Help! My Only Friends Are Homophobic and Don’t Know I’m Gay

I am a 24-year-old male college student. I am quiet and shy and introverted, and I don't make friends easily. In fact, I really only have two, which I know is pathetic. But because I only have two friends, I think I value my friendships more than most people. The problem in my case is that both of my friends say homophobic things all the time, kind of as playful putdowns of each other. I play along to fit in, but it pains me that I am not being my authentic self. What they don't realize is that I am gay. I haven't told them because I know where they stand on gay people; they think gay marriage is an abomination, and they think being gay is a choice as opposed to something you're born as. I fear that if I tell them I'm gay, they will distance themselves from me and I'll end up being totally friendless in this world. So I guess I don't have a question so much as I am looking for some support, since I won't get it from them. Any thoughts appreciated. —A Friend in Need
Dear Friend in Need,

Real friends are supportive of one another. You may think that the buddies you hang out with are the ones you need, but I think they are just the ones that are around—friends of convenience more than friends of the heart. Even if they really are good friends in many ways, I hope you’ll be able to find friends you can be real with, as they can be with you.

These two are not enough for you; you’re not satisfied, nor should you be. It might behoove you to step around a bit, gently challenge your tendency to be alone, reach out, and try to connect with other people. One or two more people to hang with might make a big difference, especially if they are genuine and expect you to simply be yourself. That might sound difficult, and for many introverted people, it is indeed difficult. It sounds like you could really benefit from connection, though, and connection does take some effort and perhaps even discomfort. That discomfort is not unique to you; many people struggle with finding people they can click with. There are websites, of course, that try to assist with this, and to minimize any angst involved.

In any case, one or two close friends can be enough if the relationships are honest, deep, and true, but 100 friends who are not authentic are not enough because the relationships are essentially empty; they aren’t nourishing and supportive, as they should be. You’re looking for real friends who are capable of deep and honest feelings.

In any case, one or two close friends can be enough if the relationships are honest, deep, and true, but 100 friends who are not authentic are not enough because the relationships are essentially empty; they aren’t nourishing and supportive, as they should be. You’re looking for real friends who are capable of deep and honest feelings.

How can you find real friends? You say you are shy and introverted and that making friends is difficult; I can feel what that’s like, and it gets lonely sometimes. (On the other hand, the ability to enjoy being alone and introspective can be a gift.) What can you do, though, when you want to hang out with somebody? Some people find a place or a person or a situation where help is needed and then they provide it. They might join an organization devoted to feeding the homeless, for example, and volunteer their services. Or they might join the service society in their school. If you need help, give help, as you’ll probably wind up getting help.

If you’re with people who have a purpose that’s directed outward, and your attention is directed outward too, it is a bit easier to be friendly because you have a common goal, which gives you all something to talk about. Another benefit of a common goal is that it can take everybody’s attention away from themselves and turn the focus instead to an activity that will help them arrive at the goal. This makes many people feel more comfortable, as the situation expands to include much outside of themselves. The idea is to find something that is bigger than yourself, which helps you feel less self-conscious, eventually, and gives you something that bonds you together with others.

Finding a group that bonds around a common interest can help, too. This interest could be anything—music, chess, old movies, basketball. Look around and you’ll find a place for yourself, or you’ll make a place for yourself and find that others may join you. After all, you’re not the only person feeling shy and introverted; others feel that way, too.

What you give can be what you get, so my recommendation is to find somebody who needs a friend and be one for that person.

Best wishes,

Lynn Somerstein, PhD, NCPsyA, C-IAYT is a Manhattan-based, licensed psychotherapist with more than 30 years in private practice. She is also a yoga teacher and student of Ayuveda—the Indian science of wellness. Her main interest is in helping people find healthy ways of living, loving, and working in the particular combination that works best for them, connecting to their deepest energic source so their full range of abilities can be expressed. Lynn's specialty is understanding and alleviating anxiety and depression.
  • Leave a Comment
  • Janeen

    October 23rd, 2015 at 10:46 AM

    You at this point do not need this kind of negativity in your life.
    There are some great people out there waiting to become your friend, you just haven’t met them yet.

  • Tolly

    October 23rd, 2015 at 3:06 PM

    If you don’t think that there is any way that you could ever live as your true self with these people, then do you honestly believe that they are worth remaining a part of your life? I very strongly believe that if someone loves you then they love you no matter what, and if that means that you are gay or straight or whatever they will still care for you. You should never have to hide what is on the inside.

  • Joe

    October 23rd, 2023 at 7:29 PM

    I dont like boys

  • James

    October 24th, 2015 at 12:03 PM

    Not really your friends then if you ask me… just my opinion

  • Cas

    October 24th, 2015 at 8:21 PM

    Have you thought about how the region in which you live comes into play with your “predicament”? I only ask because of your age. You seem to be close to a turning point. Maybe consider relocating when you are job hunting after you graduate. For now, try small meetups that interest you.

  • J20oyd

    October 25th, 2015 at 7:08 PM

    Firstly, have u been friendly with these 2 for long?
    My advice to u is to say to the 2 about the things they are saying aren’t very nice and they need to go and get educated. They are no good to u with such pathetic attitudes. Please try to consider coming out………. u may not get the response u may be dreading. My son told me he was gay when he was 17…. over 2 years ago. I told him I had known that since he was 2 yrs old. I saw the frustration building inside him in the week prior to telling me. I was considering bringing up the subject and spoke to my other kids about it……. but then he just came out with it himself……. and he was so relieved when myself nor any of his friends flinched at all. Everyone loves him for who he is….. not WHAT he is.!!
    He never lost 1 friend and we are all very proud and totally supportive of him. Which in turn boosts his confidence….. not that he was shy by any means. I truly hope everything works out for u, but please do not continue to live ur life pretending to be someone or something u are not…..This will only lead to being more miserable and will make it even harder to come out in long run…….. I am sure u want to be content and live happily every day being the real u……
    Surely at college it would be much easier to move in different circles to build up ur Confidence and shake these 2 off…… let them live as homophones!!!

  • dora

    October 26th, 2015 at 9:03 AM

    This is never going to be a situation that you need to impact you with energy and positivity. This is only going to cloud how you view yourself and others. I am concerned that being around people like this will begin to make you second guess yourself and I would much rather see you be strong and confident in who you are.

  • Garrison

    October 28th, 2015 at 10:18 AM

    I don’t believe that in any way is this going to be positive or healthy for you. I believe that if these are people that you choose to hang around long enough then they are going to start making you question who and what you are. I understand that we all go thru times where we question ourselves and who we are, but I would hope that my friends would be the ones to lift me up and help me believe in myself. There are enough things out there to tear us down, we don’t need even more people in our lives adding even more to that!

  • jack

    October 29th, 2015 at 2:53 PM

    doesn’t it ever feel strange or odd to you that you feel like you have to hide who you really are from people who profess to be friends?

  • amir

    May 18th, 2021 at 5:34 PM

    honestly im facing the opposite situation right now friend just came out gay and im homophobic and dont know what to think. I dont wanna be friends with him no more but ik its wrong. What if i was in his shoes should i be more accepting of some gay people?

  • Faith

    June 1st, 2021 at 3:59 PM

    You shouldn’t care at all. If he ask for support from you, as a friend you should give it to him. If you don’t want to be friends with somebody because of something they can’t help maybe there needs to be some introspection. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself and your own previous beliefs. You are already at the first step by feeling sympathy and putting yourself in their shoes. Ultimately, if you think that you’re homophobic and due to this you might treat them unfairly or make them uncomfortable then it’s probably best for you to depart from your friend for their sake.

  • leno

    February 18th, 2022 at 8:29 PM

    Well , I think you should take a lot of things into consideration , such as the country they live in , whether it’s a taboo for those around them … theoretically it sounds like a good plan , but a little detail could actually be the beginning of a disaster..
    Speaking from experience . I live i a third world country where LGBT people are viewed as something less than human… their basic rights aren’t approved by the government and if any ‘act of intimacy’ by two non-straight individuals was witnessed and reported , it could mean jail or something far worse… Not to mention that people here think they have the right to be violent towards them/god knows if a sicko actually decides to go as far as to killing them..
    Let’s not even talk about how people around them view them,, this is why they stay in the closet .
    Truthfully , I myself I’m bi , my family is unaware of it , it’ll stay that way until I’m independent . My parents are homophobic , especially my dad .
    I just hate how dad uses religion as an excuse to justify his hate , when all of us , his kids , know darn well that he has committed far worse sins . People who think they have the right to look down on others for being different and judge them before even seeing what kind of people they are , are the lowest in my opinion. I’m sick of all the hate and the bullying that minorities have to indure just to lead normal lives , none of us chose to be born this way and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being different as long as it doesn’t harm others.
    I personally won’t advise anyone in my position , or in less fortunate ones , to come out, unless you know that 1 ,you’ll be safe ( well , at least lawfully ) 2, you know the person well / already have knowledge on whether they are supportive of people like you ( let’s say a kid decided to tell his parents that he is gay , they could easily end up abusing him/ abandoning him… It’s best to play it safe in a world filled with lunatics like this one)
    Good luck to those struggling with receiving basic human needs.. I’d say I’m pretty fortunate to play on both sides.. even though I might prefer people of my own sex , i do not mind those of the opposite, it must be harsher for those who can’t help it but find themselves only attracted to one sex , and who are in a similar society that rejects them… these people will have to basically live a lie until they have the opportunity to be real with themselves and others… what a world

  • Matt

    January 23rd, 2023 at 4:22 AM

    Hey man I know exactly how u feel. Im in the same situation only with just one friend. But even though he jokes and says derogatory things about various things like gays,cross dressing,trans, ect. I do not know for really sure if he truly dislikes it all or not. It could either cast me to true aloneness or allow me and him happier times.

  • Emma

    February 6th, 2023 at 12:52 PM

    Yeah, friends should support you

  • abc123

    April 15th, 2023 at 1:19 AM

    Hey I think I might be Bi. I’ve had my suspicions about this for awhile now, and so have my siblings and parents. It is not them I’m scared of coming out to it’s my best-friend. She has been my bestie for a very long time.lately we’ve been drifting apart.This is partially my fault since I am scared that if she finds out she will not talk to me again, and it is very hard for me to make friends. I asked her outright one time what she would do if I liked girls, and her response was not good. I don’t know what to do. Especially since she knows a lot about the person I really am. Thankfully I have another friend who thinks she might be Bi,and a lesbian friend and cousin. Though I’m not super close to any of them.

  • William

    June 21st, 2023 at 10:25 PM

    I know what your going through. And it sucks! How about someone who is very polite & respectful towards you, but cut conversations short when you run into each other. If you can’t be who you are, the best thing you can do for yourself is cut them loose. They are indirectly insulting & disrespecting you. Who knows, they may even suspect your gay & doing this intentionally. But don’t waste another minute hanging with those lovers. Find friends who support & are there for you.

  • Dominic

    February 7th, 2024 at 7:54 PM

    You could do what I did, just block them on everything. My “friend” said, and I quote, “If someone is being annoying about it, I’ll slap them.” keep in mind he goes into a barbaric rage over someone using a shotgun in a game, one of the best guns.

  • spaghetti

    March 4th, 2024 at 2:16 PM

    look THOSE PEOPLE ARE NOT REAL FRIENDS IF THEY CAN’T ACCEPT U FOR WHO U ARE. there are a few options here.

    1- try to convince them that they shouldn’t think that way BEFORE you come out to them, (if you decide to).
    2- Tell them. Just flat out tell them not to think that way because that’s wrong. Making someone feel like they’re wrong, IS WRONG. They shouldn’t do that. And if you’re brave, go ahead and come out of the closet bro.
    3- Just COME OUT. Completely just be like “I’m gay and if you can’t like me or be my friend because of that simple fact, then we can’t be friends.” And if you want to, add in something like this: “If you change your mind towards LGBTQ+/Pride/Gay people, then maybe we could be friends again.”

    So basically I have this friend, Caiden, who is homophobic but there were only like 2 signs. One of the signs was a LITERAL T-SHIRT THAT SAID “I HATE LGBTQ+” ON IT. And I asked why he wore it. He said it was a dare, but then he said that IT’S TRUE. THAT WAS LAST WEEK. And today something happened which made me just flat out tell him. So yesterday, (Sunday March 3rd) I put 2 stickers on my school ID badge. (I’m in middle school. I know I’m young for this but whatever.) One sticker was the Pride/LGBTQ+ flag and the other was the pansexual flag because well I’m pansexual. Anyway, so today I was talking to my friend about something that happened on Friday. I came out to my friend Xavier and told him I was pansexual. And my other friend Jayden said WHOA! You are attracted to PANS? And he laughed because he knew already and was joking. ( He supports me.) So today I was telling my friend about what happened on Friday and Caiden just looked at me and said You are pansexual? And I jokingly said NOT ATTRACTED TO PANS. And he said he knew what pansexual meant and asked again. So I told him I was pan and then I said Have you not seen the new stickers on my badge? And I showed him and then he just WALKED AWAY. Then my other friend, Vander, (he supports me, not ALL pride, just me because we are friends) told me that Caiden (homophobe) said he doesn’t like that I am pan. So I told Vander that I didn’t care what Caiden thought. I plan on telling Caiden that I DON’T CARE IF HE HATES ON PRIDE tomorrow. & lt’s #PRIDE btw I’m also questioning my gender, COULD YOU PLS HELP I THINK I’M NON BINARY BUT I’M CONFUSED ON HOW TO COME OUT!

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