General Question

ubersiren's avatar

I asked my cousin if he was gay today. It didn't go well. What should I do now?

Asked by ubersiren (15152points) July 17th, 2010

I feel like a complete idiot.

He’s 29 and hasn’t ever had a girlfriend, among other clues that make my family and I think he may be gay. We’ve suspected it for some time, but don’t know anything at all about it one way or the other. We don’t even know if his immediate family knows. We wouldn’t care if he was, we’d just like to know. We are a family of many gay friends and acquaintances.

He’s very intelligent, likable, handsome, well-to-do, and has a great sense of humor. We were pretty close as kids and always had a special connection at family events. Today was no different. We don’t see each other often anymore, but we got to talking and it was just like old times. We were in that familiar comfort zone. So I asked.

His reaction was not at all what I expected. I thought that if he was gay, he’d tell me, and if not, he’d at least joke about it. But, he very seriously, and out of character, said, “Wow, that’s a weird question.” He said that he just didn’t have a girlfriend and he wasn’t in a relationship kind of mode. He actually backed away, and avoided eye contact. He said he had a “work wife” which I think was his attempt at comic relief about the situation.

I told him that his answer was perfectly acceptable and that I didn’t need to know anything he didn’t want to tell me, it didn’t matter one way or the other, etc. But I could tell the damage was done. I apologized, and we sort of separated for the rest of the day. I think he was avoiding me.

So, now I don’t know if I should just let it go or try to contact him to apologize again or what. I don’t have his number or address and it would be strange if I asked my aunt for his info. I think it might make it weirder to contact him.

What do you think? Please be gentle. I feel bad enough already. I didn’t mean to hurt his feelings.

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80 Answers

mrentropy's avatar

“I didn’t need to know anything he didn’t want to tell me”

If it were me, and I wasn’t gay, this would sound like you were saying that I was lying when i said I wasn’t. But I didn’t really hear the conversation, either, so it’s hard to say one way or the other. If I were the type to give advice, this is the point I would really apologize for and I would do so. If he didn’t accept it, at least the apology was offered.

janbb's avatar

I would try to talk about it with him again. If you have been close and you sensed his discomfort after you asked the question, I think it’s worth contacting him, telling you how fond you are of him and that you feel you hurt his feelings by asking him if he was gay. That should open the conversation and you can take the rest of your cues from him. With a misunderstanding or perceived offense to someone you want to stay close to, it can rarely hurt to have another conversation. I’m sorry you are hurting over this.

Nullo's avatar

This definitely needs patching. I’d suggest asking your aunt for his contact info (“You know, I realized that even after all these years I don’t have X’s number.”) and then call, apologize for making him feel awkward, and try to move on from there.

Austinlad's avatar

Due respect to @janbb, with whose advice and counsel I almost always agree, I would leave the topic alone unless he brings it up. You might even consider the possibility that he’s either not gay or not ready to reveal it to the world (especially family).

tinyfaery's avatar

You apologized. You meant it. Since he is not someone you see or talk to regularly, there is no need to seek him out.

Now, about the reaction. Was he immediately defensive? Did he offer information you didn’t ask for? I guess what I am saying is do you think he really is gay? If you do, and he is, don’t push. Even though his reaction was bad, he now knows that there is someone out there he can come to if and when he is ready. Even bringing it up again could be too much for him at the moment.

If he isn’t gay, then he seriously overreacted and that’s his deal, not yours.

janbb's avatar

@Austinlad Just in case I wasn’t clear, I ddin’t mean that she should raise the question again and try to get an answer; just to say again that she is sorry she offended him. But maybe I’m wrong, I tend to flog things to death at times.

LeotCol's avatar

I think that you should just give it time. I think he knows that you didn’t mean to put pressure on him or insinuate anything. I’d say he will come around after a while. If not then he should grow up.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

If it really didn’t matter to you either way and you really didn’t care, you wouldn’t have asked. That’s how he read it. Sorry to sound harsh but even if he is gay or not gay and accepting, it is a weird question. In time, this convo won’t matter and you can revisit it with words better thought out.

gorillapaws's avatar

Asking a straight man if he’s gay can be a deeply hurtful/insulting question. Right or wrong, they may interpret the question as a challenge to their masculinity. It’s on par with asking a fat woman when she’s due and it turns out she’s not pregnant.

cookieman's avatar

I agree with @tinyfaery. Let it be and he might surprise you and contact you down the road. I really like the point that if he is gay, he may feel better knowing he could talk to you.

I will say that based on you description of events, I think he is gay and was caught off guard and not ready to discuss it. Just my opinion though.

MacBean's avatar

You apologized sincerely. Don’t bring it up again; it makes him uncomfortable. Most likely that discomfort will fade, unless you keep at it.

ubersiren's avatar

@tinyfaery Thanks for your great answer. He did immediately show discomfort at the question, and I still feel strongly that he is gay. It almost sounded canned. “I just don’t have a girlfriend right now.” That’s why I tried to back pedal as much as possible. I don’t want him to feel pressured in any way.

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Well, of course I care… I guess I meant that no matter how he answered, I wouldn’t feel any different about him. I care in the sense that I’m curious and that I think having that information about him would strengthen our bond. Oh, and I forgot to mention that I didn’t think out my wording enough and I regretted it immediately. I was feeling some pain meds that I’m taking and was very uninhibited at the time- even more than usual. I don’t blame them, but I think they impaired my judgment. So stupid…

@gorillapaws That’s what I was second most afraid that I did- challenge his masculinity. But, it never would’ve struck me in a million years that this was the case with him.

Cruiser's avatar

You threw a match on a subject that probably should have remained discreet as if anything that sensitive is at his discretion not yours. I would offer an simple heart felt apology and then back off and leave it alone.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@ubersiren I just think such a question would put any person on the spot, you know? Not necessarily because it’s controversial or ‘a threat to masculinity’, but because one thinks ‘well, what does that matter?’ and wonders which superficial characteristics they’ve been judged on (that’s what I’d think anyway but I wouldn’t have an issue answering the q, to begin with…I just assume people care about stuff like this and it’s better to get it over with and answer them). Furthermore, if he didn’t share this with you, then he doesn’t think it’s the right time to infuse that information into your bond or he believed that you read his sexuality as he wanted you to (and may have been miffed, and I’m speculating, that it, perhaps, wasn’t correct). It’s okay, my love, I know you didn’t mean ill intent or anything and I think this is completely reparable.

evandad's avatar

Leave it alone


I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but as curious as you were, it was none of your business to ask. There are certain subjects best left untouched, and a person’s sexual preference is one of them. Call me old-fashioned, but I think privacy is an individual’s right, to be respected and honored, especially when it comes to sex. We’ve become such an open society these days that sometimes we forget the importance of according privacy to others. Yes, you may have many gay friends and acquaintances, but that doesn’t mean “you” will be accepted by that other person if you found out he/she was gay. And if you didn’t care if he was gay or not, why would you want to know and risk endangering the relationship? Sounded like you and your cousin was on good terms——I wouldn’t have risked it by my “wanting to know”. Just live and let live and be happy.

I wouldn’t do anything now. You already apologized, and that didn’t really go anywhere. What the two of you need now is time——lots of time. Perhaps in the future, he will get over the surprise and the embarrassment, and he will realize that you meant no ill-will. If he doesn’t respond, then that’s one of the consequences of meddling, unfortunately.

casheroo's avatar

@MRSHINYSHOES I think that’s so ridiculous. It’s not something taboo. She asked a question, it wasn’t offensive. Most people do tend to know someone they’re close to sexual orientation. I mean, relationships do come up in conversation…

@ubersiren I’d probably let it go. If you already apologized, since he seemed to get awkward about it, then just let it go. I don’t see an issue with what you asked. There’s a cousin on my husbands side that is blatantly gay but it’s such a religious family that no one ever mentions it, and no one has asked him (he does have a facebook where it’s pretty obvious, his parents apparently don’t know.) It’s not like you were trying to force it out of him, so don’t sweat it.

ubersiren's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I agree. I definitely knew I put him on the spot when he reacted that way. It didn’t feel like that’s what I was doing until I saw his reaction. And I’m absolutely fine with not knowing if he doesn’t want to say. I thought he would know that, but maybe not. It just did not go how I imagined at all.

@MRSHINYSHOES I disagree that it’s none of my business. He’s not some stranger off the street, I love him very much. And it’s not like I asked about his sex practices, specifically. It’s not about sex- I don’t ask people if they’re gay to find out if they take it up the arse. I ask to find out about part of who they are.

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@ubersiren Eh, it’ll all blow over – just one of those situations that’s got a bit of a mis-communication going on. You need to stop guilt-tripping yourself.


@casheroo Of course she asked a question, a question that was none of her business. Sorry, but that is not ridiculous at all, and if you see it as such, then there’s something amiss.

@ubersiren Being related to each other and being close to each other does not give you privy to pry into that other person’s personal matters. And sexual preference is perhaps one of the most private of all matters.

ubersiren's avatar

@mrentropy I didn’t need to know anything he didn’t want to tell me

He didn’t answer me either way, so what could I accuse him of lying about? I don’t think that’s what upset him.

@MRSHINYSHOES I don’t think sexual preference is very private to most people. Straight people don’t often hide that they’re straight, and gay people who are out don’t hide that they’re gay.

gailcalled's avatar

Let it go. Any more remarks from you, even another apology, will make things worse. You said you were sorry.NO need to repeat it.

And you certainly make a huge error of judgment by asking.


@ubersiren The fact you are so bothered by what you did affirms that it was wrong what you did. And your cousin’s reaction shows that it was wrong too. It is plain and clear. But like I said, you should not do anything now. The damage is already done. Don’t make it any worse. Only time will tell. That’s all I have to say.

ubersiren's avatar

@gailcalled @MRSHINYSHOES What, are you two my parents? I don’t need you to scold me, thank you very much. I don’t think I was wrong simply to ask.

tinyfaery's avatar

@ubersiren FWIW, I don’t think the question was inappropriate. Your intention was well-meaning.

gorillapaws's avatar

@ubersiren The question itself can be very hurtful if he isn’t gay, or even if he is…

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@gorillapaws It can be, sure, if you’ve got that kind of vulnerability about your sexuality and what it means to have others misread it, so to speak. But, and from what I know of @ubersiren, her tone couldn’t have been obnoxious or mean.

gorillapaws's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I would argue that the majority of men have that “vulnerability about [their] sexuality” as you put it. Rightly or wrongly, men are cultured to have a certain pride about their masculine sexuality, (just as women are). If a straight man is suspected of being gay it implies that he is incapable of finding, and/or keeping a female mate because he is somehow lacking in what society deems are necessary masculine qualities. It can be interpreted as being a failure in one of life’s most important aspects (finding companionship).

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@gorillapaws I agree with you. (even if I don’t like it)

meagan's avatar

That is kind of rude. But I guess its because I’m secretive with my relationships with my “family” that this strikes a cord.
But why would he not being with ANYONE make him gay? Just because he doesn’t date – he’s gay?
I haven’t had a boyfriend in two years and I love it this way. I don’t get along well with other people, and don’t particularly care for romantic relationships… If a family member asked about my sexuality because I liked being alone, I’d be EXTREMELY offended.
In fact, I’ve never let any of my family meet any of my partners. I’ve never even spoken about them. If I were ever automatically ruled gay because I like my privacy.. wow.. I can’t even begin..

You don’t know where he lives, or his phone number, but you think its okay to ask about his sexual orientation..? Instead, I wish you would have asked about his dating life lately, if he’s met anyone new, etc.
Rather than.. So! You’re alone a lot. Are you gay?

ubersiren's avatar

@meagan Please refrain from responding if you’re not answering my question.

casheroo's avatar

I don’t see how the question was rude…
To me, that just assumes every person is straight unless they feel like saying otherwise. If I tell someone I’m married, do they assume automatically that it’s to a man? Probably. But, we all know that’s not the case with some people. So I think asking some if they’re gay (to me) isn’t really invading in any personal business since usually relationships are quite public..I mean, haven’t you all brought a new significant other to a family function? Same thing in my mind.

DominicX's avatar

For the record, I am gay and I have been asked this question before. The problem is that this is something people are often secretive about and do not want to reveal. If someone has been hiding it for a while, chances are that they are not going to reveal it when asked suddenly. The first time I was asked this question, I lied and said “no” of course. However, the second time (which was years later), I was just waiting for someone to ask it because it would give me an opportunity to come out. I chickened out and couldn’t answer truthfully, but instead of lying, I just ignored the question until that night when I texted the person back and revealed the truth. She actually apologized to me because she felt it had been awkward (since I didn’t even answer), but I decided that that was the right time to reveal it to her. Some people are different; they’re more willing to reveal such things and many of them really want to and are waiting for an opportunity to do so, but you have to know that for some people, they don’t want to reveal it at all. They’ve probably been struggling with it for a long time. Although people often don’t understand, it really isn’t an easy thing to do, coming out to someone. In fact, the person who asked me the first time was one of my closest friends in the world and I still couldn’t tell her the truth.

Regarding your specific situation, I agree with others in that you have done all you can and saying something more could make it worse. I’d just wait it out. If they’re ready to tell you, they’ll tell you on their own.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@DominicX Would you feel offended if someone asked if you were heterosexual?

I used to live by the old adage of “Dress so well they think you’re gay”, and and was consistently asked if I was. I am not, but being asked was actually received as a compliment.

DominicX's avatar


No, and I wasn’t offended when asked if I was gay. I just wasn’t ready to answer them.

Blondesjon's avatar

I still don’t understand why this is a question that even needed to be asked. You wouldn’t ask anyone that you considered straight if they were, indeed, straight. How about we all just stop worrying about who everyone else is fucking.

@ubersiren the above is not aimed directly at you. you have always come across as a great person and i am not trying to make you feel worse. i just wanted to use your question as forum to bring my point up.

gorillapaws's avatar

I just wanted to point out that my earlier comments aren’t intended to make @ubersiren feel bad. I just wanted those who are reading this and think there isn’t a problem with asking the question that it’s possible that they could be hurting the person they were asking the question of. Some may not have considered some of the issues I raised, so I just wanted those to be out there for people to think about and form their own decisions.

mrentropy's avatar


’ “Wow, that’s a weird question.” ’ He said that he just didn’t have a girlfriend and he wasn’t in a relationship kind of mode.”

To me, this would imply a “no.”

If you would like an anecdote from personal experience, feel free to ask.

ubersiren's avatar

If there was someone you all knew your entire life who you didn’t know was gay or straight… none of you would ask? Ever? Even thought the time felt right and you never would’ve dreamed that the person would be offended by it? Even if the person, in your opinion, was old enough that you couldn’t possibly be the first to ask?

@Blondesjon To answer your question, yes I would maybe want to ask someone if he were straight. If there is a discrepancy. If I don’t know something, and I don’t think it would be a big deal to ask, why not ask?

Maybe the problem I’m having here is that I just cannot imagine being shocked, stunned, offended, put off, or otherwise disturbed at being asked this question myself. And I have been asked this question. Once in particular, by a girl whom I was very good friends with in high school and reunited with when she got married. I just said, “no” and asked what made her think that. I expected a similar reaction with my cousin.

I guess I’m naive about how sensitive this is to people? I’m also a little disgusted. I’m disgusted that this is even an issue. I’m disgusted that anyone would be offended by being asked if they were gay. I’m not talking about my cousin here, as I think he was more taken off guard and being defensive. But someone truly offended- this implies that being gay is in some way negative, which just does not fit into my brain. Screw your masculinity. Screw your ideas of inappropriate behavior. You know what’s inappropriate? Berating someone who is asking for help and kicking them when they’re down. I don’t need your life lessons.

As far as I’m concerned, my biggest mistake today was not getting too personal with my cousin, but pouring myself out to a group of people who I thought were supportive and understanding. The truth is that people on the internet are only accepting and compassionate when they agree with you. You can’t ask people with a keyboard for humanity. Lesson learned.

Peace out everyone.

GeorgeWood's avatar

I would imagine that his reaction was due to other family members asking him the same question, and feeling like he’s being talked about behind his back. It’s more probable that he is not gay, and that his inability to find a girlfriend could be something that is problematic and hurtful for him.

I would let it rest unless he brings it up. There is more to human sexuality than gay/not gay.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@ubersiren The only thing I can’t imagine is how one knows someone their entire life and doesn’t know – I can’t think of a single friend or family member in my life whose, at the very least, basic attraction profile I’m not aware of..surely, they can (in reality) be some other sexuality if they’re masking it, but still.

gailcalled's avatar

@ubersiren: You ask, initially, “What should I do now”?

Then you say, “Please refrain from responding if you’re not answering my question.”

Then you add, after our perfectly reasonable reactions (MRSHINYSHOES and me), ”@gailcalled @MRSHINYSHOES What, are you two my parents? I don’t need you to scold me, thank you very much. I don’t think I was wrong simply to ask.”

I was not scolding but stating my opinion. It did not seem so different from many others. If you don’t want people staring at the worms, you shouldn’t open the can.

gorillapaws's avatar

@ubersiren I’m sorry your feelings were hurt. As I stated above, that was not my intention.

ubersiren's avatar

@gailcalled wtf, that’s bullshit. And apparently everyone is eating it up.

“Please refrain from responding if you’re not answering my question,” was directed at a specific member who, indeed, did not answer my question. Was the @ sign not clear enough? Her response did not follow the Fluther guidelines at all. Don’t just take that quote out of context as some off the cuff thing I said generally. I didn’t ask for anyone’s opinion on what I did. I asked what I should do now. Thanks for editing together a bunch of stuff that I said in a Michael Moore fashion that made me sound like a crazy asshole. You are not the kind of person I thought you were. Which makes me sad.

Jabe73's avatar

I had a similar situation with my brother but he would just change the subject. There is something else you may need to consider as well. It is possible your cousin is not gay. Some people are just backwards when it comes to dating. I have known several guys (some I have worked with) that were over 30, 40 and even 50 that never had a girlfriend because they are just backwards when it comes to women. Some people are real “picky” as well. Men are also expected to “approach” or “initiate” contact with most women so if a guy does not have any “game” or is very shy he will be single most of his days as well.

You said your cousin is “outgoing, intelligent, handsome and likeable”. I have known guys in this category as well but are still backwards when it comes dating a woman (let alone to actually go out with someone). Being single for large periods of time myself and having people question me why. Well then I can definitely see why your cousin (if he isn’t homosexual) would be bothered by this question. I do not know your cousin, I can only tell about situations I am familiar with. There are other possible alternatives here that maybe you didn’t think of when you confronted your cousin so I hoped this helped.

ubersiren's avatar

Is there a way that I can declare this thread closed since nobody is actually answering the question anymore?

@Jabe73 That being said, thanks for not lashing out or being a douche bag even though you didn’t directly answer the question. Your consideration is appreciated.

cookieman's avatar

@ubersiren: @janbb, @Nullo, @Austinlad, @tinyfaery (and maybe a few more including me) answered your question.

The rest…well, most Fluther questions (even in General) tend to wander off topic to some degree. I’m sure you’re aware of this.

I know you feel really bad about what happened (and I’m sorry about that), but we all stick our foot in our mouths from time to time – but may I respectfully request you simply ignore the comments you don’t like and stop lashing out at your fellow jellies. No one here thinks you’re a bad person – they just have opinions.

mammal's avatar

are you attracted to him? or is that an even weirder question?

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

His statement that he has a “work wife” is interesting. What does that mean? Does he have a co-worker that he has a crush on and cannot have a relationship with and cannot move past it? Is he overly focused on work and has found a pseudo-relationship in this environment that meets his existing needs until the right person comes along?

tinyfaery's avatar

This thread is dead. The OP has been badgered enough.

Dog's avatar

I know that @ubersiren is not around any more which makes me very sad.
I was going to answer her privately via PM but will do it here in hopes she will return and see it.


I know what it is like to feel like you let someone down and did damage. It eats away at your soul. I can only imagine your shock at his backing away. I would be crushed.

We are all human and your intent was his happiness. Please do not kick yourself over this. We all stumble into stuff once in a while and wish we could turn back time madly. The thing is that life gives no instruction booklet. You are an awesome cousin. Please give him some time. It is not the end of your relationship even if you think it is now.

He sounds like the kind of guy who will be fine over it.

I have no other words of encouragement but end with an apology. I am very sorry I did not see your question until now. It got way off track.

A sad dog.

janbb's avatar

Wow – I am very sorry that ubersiren left ovver this. I hope she comes back.

tinyfaery's avatar

@ubersiren Is gone? Over this? Well, some jellies were assholes in this thread.

meagan's avatar

@tinyfaery She took it too personally. She took it upon herself to leave nasty comments on my fluther page, talking about how I don’t know anything.
If youre going to ask the internet something.. be prepared for all sorts of answers.

casheroo's avatar

major assholes

jca's avatar

i have been following this because i have a cousin who i suspect is gay, but have never asked him (we’re not that close) but i was curious what others would say about it. it’s too bad uber left over this, and it seems she was berated by some, and by others she seems to have taken their comments personally and the wrong way.

mrentropy's avatar

To be fair to @ubersiren, she already said she felt horrible about it. The question was whether she should contact him and apologize again, not if she did the right thing by asking.

cookieman's avatar

I feel bad that @ubersiren would leave Fluther over this as she’s one of my favorite jellies (on Facebook too).

…but I stand by my last statement. I don’t think anyone meant her ill will – they just have opinions on the subject – and this is, after all, a place for opinions.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Wait, really? That sucks! I didn’t know here last message to me was her last.

Buttonstc's avatar


Even tho I didn’t participate, I tend to agree with you.

My impression was that the situation was so recent and freshly painful that even the mildest criticism would hurt disproportionately.

If someone has been physically burned, even after it has healed, the skin can still have disproportionate sensitivity.

In her case the psychological skin hadn’t even healed yet and she was still emotionally beating herself up over it. Anything more in that direction was just too much to bear.

It’s a shame. I hope she will consider returning after some time has passed.

I doubt anyone was purposely trying to hurt her further. Just not as sensitive to how raw the emotions still were for her.

dpworkin's avatar

Sorry to hear that @ubersiren is gone. I hope it’s temporary. She was dealing with a tough issue. I once thought for a few years that my son might have been gay, and I wanted to reassure him that it was fine with me, but I was always afraid to take the step of mentioning it until he brought it up himself. (I guess it’s better in hindsight that I never did, but if he had been gay, wouldn’t he have appreciated the reassurance?)

gailcalled's avatar

i am sorry that @ubersiren left also. But it is ironic that her issue with her cousin (crossing the line emotionally) was similar to what led her to depart fluther, if I am reading this correctly.

Perhaps this is a lesson for all of us; wait a while to ask questions when you bring your own sensitivities to the table.

I worried about one of my step-sons when he was young, but it never occurred to me to ask him directly. He is now married with three daughters.

mrentropy's avatar

I viewed a similar situation. My wife thought that one of her brothers was gay. She couldn’t remember him ever going out with a woman and he was quite wealthy. She wouldn’t ask him outright, though, because she felt it wasn’t any of her business.

He’s got a girlfriend now, they’re expecting a kid.

Buttonstc's avatar


Obviously hindsight is 20/20 and you realize that it was better you didn’t ask him outright.

But in response to the hypothetical Q, yes I think a gay child would have appreciated the assurance. But there are numerous less risky ways to convey that in a more oblique way less specific to that particular child and if you had been more sure about it you would most likely have found a way.

Even if a child is gay, they may still not be ready at that particular moment so a more generalized discussion expressing ones own positive attitudes regarding gay people will at least open the door for the future.

Over the years I had numerous kids in my classes whom I was pretty sure were gay but I never felt it was appropriate to be that direct with them about it.

But I was dealing primarily with 3rd and 4th graders so I think that would have been way over the line. Besides, I had my hands full just convincing some of the little bully homophobes in the making to knock it off on taunting them constantly or they would have me making their nasty little lives miserable in every legal way possible ;)

dpworkin's avatar

I just think the question has some ambiguities, and while I think @ubersiren was over reactive in letting this upset her so much, she was also subjected to quite a bit of unfairness, it seems to me.

Buttonstc's avatar

Well, fairness is never guaranteed on Fluther.

People give their opinions whether one is ready for them or not as we all know.

It’s hard to get in somebodys head to know for certain what the intent is, but my impression was that no one was really out to get her. Each Q takes its own course in its own meandering way and what happens happens.

In general, I think this Q was helpful in the larger sense as someone reading it may just take that pause and rethink their impulse to ask a very awkward and intrusive question.

cookieman's avatar

@Buttonstc: ”…as someone reading it may just take that pause and rethink their impulse to ask a very awkward and intrusive question.

I’d buy that. I think that’s a good point.

janbb's avatar

A question with a lot of food for thought. I guess @ubersiren was upset because she hadn’t asked “Should I have done it?” but rather “What do I do now?” but as others point out, you run it up the flag pole and see who salutes. Another thought I have is that it might be hard to post a question about an issue when one is still very raw about it. It has made me think since I have a close friend at work whom I’ve always assumed is gay and kind of wanted to know about, but have not ventured to ask – and won’t. But I can sure understand wanting to asking one’s adult child or a close relative.

gorillapaws's avatar

@janbb I think understanding why the person may be hurt, the feelings they may feel would go a long way in letting a person figure out what to do next. I can’t advise what to do next because I don’t know the people involved or all of the million other things that make a difference in that situation.

However I can offer up some ideas about how the hurt person may be feeling and allow the OP to use their judgment to decide if that might be what the person is feeling and figure out where to go from there.

casheroo's avatar

Just let it go, people

andrew's avatar

This is a really interesting question. I shall answer with a personal story.

I’ve been in the position of your cousin. A lot. I’ve been asked if I’m gay from friends, girlfriends, my parents, even a girl as I was making out with her in college.

One real difficulty is the tyrannical expectations of what a ‘man’ is… and I don’t mean by/from other men—in my experience, straight women are the most rigid about what is ‘acceptable’ behavior for a straight man.

It was annoying. There’s a certain affront to being called gay when you’re straight—never in my case because i feel like gay men are inferior, less powerful, or less ‘manly’, but mostly questioning if I was giving off the proper signal to attract people that were attracted to me.

So I started paying attention to the way in which I moved my hands. The way in which I talked. The way in which I moved. At one point, I had enough people ask me that I started to get confused… well, maybe they see something I don’t! Maybe I am gay!

Two things snapped me out of this: one, realizing the extremely sexy potential of androgyny (witness David Bowie and Mick Jagger), and the second being around hyper-masculine artists in grad school who didn’t give a shit (and indeed flaunted people’s perceptions) of whether they were straight or gay.

I still think about it a little, but honestly, I don’t give a shit if someone thinks I’m gay or not. I know I love women, I’m quite comfortable in my sexuality, and I don’t have a problem meeting women. And many of my male friends are fashionable, sensitive, artistic, emotional men. They’re, like me, a little gay.

But I feel for the cousin.

I see where your question could have struck a nerve with your cousin—and how the followup can make it seem like you had already made up your mind that he was gay but that it didn’t matter that he way.

Either let it go, or gently acknowledge that you may have overstepped your bounds. I don’t think ultimately it will be a huge thing—but there’s a very real possibility that you struck a nerve.

Blondesjon's avatar

@andrew . . . you’re not gay?

fuck! i owe @jonsblond $10.

Pandora's avatar

Well it does suck if he isn’t gay. He very well may not feel comfortable around the opposite sex or simply just not be interested in sex. There are people like that. Or maybe he doesn’t know what he is or doesn’t want to be in any relationship at all.
My daughter has a friend who is gay. Only his immediate family knows. He simply doesn’t want to tell the rest of his family, even the ones he likes because he doesn’t want the others who are jerks to give him a hard time or give his mom a hard time. He worries if more people in his family knew that it would slip out. Also his dad doesn’t know and he worries that he will blame his mom for him being gay.
Maybe your cousin isn’t ready for everyone to know. It should be his choice. Whether he is gay or not, you should leave it alone and let him figure it out. He knows where you stand.

ubersiren's avatar

@Pandora Thanks. I wasn’t pressing him for information, though. I did, as you suggest, leave him alone after I knew he didn’t want to talk about it. There is no debate about that. I know very well that there are people as you describe who just don’t date or have sex. But that doesn’t mean that they are gay or straight, necessarily. I didn’t ask him if he had recently had a date or a sexual encounter- I don’t care about that. I fully respect someone who doesn’t want to talk about it. But you don’t know until you ask.

Also, for the record, I did not leave nasty comments on that megan person’s page or say or even imply that she did not know anything. That’s just a lie. It’s just another example of someone making up stuff to make someone else look bad. I can PM the entire convo for anyone who doesn’t believe me. I’d be more than happy to clear my name.

tinyfaery's avatar

Glad your back.

Kardamom's avatar

I agree with @gorillapaws that suggesting he was gay (if he’s not) would be horribly humiliating. Just like if a woman gets “tagged” as pregnant when she’s not. That would be mortifying. I think it’s much worse for men to be thought of as gay, when they aren’t, than it is for women.

Me and a bunch of my women friends, who tended to travel in pairs, were always getting “tagged” as gay. We would just laugh about it. Two of the girls in our group actually were lesbians and they always thought it was a hoot that me and MY best friend were the 2 that were most often suspected. I think it’s because me and my best friend got along really well and tended to dress alike (quite accidentally) and the lesbian couple often fought verbally in public. They didn’t appear to be a couple, although they were and the rest of us were either just friends or sisters or cousins. We still get a kick out of it. I don’t think men get a kick out of it at all. It’s too bad that there’s so much homophobia in the world. People are people gay or straight.

I have no idea how you can “un-say” what you said. Even though you didn’t say it with malice, your poor cousin probably thinks that you think he really is gay. And the way your question was worded makes me think that you really do believe he is too, and no amount of back-tracking is going to make him think otherwise. Sorry…

Zalen's avatar

I am not entirely 100% sure…because the odd’s are against me, it would be like winning the lottery…However, this sounds so much like something that happened to me a few years back. I had a cousin who I was close with growing up ask me the exact same thing, and I responded almost in the same way…and if you were my cousin, I would say…you didn’t hurt my feelings at all, and no apologies were needed. Just my take on take on the situation…I am gay and only recently got comfortable within my own skin. It takes different people time to go through stages in dealing with the ups and downs. The biggest fear for most is rejection, especially from family. etc. Just found this website, by your question..through a google search I was doing.

cookieman's avatar

Hey @Zalen,

Good answer, although, this question is pretty old – so you may not get much feedback.

I just wanted to say, Welcome to Fluther. Hope you stick around.

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