Hypothetically speaking

One has known a certain man for a number of years. Said man is a shy, somewhat awkward and very intense. The sexuality of said man has never been brought up, nor have external events brought it entirely into focus, yet one has assumed since shortly after meeting said man that he is gay and either unaware, in denial or uncomfortable with this fact.
Said man tells one that he is, indeed, gay. Such a confession is clearly a trial for said man, who is, as we mentioned, very shy and intense; what should one’s response be?
‘Ok, that’s cool man’ seems blasé.
‘Yeah, I knew that a while ago’ seems dismissive.
‘WHAT? YOU’RE WHAT??’ seems to be not terribly understanding.

What would one’s reponse be, if you were one?

18 Replies to “Hypothetically speaking”

  1. I would take the “Wow, it sounds like that confession was really weighing on you. How’s the coming-out process going?” route. i.e. active listening — throwing the ball back in his court to encourage him to talk more about the process rather than you trying to make your feelings seem stronger than they are.

    Other possible lines: “Thanks for trusting me with that.” “I’m glad you feel comfortable talking to me about this.” “Wow, good for you for coming out. Who else have you told?” “Maybe you could tell me who else you’ve come out to so I don’t drop any bombshells on anyone.”

    Man, it is becoming apparent to me that I have been come-out-to *so many times*. You sure asked the right crowd. 🙂

  2. I would take the “Wow, it sounds like that confession was really weighing on you. How’s the coming-out process going?” route. i.e. active listening — throwing the ball back in his court to encourage him to talk more about the process rather than you trying to make your feelings seem stronger than they are.

    Other possible lines: “Thanks for trusting me with that.” “I’m glad you feel comfortable talking to me about this.” “Wow, good for you for coming out. Who else have you told?” “Maybe you could tell me who else you’ve come out to so I don’t drop any bombshells on anyone.”

    Man, it is becoming apparent to me that I have been come-out-to *so many times*. You sure asked the right crowd. 🙂

  3. Lauren’s right on the money with that one. One ought to ask him how the process is going/how he’s doing, that will probably lead you down the path to plenty of conversation.

  4. Lauren’s right on the money with that one. One ought to ask him how the process is going/how he’s doing, that will probably lead you down the path to plenty of conversation.

  5. Well, not that I have any experience being come out to… Lauren has good advice, but still I have to somewhat disagree. I think his confiding in you is testing to see how people will react. Throwing the ball back at him too quick, could be evasive and deny him that.

    Also, don’t worry too much about knowing what to say. Silence is just as important. Said man may be trying to work out his own complicated feelings, as well as considering carefully how much he wants to expose.

  6. Well, not that I have any experience being come out to… Lauren has good advice, but still I have to somewhat disagree. I think his confiding in you is testing to see how people will react. Throwing the ball back at him too quick, could be evasive and deny him that.

    Also, don’t worry too much about knowing what to say. Silence is just as important. Said man may be trying to work out his own complicated feelings, as well as considering carefully how much he wants to expose.

  7. I’d probably ask him if I was the first person he’d told. That’d open up the conversation – if I was, I’d just be flattered that said person could open up to me like that. If I wasn’t, I’d ask who else he’d told, and how that went – thus allowing him to expound on those experiences, positive or negative.

    The point is to really leave it open-ended for this person to talk about what they’re going through, and how he’s dealing with it.

  8. I’d probably ask him if I was the first person he’d told. That’d open up the conversation – if I was, I’d just be flattered that said person could open up to me like that. If I wasn’t, I’d ask who else he’d told, and how that went – thus allowing him to expound on those experiences, positive or negative.

    The point is to really leave it open-ended for this person to talk about what they’re going through, and how he’s dealing with it.

  9. Lauren’s response is bang on. You want to be supportive, but not make a hue deal of it and add pressure to a (potentialy already tense) situation.

  10. Well, if I had my wits about me, I’d want Lauren’s response.

    If it was too early and I hadn’t had coffee yet, I would probably take the tactic of making as small a deal as possible. “You’re gay, eh? Interesting. See any movies lately?” Maybe I didn’t support them well, but it might be good to deflate the drama a bit. It might be a big deal now, but eventually it should be a small deal, and this might help them see that for some people, their declaration isn’t all that unusual, not something to freak out about so much about.

    I guess it also really depends how close a friend the person was. For instance, if it was Steve, I’d say “Holy Shit! Let’s get drunk!”

  11. Well, if I had my wits about me, I’d want Lauren’s response.

    If it was too early and I hadn’t had coffee yet, I would probably take the tactic of making as small a deal as possible. “You’re gay, eh? Interesting. See any movies lately?” Maybe I didn’t support them well, but it might be good to deflate the drama a bit. It might be a big deal now, but eventually it should be a small deal, and this might help them see that for some people, their declaration isn’t all that unusual, not something to freak out about so much about.

    I guess it also really depends how close a friend the person was. For instance, if it was Steve, I’d say “Holy Shit! Let’s get drunk!”

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