This page is devoted to supporting our LGBTQ students on campus and is organized into sections. The first section is for people who have, or believe they might have a gay, lesbian or bisexual roommate. There are also sections for friends and family members.
So you have or suspect that your roommate is gay, lesbian or bisexual? The information below is a good guide to assist you with information and what to do with the new information. Coming out to you is a strong indication of trust in you as a person.
In the residence hall environment, we interact daily with a wide variety of people. Statistics have shown that at least 10% of the general population consider themselves to be lesbian or gay, and many more consider themselves to be bisexual. It is very likely that you will meet individuals who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender (GLBT) during your time at college.
Why do gay people seem to flaunt their sexuality?
"What people do in their bedrooms is their own business, but I saw two guys walking across campus holding hands." One of the worst forms of oppression for a human being is to be denied emotional expression. Curiously, it is called "expressing love" when heterosexuals hold hands, but "flaunting" when gays and lesbians express love. How would heterosexuals react if they could not hold hands, kiss, dance together, go to romantic dinners, or be married? Gays and lesbians who are open with their affection are not trying to shock others, but are just doing what is natural to them and others.
What should I do if a friend tells me that he or she is gay? What does that say about me?
Most GLBT people who "come out" would like the same sincere acceptance and encouragement you might want when you tell a friend something special about yourself. Because of many people's "homophobic" attitude (fear and derision of same sex relationships), many gays are afraid of rejection from their friends. You might first honestly ask yourself how you feel about this news and then discuss it as a caring friend. Some people who find out a close friend is GLBTQ wonder "What does that mean about me?" This is a natural reaction. What it probably means is that your friend trusts you very much. However, liking someone gay does not make you gay any more than liking someone smart makes you smart.
If my roommate "comes out" to me, does that mean she or he thinks that I'm gay too? Is it a proposition for sex?
There is a big difference between "coming out" and "coming on." As discussed above, most gay people who come out want to be accepted, not hassled. Sometimes a gay person might "come on" to you, tell you they are attracted to you, or want an intimate relationship with you. You can handle it in the same manner that you would handle a heterosexual approach. Gay love is as serious and legitimate as heterosexual love. Again, you should discuss it with your friend.
If I accept my GLBTQ roommate, will he or she bring in lots of GLBTQ friends and push me out?
A formerly taboo subject will be out in the open. You may feel uncomfortable from a lack of experience dealing with gay people who are not "closeted." The GLBT friends should respect non-GLBT people just as GLBT people expect to be respected. Visits by GLBT folks are a good opportunity to learn about this large and diverse segment of the population. However, be cautious about presuming that all of your roommate's friends are GLBT. His or her best friends may be straight.
Won't my friends or parents think I'm gay if I have a gay roommate or friend or publicly support gay people?
Defending equal rights for gays is often a courageous stance to take. Some people may conclude that such a person has a vested interest to do so. It is up to you whether you feel that the people you are defending are worth the risk of occasional accusations or assumptions by others. Remember that a word from heterosexual friends and allies in defense of support of gay rights can go a long way to help change people's minds.
Now that I know my roommate is gay, I don't feel comfortable about nudity, showering, dressing, etc.
More than likely, you have been living together long enough to trust each other. There is no reason for the trust to diminish now. Your roommate has been gay or lesbian all along. Bear in mind that gays are not always comfortable with non-gays either. Gay people, just like straight people, are attracted to certain types of folks. Most gays and lesbians are not sexually interested in heterosexuals, just as the reverse it true.
Coming out for a student at a college or university can be challenging, especially if you are no longer immediately located near the student.
For families, the PFLAG organization (Parents and Families of Lesbians and Gays) is an excellent organization that focuses on support, education, advocacy and information for family members. You can reach them at www.pflag.org.
In addition, here are two links to sites that talk about what to expect now that your student is coming out and may answer some questions for you.
In addition, this link is a PDF file of a brochure for families and friends when a student has come out to you: https://www.pflag.org/fileadmin/user_upload/Publications/Daughters_Sons.pdf
Adopted from: WOU Safe Zones