Action Tips: How to Deal When Someone Comes Out to You

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When a friend or relative comes out, it can be frontpage news for you and your buds. How do you handle it? We've got some advice from LGBT resources that will help the transition for everyone.

Don’t Force Them

Asking the person bluntly or making fun of him or her won’t bring your friend or family member any closer to telling you. Instead, show your support of the LGBT community by:

  • Mentioning your support for laws protecting gay or transgender rights.
  • Referring to a gay family member that you have.
  • Not using anti-LGBT words.

They Might Not Tell You First

This doesn’t mean they don’t trust or care about you. A lot of the time coming out involves how the person expects others to react. If you aren’t the first to know, continue to wait.

Don’t Tell Others

They should be in control of who knows. Instead, ask if it would be easier if you were in the room when they come out to their friends or family.

What to Say When They Come Out

  • Don't ask “how” or “why."
  • Focus on how glad you are that they shared this with you. (“Thanks for telling me. That must’ve been hard.”)
  • Express your support. (“I am so proud of you.  Nothing will change between us.”)
  • Don’t worry if you feel confused or surprised. Tell them that it will take some time to get used to. (But still show support.)

Take Action

  • Challenge your classmates to stop using anti-LGBT words.
  • Find out if your school or job has sexual orientation in its anti-discrimination policy. If not, then change it or write a letter to the head of the company.
  • Start a Do Something Club that tackles LGBT discrimination. 

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