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I came out for my family about 6 months ago. I was 23 at the time, and everyone was shocked.

They have a very limited mind about those things: asking me if I'll be dressing like a girl, if I want to get AIDS, etc.

I lived with my aunt, grandmother, my older cousin and his fiancée (8 years together), but now I'm living with my boyfriend in another apartment.

The question is: I, some friends and some family members think that my older cousin is gay too, but he has a fiancée and I really think he's not prepared or have the courage to come out as I did. How can I talk to him and try to help?

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    Hi. Why do you feel that you need to talk to him about it? – Tycho's Nose Sep 1 '17 at 17:55
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    What do you mean "try to help"? Has your older cousin actually asked for your help? Are you sure that he's actually gay? – NVZ Sep 1 '17 at 18:42
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    I'm curious why one would think a man who's been with a woman for 8 years is gay. Seems like you should have a strong prior against it at this point. Thinking he just doesn't have the courage to come out is very presumptuous. – eyeballfrog Sep 1 '17 at 21:20
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    I think it might benefit the question if you say why you think your cousin might be gay. You have first-hand knowledge that we don’t, of course. The readers don’t necessarily have that information. For example, is it that he doesn’t really seem to be in love with his fiancé? Did he have a crush on a boy at some point? Even a relationship? Also, it seems almost silly to mention this, since I’m sure you’ve thought of it, but (since some people are going to assume that coming out will mean the end of his engagement), is it possible he’s attracted to men and women? – Obie 2.0 Sep 2 '17 at 3:11
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    Where are you located? Depending on where you are, there will be different levels of prejudice. It would be helpful to know the full cultural context before writing an answer. – user288 Sep 3 '17 at 20:27
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You can't. It's really not your place, regardless of intention. I get that you feel it would be somehow kind, it very rarely would be received that way.

My sexuality is my business. Yours is yours. This is the same for all people. If you are not involved with a person sexually (like a partner) then you really have no basis to infer or ask someone else about theirs.

Here is a perfect example of how you handle it. I have a friend. For years I suspected she was a lesbian despite dating men openly, etc. She eventually told me she was in fact a lesbian. Then she spent about 5 years with one woman, they broke up, she dated a man, they married and had kids. She then divorced and started dating women again. She still occasionally dates a man. I have never once asked her. I would guess she is bisexual, but frankly why would I ask? It really doesn't matter. She is my friend. As such, we aren't sexually involved, so who she dates has no bearing on anything as long as she is happy.

If someone wants to come out to you or anyone else, they will. If they do not, then perhaps they have nothing to come out about, or are not ready, or any other reason. Sexual preferences though have no bearing on you when they do not specifically involve you. I would like to know the sexual preferences of my husband (and I think I do as far as I know) but as far as any other person on this planet, I don't care. They can tell me if they want to or not if they don't.

What you can do is be openly supportive of people who want to come out. You can make it obvious you love all people without any reservations about their sexuality so that you can feel like a safe person to talk to if someone wants to talk about it. You may very well be right about your cousin, but even if you are, if he isn't in a place to be ready, it won't help anything most likely. I made the mistake one time with someone I was very close to. I was right, but it didn't help. It ruined the relationship. I had no right to ask and in hindsight I see that now. I thought I could "help them" and all I did was make them feel unsafe. It was the total opposite of my intention.


It probably bears mentioning that both of my grown daughters have dated women. I don't know if they consider themselves bisexual, experimenting, lesbian. I don't think they consider themselves lesbian as both are in long term relationships with men at this time. But again, I don't ask them. They have told me who they are seeing, but I've never felt a need to discuss that person's gender. It makes no difference to me who they love. I only care they are treated well. I would step up and intercede if I felt they were being badly treated, otherwise I stay out of it. What is a little odd is that this is such a non issue to me, I didn't even initially have this example come to mind when answering, hence my add on. What came to mind was my first experiences in dealing with this, likely due to my first example of handling it wrongly and my next experience where I learned from that mistake & did better.

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It's worth noting that it's not an either or. Sexuality is more of a spectrum, as in some people may fall somewhere in the middle. Your cousin may be one of these people, or he may not, but you don't really know, and it may be damaging to the relationship to press the issue.

When I've run into these situations I usually just let it be until the person comes to me.

If the person seems to be curious, like they ask a lot of questions, or seem to be hinting around, but too afraid to say anything directly... Sometimes inviting them to come to a Pride event is helpful.

I knew a younger guy, I'll call "Bob". Bob was just a friend of a former partner. My former partner grew up with Bob and always assumed Bob was straight, because he hadn't ever said otherwise. On the other hand, when I was introduced to Bob, my first impression was that he was gay... So we invited him to a local Pride event where he had a blast and got a chance to see the larger LGBT+ community in all it's colors and styles. About a week or two latter Bob came out.

I know that it's not this easy for everyone, I think Bob had been yearning to come out and just needed to see that it was safe and that he would have friends and a community that would be there for him.

If you have a friend or family member that you suspect may be in the closet, don't push them out. Invite them out. To an event that'll likely be enjoyable whether they're actually closeted or not, and whether they're ready to come out or not. Showing is often better than telling anyway, right?

  • By "inviting to a pride event", how do you phrase it? I mean, should you hide that it is a Pride event or tell it upfront? – Vylix Sep 1 '17 at 20:54
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    @Vylix definitely tell them upfront. "Hey, we're going to the Pride parade in downtown next week, want to come with?" – apaul Sep 1 '17 at 20:58
  • I recently started dating my same-sex SO, and wasn't able to fully come out even to myself until about a year ago. Now, I'm mostly comfortable in my sexuality. But I have to admit that I still don't know that I would enjoy going to a pride event - not because I'd be ashamed to be at one, but because that's not my personality. I'm an introvert, so I don't get a lot of energy from big crowds, and even though I'm comfortable being gay/bi at this point, I don't consider it the defining trait of my sexuality or my personality. So this advice would have potentially backfired if used on me. – Kevin Sep 4 '17 at 3:50
  • @Kevin I'm mostly introverted too. When I go to events I'm more there to support the community and people watch. I mentioned an event because they usually offer a wider view of what's out there and can help some people open up to the idea that it's ok and that they're definitely not alone. Give it a shot sometime, they really are fun. – apaul Sep 4 '17 at 4:01
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    In my country, even straight people go to pride events as for them it's a good excuse to dress up in silly outfits and have a party and they get to support a cause to boot. If pride events have more stigma in your country, it may be a lot harder to get someone to come along. I definitely agree with introducing someone whom you think might be on the fence to people who are openly 'non-standard' as a way of showing that it's okay and they would be accepted if they were to come out. At worst, it's a fun social outing and at best you give someone the courage they needed. – Cronax Nov 7 '17 at 16:19
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As you undoubtedly realize, coming-out is an intensely personal and usually quite difficult process and there's often a certain amount of self-deception involved before you can even reach the point of telling others. I'd suggest not reaching out directly at all, but rather just be available and develop your relationship with your cousin however you normally would, setting all family rumors aside. He'll talk to you if/when he's ready and that's assuming he's even gay, which your friends and family may well be misjudging.

That said, you're going to be a better judge of your relationship with your cousin than any of us here. You can leave hints that you're willing to discuss sexuality without trying to imply anything and you can try to hang out with him in settings where he'll be free to confide if he wants to. Ultimately, though, he should make the first move. Direct confrontation may well just push him deeper into his shell.

One thing to consider here is how to interact with the friends and family members who are raising these concerns. If you're comfortable, share with them some of the difficulties you faced in the process and encourage them to give your cousin space to define himself however he will. Encourage them to consider that they might be wrong in their assumptions, as well. Granted, easier said than done, especially when it comes to family.

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Let him know that it greatly helped you, or would have, to have someone to talk to. You might go the extra step and say that you are willing to talk if he ever wants to that you will not judge him.

If would like to probe first, you could tiptoe (ask him if you can ask a private question) Or you could try a semi-serious, half-joking, half-curious approach, and see if he reacts somewhat positively.

Though, In my experience, people generally tend to back off when asked about their sexuality, if they are being private about it, so I don't think you will have any success. However if you really want to ask then I tried to offer a few options that might unsettle him as little as possible. Someone else might have a better idea, though!

My recommendation on the matter is mostly "developing your friendship and being available for whenever (and if) he is ready to talk about it" approach, proposed in another post.

As a straight man, I find it sometimes bothersome, even infuriating when a gay man marries a woman and is not honest about his sexuality. However, I understand that gay men can marry and have relationships with the opposite sex, and, although I'm all for honesty and transparency, it's not for me to judge.

Finally, since your cousin probably knows that you came out not so long ago, he will probably already know that he can come and talk to you about homosexual matters, so there might not much need to push the topic upon him, if you have made yourself available.

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