7 Tips for When Your Friend Comes Out to You
Coming out can be terrifying. Here are some tips for supporting someone who has come out to you.
- Believe them. Believe me, if they're sharing this with you, they have questioned the hell out of it already. Now is not the time to question what they're telling you.
- Don't out them. They may not be out to all of your mutual friends. Or to their family. Or at work. Coming out is a complicated process that never ends. If you’re not sure when they come out to you about where it’s ok to use or share this information, just ask. And respect their answer.
- Don't demand education. You might be confused or not understand what they're going through, but they have zero obligation to educate you. Try searching the internet for information. Check sites of well known LGBTQ+ organizations for more information.
- Be supportive. Tell them you're there for them if they need it. Ask if they need anything specific from you to feel supported.
- Offer to help educate others. It’s exhausting having to come out again and again, and risk getting the same questions and doubt again and again. If you can help take some of the burden off of your friend, it can make a huge difference. But don’t assume what your friend does or does not want -- always ask them.
- Don't be silent. You might think it’s no big deal and consequently that you don’t need to say anything, but odds are your friend may take silence as disagreement with or invalidation of who they are. Not sure what to say? Try: “Thank you for trusting me with this and sharing this about yourself.”
- Don't offer analysis or commentary. Maybe you think labels shouldn't matter or you want to smash the gender binary or maybe you want to share your opinion on they as a singular pronoun. Don't. Just don't.