Question: Before I “came out”, my friends treated me like anyone else. We’d mess with each other, casual jokingly name-calling, usual guy stuff. But since I’ve come out they don’t let anyone say anything to me. It’s nothing largely noticeable, I still hang with the same crowd, but now if we’re in a group and someone says something to me, one of them will suddenly go on the defensive on my behalf: “Hey, watch it!” A warning of sorts will be issued to the guy who made the joke.
They’re forever offering to open bottles for me, they would hug me whereas they’d high-five other guys, they generally look out for me. They’re treating me like some delicate wallflower. If it was just them helping me open bottles, etc., I’d think they just thought of me as weak or something, but they’re constantly on my defensive and always looking out for me; excessively so.
I don’t want to just ask them to stop because how awfully awkward that conversation would be, but it’s getting annoying. Any suggestions?
Answer: First of all, congratulations for having the courage to be yourself with your friends. Second, what great friends you have. This beats the alternative—your friends ridiculing, rejecting, or shunning you. However, it sounds like you’d really prefer to continue to just be one of the guys with them, and that’s a reasonable desire.
You could try addressing it directly with them, prefacing your remarks with a message of appreciation for their protectiveness and support.
However, as you said, that may feel really awkward. It may also result in them being afraid to make mistakes around you. In other words, it may make things worse. You don’t say how long it’s been since you came out, but the likelihood is that the newness of the information will eventually wear off, and things will go back to normal.
In the meantime, you may be able to subtly shift the tone by finding ways to poke fun at yourself from time to time, giving the message that you can take it. You can deflect the over concern by saying, “No, it’s cool,” when one of them tells another to knock it off. Finally, when one high-fives another but then hugs you, you can jokingly ask, “What, you’re gay now too?”