Friends coming out: do’s and don’ts
Coming out as LGBT can is stressful for many reasons. Friends can be of great help in this phase. Make sure you know what you can do.
We understand coming out of the closet is a big event; not just for your friend, but for you as well. So, it’s difficult to stop letting your emotions take a hold of you. Yet, it’s important to listen to the smaller details.
Has your friend been able to come to terms with his/her sexuality? What kind of support does your friend need? These are things that you can figure out only by listening and not by answering these questions yourself.
Show your interest
‘Being okay’ with someone’s newly revealed sexuality is, more or less, mere ‘tolerance’. Try and ask them, without being forceful, about other things, like whom they like at school or work or among famous people.
True acceptance would mean showing a positive curiosity and interest about their romantic interests, of the same kind that you display with your straight friends.
Stop tolerating homophobia
Whenever people make casual, homophobic jokes and remarks in your friend circle, make sure you call them out for doing that. This will help your friend feel secure and safe about having confided in you and build a deeper bond of trust between the both of you.
Remember: your friend is still the same person
Sexuality is only one aspect of anyone’s personality. Try not to reduce the entire essence of your friend’s existence to this one, single aspect. Remember that they still continue to be all the other things they were apart from identifying as LGBT.
‘Are you sure?’ As far as clichéd questions go, this one takes the cake. Maybe they are not really gay? Maybe it’s an illusion? When did it first strike them ‘to be different’ anyway?
Remember that it doesn’t work that way. There’s no particular moment when straight people ‘realise’ that they are straight. It works more or less in the same way for most LGBT people, too.
Say ‘YES! I’ve always wanted an LGBT friend’
While this might seem like a positive reaction, it’s not very flattering and quite rude. It’s like saying you wanted a pet poodle and now you got one. Don’t reduce your friend’s sexuality to an item on your bucket list.
Let it change things between you
Even if you feel a bit different around your friend, try not to let it show on your face. This is the most important thing you can do for your friend to make them feel accepted and warm.
This can be exciting news but it’s important to find out if your friend is okay with you talking about this to others, including even your parents, other close friends, etc. Even though your friend may be okay with their sexuality, it doesn’t imply they are okay talking about it to anyone and everyone.
What would you do if a friend came out to you? Share your thoughts in the comments or on Facebook.