How To Respond When Your Friend Comes Out To You

How To Respond When Your Friend Comes Out To You

"So does that mean we CAN ride rainbow unicorns off into the sunset together?"

It's 2017, and we can definitely say that, for the majority, we as people have made great strides in terms of humanity's acceptance of LGBTQA identities. Yet in spite of this, it is often still very difficult for community members to embrace their sexualities in the very beginning. For someone to admit to their non-heterosexual feelings and attractions is a HUGE deal. And as if it wasn't hard enough to acknowledge this internally, there's still family, friends, and virtually the whole rest of society to consider breaking the news to.

So let's say you're approached one day by a dear friend who says they've got something to say.

They're gay (or bisexual, or pansexual, or whatever!).

And as your friend's chosen confidant, you find yourself wondering, "how can I support my LGBT best friend?" If you're not too familiar with the LGBT community, you may worry that you'll accidentally offend your friend, or that you won't know how to be there for them like they need you to be. But fear not! As an LGBT community member myself, I have a few suggestions for heterosexual allies that you will hopefully find helpful:

1. Don't assume they're telling you because they MUST have feelings for you.

One of your first instincts may be to think, "oh my God, they're confessing their love for me"; that's okay as long as you don't act on this assumption. If they really haven't given you any clear indications that they're into you, you should hold back these thoughts for now. After all, they only JUST came out to you; emotions will probably be running high for you both, so the last thing either of you need is a misunderstanding like that. Most likely, they chose to come out to you because they trust you- don't break that trust so easily with a silly fear.

2. Don't tell any of your friends - not even the mutual ones

Coming out is a very delicate process that you shouldn't get personally involved in. That is, it isn't your news to tell, so keep it to yourself. Your friend may not have gone to the others yet, or maybe they don't plan to, so it's important that you respect their wishes for privacy. If you've got the urge to share, write to yourself in your journal, or spill the beans to your favorite stuffed animal. Seriously- it's not worth wrecking a friendship over.

3. Don't ask them if they're sure.

Something a lot of people don't know is that sexuality is fluid. It can change over time depending on a given situation, or maybe just because for an individual, it's meant to change throughout their life. Either way, chances are, if someone's coming out to you, they're pretty darn sure that they've got it right. The fact that they're mentioning their sexuality at all means they've given it a lot (like A LOT) of thought already. When they come to you, it means they're ready to embrace themselves for how they realize they feel.

They might even change their minds, and say, for example, that they're not bisexual, but instead are homosexual. That's okay, too! Just let them tell you when and if they're ready to do so. Until then, trust what they're saying from the get-go.

4. Be sensitive about asking questions.

If you personally aren't part of the LGBT community, you may find some things about it a little confusing. All of these new ideas are being thrown your way and you're not quite sure how you should take them. And with your friend, in particular, you might want to ask them how they knew, or if they ever had a same-sex encounter before, or any other questions related to their sexuality. Just be sure to take care when you're questioning them. Don't be too pushy. You can be curious while still being respectful. And if you do offend them, take the time to apologize sincerely and make sure they know you didn't mean to hurt their feelings.

5. Celebrate their self-discovery - and don't make it about you.

The friend that comes out to you might have been the only person oblivious to their homo-proclivities. Maybe almost everyone else close to them was pretty certain that they were flaming gay for years. Even still, don't reply with an "I knew it!" or a "how did it take you so long to figure that out?". Discovering and coming to terms with one's own sexuality is a very, very individualized experience. It takes everyone in the community different lengths of time to figure it out! Unless your friend will definitely appreciate your humor, don't make any jokes about how they didn't know while you supposedly did all along.

6. Let them know you're here for them.

Just like you would in any other situation, give your friend a hug (or a firm, business-like handshake, or whatever you do to express your compassion) and reassure them that their coming out to you will not negatively affect your friendship. You may have some dissenting views about LGBT issues, but it's important to look at your relationship overall and decide if it's really worth it to have a social or political argument potentially destroy what you have.

Thank you for reading this article, because that means you are genuinely interested in supporting not only your LGBT friends, but the entire community as well. It warms my heart to know that we've got some really positive straight allies out there in the world. On behalf of the whole community, I thank you sincerely for your understanding.

Cover Image Credit: Olivia Gemarro

Popular Right Now

6 Things You Should Know About The Woman Who Can't Stand Modern Feminism

Yes, she wants to be heard too.


2018 is sort of a trap for this woman. She believes in women with all of the fire inside of her, but it is hard for her to offer support when people are making fools of themselves and disguising it as feminism.

The fact of the matter is that women possess qualities that men don't and men possess qualities that women don't. That is natural. Plus, no one sees men parading the streets in penis costumes complaining that they don't get to carry their own fetus for nine months.

1. She really loves and values women.

She is incredibly proud to be a woman.

She knows the amount of power than a woman's presence alone can hold. She sees when a woman walks into a room and makes the whole place light up. She begs that you won't make her feel like a "lady hater" because she doesn't want to follow a trend that she doesn't agree with.

2. She wants equality, too

She has seen the fundamental issues in the corporate world, where women and men are not receiving equal pay.

She doesn't cheer on the businesses that don't see women and men as equivalents. But she does recognize that if she works her butt off, she can be as successful as she wants to.

3. She wears a bra.

While she knows the "I don't have to wear a bra for society" trend isn't a new one, but she doesn't quite get it. Like maybe she wants to wear a bra because it makes her feel better. Maybe she wears a bra because it is the normal things to do... And that's OK.

Maybe she wants to put wear a lacy bra and pretty makeup to feel girly on .a date night. She is confused by the women who claim to be "fighting for women," because sometimes they make her feel bad for expressing her ladyhood in a different way than them.

4. She hates creeps just as much as you do. .

Just because she isn't a feminist does not mean that she is cool with the gruesome reality that 1 in 5 women are sexually abused.

In fact, this makes her stomach turn inside out to think about. She knows and loves people who have been through such a tragedy and wants to put the terrible, creepy, sexually charged criminals behind bars just as bad as the next woman.

Remember that just because she isn't a feminist doesn't mean she thinks awful men can do whatever they want.

5. There is a reason she is ashamed of 2018's version of feminism.

She looks at women in history who have made a difference and is miserably blown away by modern feminism's performance.

Not only have women in the past won themselves the right to vote, but also the right to buy birth control and have credit cards in their names and EVEN saw marital rape become a criminal offense.

None of them dressed in vagina costumes to win anyone over though... Crazy, right?

6. She isn't going to dress in a lady parts costume to prove a point.

This leaves her speechless. It is like the women around her have absolutely lost their minds and their agendas, only lessening their own credibility.

"Mom, what are those ladies on TV dressed up as?"

"Ummm... it looks to me like they are pink taco's honey."

She loves who she is and she cherished what makes her different from the men around her. She doesn't want to compromise who she is as a woman just so she can be "equal with men."

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

How Starting Your Journey Is Half Of The Battle

"You can start your journey any day at anytime."


Not that long ago, I wrote an article about a little phrase I heard on my friend's snapchat story. It got a tone of views and a lot of great feedback. And just in time for the beginning of the new school semester, he said something else that just kind of stuck with me.

He said that you can start your journey any day, at any time.

Okay so we've all heard this before but have any of us actually taken the time to put that saying into action? Well, quite recently I have. I used to be the type of person who waited until last minute to do everything, whether it was homework, a workout plan or whatever I wanted to accomplish. I used to be the type of person who said that at whatever time I'll start my homework and if it was a minute past that time I would have to wait to the start of the new hour....yes like the meme.

But now, ever since I heard that quote, it's been replaying in my head on a loop. Which is why I now just do things at the moment they're thought of and not a certain time. I decided that this is the semester, I don't wait until the last minute to do all of my work, and so far it's going well. I decided that this is the perfect time to get in shape, and not wait until the New Year, because I'm the skinniest most out of shape person that I know. I decided that instead of waiting until the new year to eat healthier that I'm going to do it now.

For a while I have wanted to get back into dance. I kept saying that I'll sign up for classes again when I finish school. But instead I decided to do it now, registered for a ballet class at school and signed up for ballroom dance, and it hands down has been one of the best decisions I have made.

Honestly it's been weird not having a set start date and time for certain things, but why would I put off doing something that I want to do? What I will say though, is that not procrastinating on homework has made these first couple of weeks of the semester fly by and seem like a breeze.

Just by letting go of the idea that every thing needs to have a set start date and time and a set date and time to end has made the pressure of things go away. By just starting my journey for whatever I'm doing right now, has increased my happiness and my overall productivity of what I'm doing.

So a little word of advice just go for and just do whatever you want to do right now.

Related Content

Facebook Comments