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My partner and I have been together one and a half years. He had never been with a man prior to me. My boyfriend has put off telling his family and his close friends that he is gay. I firmly believe that there is no right moment to come out and that everyone has to do it at his own pace. I've told him that he will know when the time is right, and I will do anything I can to support him, but he really gets down on himself and believes he's being dishonest with the people closest to him. I don't think he fears losing these people, he just needs a means short of "the pot roast is great--I'm gay--pass the salt" to move forward. Any suggestions?

--Fan in Philadelphia

Your boyfriend has a mouth, he has a tongue, he has vocal cords: he doesn't lack the "means" to come out. What he lacks is courage, and your coddling won't help him find it. Stop cheering your boyfriend up--no more when-the-time-is-right-honey, at-your-own-pace-sweetheart, you-can-count-on-me-for-support bullshit. Let him be down on himself, FIP, because he should be down on himself. He is being dishonest, and his chickenshit closet-case games require you to be dishonest too. Maybe that wasn't too much to ask at the beginning of this relationship, when he may not have been sure he was gay, but it's time for the games to end. Sit his ass down, wag your finger, and give him a reasonable deadline (say, three months) to tell his mommy, daddy, and friends the awful truth.

I am a 20-year-old gay male living in Philadelphia. I've been out since I was 15, but I don't go around with a "fag flag" nailed to my chest, and I'm not attracted to guys who are femmy. But most guys who are str8 acting are actually str8. I've found guys in their 30s who are gay and str8 acting, so why can't I meet someone in their 20s who's the same?

--Helpless & Hopeless

Some guys are sissies and will be sissies all their lives--and more power to them, I say. I adore sissies, especially big, muscle-bound sissies who make straight guys feel uncomfortable using showers at the gym. But some guys who won't be sissies all their lives go through a sissy phase when they first come out. They want the world to know they're gay, and acting like a sissy is a pretty effective way to tell the world. Most of these guys calm down by the time they're 30, if for no other reason than playing the sissy is not as attractive at 35 as it is at 18.

In the meantime, H&H, there are str8-acting--blech to that phrase, BTW--20-year-olds out there. You probably walk past them every day without realizing they're gay, and since you're such a butch little number these straight actors walk past you without realizing you're gay. It's a catch-22. The fastest way to let other straight actors know you're gay is by acting a little less straight yourself, or by nailing a fag flag--or a button, or a T-shirt--to your chest.

I am a gay man and have had a great friendship with a guy who had always professed to be straight. Then one night three years ago he "slept over." He happens to be married, which I knew when we started "having fun," and has three kids. It was his idea to "sleep over," so I have no guilt complex, but he tends to visit, ejaculate, then beat himself up about it. Then he visits again. He insists he's a busy man and any suggestion from me that he visit when I want to see him causes him to become irritated. I feel that our friendship has devolved into my meeting his needs. Cooling it with the sex won't solve the problem, because we have established this behavioral pattern, unfortunately. How do I get this guy to treat me like a friend again?

--Confused in Ohio

You write, "Cooling it with the sex won't solve the problem, because we have established this behavioral pattern, unfortunately." That has to be the lamest excuse I've ever heard. Oh, gee, I'd stop having sex with this guy but, golly, we've established this behavioral pattern! And as everyone knows, once a behavioral pattern is established nothing can be done! We humans are powerless in the face of our established behavioral patterns!

Puh-huh-leeze. You can put a stop to the "having fun" and the "sleeping over" by "opening your mouth." You know he's married, you know he has kids, you know he's a mess. If the limited amount of time he can devote to you is unacceptable, then don't have sex with him. I suspect you don't call off the sleepovers because you enjoy the fun as much as he does. But if you aren't satisfied with the limits his major baggage--closeted, married, kids--places on your relationship, then call the whole thing off. You have the power to break these chains of love, CIO, or these chains of established behavioral patterns, if you so choose.

My boyfriend and I have been dating for a year and have lived together five months. I am openly gay, and he is closeted. My family, friends, and coworkers know and like him. His family knows me only as his roommate. Although he's been attending my church (one which accepts gay people), he's not comfortable with its theology, having been raised Southern Baptist. I want to support him in his search for a church, but when I asked that he find one where he could introduce me as his partner and not his roommate, he was reluctant. He sees no problem with our attending church separately and with people at his church not knowing about his personal life. What do you think?

--Gay and Christian

I think your boyfriend is an idiot. And frankly I think you're an idiot too, primarily for dating a closet case, but also because there's something fundamentally idiotic about being gay and Christian. Under the circumstances, I'm probably not qualified to offer you advice--but, hey, I've never let that stop me: I was under the impression that Christians went to church to sling hallelujahs at God. Other Jesus freaks may sling along, and a minister is on hand to officiate, but individual Christians go to church primarily to heap praise on their absurdly insecure deity. Praise the Lord, thank you Jesus, hip-hip-Holy Spirit--letting God know that you like Him, you really like Him, is the whole point.

If I were in your shoes, I would ask my boyfriend just who he thinks he's fooling when he goes to church and pretends to be straight. God isn't fooled; God is everywhere and from a distance, of course, God is watching us. That means God has watched your boyfriend suck your big dick, GAC. You two can sit on pews in separate churches on Sunday morning, but God knows exactly what you did Saturday night. If your boyfriend isn't afraid to be out to God, his Lord and Savior, how come he's afraid to be out to his fellow sinners at church?

Send questions to Savage Love, Chicago Reader, 11 E. Illinois, Chicago 60611 or to letters@savagelove.net.

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