Dear Ask a gay,
How do you ask someone if they’re gay without offending them?
I think I brushed this topic in another post but I saw this question on twitter and thought I would take it head on.
Sadly, we can be kind of uptight, we humans. If you ask someone point blank, you are risking showing off either your preconceived notions or airing their prejudices and that can be awkward. It’s a tad bit more confrontational than some folks like to be. You may also be doing a premature outing which can help someone to speed along their self-discovery but can be messy at the same time. Some gays need a little bit more closet time than others before getting all of that light shed on them. You may end up with flat out denial, anger, or a friend on a nasty bender destined to end in ill-advised drunken straight sex. Or that may have just been me.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself before going down this road:
1. Why do you want to know?
2. Are YOU gay? (see how I just asked you point blank…I’m breaking down barriers)
3. Are you at a family reunion and feel like outing your cousin because you’ve had too much wine?
4. Are you in Texas or other hostile environments? The army? Baptist revival?
5. How do you feel about gay people?
a. Best thing in the world to be!
b. Just fine with it.
d. You completely don’t understand why someone would want that but hey, it’s their life.
e. You are asking because if they say yes, you are really gonna be a real d-bag about it.
After examining your motives, location, and attitude you should be able to better assess whether it’s a question to ask or whether you may be better off waiting it out for a bit. If you are asking because you think it’s a pretty awful thing this whole “gay thing” and you want to air your views or if you are asking because if they are gay you really want to “save them”, then you probably should write me and ask another question. I would suggest you ask, “How can I become more accepting of other people’s differences?” I will hit that question out of the park.
So let’s say you still want to ask? Great! Maybe you want to ask someone on a date? Is he a cutie at the gym? Do you want to set a girl up on a date with your awesome lesbian friend? If you have an awesome lesbian friend, maybe set her up with me? I’m gay. Anyway! A few tips. First, sometimes a person will be trying to put a certain vibe out there, so if you are getting a certain vibe, then use some instincts. Second, if a person has a liberal attitude and hangs in some diverse circles, then if you ask and they aren’t, they will be likely be fine with it. Even if they aren’t, most liberals have to pretend they are fine. If they listen to enough NPR then you can ask pretty much any darn thing and they have to be fine in order to maintain the label, “wordly”. If it’s a tougher case—it might seem squirrelly—but I say drop hints and put an open attitude out there. Weird thing about this? It isn’t much different than sussing anyone out. You put out some feelers and then check the look on their face. Example: “I would love to have coffee but I would be late for my gun club…” And you could be trying to ask a much more offensive question than “are you gay”. What if you were a raging bigot and you wanted to make new bigot friends. You pepper your talk with some off-color jokes, mention Confederate flags and how great Lynyrd Skynyrd is. Really, asking someone if they are gay is the much better question. It’s positive! You are asking, “Who do you love? Who in this room are you checking out?” Some people are out there trying to work into conversation, “who do you hate?” Jerks.
Final note: I was looking for a picture of someone with a rainbow flag and found a picture of two guys together that was just the cutest and it linked me to the Religious News Service. Tricky. On the front page there is a quote of the day and it is from a Reverend from Georgetown University talking about how he used to hug kids after Mass but doesn’t any more because of the Catholic Church sex scandal. I don’t believe hugging was the problem. Also if you no longer hug kids because you fear that parents and children alike would no longer trust you or your motives then isn’t that a problem? Stay tuned for a future post where I compare priests to lawyers. “Sure I keep him around in case I get into a pinch with the law but I don’t trust him any further than I can throw him.”