DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: There is a guy who is attractive and as a gay person I find it difficult to tell if others are gay. We “jokingly” flirting and I’m not sure if he is serious or not. He doesn’t know that I’m gay. How could I find out? How can I ask without revealing my sexuality?
DEAR JAMMED GAYDAR: Let’s start with an obvious caveat, JG: I’m a cis, straight guy. For obvious reasons, there’s a strong chance that there’re aspects that I would never think of, by virtue of the fact that I’m not going to have the same lived experiences, concerns or perspective as an out gay man. So please be sure to take my advice with all appropriate levels of salt.
I also would like to invite my gay, bi and pansexual male (and male-bodied non-binary folks) chime in with their suggestions in the comments.
Now with that being said: this is a tough one, even in the (theoretically) more enlightened future of 2022. In an ideal world, I’d tell you “just ask him out” and let the chips fall where they may. Unfortunately, this isn’t an ideal world and for LBGTQ people; asking someone out can be a genuine risk to their personal safety. I have several gay friends who live in areas where “gay panic” is still considered a viable defense for assault as far as the cops are concerned.
However, I think in your case, you’re on slightly safer ground with this guy. While there’re always dudes who are ok with JOKING about being attracted to dudes but will lose their goddamn minds if you actually ask them out on a date… this is a guy who you’ve been “play” flirting with for a while. If you and this guy have been jokingly flirting back and forth (“ha ha, just kidding… unless…?”), then I’m willing to bet that if he’s not gay, then he’s at least someone who isn’t going to freak out if you mention that maybe he’s kinda givin’ off the gay vibe a little. Homophobes and other ass--les who fear being mistaken for closet cases aren’t the ones who’re going to be willing to indulge in some flirty banter with another dude. They’re usually the most dedicated of the gender police, wanting to make sure everybody knows just how much they luuuuurve the ladies.
Now, how do you find out if someone is gay without giving away your sexuality? It’s fairly simple: you just ask. “Hey, just out of curiosity, are you gay?”
Is this the BEST option? Not always. But it’s certainly the simplest.
How do you find out if someone is gay, without automatically revealing your own sexuality AND without being kinda rude about it? Slightly more difficult, but again it comes down to using your words.
Sure, there are other ways you could go about finding out. You could check who’s on Grindr in your vicinity or troll through the gay and bi male profiles on OKCupid and see if his pops up. Once the latest surge subsides and things are safer, you could hang around the gay bars in your area and see if he happens to wander in for the two-for-one drink specials and buffalo wings. You could try telling stories about exes and seeing if he’s going to play the pronoun game.
Of course, all of these have their own drawbacks and risks of false positives or false negatives and also, honestly, who has the TIME?
In all seriousness and with all joking aside, I’d recommend just asking him. “Hey, I know we kinda joke back and forth and that’s cool but I’m kinda getting a vibe here and you seem like you might be into guys? I mean, it’s cool either way, I’m just curious.”
And like I said: I understand why you might want to keep your sexual orientation under wraps but if he’s the type who’s willing to flirt with another guy – even jokingly – I’m more than willing to bet that he’s not going to freak out over the fact that you’re gay, even if he isn’t.
DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I’ve never made out with a girl and I’m 19 turning 20 this year.
My biggest fear (besides it never happening) is that once I do, I’ll be so embarrassingly horrible that I’ll completely turn the girl off because I assume she’ll have more experience than me. This makes me especially afraid to even try anything with a girl that I might want to date because even if I do get that far it’ll just blow up in my face. Do you have any tips or advice?
Thanks for reading, I hope to hear from you soon.
DEAR NOOB3: Dude. You’re 19. Chill out. Being inexperienced isn’t a horrible deal-breaker; if it was, nobody would be dating or having sex. We all start with zero experience and stumble our way forward from there. Some of us find partners who are just as inexperienced as we are and fumble our way through the dark together, others find partners who are more experienced and willing to give some guidance and still others learn through trial and error.
Occasionally you will run into an a--hole who will treat your being inexperienced as a huge problem. That’s fine: this has nothing to do with you and everything to do with the fact that they’re an a--hole. Most people aren’t going to freak out if you’ve never made out with anyone before and the ones who do aren’t people you want to date in the first place, so f--k ’em.
The keys to successfully making the transition from noob to experienced is to relax and ready to learn. What you need more than anything else is a willingness to go slow and take direction. No two people kiss the same way or necessarily like the same kissing style – every time with someone new is a learning experience. The best way to avoid awkwardness is to not be overly aggressive or intense; better to keep it light and follow your partner’s lead rather than attacking her face like an overly affectionate golden retriever.
If things do get awkward – you bump teeth, get the nose when aiming for the lips – stay relaxed and just laugh it off. If you don’t act like it’s a big deal, she won’t treat it like a big deal. If you do something she doesn’t like – too much tongue, grabbing the back of the head like a dying man, something – apologize and ask her how she likes to be kissed. Or, better: ask her to SHOW you how she likes to be kissed.
Keep your cool and it’ll all go so smoothly that you’ll be wondering why you were getting so weirded out over it.
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, email@example.com