I am a college-aged, straight-identifying female ally who needs assistance in trying to help a male friend of mine out of a deep pit he’s in after he found himself falling in love with his best, male friend after a long, very ambiguous, emotionally intimate, and confusing relationship between the two of them. I have received permission to ask for help in how to help him (and by doing so to anonymously share details of his problem) and to help him find resources with which he can help himself. I will refer to my friend as K and his friend as J. There is a lot of background to this and a lot of words to this as I'm not sure how to properly condense the experiences of my friend to get at the core of his story. Some background on my friend K… he’s one of my most favorite people in the world. He’s always been the protective “Mama Bear” of my friend circle and is incredibly empathetic and constantly tuned into everyone’s emotional states and problems. He was at the top of his class in high school and now attends a very prestigious collegiate institution as an undergraduate. He’s very bright, witty, and engaging. He also has an unreasonably low self-image that shows at times, and he presents as straight (he privately IDs as bisexual, but can easily present as straight as he has a fairly masculine demeanor) because he is afraid of rejection by both his parents and his community. Until this unfortunate string of events occurred, he had been out to only a few people (four straight girls including myself and one gay male, knowing all of them for 3-5 years) in his friend circle from home, and to none of his straight-presenting male friends. However, for almost the entire time he’s been out to me, he’s been ashamed of his sexuality at the same time that he’s lucid and cognizant as to his feelings, so there are some inner issues he needs to work through there. K and J have always had an interesting relationship, in that, evidently, K is the only person J will open up to about almost anything painful or emotional, and even before K was attracted romantically to J, K was extremely protective of J. K is also one of maybe two people who J has felt comfortable enough sharing his deep past with, which included a lot of abuse (of an uncertain nature, but definitely physical in some respect) from his father that’s made J really reluctant to form intimate attachments, to trust people, and to admit to feelings. J loved (... will still love?) to spend time with K, spending something like literally 50% of the past summer with him. J was probably the nicest to K that he has been to any individual (which is one of the reasons why K liked him), and for awhile J had a trope where he would call K “his happiness.” Recently K began to have romantic feelings for J that he had suppressed until a few weeks ago. There’s a lot of dramatic build-up in this, but at some point, after a really long and intense conversation J had with K during an emotional time wherein J told K that K was the “one of the only people he cared about” and that K was the “best person... who brought [J] through the week” and where K made J cry (in a positive way) while trying to help him, K began to gain an active hope. (Quotes are what I remember from conversations with K, but you get the idea.) I guess, either way, this conversation signaled that the two of them have a very intense friendship, but I think there was a seed planted wherein it became difficult to define their relationship in stereotypically straight-male terms, if that makes any sense. At least in my very limited experience, I’ve never known two men to be closer. I can definitely understand why K began to think that there may be something more behind J. For example, K decided that if he was going to make himself ready to be in a same-sex relationship, he should be more honest about his sexuality, so he sent an e-mail to the friend circle on the subject that was primarily meant to put his straight friends in the know. Close after K sent the message to our friends, J spoke to the aforementioned out gay male in our friend circle to tell him that the message had “driven him to tears” and that he was “so proud” and “so happy” and that, off of a previous conversation that they had had wherein K ambiguously told J that he had an awkward romantic attachment, that J wanted to “ask [K] who his love is, because that kind of love shouldn’t be withheld.” Starting slightly before K’s coming out, J had also begun to send K an abnormally high number of messages (over 80+ in two weeks as opposed to one or two a week in prior days) talking about pretty much anything on J’s mind, and after the coming out insisted that K drive down to visit J back in our home state to spend the night. In addition, the friend circle had been confused about J’s sexuality in the past, as he had engaged in three kissing sessions with another man before (twice while sober), and, God help me for invoking this concept, many queer mutual friends said that their “gaydars” went off around him. There were a lot of other things I found weird even before I knew the whole story (J began to start tossing out “I love you” to K a lot without any kind of masculinity-affirming regulation), but the big idea is that K was inadvertently being set up for disaster. Things began to fall apart when K came home to visit J. According to K, before K eventually admitted to J what he was feeling, there were a lot of weird little moments that built him up: J took K to a “secret spot” on J’s campus that was where J said he went when he was lonely at night, and in a moment of desperation K decided to look on J’s computer for signs of gay porn or what-have-you, and found a number of hits on Spotlight for “anal” and “gay” in websites before J walked back into the room. The more I hear, the more I see how this all plausibly could fit into a narrative wherein at the very least J is not completely straight, which leads to re-orienting questions as to what was the nature of their apparently close intimacy. (Given, there are some other explanations, though they’re hard for me to articulate.) However, when K found the courage in himself to ask as to J’s feelings, K was reproached, but from what I can gather in a somewhat odd way. Something like J insisting that he was completely straight (according to K, J said that he had had those same-sex makeout sessions because he was “comfortable with his sexuality”), but that he had “never been so touched in his life” and started to make a lot of physical contact with K while both were apparently crying. K kept asking if J felt anything for him but J wouldn’t reply to that question. It’s confusing, I guess... one other person K told about this described it as, “[J] saying yes and no at the same time.” But the dominant message was “no,” I can see. The conversation ended abruptly with K leaving, and K found himself devastated after this to the point of having seriously suicidal thoughts that have thankfully since subsided (or so I am told). This incident happened about two and a half weeks ago and is still haunting him. In the end, I guess my question is: what can I do or say or anything to get my friend back on his feet? For the first time, he conquered an emotional barrier to admit a romantic-intimate feeling for someone, but he’s recoiling heavily from the backlash of rejection. I know he feels like he fucked up J and his friendship, and that he shouldn’t ever trust himself or his reasoning because it took him down such a bad path in this instance. He feels like he's crazy and worthless for thinking that there was something there that there evidently wasn't. In a universal sense, if I were there in his position, I would found myself equally as flabbergasted and led on, I think. For better or for worse, I have been trying to frame K and J’s relationship in familial terms, like “true” brotherhood, which he’s said has helped a bit, but I’m not sure if that is the right track to take (K apparently went to a therapist at his college who told him that J must secretly like him, which we both found bizarre and utterly counterproductive). I think he's also confused as to why J would ramp up contact and private/intimate moments after K's coming out, that he feels a little hurt in that respect as well. I'm also unsure as to how K is interpreting the last major conversation they had, and while I know that K realizes that it isn't useful to try to pursue any mystery of J any longer, I feel like part of him still wants to. I’m pained that I don’t have the experiences and skills myself to understand just what happened myself in a way that I can help K in any way except for being there for him when he needs someone to talk or cry to. I worry that K is going to continue being deeply ashamed of his sexuality and his extremely negative self-image is going to be reinforced. K had also for the first time begun to prepare ways in which he could tell his parents of his sexuality, but now I don’t think he’ll be looking to do that. He already made such an important step with coming out to all his close friends and being honest with his feelings, how can he make the next when he is ready? (His parents are both liberal-leaning, pro-gay marriage, and more importantly very loving to K, but his father has made some very homophobic comments in the past.) It’s also going to be really awkward for K and J to interact once they are both home for the summer, and K has no idea how that’s going to work. (J has still kept up a fairly heavy contact with K that as far as I can tell acts as if nothing has changed, and insisted that they buy birthday presents for each other? J's still a confusing person.) K and J have said that they should talk about things further when they are both home for the summer, and I must admit that I myself am fretting as to what will happen next. Since not much has been resolved, what do you think would be valuable for them to talk about? Furthermore, I’m wondering if anyone has any idea as to where my friend could look up some good therapists or counselors who are experienced in LGBT/queer issues... he has expressed interest in seeking counseling, but hasn’t had any good experiences in the past. If you have any advice as to what I can do for K or what K can do for himself, please don’t hesitate to let me know! Also, I might be able to elucidate or clarify if more information would be helpful in parsing this situation. Thank you so much!