We've all had crushes. But what do you do if you're sixteen and you've got a crush on a high school classmate, a football player no less. And you have no idea whether he's gay. That's the predicament a sixteen-year-old from Houston wrote to me about asking for advice on what to do. On the one hand, I'm encouraged that gay teens are now able to talk about their crushes, but unfortunately dealing with a crush is even more complicated for gay teens than it is for their straight counterparts. My response, which follows the question below, feels a little lame and tentative to me. What do you think?
you may think this is a stupid question, but my friends were of no help to me. there is this guy at my school, he is a football player and... i have a huge crush on him. i don't know if he is gay or bicurious or whatnot, but he does look at me a lot and tries to walk close to me in the hallways. What should i do? i mean, how do i find out if he is actually interested in me....how do i find out if he is even gay? --Teen with a Crush
Dear Teen with a Crush--
Your question is not stupid at all! Having a crush in the best of circumstances can be very confusing (in addition to exciting and scary). But when you're gay and the object of your affections may or may not be gay, it can be really tough to deal with.
Because you're in high school and because the person you're talking about is a football player, you have to be really, really cautious. Even if we ignore the gay issue for a moment, it's rare that the person you have a crush on has a crush on you in return. So the odds are he's not interested in you in the way you're interested in him.
Since it's a really bad idea to tell someone you don't know that you have a crush on him, the first thing to do is to get to know him. Do you ever say hello or does he ever say hello to you? If you're already out at school, it might be hard for him to say hello to you or to be your friend. Football players are not generally known to be all that comfortable with the issue of homosexuality and he could be afraid that if he's seen saying hello to you or hanging out with you that people will think he's gay. And that's true whether he's gay or straight.
Something to keep in mind for you is that if you're not out to your classmates and you tell the football player that you have a crush on him you have to be prepared for the likelihood that he will share that information with your classmates. And if your classmates find out that you're gay it could get back to your family. What would it be like at school for you if your classmates know you're gay? What would it be like for you at home if your parents know you're gay?
So this is why you need to be very, very careful. You don't want to do anything that's going to make your life miserable at school or at home. It may be that you have to keep your feelings to yourself and keep your crush a secret--for now. If you're able to talk to your parents about these things, I suggest talking to them. Or, if there's a school counselor or your school has a GSA coordinator, I suggest talking to one of them about your feelings.
I'm sorry I can't be any more encouraging. I wish I could say that you could live your life just like your straight classmates, but as much progress as we've made toward equality, the reality is that for gay teens--more so than for us older folks--it's not yet a level playing field.
Please let me know if you have any additional questions.