Women’s News: What Do You Do When Your Best Friend Tells You She Might Be Gay?


Shannon Bradley-Colleary

Aging vaintress, wife dominatrix, mom butler and humble author who is slightly mustachioed

I’ve known Maggie since we were freshmen in high school. We’re now both married moms who don’t get to see much of each other because she lives in a different state. But occasionally she comes back to California to visit her parents who still live here.

When I first met Maggie she really bugged me. She was so freaking chipper all the time, especially first thing in the morning. I’d arrive on-campus at 8:00 a.m. still half-dead, being a night owl who stayed up late to watch horny Benny Hill reruns, and there Maggie would be in homeroom, bouncing cheerfully off-the-walls wanting to instantly talk really really really fast! And did she mention she was sooo excited to just greet the sunrise and all of the possibilities before her for that one so very special day?

One time, in first period wood shop, I told her if she didn’t lower the decibels of her morning greeting I was going to put her head in one of the C-clamps on the lathing table and tighten the screws. Somehow she put up with my early morning homicidal tendencies and we’ve been friends ever since.

Then recently, on her last visit to California sans family, we went out for lobsters and beers at Shutters in Santa Monica and she confessed she was struggling in her marriage. This surprised me because the last time we’d seen them all they’d seemed so in sync and happy.

Then she added the kicker. She told me she was beginning to wonder if she might be gay. There was a girlfriend in her life back home she found herself attracted to.

I was completely blindsided. Maggie looked and sounded exactly the same, but it was as though she’d shape-shifted into something unfamiliar. And worse still, this admission suddenly colored the unfurling pageant of memories I had of our friendship. All of those nights we lay side-by-side in one of our beds giving each other massages and tickles as we shared confidences about our lame love lives took on new meaning.

My mind went into hyper drive. Had she known she was gay then and did she just make those crushes up? Did she feel attracted to me? Which was followed swiftly by, What’s wrong with you for thinking this way? Aren’t you a proponent for gay rights? Aren’t you thrilled that gays can now get legally married in California if they really want to jump in the crucible with the rest of us? Yes and yes. Then what the hell is wrong with you? Are you suddenly an anti-gay born-again bigot? No, no and no.

Months earlier my gay friend Mark, who came out in his early twenties, told me he wasn’t ashamed anymore of being gay, but he was still ashamed of keeping it a secret from his family and closest friends for so long. He said the feeling of being a fraud and of feeling he had lied by omission was devastating. At the time I didn’t get it. What did his being gay have to do with his parents and friends? Why was it any of their business? But now, sitting across from Maggie, I got it.

I couldn’t help feeling that Maggie had betrayed me. That our friendship, if not a lie, had somehow not been entirely true. That our trust was breached.

Since Maggie’s gone home our history together passes before my eyes in dreams at night, as though my subconscious brain is knitting together the rupture in things as I thought they were and things as they really are. In waking moments I rewind the tapes of our friendship again and again, looking for something.

I don’t even know exactly what I’m looking for. The truth? I suspect I won’t find it in the past. I’ll have to find the right time and place to talk to Maggie about my feelings in the future. Which seems narcissistic and self-involved when I consider that she’s grappling with the more serious problem of the future of her marriage.

But I think being willing to have awkward conversations with the people you love is a sure sign of how committed you are to the relationship. And that sometimes these awkward conversations can lead to more honest and closer friendships.

Has a friend ever divulged information you didn’t quite know how to handle? And what did you finally do?

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  1. amediablogger says:

    Sexuality is a very complicated and sensitive process. I don’t think she lied to you I think she probably lied to herself. Perhaps she had no reason to question bet sexuality before I think it’s unfair to make her coming out process about you. It’s not about you and big deal if she liked you during college; she respected you and your friendship. Coming out is one of the hardest things a person can do. Don’t take that away from her. You’re right she has bigger problems like her family and life. Be patient and understanding. Listen to her and be her friend. That’s friendship after all. I’m sure she turned to you because she trusts you and feels safe. It’s good to be honest but there’s a time and a place. Plus right now I think you need to ask yourself why it’s really an issue for you. Good luck.

  2. Excellent point that your friend Mark makes- that he feels ashamed, not about being gay, but that he hid it for so long and lied to others that he had solid relationships with. I had never thought about this aspect, so I am so glad you included it in your post. thanks!

  3. Good post. From my own experience…I’ve always been surprised when it took friends so long to come out. When one friend let us know at a dinner party only one of the 6 friends attending was surprised! Sometimes we know our friends better than they think we do!

  4. I have always being of the opinion that people sexuality is there business. It does not define a person or make them good or bad. It is for us to accept people for who they are!

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