Over the course of the semester, we have received a series of anonymous tips from (presumably) the same first-year concerning coming out to their roommate. With Queer Awareness Month behind us, we saw it fit to address one of the many LGBTQ-specific issues often faced by members of our community. You can find the series of tips, as well as Deputy Editor Mason Amelotte’s in-depth response, below.
Sep. 14: I’m a freshman and my roommate doesn’t know I’m gay. What should I do?
Oct. 10: It’s been 6 weeks, and I still haven’t come out to my roommate. The more time passes, the more awkward it’ll be when I eventually tell him. What should I do? –Confused In Carman
Oct. 27: What do I do about my roommate? Now he has a girlfriend and they have disgusting str8 sex all the time! How am I supposed to deal with this?
Dear Confused in Carman,
We would first like to assure you that you are not alone in your experience. There exist dozens, if not hundreds, of other male undergrads here who have undergone similar experiences, some of whom are even on Bwog! To offer some perspective, of the ~6,000 undergrads enrolled in CC or SEAS, 300 are likely gay men (statistically speaking), a number that grows if you take into account (1) the fact we live in New York City and (2) Lady Gaga’s apartment is only a fifteen minute subway ride away. Don’t think that you are alone in your struggle, because quite the opposite is true.
There are plenty of reasons for not wanting to come out to a roommate. Maybe you fear rejection, or that he won’t treat you the same afterwards. Maybe you thought it wasn’t a pressing issue early on, and that you would deal with it later. Maybe you’re afraid of being outed, or you don’t know how to initiate the conversation. Maybe your roommate grew up in a home with conservative political or religious beliefs. Maybe your roommate is homophobic. Maybe you suspect your roommate might be homophobic. Maybe you fear coming out in general.
Regardless of your reason for not yet telling your roommate, you’re still valid in feeling confused and anxious about the situation. We acknowledge how burdensome hiding a part of one’s identity from others can be. This burden can be overwhelming when you live with those “others,” and even more so when you share a bedroom with them. We applaud you for carrying this burden thus far.
We’ve compiled two sets of suggestions that might help you move forward. In the event you are ready to rid yourself of this burden, we thought up some ways you might go about telling your roommate that you’re gay. However, in the event that you’re not ready to come out just yet, we have also listed a variety of resources available to undergrads at Columbia that can address the situation better than a simple Ask Bwog post can.
One option is telling your roommate directly. This can be initiated in-person, in private, in public, face-to-face, over text, or even through your RA at a moderated meeting. The biggest thing about this option is simply swallowing your fear for the amount of time it takes you to say exactly what you want to say, and then moving forward from there. Understandably, this option can also be the most volatile, as it doesn’t really give your roommate ample time to process both facts and emotions.
An alternative to the first option is telling your roommate indirectly. These tend to be more fun, as they can include props or third parties.
- Ask someone (anyone, really) to gauge your roommate’s opinion on gay men.
- Tell a mutual friend to tell your roommate for you
- Tell his girlfriend first and have her do the dirty work
- Ask your RA to bring it up to him
- Bring it up one night when you’re alone together drunk and see how he reacts (though be sure to follow up in the event he’s blackout!)
- Mention your attraction to men (or a single specific man), or a previous relationship with a man, in passing conversation
- Write him a letter before he returns from class or the library and leave it on his bed before relocating somewhere else (giving him enough private time to read)
In the event you think all our advice sucks or you’re still not ready to tell him (which is okay, too), we’ve provided some resources below that may have some value moving forward. We hope you come to peace with your situation, and please keep us updated at firstname.lastname@example.org!!!
Columbia Queer Alliance
“An activist and social space for queer and trans students and their allies from the four undergraduate colleges.”
“The LGBT Organization of Barnard College but is open to students of all school affiliations, sexual orientations, and gender identities. Q provides a safe space for queer students to meet, mix, mingle, and come together as a community.”
Counseling and Psychological Services
“Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS) supports the psychological and emotional well-being of the campus community by providing counseling, consultation and crisis intervention — all of which adhere to strict standards of confidentiality. Counseling and Psychological Services offers short-term individual counseling, referrals for longer-term therapy, student-life support groups, medication consultation, and emergency consultation.”
Gay Health Advocacy Project
“From its inception, GHAP has recognized the connections among physical health and social or psychological well-being. In addition to developing an intensive training program for the volunteer Advocates who carry out pre- and post-HIV antibody test counseling, GHAP has sponsored support groups, conferences, a mentoring program, educational talks, and workshops for the Columbia community.”
Office of Multicultural Affairs
“Makes sure that all student concerns are heard and helps students determine what course of action is available to them to resolve their concern. Works with students, faculty, and staff to facilitate effective responses to incidences of conflict, bias, or injustice.”
LGBTQ Open Houses
“A semesterly open house to learn more about LGBTQ resources and how to get involved in LGBTQ life at Columbia University.”
LGBTQ Family Tree
“A branch of the Columbia Mentoring Initiative where students can find a peer mentor or serve as a peer mentor to first year students.”
Coming Out Support Group
“A support group that offers space for students interested in discussing coming out issues with peers and staff facilitators from Columbia Health and Office of Multicultural Affairs. From time to time, when there is student interest, CPS offers support groups and other special programs for LGBTQ students. We welcome hearing from student groups who would like to partner with us in developing programs to serve the LGBTQ community. Contact our Associate Director for Outreach, Dr. Anne Goldfield, at email@example.com.”
Chat and Chew with Chris
“LGBTQ+ students are invited to join LGBTQ @ Columbia for dinner and discussion addressing university policies that impact LGBTQ+ life and well-being. This program is open to students from any year.”
Lovers Or Friends? via Shutterstock