The pressure of speculation around your sexuality and a woman you spend time with is getting to you. You're over it. Now what?
Q: "I live and work in a very conservative suburb and the big rumor is that I am a lesbian and intimate with my closest girlfriend. Thing is, it's not a rumor; we became intimate a year ago and have secretly been lovers. I don't feel the people around me deserve to know anything about my private life—but they seem to think they do with their constant questions. I am not a closet case by any means, but I am also starting to cave under the pressure of the speculations. What the hell should I do about this?"—Megan R., Iowa City
A: Rumors often trigger an odd kind of feeding frenzy where sexuality is the topic. Is she, isn't she; are they, aren't they? The truth is, the facts about your sexuality—gay, bi or straight—are not the property of anyone else but you and your partner. And the best way to come out is to just be out without any big pronouncements. However, in certain communities, or within professional circles (trust me, I know), there is a way to get ahead of the story.
First, deny nothing, but don't give away anything. When you hear about how it is rumored that you have secretly been seeing your friend, rather than deny it, trump it by shooting back how lucky you would be if that were the case.
Second, for the more rude and demanding people who may approach you, and these are the annoying ones, rather than be stunned or put on the spot, laugh them away by shooting back to the straight women, "Why? Are you saying you're interested in me if I'm not seeing her?" and to the straight men, "Why the interest in us two girls, wife not giving it up anymore darlin?"
If things persist and continue to annoy you, disrupt everyone's comfort level by just showing up to the local coffee shop, grocery store, church or PTA meeting dripping in public displays of affection with your new hot babe of a girlfriend. It'll shut them right up.
Key tip: Offense, not defense.