Gay and Lesbian Relationships

Mike Chessler

"Finding a boyfriend or a girlfriend is not the solution to all of your problems, it's the beginning of a whole new set of problems," says Dan Savage, who writes the nationally syndicated weekly advice column "Savage Love."

The Shallow End of the Dating Pool
This is an especially valuable lesson for young gays and lesbians, because being a gay or lesbian youth -- particularly one who's still in high school -- further complicates the already complicated-enough dating process. Savage says that it's important for teenagers who are out of the closet to remember that many of their gay and lesbian peers are not, so they are starting with a small and unrepresentative sample of the community in other words, a shallow talent pool.

Dating Games
Virginia Uribe, PhD., has been counseling young gays and lesbians for years, and in 1984 founded Project 10, a network of on-site support programs within the Los Angeles Unified School District that was the first of its kind in the country. She notes that all high schoolers -- gay and straight alike -- have a tendency to fall in love with the wrong person early on in their romantic lives. The relatively low numbers of young out gays and lesbians exacerbate one potential pitfall: falling in love with a straight person. Although it can be hard to tell the difference between a closeted gay or lesbian and a straight person, don't let your fantasy get in the way of reality. These kinds of misunderstandings can be both hurtful and messy.

While Savage does not normally recommend that an out person date a closeted person, he thinks exceptions can be made for high school-aged gays and lesbians because "when you are 15, there are some good reasons to still be in the closet." Coming out might have drastic consequences like getting kicked out of the house. Others may simply not yet feel secure enough in their orientation to take such a bold step.

Ideally, when an out/closeted duo date, the out partner might help the closeted partner take steps towards self-acceptance (perhaps culminating in his or her coming out). In reality, however, the out partner is often made to feel like a freak or the aggressor by the closeted partner. The out partner probably has cooler parents or is more comfortable with themselves or both, which is likely to incite feelings of jealously and resentment in the closeted partner. "If you want to date the captain of the baseball team, this is probably how it's going to be," warns Savage. These conflicts are not always easy to negotiate, but you'll have to try to work around them.

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