By Georgi Georgiev
A question that might appear quite frivolous on the surface, but is, in fact, an important one to ask. Essentially, it can be rephrased as: how could I possibly know something so personal about someone without jumping to conclusions? Sometimes it could be comforting to be able to answer such a question. This is especially true for members of the LGBTQ+ community who come from intolerant or homophobic countries. Finding someone to share similar experiences with is invaluable in such cases. How do you start such a conversation without asking yourself the abovementioned question first? Here’s some advice for anyone who wants to escape the awkward silence between “Are you gay?” and “I just met you…”1
It’s crucial to realise that your greatest asset is language. If it feels too awkward to ask direct questions, ask indirect ones. Perhaps a mention of a meet-up or a film night might lead to a conversation about who’s invited. Maybe that could also be a good time to play absent-minded and ask if someone who they mentioned is their boyfriend/girlfriend. That opens up the opportunity for them to potentially tell you whether they’re straight or not. Of course, this conversation could lead to many other outcomes (including the dreaded awkward silence). Luckily, there is more to communication than pretending you’ve misunderstood someone.
People in the LGBTQ+ community are usually very supportive, so if you let them know you’re gay, they would generally be just as happy to share their own experiences. You might mention an ex-boyfriend or a male actor you’ve found particularly attractive in the 1951 adaptation of ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ (I’ll leave that for you to find out). You’ll be surprised at the amount of people who are willing to reach out and tell you all about the monochromatic appeal of 90’s actors.
If all of this doesn’t work out, there are two other last-resort options to consider. You could always approach a friend of the friend and ask them instead or maybe even write an online article that requires specific knowledge about the gay community, hoping other people approach you first instead of having to do all that work yourself. I don’t think the last two pieces of advice need much explanation.
Whatever the case, you may discover that by the end of the process you’ve come to know more than a simple statement of facts about the person’s sexuality or the name of that one hot actor in ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’. There is, of course, so much more to a person than their gender, but that might sometimes be the right topic that we shouldn’t fear to address or discuss.