Dear Bearded Confidant,

Hi again Bearded Confidant!

Lately I've been getting to know someone who is in my Graphic Communication class in school. When I first met him I was still, so to speak, "battling" the knowledge of being homosexual, and so I was inclined to try and shy away from him.

But since I accepted that I'm gay, I've realized I find him very attractive and that I'd like to see if he is gay as well. Every person I know believes he is gay, as he never had a girlfriend and can occasionally bring up what you might say are effeminate subjects.

A short while ago I decided I'd just ask him because if he was gay I wanted to know, so in class I'd said if I could ask him something personal, he said sure, I simply said "are you gay?" and to this he said "why? are you interested?" The way his expression when saying that was a kind of slight laugh as if he was laughing it off as opposed to being happy with the question. I didn't actually admit that I was interested and simply stated the question again, hoping he might give me an answer. Unfortunately the answer was no.

However, we remained friends and on one occasion he invited me to the cinema with a few of our friends and he wore skintight jeans and was extremely feminine compared to what you might call his "public image".

Since the day I asked if he was gay we've occasionally made eye contact or I've noticed he tends to come very close to me when trying to talk to me alone (close as in 4 or 5 inches away from me and nothing more).

So my question to you, bearded confidant, is could my friend by Gay even though he denies it, and if so is there a way of trying to get him to say so?

Dear Martin,

There are several reasons why your friend might deny that's he's gay:

1. He's actually not gay, even if rather effeminate.  (This is a possibility.)
2. He's uncomfortable being labeled.  (This is surely true of your friend.)
3. He's not 100% sure about his sexuality.  (This is very, very likely of your friend, as it is with a stunning percentage of the world's male population.)
4. He's careful about who knows his private business.  (This is also surely true of your friend, as it is with any man who looks out for his own well-being.)

The way I do the math, it would have been highly unusual for your friend to have come out to you after being asked a point-blank question like that.

When he answered your question with another question, "Why, are you interested?" then the honest thing for you to have answered was, "Yes, I'm interested."  You countered a possible falsehood on your friend's part with a falsehood of your own, making an awkward situation even more awkward.  The inconvenient truth here is that if you weren't willing to be honest with your friend about your own sexual interests, you shouldn't have put him on the spot about his sexuality.

So is there a way to get your friend to be honest about his orientation?  You can probably guess the answer now: it takes two to create an atmosphere of trust.

Since your friend answered "no" to being gay, it's pointless to ask him again.  He might currently think he's not gay but will later come to terms with being homosexual (like a million other guys), meaning that he's technically not qualified to give an accurate answer.  He might be afraid or otherwise unready to announce his homosexuality, so again his answer would be invalid.  What your friend needs is to feel comfortable being his true self around his friends.  He'll announce or not announce his sexuality as he deems appropriate.  If he has good role models, questions will tend to answer themselves.