secret relationships

Response to a question about coming out

Hey Social Skills, as an INTJ I love your blog since my social interactions are often less than elegant. On your post about coming out - perhaps it would be prudent to add a post about people who ARE gay and socially disabled about when it is okay to come out, when it could be dangerous, etc? I feel that that post may have implied that they should hide it for themselves too, when it is to some extent more acceptable to be open about one’s OWN sexuality. Thanks so much for running this blog :) -H

This depends a lot on context, and I don’t have a general theory of when coming out is a good idea. 

Here’s some things I do know:

Secret relationships are really dangerous, because they isolate people in them from their friends, and they also make it difficult-to-impossible to get help if things go bad. Some predatory people use being closeted as a way to isolate their partners. It’s usually a bad idea to date someone who isn’t out to *anyone*, and it’s also usually a bad sign if all the decisions about how and when to be out are made by one partner. 

Even when nothing on that scale is happening, secret relationships cause problems. Having to pretend to be single is a cost – for example, when your siblings come to family events with partners and everyone wonders why you are still single.

Concealing something that fundamental places sharp limits on how close a friendship can be, and it’s important to take that cost seriously.

It makes life a lot better if you can find friends who it is safe to be out to, and if you can move to an area in which being out is possible.

If you are religious, and you are a member of a faith or faith community in which being gay is stigmatized or demonized, you are not alone and you probably should not try to take this on alone. People are probably trying to tell you that you have to choose between your faith and your sexuality, but there are others within your faith in same-sex relationships who have rejected this and kept their faith. That might not be where you end up, but talking to them is still likely to help you find your way, if for no other reason than that they will know what you are talking about in ways that most secular people will not. And with the internet, it’s possible to find them – there are email lists and there are organizations, and it can help a lot.

And just, generally speaking, the best coming out advice comes from people whose lives are or have been similar to yours. Because it depends heavily on context.

But there’s a lot more to it than that, and I think it’s probable that a good percentage of people following know more than I do about this. Comments anyone?