Gay, but afraid to say it

Originally Published: February 1, 1994 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: August 28, 2009
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Dear Alice,

I am gay, but I am afraid of saying it. Until now I haven't had sexual intercourse with other men but I am looking forward to it each time I masturbate. What can I do?

—Nonintercourse

Dear Nonintercourse,

It sounds like you're preparing to come out, a process that can be both exciting and scary. A good first step to coming out might include getting involved in your local gay community and meeting other gay people. This could include joining a LGBT-related group in your school or town. Getting involved allows you to get to know other gay people who know how the closet feels, and may help to reduce your coming out fears. 

Having positive interactions with other gay people can help you feel more comfortable with your sexuality, and may make coming out more comfortable. It may also help to speak with close friends or family members, gay or otherwise, who you trust and know will be very supportive and encouraging of your decision to come out. Other tips might include starting slow by letting a few people know at a time, giving them time to get adjusted and comfortable with the news, and being prepared for a variety of reactions, positive or negative.

If you would like to talk with someone about what you're feeling, consider contacting the Gay and Lesbian National Hotline, a nationwide toll-free peer counseling, information, and referral line, at 1.888.GLNH (843.4564). They can also provide you with listings of gay-friendly organizations where you live.

If you're a Columbia student, you can make an appointment to speak with someone at Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS) by calling x4-2878. You may also want to think about getting involved with Columbia Queer Alliance, an on-campus organization that offers a variety of resources and activities for the GLBT community. If you are not at Columbia, check out the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) for information about schools near you with active groups.

Remember that you are not alone in coming out and being gay is more than just the gender of your sexual partners. You may want to check out the related Q&A's below to see how other readers have dealt with similar situations.

Alice