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My story isn't about the first time I ever came out of the closet, nor is it about the first time I ever realized I had feelings for men. Instead, it's a story about coming out to one friend in particular, who has since become my roommate and a huge part of my support system. I hope you find some kind of lesson behind it.

I met my friend in a Spanish class I took at the University of Maryland. At first glance, there were a number of reasons you would never think we'd end up being more than classmates. I was starting my second semester back in college after working full time for two years. I was 24, and since I felt old, I wasn't sure I really belonged in a college classroom again. He was almost 21, more of the stereotypical college student age, and I later found out, he was a fraternity member.

More importantly, however, I was about to come out to my father and his partner and he was straight. However, different things conspired, like a chance pairing for a class project and my own propensity to show genuine concern for someone I barely knew led us to spend a lot of time around each other that semester.

In the course of several conversations, he told me about his acceptance of several friends who were gay, and I eventually told him about my father. However, for some reason I can only wonder about now, I just didn't feel comfortable coming out to him. Even though he left several clues that he'd be supportive, my own fears prevented me from seeing them.

One incident highlighted my problem: I was waiting for him outside the front porch of the fraternity house while he was doing something upstairs in his room. Meanwhile, his fraternity brothers started peppering me with questions, some getting a little too personal for my liking. Eventually, one of them asked me if I was gay. I didn't answer the question then, which was as clear an admission of my sexuality as answering yes would have been. However, I hadn't told him yet, and I was only recently ready to admit it to myself.

I found out much later that he had suspected I was gay before and that incident sealed the deal for him. However, he wanted me to say it specifically before he did or said anything else. I wasn't ready to, and it nearly cost me a friend. I found out later that another classmate told him I was gay and that I wanted him "in that way." Needless to say, that freaked him out and it made him act more aloof. I'm still not sure what made him decide to stop.

In the course of several e-mails, he hinted at already knowing, but then would write something that would make me think he didn't know. Shortly after the incident in front of the house, he even asked me to rub his back when he had serious back pain! We were unwittingly playing a chess match in which he already had me at checkmate, though I didn't realize he had.

A year after the infamous incident at the fraternity house, we met at a nearby bar and that's where I finally had to tell him, since I wrote him I had something important to tell him. He obviously asked me what it was, and I got really nervous. It took about three minutes before I finally drew up enough courage.

Drawing up every ounce of courage I had, I said, staring straight ahead, "I have one more thing in common with my father than I had told you before," looking only to see his facial expression. It didn't change at all, and he was as supportive of me as he had been of the other guys he had told me about.

Nearly a year later, he asked me to move in with him and another former member of that fraternity, also a straight guy, and I agreed. I wouldn't say things are necessarily harmonious, but we still count each other as friends.

I still look back in disbelief when I think about all the wasted time before I finally got the courage to tell him something he already "knew!"

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