My roommate is an art school jock — a rare hybrid of hipster artist and soccer stud. He has soccer (fútbol) flags hanging over his bed and used paintbrushes in a cup.
He’s tall, muscular, walks around the dorm in boxers, calls me “bro,” and never takes out the trash.
We sleep nine feet from each other in the same small, stuffy room. This is his first year at art school.
When he moved in, he asked me about the scene and what people do for fun (vandalism, psychedelics) and if there are any hot girls.
That’s what he asked. “Are there any hot girls?” I didn’t know how to answer. He thought I was straight.
How did this happen? I assume I trigger everyone’s gaydar, but I hadn’t triggered his. On the spot, I answered, “Yeah. Lots of hot girls.”
And suddenly I was back in high school, kicking the miserable ball around the gymnasium, unsure what to do with it, waving my skinny arms and knowing no one would pass it to me. Suddenly I was lying again, retreating back into the same closet I avowed never to enter again. Ashamed and afraid, I stopped talking to him, and we settled into a silent routine. I take out the trash when it’s my turn, and then he does it. Except he doesn’t, and I say nothing because, once again, I’m the quiet fag, the weaker one living a lie next to the proud jock, the guys I used to fear.
The other day, a guy wanted to come over and fuck me. I texted the roommate and asked him if I could have some privacy for a few hours. He said he was going to be out — no problem. I still had a few hours before it was time to go to work, so I decided to go through with it.
Then the guy texted me that he was lost. I gave him my address which was seemingly ignored by his GPS. He eventually had to call me for directions. Then he had to get gas. We were running out of time. I was panicking. Whenever I stress, I clean, so I went through the dorm cleaning things up, and somewhere in that fuss, I sent a text message: “You need to hurry up. I don’t think we’ll have time.”
“Time for what?”
“Time for sex. We might just have to jack off together. Is that OK?”
“Dude this is your roommate…”
I screamed and buried my face in the pillow. Then I started calculating. If I packed all my stuff, I could be out of the room in an hour. There were friends in town I could crash with. This was getting ridiculous.
I texted him back: “Oops. Text fail.”
Roommate responded: “Haha not on my bed!”
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. But when he finally appeared, I told him the truth: “Hey, I’m sorry about that text mixup. I guess the cat’s out of the bag. I’m gay.”
I had never used the phrase “the cats out of the bag.” I always associated it with New York mobster movies and crime thrillers, and it sounded ridiculous in that little kitchen, but here it was, the truth. We lived together for a year and never talked about my sexuality again. He never talked about his girlfriends, I never talked about my hookups. When one of us needed the room, it was granted.
Tell the truth as soon as the chance is given to you because the worst part of this story was the shame, the retreat, the denial. It felt spineless. In the end, I was more ashamed of the way I played along — “Yeah, tons of hot girls” — instead of delivering a give-no-fucks “I wouldn’t know, I’m gay.”
Say it as much as you can, as often as you can. Make it your mantra, your power. I’m gay. I’m gay. I’m gay.