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I think most gay men would agree with me one of the biggest dating challenges unique to the LGBTQ+ community is the whole riddle of the “closet.”
Some guys are in it, and some guys aren’t. Some men kind of just chill there for five days a week and then parade out of it on the wings of a feather boa when Saturday rolls around.
Others are kind of perpetually half-in and half-out, depending on their whereabouts. Some are out to their iPhones only (cough, Grindr, ‘achoo). And then there are those dudes who basically live in Narnia.
So where should the closet door be on your radar when you decide to start actively dating?
The only time it’s acceptable to date while still closeted is when Lindsay Lohan speaks eloquently about global politics while sipping on something nonalcoholic. Or more simply, never.
This may be a controversial stance, but jumping into the dating pool and splashing other gay men with your yet-to-be-explored emotional issues before actually experiencing life as an out gay man yourself is simply irresponsible.
Am I projecting here a little? Maybe.
The last (literally, last) time I dated a guy who was still in the closet, things went down a road I’ll just say was not ideal.
“Really coming to terms with who you are
on your own is a liberating experience.”
We had a great time on our dates, yet I could tell there was a part of him actively attempting to create a whole air of “We’re just two bros having guy time” around us.
Then in private, we’d be pretty much the opposite of two bros having guy time (unless two bros having guy time involves heavy amounts of making out and crotch groping, in which case, I guess we would fit the description pretty accurately).
Then one day I wrote on his Facebook wall and he instantly deleted it, because of course a random post from a gay dude would have indicated to all of his friends that he himself is one.
Being kept a secret was not fun for me and certainly didn’t help my self-esteem, so I promptly broke things off.
The worst part is had this guy been out of the closet in the first place, it would have been a non-issue and maybe we’d have ended up adopting a Guatemalan baby and getting married in Maine or something — I mean, I don’t know.
What I do know, though, is expecting to be able to healthily date other men when you’re still not out of the closet is a lot like trying to have a dog when you live in a pet-free apartment building.
You’ll be a slave to sneaking around, you’ll always be afraid of your landlord finding you out, and your relationship with your dog will suffer because in his head he’ll be thinking, “Why are you always hiding me from your friends/neighbors/landlord? WHY DON’T YOU LOVE ME?!”
(Did I just compare myself to a dog in this scenario? Maybe this metaphor was a bad idea.)
But my personal experiences aside, you really should come out before going out simply for your own health and sanity.
Getting all of the uncomfortable “I’m gay!” fanfare out of the way and really coming to terms with who you are on your own and standing in your truth is a liberating experience that will enrich all aspects of your life — especially your dating endeavors, wherever they may lead.
How did you handle coming out of the closet?