Some guys like girls and some guys like guys. If you are like me and happen to be in the latter category, this guide is for you.
The decision to come out is one you have to make on your own. I will admit that while I am almost completely out, there are still people I am not out to yet. Despite this, those who I have come out to have been more accepting than I could have possibly imagined, and I did not lose a single friend as a result of coming out. Besides, many of your friends (especially the girls) are probably already suspicious. Or not. I actually had to come out to my freshman year suitemates around five or six times before they would believe me. Coming out made me happier and allowed me to develop closer friendships. College, especially Binghamton University, is a relatively safe place to come out because you are away from home. If you choose not to come out, that is your choice. Just please don’t get into a relationship with a girl, because it’s not fair to her.
Merlin’s, located at 201 State St. in Downtown Binghamton (about two blocks past most of the other bars), is the main gay bar. It’s 18 to get in and 21 to drink all nights of the week, but unlike some other bars, the age requirements are actually enforced. Do not try to use a fake. It will end badly. And don’t even think about going anywhere near your older-than-21 friend’s drink. That will end badly too. If you are not specifically looking for a gay bar, Scoreboard and Tom & Marty’s are pretty accepting.
Meeting other gay people
If you are specifically looking to meet gay people, don’t rely on your gaydar. I met nearly every gay friend I know through other friends. But another good way to meet other gay people is through Rainbow Pride Union (RPU), our campus’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning and allies (LGBTQA) group, which holds meetings covering a variety of topics at 7 p.m. on Tuesdays in New University Union room 302. They also provide opportunities to go on trips to give you a chance to socialize with other gay people in a less formal setting. The meetings are completely confidential, as per a University confidentiality policy.
I’m really not a relationship expert, but I’ve found that overall gay relationships are not that much different from straight ones. Last time I needed relationship advice, I received it from a straight male friend and it worked. Feel free to get relationship advice from the other articles in this issue.
For some reason, people think that gay men are more promiscuous than straight men. You shouldn’t feel pressured to be sexually active simply because you’re gay, and if you do choose to hook up, you don’t have to go any further than what you feel comfortable with. If you have sex, condoms and condom-safe lube are musts. The risks of unprotected sex are greater for gay men. According to the Center for Disease Control, men who have sex with men are 17 times more likely to develop anal cancer than their straight counterparts. And more than half of the new HIV infections in the U.S. in 2009 were among men who have sex with men. Always remember to practice safe sex.
If you need help
According to the CDC, young gay people are more likely to experience depression than their straight peers. If you need help, get it. If you live on campus, your resident assistant is trained to be a good resource. Your friends are also always more than willing to help out however you need. RPU’s Executive Board members hold office hours on a daily basis for you to stop by and chat about sensitive issues. The University Counseling Center located in the Glenn G. Bartle Library is also a good place to go. They run a sexual identity support group and are also available to meet with you one-on-one if need be. Should you need more immediate help, High Hopes, an SA-chartered student-run crisis hotline, can be reached 24/7 by calling (607) 777-HELP.
Ultimately, being gay doesn’t have to define you. Gay men can have a wide variety of interests, including sports and art. At the end of the day, you’re still a normal guy. You just happen to prefer penises to vaginas.