I am a bi male in my early 20s who until recently was in the closet. I have been exploring my sexuality for the past year, and I didn't want to label myself and open a Pandora's box of oppression in the American South before I knew who I was for sure. I learned through my exploration that I have a few kinks and I have been acting on those kinks, seeing what I am and am not into. I may have been too trusting, because someone I interacted with decided that he was having none of me. This person took it upon himself to find all the info he could about me, regarding kinks as well as my career and other aspects of my life, and compile it on a website. He then sent links to several of my friends and family members. My family has been very supportive, and the few close friends I've spoken to have been great. But how do I talk to other friends when I see them? These people are close to me, and I value their friendship. I don't believe they think poorly of me, but I am uncomfortable knowing that they have seen a part of me that I was trying to keep somewhat compartmentalized. How can I approach the situation without making it more uncomfortable and awkward?
–Outed And Unsure
The first thing I want you to do—before you talk to anyone about what happened—is google "Bill and Monica" and then read the first few stories that pop up.
Here's the takeaway from the Bill and Monica story: An out-of-control special prosecutor appointed to investigate the suicide of a White House aide wound up "exposing" a series of blowjobs that President Bill Clinton got from a White House intern. Problematic power differential, yes, but consenting adults just the same. Politicians and pundits and editorial boards called on Clinton to resign after the affair was made public, because the American people, they insisted, had lost all respect for Clinton. Clinton refused to resign and wound up getting impeached by an out-of-control GOP-controlled Congress. (Forgive the redundancy: A GOP-controlled Congress is an out-of-control Congress, and an out-of-control Congress is a GOP-controlled Congress.) But guess what? The American people weren't pissed at Clinton. Clinton's approval ratings shot up. People looked at what was being done to Clinton—a special prosecutor with subpoena powers and an unlimited budget asking Clinton under oath about his sex life—and thought, "Jesus fucking Christ, I would hate to have my privacy invaded like that." People's sympathies were with Clinton, not with the special prosecutor, not with the GOP-controlled/out-of-control Congress.
I promise you this, OAU: Everyone in your life who has seen the website where that malicious piece of shit made your private and consensual sexual conduct public—everyone worth keeping in your life—had the same reaction that the American people had to the impeachment of Clinton: "Jesus, I would hate to have my privacy invaded like that."
So how do you address this without making things more uncomfortable and awkward than they already are? By acknowledging the discomfort and awkwardness (D&A) that has already been created while simultaneously and subtly drawing attention to the fact that said D&A are not of your creation. The conversations you're going to have with friends start with this premise: You've been victimized by this asshole and so have they. Practice saying this: "You know more about my private life than you ever wanted to. I'm going to stuff it down the memory hole and pretend it didn't happen. I hope you will too." You also might want to memorize and riff on these wise words from two other people who have been similarly victimized:
"I started to [make] an apology, but I don't have anything to say I'm sorry for." —Jennifer Lawrence
"The real problem here was not me sending my pictures to someone, but rather, sending them to the WRONG someone. The real travesty is a misplaced trust." —Dylan Sprouse
You too trusted the wrong person, OAU, and you don't have anything to say you're sorry for. Look people in the eye when you speak about it—when you speak briefly about it—then change the subject.
Finally: Check to see if you live in a state that has laws against revenge porn. If you do, lawyer up, call the cops, and press charges.
On the Lovecast, Erika Moen and her sex-toy comics: savagelovecast.com.