So, My Friend/Family Member/Person In My Life Just Came Out To Me. Now What?

With over 9 million people identifying as LGBTQ in the United States, chances are at some point, someone in your life is going to come out to you. Whether that is today, on National Coming Out Day, or any other day of the year, it is important that when they choose to take this step with you, you are ready to - and know how to - support them. So, from your friendly neighborhood queer, here is a guide to how to respond when someone in your life comes out to you.

Photos are from the 2018 Pride Festival in Lund, Sweden

 

Recognize that this may be a big deal for them…

Letting someone know any aspect of yourself can be scary. But your sexuality or gender identity - something deeply personal and sadly, often not accepted - can be terrifying to share. Acknowledging the courage it takes to come out can validate the person’s choice to make the decision.

But that being LGBTQIA is not.

While this is a big step, being queer is not a big deal. And by making it a big deal, it actually becomes more uncomfortable. Knowing someone’s sexuality or gender should not be any different than knowing their hair color or religion or favorite book. Be excited to learn a new thing about the person, but not because of what that thing is.

Deciding when to Come Out is their decision, and theirs alone.

Just because you know this person’s sexuality or gender does not mean anyone else does and it does not mean they want anyone else to. Always make sure to check with the person before saying something that could “out” them - or reveal their gender or sexuality in a way they would not want.

Don’t make assumptions.

Just because they like girls does not mean they like every girl. Just because they are trans does not mean they are definitely going to have any surgery. There is no one definition of queer, and everyone chooses to live their queer lives differently.

Along with that, the queer person in your life probably does not know the answer to every question you have. And even if they do, it might not be their place to answer. If you know the person well, you can ask about their experience, but that is probably all they can answer to.

Everyone just wants to feel loved.

This goes for every human - we all just want to feel connected and loved. Sometimes, hiding one’s sexuality can feel like a barrier to that connection, and Coming Out is a big step - it could break the barrier, or in some cases break the relationship altogether.

Let the person know that they are loved and accepted. That you have always loved and accepted them and now this is just one more part of the person you get to love and accept. They are the same person you always knew, they just get to be more genuine now than they were before.

 

A very happy National Coming Out day to all LGBTQIA readers - in the closet or not. May you someday find the community where you can be out and proud.