Coming out

When a friend comes out: Do’s and don’ts

By Harish P Tuesday, November 7, 2017 - 11:04
Coming out can indeed be stressful for various reasons. Friends can be of great help in this phase. Yet, sometimes, unknowingly, they might end up saying things that are far from helpful! Here’s our guide to how you can make it smoother for a friend who’s coming out to you.

We understand coming out be a big event not just for your friend, but for you as well. So, it’s difficult to stop letting your emotions take a hold of you. Yet, it’s important to listen to the smaller details and not just hold on to the big picture! Has your friend been able to come to terms with his/her sexuality, what kind of support does your friend need, etc. are things that you can figure out only by listening, and not by answering these questions by your own imagination.

Ask him/her if s/he likes someone yet

‘Being okay’ with someone’s newly revealed sexuality is, more or less, mere ‘tolerance’. So, don’t stop at the fact that your friend is attracted to people of the same sex. Try and ask him/her, without being forceful, about things like whom s/he likes at school or work or among famous people. True acceptance would mean showing a positive curiosity and interest about their romantic interests, of the same kind that you display with your straight friends.

Don’t be tolerant of homophobia anymore

Whenever people make casual, homophobic jokes and remarks in your friend circle, make sure you call them out for doing that. This will help your friend feel secure and safe about having confided in you and build a deeper bond of trust between the both of you.

Sexuality is just one aspect of life

Sexuality is only one aspect of anyone’s personality. Try not to reduce the entire essence of your friend’s existence to this one, single aspect. Remember that s/he still continues to be all the other things s/he was apart from being gay.

Ask ‘Are you sure? When did you first realise?’

As far as clichéd questions go, this one takes the cake. Every gay person who has ever come out has heard this question once in life. Maybe s/he’s not really gay? Maybe it’s an illusion? When did it first strike him/her ‘to be’ gay anyway? But remember that it doesn’t work that way. There’s no particular moment when straight people ‘realise’ that they are straight. It works more or less in the same way for most gay people too.

Say, ‘Yay! I’ve always wanted a gay friend!’

While this is obviously a positive reaction, it’s not very flattering. It’s like saying you wanted a pet poodle and now you got one. Don’t reduce your friend’s sexuality to an entry in your bucket list.


Let it change anything between you

Even if you feel a bit different around your friend, try not to let it show on your face. This is the most important thing you can do for your friend to make him/her feel accepted and warm.

Talk about this to others unless your friend is okay

This can be exciting news but it’s important to find out if your friend is okay with you talking about this to others, including even your parents, other close friends, etc. Even though your friend may be ok with his/her sexuality, it doesn’t imply he’s okay talking about it to anyone and everyone.

Persons in the picture are models. 

Have you faced any challenges with a friend who has recently come out?  Share your experience with Love Matters in the comment section of this page or on our Facebook page. If you have a specific question, please visit our discussion forum - Let’s Talk

About the author: Harish Pedaprolu is a writer and academic based out of Mumbai, India. He has been writing and editing content for the last 6 years. He has also been researching and teaching philosophy at the university level for the past 5 years. He can be reached out on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.

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