Happy Pride everyone! Pride is a month of commemorations of the Stonewall Riots in the summer of 1969. During these riots, trans folks led the movement for LGBTQIA+ rights across America. Today, LGBTQIA+ communities come together to celebrate freedom. In the spirit of freedom and pride, some folks choose to come out to their friends and loved ones during this time.
How can you support someone who has come out to you? Here are 8 ways:
- Thank them for trusting you and for having the courage to tell you. If someone comes out to you, it’s because they trust you and feel safe with you. Recognize this and thank them for it because it’s an honor.
- Respect that they may not have come out to everyone just yet. Just because someone has come out to you, doesn’t mean they’ve come out to everyone in their life. Respect their confidentiality and be intentional about not outing them to others by using a name, pronouns, or implying sexual preference without their EXPLICIT permission to do so. For example, if someone comes out to you as non-binary and asks you to use “they/them” pronouns when you’re with them, ask, “Do you want me to also use they/them pronouns when I’m around others?”
- Be the same friend/family member you’ve always been. Sometimes behaviors and interactions change between someone who has come out and their friends and family on the receiving end. This could be because you want to be careful not to offend them, but it is often interpreted as rejection. To make sure that the person who came out to you doesn’t feel rejected, be sure to maintain your friendship and even reach out more often. You can reach out shortly after the disclosure to ensure them that you are still friends.
- Don’t say, “I love you no matter what.” Instead say, “I love you.” The former implies that something is wrong with their identity and wouldn’t be worthy of your love. However, it is important that your person feels accepted and not rejected. Thus, communicating that you simply love them is always the best way to go.
- Anticipate and be prepared for mood swings and teenage-like choices. While coming out, some friends and family members may not be accepting—this can be hurtful and may result in angry outbursts or crying spells. Be prepared to help them in the best way possible during this time. Not only is coming out nerve-wracking and scary, it’s also exciting. When you were a teenager or in college and coming into your identity, you likely experimented with different outfit choices and hairstyles and explored your sexual likes and dislikes. Expect the same for the person coming out to you.
- Go to places together. It’s important for your friend or family member to not feel isolated during this time. You can combat isolation by offering to go to different events with them, by taking them to lunch or coffee, or by connecting them with other LGBTQIA+ people that you know.
- Educate yourself. Rather than pepper your friend/family member with a bunch of questions about things you don’t understand, take it upon yourself to learn. It can be burdensome and may feel invasive for your person to answer a multitude of questions over and over again. If anything, ask them how you can best support them. You can check out PFLAG, as well as books for parents, friends and allies, and everyone else.
- Go to therapy. If you are really struggling with the news, it may be time for you to get some support from therapy. You want to be the best version of you to support your person (because you love them), so therapy can help support you. You can schedule with me