In September 2015, I moved into university accommodation, together with 14 other flatmates. Like everyone else, I decorated my room and tried to make it feel like home. Next to displaying a dozen books and some postcards from my friends, I’d put up a rainbow ribbon and drawing of me and my friend at a gay pride, which really made us seem like we were a couple. While a lot of people generally seem to take me as straight, my flatmates knew I was gay pretty quickly, as I don’t try to hide it. All of my flatmates knew I was gay except for one, who then started flirting with me pretty quickly.
I remember that he came into my room and made some attempt to flirt, and as he did my glance shifted over to the rainbow ribbon and the pride picture on my wall.
‘Does he know I’m gay?!’ I thought, slightly panicked all of a sudden. ‘Does he not know I’m gay?’ ‘Hasn’t he seen my wall?’ ‘Is he flirting with me?’ ‘Am I just being paranoid?’
Then he left as we exchanged a smile (mine an awkward one).
‘O my god he doesn’t know I’m gay!’ I exclaimed to a friend. ‘How do I tell him? What if I’m wrong and he isn’t flirting with me? What if I hurt his feelings? How do I tell him?’
He made me the most wonderful omelette, came to check in on me while I was sick and wanted to get to know me. I started overthinking because I didn’t want to hurt his feelings by letting him know that I was gay. I didn’t want to hurt his ego? Or something? (I know it’s kind of silly and it’s probably kind of privileged of me to think this way? But it really worried me because he was a nice guy.) Additionally, I didn’t want to lose a friendship. Coincidentally, a week prior I had gone back to my room with another guy (I’m naive, I thought friends could do that too). However, I noticed that he might want more so I quickly told him that I am gay. Shortly after that, I didn’t see him anymore or hear anything from him. I was afraid that the same would happen with this flatmate. So for a little while, I worried about how to tell him.
Eventually, all 15 of our flat went to the students union to play some pool where I ended up in a corner of a sofa while he sat opposite me. His back faced the pool tables and the amused faces of all my thirteen other flatmates. He was flirting with me. I had to tell him. It must indeed have been hilarious from the outset.
I didn’t tell him then and instead, I fled to the toilet. Then, my flatmates too, thought it’d be better to tell him and save us from any further complications.
So how do you tell someone from the opposite gender that is flirting with you that you are gay? I still don’t quite know. I find it easiest if I sort of disclaim it from the start, but then I don’t really want to have to come out all the time. Friends are really helpful. If I’m on a night out and a guy starts flirting with me, it’s brilliant when a friend swoops in to say: she’s gay. Generally, though, I just sort of awkwardly mutter or happily/jokingly say (if I’m feeling particularly confident, or if I’m tipsy enough) ‘you do realise I’m gay, right?’ And that’s that. No need for overthinking. It’s really that simple.