My roommate is an art school jock. A rare hybrid of art nerd and Euro stud. A soccer player with fútbol flags on the wall over his bed and used paintbrushes sitting in a cup of water by the sink.
He’s tall, muscular, walks around in boxers, calls me “bro,” and never takes out the trash.
We sleep nine feet apart from each other in the same small, stuffy room. This is his first quarter at college. I’ve been here two years.
When he moved in, he asked bout the scene, what people do for fun (drug addictions, body paint), and if there are any hot girls.
I didn’t know how to answer. I could say if there were certain girls I thought were pretty. But “hot” implied something else. He thought I was straight.
I assume I trigger everyone’s gaydar, but I hadn’t triggered his. On the spot, I answered, “Yeah bro. Lots of hot girls.”
The feeling after was instant regret. Now I’m stuck in this pretend game until the perfect moment at which point I’ll have to reveal myself in a lie. Haven’t I gotten past all this? Isn’t this what we came to college to avoid ever having to do again? I’m out now. My shame, my residue of the closet, which I’ve lived in for most of my life, pops back up when I least expect it to. How long will it chase me around?
We were going steady, my roommate and I, in this charade until the other day. A guy wanted to come to my dorm and fuck me. I texted the roommate and asked if I could have some privacy for a few hours. He said he was going to be out. I still had a few hours before it was time to go to work, so I decided to do it.
Then the guy said he was lost. I gave him my address which, to hear him tell it, was ignored by his GPS. He eventually had to call me for directions from the other side of town.
The hour dragged on. He had to get gas. I realized we were running out of time. I was panicking. I ran around the dorm room cleaning up. Somewhere in that fuss, I sent a text message: “Dude you need to hurry. I don’t think we’ll have time.”
The response came seconds later: “Time for what?”
“Time for sex. Hurry up. We might just have to jack off together. Do you like handjobs?”
A few minutes later, the response came. “Ummm dude this is your roommate…”
I screamed, fell on my bed, and buried my face in the pillow. I realized that, if I packed all my stuff, I could be out of the dorm room in an hour or two. Where would I go? Who would take me in?
I texted my roommate back: “Oops. Text fail.”
My roommate responded: “Haha not on my bed!”
Doing things this way reveals to him that not only am I gay, but I’m having sex in the dorm room. With men. I couldn’t read the tone of his last text. The hookup never happened. I went to work, came home. No roommate was there. He didn’t show up all weekend, which was normal — he had a girlfriend at another dorm.
When he finally appeared, we never talked about the text. But something was different. We kept talking, but a silent understanding had passed between us. In time, he met my boyfriends. In time, I was able to say, “Hey, I have a guy coming over. Need some time.”
There was little to say, really. And that’s how coming out should be. There is very little to say.
Friends, tell the truth when you can. It will eventually come out, and probably not on your terms. It will come out in a way you cannot control, and control is important when making that sacred revelation — saying those powerful self-identifying words we practice a lifetime saying.
Say it when you can, as much as you can, as often as you can. I’m gay, I’m gay, I’m gay.