about finding out someone is gay but everyone starts to think that you want them…which also is clearly false.

    At that point, I wished I hadn’t come out. I didn’t maintain relationships with anyone from those two years of my life, but the things some of them said and did have left a forever impact on me, and not a good impact. I am a strong person and was able to brush it off for the most part, but there were days that I went home and cried out of frustration and confusion as to how people are still like that in 2010.

    If I had the choice to go back and do it again, I would likely still come out, because I am the kind of person who a) can’t keep a secret b) needs to voice my opinions and c) likes to show off my girlfriend…but for those of you who aren’t going to be able to brush something like that off, just know that people like this exist, that you don’t have a teacher holding your hand in college, that you have people of different beliefs who have experienced very different things in their home countries (I had one girl say to me “you know in my country they beheaded a boy for kissing another boy”) and once you’re out, there’s no going back in.

    There is no easy answer to whether or not you should come out…it’s based on individual experience and the ability to maintain strength even when those who don’t understand or disagree with who you are try to bring you down…but then again, not everyone is going to experience these kinds of people.

    Good luck to all you collez freshman…make the best of it!

    • thank you for this. i feel like it’s one of the most honest coming out accounts i’ve read and i truly appreciate your sincerity.

  5. I came out to my freshman roommate in about October, so we’d had some time to get to know each other. Still, her first comment was “OMIGOD, you’re totally my first gay friend!” and my internal reaction was “oh, shit.” Still, it worked out fine, and we lived together for the next two years and are still friends.
    In high school (a public boarding school with extremely geeky liberal tendencies), I came out via the rainbow flag on my door. So both methods worked fine for me.
    Side note? The guy who ended up being my absolute best friend in all the world lived on the same freshmen dorm floor as I did, and he later told me that seeing everyone be fine with my sexuality helped him get the courage to come out, too. And then we had Friday night gay movie night for the rest of college. Ah, the days.

  6. I’m a young trans-woman, so when I was getting my living situation arranged, I was scared shitless because I would be stuck in with men (ewwww!!!) So I talked to the coordinator and she actually managed to find a trans-guy who was starting at the same time as me and to top it off she managed to get us a room with a private shower, so we wouldn’t have to deal with the awkwardness of the showers. Unfortunately that only last a couple months because we didn’t get along that well and had completely different schedules. In the end we had to hand over the room because a new RLC (resident life coordinator) came in and need the private facilities. I moved in with a friend on an all girls floor! (woot woot!) at that point I was out to anyone that it mattered, so it wasn’t a big deal, not that I exactly tried to be stealth about it, 46 C boobs and a days worth of stubble tend to stand out. I can’t really offer any advice about coming out as gay except for honesty tempered with discretion, if you feel that you would be in danger by coming, you should see about finding a different living situation.

  7. I’ve never had to have a room mate, thankfully, but I came out subtly to some girls in my class when I started college by telling them I’d joined the LGBT society while we were on the subject of societies and clubs, so maybe that might work for some freshers? Good luck laydeez!

  8. My freshman year roommate and I came out to each other by accident while drunk three weeks in. And then I think we wandered around campus at night talking about, like, Natalie Portman or something. And how awesome breasts are. I don’t necessarily recommend that method in general.

    In my later experience of living with an actually kinda homophobic person, I found that coming out helped a lot, because at least I could call her on her shit. But she was more of the ‘ewww, lesbians are gross!’ school of homophobia rather than the ‘homosexuality is the devel!’ end of things. I don’t necessarily have advice for the second type, besides recommending that if your roommate has a big problem with who you are, find a new roommate if at all possible. It’s not worth wasting your freshman year in a situation like that.

    • The second type are just pills in general. Even straight people have issues with those kinds of roommates; I know some who had to switch because they would get in a relationship and their ultra-religious-conservative roommate just couldn’t deal with the fact that they were sexually-active. So it’s worth coming out just so you can confirm you have one of those if you’re suspicious, and request a room transfer.

  9. This is so relevant to me right now, thank you.
    (But you guys regularly put things out right when I need them. Do you have a psychic on your staff?)

  10. I came out to my future roommate immediately, and she wasn’t particularly cool about it, but we seemed to be ok. We’ve been texting in a friendly way for a few weeks, when, out of the blue, I just received this gem:

    “Hey, I’ve been thinking a lot and I just want to make sure we’re on the same page about rooming with each other. Some of my family is very apprehensive about the whole situation working out and, admittedly, I am as well. But as I’ve told you, I’m certainly willing to give it a try. I just don’t want there to be any hard feelings if for some reason it doesn’t work out and I ask for a room change partway through fall quarter; I would rather save our friendship than jeopardize it for a rooming situation. I hope that’s understandable.”

    The moral of the story is that people are crazy. Tread lightly, is what I’m saying. And don’t be afraid to ask for a room reassignment.

    • Your future roommate (or not, hopefully): I just don’t want there to be any hard feelings if I do a hurtful, insensitive, mean, homophobic thing, ok? Because I don’t like thinking of myself as hurtful, insensitive, mean, or homophobic. Since I already asked you to not to be upset, and I warned you that I might be a assbutt in advance, if you are in any way bothered by my deciding I can’t handle living with you because icky, that is totally your fault now. Also, if it damages our friendship, also your fault. Man, not taking responsibility for my actions and their potential consequences (intended or not) is super liberating, guys. You should all try it some time.

      My condolences, Grace.

    • ““Hey, I’ve been thinking a lot and I just want to make sure we’re on the same page about rooming with each other..blah blah blah.”

      You were probably too polite to reply “yes, we are on the same page, I don’t want to straddle you and I don’t give a fuck what your family thinks.”

      I handled similar thing finally. Kept the room filled with homogays when my roommate refused to stop having her bf there 24/7 and had some ‘sleepovers’ of my own and she finally she made herself scarce for rest of the term.

    • a lot of my sheltered friends talked about being afraid of having lesbian roomies (back before i came out to them). i think a lot of people might feel that discomfort at first, though most would not rude enough to outright say it.

      it sucks bc i feel like as gay people we have to go thru this process over and over again as we meet new people, but i do think generally, people (who don’t have deeply held anti-gay beliefs) tend to get past that kind of homophobia when they really get to know someone who is gay. i can’t imagine my close friends from home ever saying they were afraid of a gay roomie even to each other anymore.

      have you been just as up front with her as she has been with you? pointed out the awful assumptions behind what she’s saying and how they’re not true? it could help, at least with the power dynamic in your room.

      anyway, good luck grace! i’m sure everything will work out in the end.. whether she becomes a better roomie or you find one. :)

  11. When I came out to my roommates/friends the responses were “ya, I know,” “oh, okay,” and “OHMYGODYOU’REJUSTLIKESANTANA!” Everyone knows and no one gives a shit.

  12. I came out to my freshman roommate on facebook (3 years ago) after I saw she was Catholic. It made ME feel better to just know it wasn’t gonna be a problem or something I’d wonder about how to do. I feel like it’s the sort of thing where if they do have a problem and they find out later, it’s potentially a bigger problem than if you were open from the start “OMG I’ve changed in front of you for weeks!” You want to know early if you’re going to need to put in a roommate change request form.

    But then, I’m someone who wanted to be friends with my roommate, and work through their issues if possible. I would’ve been kinda sad if they’d changed in the closet or tried to exorcise me in my sleep (hilarious) – not so able to just ignore somebody’s BS when they live with you.

  13. university of north texas. my original plan was to kind of non-chalntly just slip it in during our first facebook messages back and forth.

    i was seriously scared because she’d been telling me she was from a really tiny town near the texas/oklahoma border and i thought she was going to straight up reject rooming together.

    right as i was about to make my gay comment, she breaks the news to me about her own gayness. it was the greatest thing ever.

    but what sucks is that her original roommate bailed on her after finding out that she’s gay.

    my point is that i’m really fucking lucky.

    • Although it sucks for your roommate that her original roommate peaced out, I think in a way she’s kind of lucky things shook down that way. I just think it would be so much worse to start living with someone and then either have to constantly worry about hiding who you are, or the person finds out you’re gay and then flips out while you still have to live together.

  14. I actually had a friend help me freshman year with dropping hints like this (“Isn’t QUEER SUPPORT GROUP fun?” “Yes, it’s so great that we both go to QUEER SUPPORT GROUP.”) and my roommate still didn’t get it. Of course, she had a really sheltered upbringing and was from a conservative state–I’m not really sure she knew much about any kind of sexuality. Just be aware that multiple hints might be in order before they really get it.

  15. I think you should come out to your room mate. I feel part of getting to know a friend is finding out if the person is queer/not queer/whatever. I mean sure I guess there’s a chance that you’ll find out your room mate is awkward about the gay and that could make things awkward between you, but also it could be totally fine and then the open-ness will help you become friends. I really regret not coming out to the people I lived with in my first year of college. In fairness I was still doing the “am I GAYYY??? am I STRAIGHTTTT??? what does it all MEANNNN???” thing, but still. Eventually it got to the point where I felt it would be too weird to bring it up, kind of like when you’ve had nine conversations with a person but still can’t remember their name and don’t want to ask them again, so I never did. Awkward.

  16. I agree with Laneia that you aren’t under any moral obligation to come out. Still, if I had to share a room with someone, I would probably let them know my sexuality as soon as possible so that I could request a room transfer ASAP in the event that they were homophobic. I have zero interest in having to cohabitate with homophobes.

    I recognise that this can only work where the person’s school is supportive of sexual and gender diversity.

    In other news… I have just moved to the other side of the planet for university and am heading up to my new city tomorrow. I don’t have to share rooms, but hopefully the queer thing doesn’t cause any problems.

  17. Thank you for answering my question! I’m so nervous about starting my freshman year! I just moved in today and I left before my roommate came in. Lol. This really helped me. A black hole was forming in my stomach because I didn’t know what to do.

    Thank you SO much! :D <3

  18. i think i came out to my freshman roommates by making out with a girl at a party we were all at. so, you know, that works. but i also had really awesome roommates. when i first got to college i was identifying as bi. by senior year i was living with four of my best friends and they had been witnessing my Big Gay Awakening for three months so when i finally told them i was sure i was a lesbian they started screaming and jumping up and down and hugs all around ensued. i’m lucky to have the best friends in the entire world.

  19. When I was a first-year, I went the route of telling my roommate in a nonchalant manner that I was going to activities that were obviously gay. I’m assuming she figured it out by this point as I head into my senior year. We never had an actual “Just so you know, I’m a big gaybo.” conversation, but we didn’t end up needing it.

    In the event that you are having problems with your roommate, talk with your RA. And talk with your RA before it escalates to a completely unlivable situation.

  20. I work as a Hall Director at a university in Missouri that is somewhat conservative, so this question comes up ALL THE TIME (I think I have the Lesbian Bat Signal coming out of my office for the amount of gay freshmen that find their way to my office in the first 2 weeks). I always suggest putting out feelers to your roommate to see how open minded they are before springing “Hey! I love women/men/everyone!” on them. Unfortunately, I have had to move more then a few people because their roommates were not very accepting (moved by the queer person’s choice- I never make someone move because the roommate is uncomfortable with them.)
    If you think it’s going to be an issue, talk with your RA (Resident Assistant) or if you think they are not someone you are comfortable with, chat with your Hall Director. Most of us come from masters programs where our ethics and standards are all about the “Yay Gay!” I hope this helps.

  21. Just as a side note after reading everyone’s comments, I want to say that just because your roommate changes in the closet doesn’t necessarily mean that she thinks you’re looking at her in a sexual manner or that you’re attracted to her. I change in my closet all the time, but that’s because I’m uncomfortable with my body, in general. My straight roommate (who totally knows that I’m queer) was like, “Really? You’re going to change in the closet?” after she saw me doing it, but she has no problem changing anywhere in the room at all. So I just wanted to say that it’s only a change in behavior (where your roommate was changing in front of you before but has now started changing in the closet) that is most clearly indicative of whether her changing in any place pertains to your recent “coming out.”

    Sorry for the long rant. :P

  22. I’m transfering as a junior and moving into dorms this weekend and I am fucking terrified, but coming out to my roommates is one thing I’m not too worried about. If it comes up I’ll tell them, or if they want to know, they can ask me; otherwise, I’m sure they’ll figure it out, especially when I start slapping Autostraddle stickers all over my stuff.

    • I don’t think the breeders know about Autostraddle. If that’s the case, poor things, how sad their lives must be.

      • You would be surprised; some of us are fortunate to have the connections. I’ve had the distinct privilege of recommending this website to some of my GBLTQ friends!

  23. Man, I couldn’t care less about what my room mate thinks, I’m more worried about coming out to my lacrosse team.

    God that’s gay.


    (no seriously, how do I do that? cause I really want to be out in college so I can go to my Womyn queer coffee brunch and empowerment things, etc.)

    • Coming out to a team can be tough. Many of the ideas suggested in the article can be applied to a larger group as well. Go to the queer womyn coffee brunchs! Tell your teammates about them! Invite your teammates!

      P.S. If you’re playing a collegiate sport, chances are there will be another queer on your team… there’s at least one on every team at my school.

  24. Hi!

    So I am a Trans person who started binding over the summer and is going back to school for the first time as such. I will be living with 2 of my best friends who, the last time they saw me, I was a girl. I know I will probably have to sit down and have a conversation with them. Anyone been through this before?

  25. I only have one more year left at college, and so far I haven’t come out to any of the people I lived with. If I had, I’m sure at least two of them would have thought I was skeeving on them in their underpants and/or performing my gay-spreading sorcery on their pillow to make them have sex dreams about Kristen Stewart. So you know, I don’t feel bad about not telling them. At all. When I’m finally not financially dependent on my parents and able to come out, it’s going to be about me. As it really, really should be.

  26. I was in a suite double last year, and I became best friends with my roommate and one of my suitemates. Two weeks into college I told them there was a “gay picnic thing” i was going to and they were like “oh okay that’s cool”. And then we watched a movie and life went on. The suite mate i wasn’t friendly with didn’t find out i was bisexual until she saw me making out with a girl at a party, and she flipped out afterwards. my roomie and other suitemate told her that if she had a problem with me she had to leave. and she did. :)

    • Question: How do you use those things to specifically come out as bi rather than gay? Not that I feel insulted being mistaken for lesbian, but I feel like it gets the confusion out of the way that will result if someone thinks you’re gay and then finds you expressing attraction toward some male creature.

  27. In my wing of my college, everyone has an ensuite which they share with the person in the room next door. My roomate came out to me as bisexual by casually mentioning her ex-girlfriend’s reaction to the guy she’d been seeing… and I came out to HER as bisexual by screaming “OH MY GOD THANK FUCK YOU’RE NOT A STRAIGHT CHICK I THOUGHT IT WAS GOING TO BE AWKWARD IF YOU EVER HEARD ME IN THE SHOWER WITH ANOTHER CHICK!”

  28. My school has a dastardly policy of not telling you your freshman roommate assignment. So, on my cross-country flight I crossed my fingers in hopes of getting an alterna-girl/homo-lover roommate. Instead, I got an TSwift-loving, All-American Girl from someplace I’d never heard of. The minute we awkwardly shook hands, we knew that we probably weren’t going to get along.

    I came out at the end of new student orientation while picking out an outfit for a dance function. Still trying to be friendly, I turned and yelled over the vast 6 inches of space between our closets, “Hey, which pair of shorts should I wear?” My roommate, in a give-it-your-best-shot kinda way, smiled and told me to wear the booty shorts so I could “get the boys’ attention.” Sensing my time to strike, I laughed and told her I wasn’t into boys. The ambient noise in the room dropped to Antarctic levels.

    “Oh,” she replied. “Oh. I’m honored you told me that.” Then she promptly left the room for 30 minutes.

    Anyway, the moral of the story is most coming outs will be awkward and/or non-issues. If it is an issue, better to know about it, then to find out mid-make out on the floor, right!

  29. I feel like the things that end up being problems with roommates are the things that no one expects to be problems with roommates moving in. Like, if one of you is an early bird and the other one is a night owl. I had a roommate who was so extreme on the idea that I could not be awake when she was sleeping that she locked me out of the room a few times due to this, and she eventually had to move out to another room.

    The sexual orientation of your roommate is rarely ever such a huge problem as seemingly-minor things like that. Unless you have a super-fundamentalist religious roommate who wants to impose her values on you, but you don’t even have to be gay to have problems with people like that.

  30. i spent my entire first year thinking my roommate knew i was gay and hated me for it. i was terrified and sad. the last month of school i talked to the girl across the hall who told me that everyone on the floor knew i was gay and no one cared, not even my roommate who apparently was FINE with it.

    so i guess she hated me for other reasons, which is fair.

  31. If you are living on-campus, chances are good your school has resident assistants whose job it is to make you feel as comfortable and safe as possible in the place you will be living. I know this because I am one! I know RA’s can seem like scary cops, but this is very untrue! If you are uncomfortable or need advice, ask your RA or another RA at your school. There’s probably even a few R-Gays like myself who can help you out!

  32. I was just going to come out by casually hanging up my Autostraddle 2011 calendar right next to my poster of Tegan and Sara. Seriously though, excellent post and excellent advice. <3

  33. My roommate first semester freshman year didn’t know I’m bisexual and probably wouldn’t have cared. She did tell me I should move out, and I did eventually, but that was mostly to do with her drinking problem. The only person who minded was my roommate second semester freshman year, who I thought was a lesbian for all of thirty minutes before she informed me that under no circumstances was she anything but straight. I recommend telling your roommate(s) sooner rather than later. But you could be more casual about it than i was.

  34. i planned to closet myself for apprehensiveness ( and also i’m so fucking tired) of coming out again. but then my roommate asked me if i was homophobic. because if i was that wouldn’t be cool, because she’s straight but gay friendly. i’m like WOOT WOOT. now i just need to find the gay kids because i REFUSE to go to another party to watch a bunch of guys playing beer pong.

    • My best friend, who is a straight guy, is like this too: He was really bothered by the fact that one of his roommates has friends who say “That’s so gay” on his Facebook. “He better not say it around me!” And he’s also planning to join the GSA at his school.

  35. My freshman roommate changed in the closet all year, too. But now I’m rooming with my girlfriend, so… win?

  36. Last semester, I consumed 3/4 of a bottle of wine and came out to one of my soon-to-be roommates. There was crying, but it wasn’t that awkward, as far as these moments go. She was incredibly supportive. But I’m not sure whether to recommend this method or not.

    Now the semester has started and the one roommate knows but the other doesn’t. The one who doesn’t know is kind of an intense Christian, and recently made derogatory remarks about a mutual friend who is bisexual.

    So. My love life is nonexistant since the girl I like a lot is on another continent, and I’m also writing a master’s-level thesis (i.e. what is a social life?), so I don’t know if this all really matters.

    Maybe I’ll get to graduation day and then come out to my Christian roommate, with something along the lines of, “You know what? I was bi and in the closet the entire two and a half years you knew me. I couldn’t trust you enough to come out before this. Glad we had this talk. Have a nice life and raise good Christian babies for me.”

    I don’t know. I have no advice/ words of wisdom. I wish I had figured this all out earlier.

  37. I didn’t have the need to come out to my roomie from last year because uh, I was still kinda discovering myself. I did tell her when I kissed a girl, and she was totally shocked, haha. In her words, she didn’t know whether to laugh or slap me. No problems, though.

    I haven’t told my current roomie, though. She’s your typical straight girl, and from time to time makes remarks about hot guys on tv, to which I respond “uh, yeah, he’s pretty nice.” But I honestly haven’t had the need to tell her anything, really. She’s just my roomie, not a friend. So unless I get a girlfriend and start bringing her home from time to time, I feel no need to say anything, and I’m cool with that. No idea if she suspects anything, but I think that if she were queer/lesbian she would totally spot me on her gaydar.

  38. My parents are only willing to send me to Christian schools, even though they know I’m gay. I’m afraid that coming out will get me in trouble with both school and my parents.

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