We’ve all encountered the same situation. You have a friend who you suspect is gay or lesbian, but you struggle to tell whether your hunch is accurate. On one hand, it’s none of your business and it should not matter either way. On the other hand, it’s perfectly natural to be curious and nosy. Sure, you could start prying to find out, but it’s better not to - and probably more effective - to observe and deduce what you can without needing to verbalize it.
One thing to remember while going through this journey is that everyone’s sexuality is private and should not be discussed without their consent. And even if they talk about it in passing, it’s important to be respectful and non-judgemental of whatever alignment(s) they identify with. To determine the truth requires a keen eye and the ability to read between the lines.
The first and arguably most effective way to unearth the truth is to look for any visual clues. If your friend identifies as gay or lesbian, then they’re likely going to do something that expresses that through physicality – like wearing rainbow gear, or rocking an outfit deemed too 'alternative' for a straight person. This is by no means an absolute truth, of course, since not every queer person wants to make a statement with their attire. Some may be out and proud, whilst others prefer to stay in the closet and may naturally be inclined to the less ostentatious end of the spectrum.
What’s far easier to spot, though, is if they wear certain clothing dedicated to LGBTQ+ organizations, collectives, or celebrities. It’s almost impossible not to notice if they wear a shirt with a double entendre slogan that reads “I like boys… and basketball!” Some pairs of shoes tend to lend themselves to a stereotype, as well. So if they’re wearing casual skate shoes, giant chunky Doc Martens, or a pair of Converse that all point to a certain preference, then your mystery may have been solved.
However, visual cues aren’t the only way to discern your friend’s sexuality. Have a look at their social circles and see if there’s anyone in particular that catches your eye. This could be a male, female, or nonbinary individual that makes regular appearances in stories, posts, and photographs. If it seems like they hang out every weekend, then there’s a chance you’ve noticed a bit of a deeper connection there.
Be careful not to jump to conclusions too quickly though; there may be an innocent explanation as to why they spend so much time together. Make sure to be aware of the potential consequences of asking questions and taking the issue further. Besides, everyone’s sexuality is valid, regardless of whether it’s labeled or not. Turned out, your friend is just bi or pansexual? That’s fine too!
Assuming your hunch is correct and your friend is gay, then there may be subtle signs that you can watch out for. For example, why do they frequently go to places and functions that are specifically centric to the LGBT+ community (such as clubs, support groups and conventions)? Do they ever show signs of passivity or anxiety when talking about a potential heterosexual liaison? How often do they bring up members of the same sex in conversation?
If you’re now aware that you’re scanning for signs of their sexuality, then at least try to remain conscious and not let it completely cloud how you interact with them. Don’t tease, judge or make assumptions either, as what you think you know may not be the complete picture. As with everything, it’s best to go in with open arms, an open mind and above all, respect. Hopefully, your hunches are accurate and your friend will appreciate being one step closer to discovery and self-actualization. If nothing else, it’ll lead to some interesting conversations and new understandings.
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