A guy found out his gay pal is on an anti-LGBT far-right website. (Stock photo via Envato Elements)
They could be your best friend or someone you’re about to go on a date with, but diving deep into someone’s online presence can lead you to strange revelations about people, as one person on Slate’s sex advice column found out the hard way.
When they found out their gay friend has a profile on a far-right website and often touts anti-LGBT views, but who is not out and lives with conservative relatives, “User1234” needed some serious advice.
“Recently, I stumbled onto a secret profile of someone that I have a close, but not very personal relationship with,” the person wrote into Slate.
“This user caught my eye because they were extremely conservative and anti-LGBTQ rights, while also openly being a member of the community.
“The last post I read actually revealed them to be the person I know. They are not out, and knowing their family, probably will never be.”
“A bunch of their posts were about how sad, lonely, and isolated they felt.”
They go onto say that, while they are happy their pal has found a “place to express their views”, they do have a few concerns. Primarily, being unsure about whether their friend knows just how public his profile is on the website.
According to the advice seeker, their friend has “posted some very easily identifiable information that could potentially out them” as well as coming from an “extremely conservative and restrictive cultural background”.
They added: “A bunch of their posts were about how sad, lonely, and isolated they felt. I just wish there was a way to let them know that they have an ally in their corner, who would listen, support, and accept them.”
User1234 goes onto write that their friend is “of age” and they are concerned that he’s “unfamiliar with dating” and would have to lie about their whereabouts to their parents.
As a result, he might “be afraid to call for help if they ever wind up in a bad situation, because nobody knows about this part of their life”.
As a result, the person was left in a tight situation here – do they talk to their friend about their findings and concerns here?
Slate’s resident advice columnist, Rick Juzwiak, had some thoughts about the situation.
“Perhaps an active queer online life is an early step in their full coming out?” Juzwiak wrote.
“By overstepping the current boundaries of your relationship, you may make things so awkward .”
The journalist addresses many of User1234’s concerns, mainly about whether or not they should overstep the boundaries of their “close, but not very personal relationship” and chat to him about the situation.
Juzwiak recommended: “If they’re young but of age, they grew up with the internet and likely understand how it works. They probably know a thing or two about sex at this point, as well, whether it’s firsthand or just what they’ve seen on the internet.”
“By overstepping the current boundaries of your relationship, you may make things so awkward as to cause a total breakdown in communication. Tread lightly.”
Moreover, the writer ends that, if User1234 wants to reach out to his friend, they should send him an anonymous message or email “identifying yourself only as someone who’s in their life”.
“Say that you saw their profile, you understand that they’re queer, you support them and won’t share this information with anyone, and that if they have questions or concerns, they can email you.
“Expressing your agenda upfront and leaving the ball in their court will make this less intimidating, and it will give them a chance to hide themselves better if they so choose.”
Advice columns, often being anonymous, are a crucial lifeline for queer folk not open about their identities to confide and seek counsel.
Last week, a 42-year-old gay man who married a woman to have a ‘straight lifestyle’ reached out to The Washington Post’s advice vertical after he fell for a man he met online.