Now that you have come to know that Rahul is gay, it does not mean that you should start treating him differently. He is still the same - really!
Being gay or lesbian is just one aspect of their personality and they are much more than their sexual orientations.
The reason to be friends with them should just be the same as it is with other people – you both share the same interests, you like their sense of humour or you both enjoy the same music artists.
Do not believe in the stereotypes around you. All the people around you look and behave in different ways. Same applies to gay men and women. You cannot judge a person’s sexuality based on their appearances or actions. Once you have understood this concept, let’s move forward.
Most people from the LGBT community would use the pronouns ‘they/them’, however, some may prefer to use ‘he/him’ or ‘she/her’. It’s always a good idea to ask politely what pronoun the person prefers using.
It may feel awkward using ‘they’ as a singular pronoun in the beginning but stick to it. Imagine how you would feel if you identify yourself as a girl and people keep addressing you as a boy using ‘he’.
Using the correct gender pronoun makes a person feel accepted and seen for who they are. Before asking a question about someone’s gender identity, be sure you aren’t putting them in an uncomfortable position. Also, ask yourself if the information you’re looking for is really necessary for interacting with them.
Many intersex people (people who are born with ambiguous genitalia at the time of birth and may have both sexual organs) also prefer to use the pronoun ‘zhe’.
Now that you know a person in your group is either gay, lesbian or bisexual – do not assume that he/she will get sexually attracted to you. If you are a girl, does that make all straight boys interested in you?
The same applies to the people from the LGB community too. Just because a person is attracted to the people of the same gender, it does not mean they will be romantically interested in you because you are a male or a female.
You really want to be friends with your colleague who is a lesbian or a gay but you do not understand what exactly it means to be one. It’s perfectly okay. If he or she is good friends with you, express your lack of knowledge to them in a respectful manner. You might actually want to approach the person for helping you understand them better.
Initiate a chat like, ‘Hey Rahul/Sunaina, I do care about you and consider you as my friend. However, I do not completely understand what it means to be gay/lesbian. Would you mind telling me more about it and help me understand this important part of your life?’
We understand everything is new to you and it’s obvious you have questions like – how do you have sex, do you not like girls/boys at all, how do you date etc. Before you ask any such questions to your gay or lesbian friend – stop and think how will you feel if someone asks questions to you about your sex life. Why and under what circumstances would you like to share this knowledge about your private life with someone?
You may or may not choose to disclose such information to anyone. It’s how comfortable you are talking about these topics. Similarly, a gay or a lesbian person may or may not choose to talk about these topics. If you have a question that is bothering you, you should only ask someone you are very close to.
Just like all of us, most people from the LGBT community have their own struggles, pains and experiences too; albeit a bit more than us. That does not give you the liberty to be sorry for them. Be supportive of them – be a good listener and lend them your friendship, love and support.
So your colleague Rahul is gay and you strongly believe that maybe having a talk with him can change his mind? Well, we suggest you keep it to yourself.
Even if you or your ideologies do not approve of their sexuality – do not impose it on them. Accept them as they are. If you have an opinion on why being a gay or a lesbian is wrong – keep it to yourself. Do not make the mistake of talking about it.
Let’s reverse the situation for a moment. Think about how you would feel if Rahul wanted to have a chat with you to change your mind about being heterosexual. What if he walks up to you and says – being straight is wrong?
You can support people from the LGBT community by being an ally. Use their preferred pronouns, be respectful, don’t judge, let them be themselves and express themselves as they wish. If you are confused or unsure about something, ask politely, don’t make assumptions.
Educate yourself by reading more about different gender identities; stand up for your friends from the community when they are put in an uncomfortable position. Make sure that you are not putting them in an uncomfortable position.
Just because they are from the LGBT community, it does not mean they want to talk about their gender identity all the time. Respect their feelings and privacy.
At the end of the day, no matter the gender, we are all only human and treating each other as such would be a good start towards supporting people from the LGBT community.
Meanwhile, watch out another video for more information on gender.