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Ask Dr. Jay

by Dr. Jay Nagdimon
June 1996

Dear Dr. Jay,

I've got this problem. I have this friend who I've known for almost two years. He's really good-looking but I don't know if he's gay or not. Whenever the subject comes up he sometimes says negative things but sometimes he doesn't. Then last Saturday we were at a movie and his leg was touching mine. At first I thought it was just an accident but then he kept it there. I kept thinking that maybe he is trying to start something but is too scared to, just like me. Is there any way to tell if someone is gay?

I don't know what to do. If I come out to him, he might be disgusted and that would end our friendship. But if he is gay and he likes me too, then I would never find out if I didn't tell him. What should I do?

-- Desperately Hoping


Dear Desperately Hoping,

It's difficult to really know if a person is gay unless you take the plunge and ask him or her. However, you might be able to improve your odds. Remember: the following hints are not guaranteed.

  1. Which sex does the person automatically look at. In Los Angeles, where I come from, people sometimes try taking a person to the beach just to see where their eyes wander. You can do that anywhere. Who does the person tend to talk about? If the person is a guy, does he get crushes on girls or does he seem indifferent?

  2. How does the person react to the topic of homosexuality? While it's true that sometimes gay people can be very homophobic before they come out of the closet, often a closeted gay person can be somewhat neutral on the topic of homosexuality. If the person doesn't really mind gay people, then you can feel more confident that the person will react well to your coming out.

  3. Watching for stereotypical behaviors is more risky. There are some very effeminate straight males, and very masculine gay males. Still, the stereotypes came from somewhere and many people use them to make a guess about a person. Personally I've noticed that very few gay men follow professional sports such as football and baseball ..... although some do....

One last thing. From your letter it sounds like you have a crush on your friend. Sometimes our strong wants tends to interfere with our good judgment. If you do decide to come out to him (and he turns out to be straight), you might hold off on expressing your romantic feelings for a while. If he is not gay himself, he may need some time just getting used to the idea that you are gay.

Good luck,

Dr. Jay


Jay Nagdimon, Ph.D. was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. His early involvements included six years of volunteering at the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center's Youth Department. Jay worked on the Gay and Lesbian Youth Talkline, both as a volunteer and later as a trainer of new volunteers. He also was very involved in the Center's Pen Pal Program and youth newsletter.

You can e-mail Dr. Jay at DrJay@oasismag.com. He will try his best to respond to everyone, depending upon the volume of mail received.


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