Trust, is a hard word for many. In a world where being themselves is a crime or a reason to be hated, a trusted friend is a luxury many LGBTQ+ people don’t have.
In such a world, if they trust you enough to come out to you, you have proven yourself to be a wholesome person.
At the moment of their coming out, they are at their most vulnerable situation, and whatever you are going to say, do or emote now is going to be etched in their memory forever and they will always judge you based on that.
So, this is how to manage the first few moments, when your friend says,
“Well, I’m gay/bi/lesbian/Trans/Non-binary,” etc
1. Don’t Gasp or show your shock of disapproval
You may be genuinely shocked, but right now this person needs your support the most. Look at them, if your discussion is going on a serious tone, you might even notice that their fingers are shivering and their lips are trembling.
If you gasp or show your shock now, they are going to feel gruesome.
Instead, Smile genuinely and brightly
This person who is trusting you enough must be someone you know dearly. Their sexuality is not going to change anything about this person that you knew about. You just got to know something that is of equal importance as their favorite color or their favorite food.
So just treat it the same way. Smile and accept it.
2. Don’t ask “Why?”
Because for obvious reasons, they don’t know. Heck, even the scientists are not sure why different people have different sexualities.
Instead, say “Thank you for trusting me”
It is not easy to come out, especially in conservative societies, and circles. They needed huge courage to come out to you. You are going to be thankful for that.
3. Don’t say, “No, you are not”
The last thing an LGBTQ+ person needs from someone whom they trusted, is not believing in them. Don’t make them explain and describe how and why they feel about themselves. They don’t need any more questioning.
Instead, assure them and accept them.
They have done questioning themselves for years or sometimes decades. What they need right now is the assurance of a trusted friend and an ally. Love them, and tell them you support them always and forever. Make sure you let them know that their feelings and thoughts are valid.
4. Don’t ask “Do you fancy me?” if you belong to their preferred gender.
One of the biggest fears of an LGBTQ+ person is that their friend may feel disgusted if they think you like them. Sometimes, yes you could be a girl and your lesbian friend may have or had a crush on you. But don’t ask about it. At least not now.
Instead, hug them, if they like it.
Right now, your friend needs a warm and genuine hug. You don’t need to know if they fancy you. On the good side, if you get comfortable, they might even tell you by themselves. First, be a good friend.
5. Don’t throw random pronouns at them
It’s not your place to assume pronouns of your friend now. Your friend may come out to you as a Lesbian, and they would like to use He/Him pronouns or She/Her pronouns. Sometimes, your non-binary friend may identify as He/Them pronouns or unusual but perfectly valid Xe/Xer pronouns.
Instead, clarify the terms
Ask them their gender identity, and ask them which pronoun they prefer to be called. I saw this wholesome video on Tiktok once that the teacher in a Zoom class had asked her students to put their pronouns as a part of their name in the chat.
You should always ask and clarify their pronouns because misgendering people can have serious consequences on their health.
6. Don’t ask about their personal life or relationships
It’s much better to control the impulse to ask your gay friend if he has a boyfriend, or your trans friend if they had gender/sex reassignment surgery.
You could be asking with good and honest intentions to know more about them or to relax the situation, but it might make them feel exposed and vulnerable.
It is much better to not burden them with such questions. These are extremely personal matters that only the person involved should start talking, by themselves.
Instead, offer them something they would enjoy.
If you want to make the atmosphere tension-free, you can ask them something they usually like to do. You can offer them some food, take them out on a shopping spree or start playing games.
Sometimes, this time your friend might even reveal to you that they never liked such things, and they instead like other things but never told you because they were worried that you would judge them.
So, now you got another chance to deeply understand your friend. Use it.
7. Don’t tell about someone else you know who is just like your friend.
“Oh, you know Josh, he is also gay. He told me like 2 months ago.”
No! Literally no! This is a huge red flag because you just outed your other friend to this friend. This would send chills down the spine of this friend because they might immediately wonder if you would tell about them to other people just. like this. This fear would make them go back into their shell of secrecy.
Instead, make the moment about your friend and let them talk.
They might have a lot of things to tell you if you show them that you are open-minded. Make it their moment, make it their time. Let them tell you everything that they decided they would like you to know about them. Accept them, treasure their trust and always be a good sport by keeping secrets because coming out is a process for them and not a destination.
. . .
It is the Pride month, and although this year will not be as festive as other years because of the global pandemic, the struggle of LGBTQ+ persons has not ended. With several countries around the world still criminalizing any non-heterosexual behavior, the LGBTQ+ youth are in constant tension and fear.
Coming out, for such individuals is a courageous moment of living their true self. Exposing themselves to potential hate and being vulnerable to losing a friend is not easy. As an ally of LGBTQ+ people, the biggest gift you can give them is your love and being thankful for trusting you.
That way their gratitude for you will be immense, and the respect they have for you will last a lifetime.
This post was previously published on Equality Includes You.
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The post 7 Things Not To Do When Your Friend Comes Out to You appeared first on The Good Men Project.