Dr. H

Dr. H, Guest Writer

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Dear Dr. H,

I think a friend of mine is gay, and he’s in love with a straight guy. I can tell he’s depressed. How can I help him out?

Dear Student,

Unrequited love sucks for everyone, regardless of sexual orientation. That said, is there something particularly depressing about a gay person’s unreciprocated love for a straight person? Perhaps, there’s something quite liberating about it because rather than internalizing the lack of shared feelings as this person’s specific distaste for your friend, the straight guy has a general lack of romantic and sexual interest in all other men.

So, there’s nothing terribly personal about this straight guy not liking your gay friend. Any consolation?  

You mentioned you “think” your friend is gay. If your friend is, in fact, gay, and he is not out as gay, that can be pretty depressing, too. Maybe his depressed state isn’t necessarily about this guy not being into him, but more just that he isn’t living the life he wants to as a gay man. People come out about their sexuality at different paces, and depending on where your friend is with self-acceptance and his perception of acceptance from friends, family and peers, he may just not be ready.

To coax your friend out of the closet, it might seem like a good strategy to go out of your way to talk about how open minded, non-judgmental and accepting you are and how you would just love to have a gay friend.

But I encourage you to take your friend’s lead on this if they open up about being hung up on someone (without mentioning a gender or perhaps even talking about them as a woman or otherwise being vague about the object of their affection) don’t press.

The more you demonstrate your willingness to just sit and listen to your friend, the more they may open up to you. Better yet, you can talk to your friend that you’ve noticed they seem down lately and that you are there to talk, if they want.

If your friend does tell you that he is gay and is indeed in love with a straight guy, you can offer an “Ugh, straight guys are the worst!” to commiserate, joke or break the ice, and then talk to your friend more about their options for potential partners who are, in fact, also gay. Navigating the dating scene as a queer person can be tricky in the beginning, especially in a small town, and particularly if your friend isn’t well integrated into whatever queer community does exist.

Being in love with a straight person can occur, for queer people, for many reasons, not the least of which could be the perception of not having other options and/or being new to dating as a queer person and feeling a bit unsure about it. If your friend is out and interested in building their queer community, be an ally in that effort – seek out queer-friendly campus organizations and gatherings, and check out the Center for Diversity and Social Justice and/or the Wellness Center. It might be hard for your friend at first, so you can help by just seeing what’s on campus and in the community, as far as meeting people in general. Meeting people through other people in real life can and does occur.

That said, aren’t the kids using dating apps these days?! There are plenty of queer fish in the sea. If nothing rocks his world in Eburg, however, he may have to cast a wider net. But, at the end of the day, we’ve all been attracted to people who aren’t attracted to us and it’s rough. This isn’t to say that your guy friend isn’t special, but it is to say that you can offer the same care and support you would offer to any friend in that situation.

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Dr. H