Friday, September 30, 2011

Coming Out to Roommates or Housemates

Hey friends, Justin here.  I started coming out when I was 18--first to my family, and then to friends.  I'm 25 now.  The question of whether or not to come out to roommates/housemates is important--it has incredible potential to deepen your relationship with them or to harm that relationship.  I thought I'd tell you about some of my coming-out-to-roommates experiences.

1.  I never came out to any of my mission companions.  I thought it could just be a really weird dynamic.  Since you're not only living together, but working together, recreating together, studying together, etc., it seems quite risky.

2.  I think the first roommate I came out to at BYU was Friend #8.  We didn't know each other before rooming together, but our relationship was such that we'd sometime stay up late into the night talking ("pillow talk," as it was affectionately named).  I think I told him I'm gay one of these nights.  He told me about a friend of his who is gay, and it wasn't a huge, huge deal.  After that, we'd talk about homosexuality occasionally.  He'd ask questions, I'd share experiences, and it was just great.  A few times our beliefs clashed (for example, on what a gay/same-sex attracted LDS person is to do with their life), but we got over it and are still friends.  I wish everyone had a roommate like Friend #8.

3.  After coming out to Friend #8, I came out to Friends 9 and 10, also "housemates" in that same apartment--at different times.  Or I THOUGHT I did.  Both were good about it, and I don't think they ever really expressed judgment against me (that I know of!).  They were all good to my friends when they came over, several of whom they probably suspected were also gay.  We'd often watch Modern Family together or Stefon from SNL, and it was a good way to bond; I felt like they were telling me that they were okay with how I was identifying ... and that discussion was open.  With #10, I thought I came out, but I guess I was too vague about it (why are we so vague sometimes?), and he was surprised later on when he actually started guessing/found out.  Lol.  My bad.  But he, too, was really respectful, and I'm friends with 9 and 10 today as well.

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I can understand why straight people might be weirded out by having a gay roommate.  I can understand the worry that the roommate will do "funny stuff" or check you out or whatever.  I don't necessarily agree with the logic of it, but I get it.  I really admire those who can get over these worries and just be real.  Seriously--it's kind of a big deal.  We just expect people to (and probably rightly so), but I don't think it hurts to recognize how cool it is when people let themselves be real with a gay (or bi, trans, etc.) roommate.

4.  Others have known.  Also, I've had many roommates I didn't come out to.  That's okay, too.  You don't have to come out to everyone.  Heck, you don't even have to come out to anyone.  When it comes to coming out, you're in the driver's seat (much of the time).  You're the one who gets to choose and do what you think is best.

Anyway, best wishes for those considering coming out to roommates.  If you've built a relationship of trust with each other, and if you try to be real with them, they're probably more likely to be real with you.  Their reactions and actions just might surprise you.

(Sadly enough, not all stories are as nice as the ones I've shared above.  Maybe you've read about one of them this week.  God bless those whose situations aren't so easy.  I hope this sense of "easiness" in my post/many of my experiences doesn't minimize the pain of their experiences.)


  1. The most interesting thing about your post was that you could even actually consider coming out to a mission companion. No way when I was a missionary. Just goes to show how much things have changed in 25 years.

  2. I'm happy that you came out to a trainee of yours/my boyfriend. That was brave of you, and I'm just happy to have a sane, open-minded boyfriend. :D

  3. @ ControllerOne--it is pretty amazing how things are changing, huh? I count myself lucky to live in a time where we can be as open as we are. Maybe we all should--while still expecting the world to get better for us.

    @ AKB: I am happy, too. Your boyfriend was a wonderful mission companion. We're both lucky to know him. If it weren't for you, I maybe never would have come out to him.