By Matt Galletta
I’m bi and in the closet. I’m pretty sure that most of my friends and family would be alright with me not being straight, but I was in my 30s and in a great straight relationship when I realized the truth about myself. There’s no good way to slip “I’m bi” into a conversation, so I’ve only come out to my girlfriend and a couple close friends. Mostly, I’ve accepted the way things are, even though it’s awkward when people assume I’m straight, but I have this one gay friend who makes passes at me constantly. He’s joking and doesn’t know I’m bi, so I tried my best to brush it off. A few weeks ago, though, I snapped and asked him to cut it out, and he accused me of being homophobic. I consider him to be one of my closest friends, so there’s a part of me that thinks I should tell him the truth, but I’m worried that coming out after all this time–it’s been years–will just make things worse.
-Late Great Bi Trouble
First off, I’m no expert in LGBT culture, but I think this is a universal rule: If someone is hitting on you, you have the right to tell him/her to stop. Even if you’ve laughed it off in the past.
Let’s look at a more stereotypical situation here instead: Imagine some guy who is constantly hitting on his female friends. He’s “just joking,” but one of his friends gets tired of it and tells him to cut it out. He gets mad and calls her some not-so-great name. Is it now the friend’s responsibility to reach out and try to make amends with the guy?
Well, no. This guy needs to step up and apologize. And switching around genders and orientations from this hypothetical situation to match what happened with your friend should make no difference. While it’s understandable that he got mad at you in the moment–nobody likes being told they’re acting like an ass, even if it’s true–he should have cooled off and then apologized for the homophobe comment, and also for constantly hitting on you.
You claim that this guy is one of your closest friends, but is that just misplaced guilt talking? I notice that he’s not among the “couple close friends” you’ve already told. For one reason or another, he didn’t make the cut when you first started telling people you’re bi. (Maybe because he’s an ass who hits on you constantly, who knows.) The only reason you seem to have for coming out to him now is to fix what happened during this argument you two had, and that doesn’t feel like the best reason to divulge something that you’re keeping, for the most part, private.
Besides, I don’t think disclosing your bisexuality is such a great counter to the homophobe accusation anyway. There are plenty of folks some flavor of LGBT who are also homophobic. If you don’t believe me, just ask the next Republican senator you meet lurking in a public bathroom.
If your friend apologizes for being an ass, great. If you want to broach the subject with something like, “I don’t appreciate being called a homophobe just because I don’t want you hitting on me constantly,” and he’s willing to talk about it, great. But until then, whether or not you’re bi, and whether or not he knows about it, is beside the point.
Have a question for Matt? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Matt Galletta lives in upstate New York with his wife and daughter. His work has appeared in Paper Tape, Falling Star, Up the River, and the anthology A Six Pack of Stories: Short Stories To Read With a Beer in Hand. His poetry collection The Ship is Sinking was published by Epic Rites Press in 2014. Find him at mattgalletta.com.