About 45% of my friends are open otaku. The rest of them are closet otaku. Everyone I'm friends with is pretty much an otaku. The closet ones just say anime sucks cuz they wanna hold onto whatever American aesthetic they feel they're detaching themselves from by simply watching a foreign animated, English dubbed animation.
Not until my 9th year. I made a few close friends and had no idea they were otakus (they didn't seem like the type since they were actually popular/cool and stuff) until one day in science I overheard them talking about Bleach. I had only watched Code Geass, Gurren Lagann and a few other animes at the time so they sort of laughed at me because giant robots, but after that suddenly everyone I knew either has read manga, watches anime or, say, plays Pokemon.
They're not the stereotypical geeks or nerds that otakus are generally seen as, which is kind of awesome. It's nice to share common interests with friends who are a little more extroverted.
I never befriended an Otaku, but i have met at least one. Once, at Comics, out of boredom, i was drawing Robotnik (the one of Pingas) in mspaint, so he saw me and aksed me "Are you a SEGA gan???" The rest of people were laughing (me included) because "sega" in Italy, means "saw", but it also means... *fap fap fap...*
Ok, we all know that he was meaning the Sonic SEGA. Yes, let's say he's an Otaku, but next time i met him, i'll report him this site: i think he'll like it! =)
Then, in my High School class i had an Otaku girl who would read only Yaoi and watch Heitalia (beautiful cartoon... just like Italy is made only by morons... ಠ_ಠ), but then this person revealed to not be an actual Otaku, but a gigantic tard. First she says she wants to be a mangaka (not even japanese, eh), then she wants to be a top model and later she wants to be an actress... do the whore, next time >_<
Amazingly enough, the friend I bitched about in the brony thread watches a hell of a lot of anime, reads a lot of manga, and does all that other good shit. I can't really complain about this part of him because he doesn't bother me with it.
In real life, no, not really. And don't get me started on the internet-dwelling otaku folks.
I may or may not be considered an otaku in the broader sense of the word. I don't follow new shows as often as I'd like. I don't really give a shit about hiding powerlevels. I don't subscribe to that "taking the word 'waifu' dead seriously" bullshit, nor the word "3DPD" (I do own a body pillow from a few years back though). My room would give my tastes away in a heartbeat, though not as bad as the stereotypical MERCH FUCKING EVERYWHERE room. Just a couple shelves of figures and some posters.
Also, I've often been curious, how did "otaku" go from being a mostly derogatory term in Japan to being adopted as a common colloquialism or sometimes badge of pride? Same way as the N-bomb?
A term describing a group of people has no intrinsic positive or negative value. Value judgements hang on the sides of words, and can fall off or be attached pretty much arbitrarily. Nigger was once upon a time a neutral term, like "black" or "african american" is now.
Otaku probably became a badge of pride since it pretty much just refers to people who like anime and manga. People will always tote around terms that they identify with. It's still a mostly derogatory term in Japan due to referring to those without jobs or a life to speak of outside of anime/manga, though.