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Auntie SparkNotes: How Should I Come Out to My BFF?

Auntie SparkNotes: How Should I Come Out to My BFF?

Kat Rosenfield

Dear Auntie Sparknotes,

I'm pretty sure I'm homoflexible or at the very least bisexual. I've been struggling with these feelings my whole life and have kept them firmly in the naughty-closet where I was convinced they belonged because I was raised in a conservative Christian household and didn't want to disappoint my family, and I still don't BUT I have kinda accepted my feelings as a part of me now. Neither good nor bad, but there they are. Yay semi-self-acceptance. Still not going to come out though because conservative Christian family will think I'm broken and send me for counseling (I'm not joking, that's how these things are dealt with in this community).

But I hate the fact that no one in my life actually knows me and that I'm not being authentic to myself. I know that one's sexual orientation is not one's entire identity but I'm actually not all that attracted to guys. I've found one or two very attractive but that is a rare occurrence. Women, however, I find extremely attractive, and it is getting more difficult to hide that, mainly because I don't really want to, though I've never experimented with any women other than platonic hand-holding and playful flirting.

So, I've thought about who in my life I could talk to about this and I can only think of one person: my best friend. Problem is, I've had a huge crush on her for the past 3 years and while I have worked through my feelings for her and don't want a romantic relationship with her so I'm not going to talk to her about my feelings towards her unless she asks directly, I do want to tell her that I'm not very straight. But I'm quite honestly terrified, so I would appreciate tips on how to approach this situation, please.

Fortunately, Sparkler, this isn't too complicated. Because when you're not sure what kind of reaction you're going to get (as it seems you are in this case), the best way to approach a coming-out situation is obliquely—by first broaching the subject generally, rather than personally.

You, bursting out of an actual closet, wearing a rainbow thong leotard and a unicorn head: I'm gaaaaay!

You, casually and in the course of normal conversation: Did you see that pic of Ellen Page and Emma Portner on her insta? They're such a cute couple.

Because from there, it's just a matter of seeing what your friend says in response. If she agrees that Ellen and Emma are, indeed, #relationshipgoals, then you can segue into talking about, say, how brave Ellen's coming-out speech was back in 2014, and (is your friend still nodding along? Does she still seem supportive?) how watching the arc of her life has given you hope, and helped you be comfortable with the realization that you're maybe not entirely straight.

And that's not to say the "wrong approach" is wrong in any objective sense (it's not, and in fact, if you ever want to come out that way, I hope you'll do it… and please send video). But when you're nervous about bringing something up, coming at it sideways like this accomplishes two things: first, it allows you to kinda ease into it instead of making a huge, scary, un-take-back-able decree about your orientation all at once. And second, it gives your friend a chance to come out herself—as either an open-minded source of support or, alas, a homophobic jerk. If she's the latter, it's better you find out before you give her access to your most closely-guarded personal truth… because it's also probably better in that case not to give her access.

With that said, one last word of advice: Before you take this step forward, ask yourself if you're really, truly, one-hundred-percentedly sure that you're not still harboring romantic feelings for your friend, and that you're not looking to come out to her because it'll give you an opportunity to test the waters there. Not because you can't or shouldn't tell her the truth under those circumstances, but because you need to be honest with yourself about what you're really hoping to accomplish. The difference between simply coming out to a person versus confessing to having (or having had) feelings for them is that the latter puts your friend in a complicated position if she doesn't reciprocate—one where she's torn between wanting to support you but not wanting to encourage you to pursue her romantically. So if your crush is legitimately a done deal, and there's nothing to be gained by telling her about it, I'd gently suggest saving that little revelation for a later date.

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Topics: Life
Tags: auntie sparknotes, crushes, bffs, advice, coming out, bisexuality, best friends, sexual orientation, tough topics, how to come out, coming out as gay, conservative parents

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About the Author

Kat Rosenfield is a writer, illustrator, advice columnist, YA author, and enthusiastic licker of that plastic liner that comes inside a box of Cheez-Its. She loves zombies and cats. She hates zombie cats. Follow her on Twitter or Tumblr @katrosenfield.

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