Dear Bearded Confidant,

I'm a 19-year-old sophomore at the University of Connecticut and live in the dorms.  I'm convinced that there are gay guys in my dorm (and on my floor) but I'm not sure how to get things going.  I started talking to all of them and I'm working on the stare, but are there other ways?  I was thinking of leaving the shower curtain open a crack when I was taking a long shower and maybe giving the guys a peek.  Just to fill you in, there are two bathrooms on our floor, each with one urinal, two stalls, one single shower, and three sinks.  In one bathroom you can see the shower clearly in the sinks above the mirror, and is the one I usually use because of it (hoping for one glance).  I figured if I left the curtain open those guys that were interested might start talking with me and the others would just pass it off to living in a dorm.  I'm trying to come up with some creative strategies since all the freshmen on my floor don't leave their doors open, so it's impossible to meet them except in passing.  I'm working on the porn thing but it's impossible to meet them, let alone get in their room and surf the net for porn like you suggested (meaning do it on their own ground).

I'm also starting to go to the gym in the morning.  I'm thinking that if I meet a cool guy before I leave I'll just mention that I'll only have so much time to change or so many reps before I have to go to my class so he might stop when I'm in there and I'll just try and get him talking.  My big thing is making the jump from not sure to yes he's into it.

One example, before I read your advice there was a guy on my floor who walked around in his boxers. Before I could stop myself one day I just stared at him and he stared back for what seems like forever. Later that semester he was in the shower, said hi to me as I was brushing my teeth and bent over showing his nicely toned ass through the crack in the curtain. I freaked and jetted.  (He is where I got the idea from).  He hasn't had a girlfriend and has since moved to another dorm.  I'm actually hoping to catch him at the gym in the mornings since that's when he went last semester.  I can't just show up at his door.

I'm so fucking frustrated!  I have a huge campus with no known cruising spot and so far all I've met are four guys from online, only one of who i messed around with and he had no idea what he was doing.  He practically ripped my dick off he was jerking so hard.

I appreciate your time and any advice you have on my ideas, the guy from last semester, and how to work the campus without coming out of the closet.  I'm just not ready to do it, especially on a campus that's rated one of the ten worst in the nation for gay tolerance.

Dear Jon,

I have good news and bad news regarding your situation. First the good news. Yes, leaving the shower curtain open so that other men can see your naked and wet body is a very good idea. Remain casually naked as much as possible in the bathroom. For example, step out of the shower and spend time drying your hair while leaving the rest of your body exposed. That's a legitimate way to be using the towel while showing off your goods.   And yes, keep making the eye contact and get your dorm mates talking, as those are crucial ways of finding friends with similar masculine interests. Don't totally rule out buddies you meet online. The first man you met up with didn't know how to handle another man's dick, but I guarantee that other men out there can do better!

Now for the bad news.  If you aren't ready to come out of the closet, you can't expect your current situation to change very much. I'm all for staying in the closet until you are ready to come out (and indeed, sexuality is ultimately a private matter anyway), but being in the closet means living as you are living now. At some point, you are going to get tired of the secretive glances, the yearnings to be yourself, the desperation to live your life without shame and without hiding. When you are ready to be your true self in public (and I don't mean acting like a flaming queer, unless that's who you are... I just mean not pretending to be something that you aren't), then other gay men will notice you and will approach you. If you are afraid to be openly gay in terms of your personal safety on campus, then I humbly suggest that you need to transfer to a better campus. Life is too short to live in fear, especially when there are other options. Don't unnecessarily imprison yourself in an intolerant institution. You are currently in the prime of your life. Your energy and hormone levels are ripe for frequent sexual adventures. You can spend that energy merely jerking off by yourself, but a part of you clearly wants something more. Take a good hard look at your situation. Whether you decide to come out or remain in the closet, make your decision carefully and slowly. But whichever you choose, do it consciously and deliberately. Be the master of your own destiny, and know that the choice you make is your own.

And regarding that guy in his boxers who moved to another dorm, you actually could show up at his door and explain with honesty that you remembered him as being one of the few people who ever said "hi" to you, and that you were feeling a bit isolated on campus and could use a friend. (Or you could lie and say you were thinking of changing dorms as well and wanted to check out what the rooms were like, but honesty tends to work better when you want to make a human connection.) In the worst case, he'd probably tell you to fuck off and you wouldn't be any worse off than you are now. But he might just invite you in.