Thursday, June 18, 2009

Can You Tell if a Guy is Gay?

I really need help. I am a straight female who is trying to figure out if the guy I am dating might be possibly gay or bi? I went out on a couple of dates with a really nice, cute, tall and lovely guy. A very hard combination to find. We connect on so many levels and it’s funny we have so much in common, from best and worst food to point of view on life. However, there is a slight problem, or so I think. At times, I feel he is gay, or bi? I don’t know why, I mean I asked if he is bi and he said no. But, he mentioned how his father disapproved of gay people. I have been trying to check out if he looks at other guys, but it’s been a couple of dates so it’s too soon. The reason I have a slight feeling he might be bi or gay is that at times he acts and makes faces which are very much different than what I have observed straight men to do. I really hate generalizing and I hope I don’t offend anyone, I am just trying to describe the situation and how I perceive it. I have observed a couple of times during each date his gestures and facial expressions are different than the straight men I know and have dated. I have a lot of feminine straight men friends, but he is different, or so I think. But those times are a few. Could he be acting (faking) straight? I mean he is 29, shouldn't he already know if he is attracted to men or both sexes? Am I paranoid? I think during our 3rd date something about gay culture came up and I almost asked him the big question in a very humorous and relaxed kind of way and he seemed like he was offended. But then why when I talk about guys, and he says, “Well, I don’t know I haven’t dated a guy,” it seems like he is trying to reassure me. How on earth do I find out if a guy is gay or bi if he is hiding it? I know this is a weird question, but please help. Straight Gal Needs Help.

It's not a weird question -- it's one that quite a few straight women wrestle with these days. The difficult truth is that it can almost be impossible to tell if someone is gay/bi or not. To begin with, let's get certain things out of the way. You seem to be aware that straight men can sometimes come off as a little feminine/effeminate, and you're probably aware that the vast majority of gay men are not only not effeminate but don't conform to the usual stereotypes [not to suggest that there aren't a certain percentage who do]. When some people say they can always tell if a guy is gay, it's generally because they think in terms of stereotypes.

Now let's look at the "evidence" you have for thinking this guy might be gay. which is not that he seems a bit feminine but that he makes odd faces and certain gestures, which you say are different from that of straight guys, including straight guys who are a bit feminine. I'm not certain if you're implying this guy is out and out girlish, or perhaps a bit nerdy, or something that you don't necessarily associate with homosexuality but you definitely don't associate with heterosexuality. But remember that straight guys come in all shapes and sizes and what-not just as gay men do. There are macho, uncouth baseball loving straight guys, and cultured well-dressed straight men who prefer the symphony to sports.

I remember having a friend who used to giggle and crinkle his nose in a way that I thought of as girlish. Was he gay? Who knows? I never had sex with him, and in those early days I wasn't about to ask him. He could have been, but there's also a good chance that he wasn't and simply picked up certain mannerisms from female relatives he was close to.

Is it possible that the thing that's getting on your nerves is that you think, to bowdlerize Shakespeare, that "he doth protest too much?" Perhaps he takes too many opportunities to deny homosexual feelings, whereas a straight guy wouldn't bother. But that may not mean he's gay -- he might just be very insecure.

Even at 29 there are gay/bi men who are conflicted over their sexuality. He would probably know if he's attracted to men, but due to what we call internalized homophobia -- an inability to accept one's sexual orientation -- he might repress these feelings or be in serious self-denial over them. I have known straight men who laugh about the fact that some people think they're gay for one reason or another -- it's no big problem for them -- but obviously these men are not insecure. Some men who can't accept their sexuality not only fake being straight but practically convince themselves that they are. To add to the confusion, there are even men who go out on a regular basis seeking male sex partners, but because they live straight lives with wives and children identify as heterosexual. They have sex with men because they're gay/bi, but their internalized homophobia not only keeps them in the closet but prevents them from facing the truth about themselves.

[Now do you see how difficult it is to figure out someone's sexual orientation?]

But getting back to the guy you're dating. Clearly there is something about him that is troubling you. Maybe it's the way he says it when he says he isn't bi -- for some reason you're not buying it [no pun intended]. Maybe he says things in a way that reminds you subconsciously of a gay guy you know or once knew. Maybe it's just paranoia or the guy seems so perfect for you that you're just convinced that there's got to be something "wrong."

Modern-day thinking about bisexuality [not that I agree with all of it] suggests that a genuinely bisexual man can have a real relationship with a woman, but that woman might always worry if the guy is really bi or just kidding himself, or if his attraction to women, real as it may be, can't compare to his feelings for other guys. And of course, I don't have to tell you how unrealistic mixed marriages can be between gay men and straight women.

I get that you're very much into this guy, and need to find out what's what before you get in too deep. The only advice I can give you is to keep on dating him, and see what happens. If he's struggling to accept himself and come out, he may eventually do so, hopefully before you're picking out china patterns.

Or he may turn out to be just a perfectly nice straight guy. They do exist. Straight men who have positive attitudes toward women and themselves, and aren't "macho meatheads." [Conversely, I have met gay guys who are "macho meatheads." You never know.]

I'm rootin' for ya!

No comments: