6 Ways To Support Your LGBT Family Member
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Politics and Activism

6 Ways To Support Your LGBT Family Member

We know it can be hard, but "Be quiet, Tiffany."

6 Ways To Support Your LGBT Family Member

A few weeks ago I wrote an article titled, “How I Didn’t Come Out” and it reminded me how lucky I am; I have an amazing family who knows how to support me. A lot of people don’t have this. Not because their family members don’t want to support them, but because they don’t know how. But don’t worry! I’m here to help. Here’s how you can support your LGBTQIA+ family member.

1. Get educated

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There are plenty of websites online where you can find more about the LGBTQIA+ community. One of the most helpful is Genderbread v3.3. This is a gingerbread person, and it explains the difference between biological sex, gender identity, attraction (both sexual and romantic), and gender expression. Educating yourself about these things is extremely overwhelming, but the next time your LGBT+ family member comes to you and talks about something happening in the community, you can show off your stuff-- and they’ll be happy to see that you’re learning and that you care enough to take the time to learn more about the community!

Specifically, you should read up on how your family member identifies. There are plenty of books about it, and if you don’t want to buy it just google it. I’m dead serious-- you can find anything on the internet. Their pride flag, definitions, examples, everything. And trust me, just an hour looking up information will make it easier to understand your family member!

And if you don’t want to google, that’s fine-- here’s a list of LGBT+ terms and their definitions. You’re welcome.

2. Express yourself

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Tell your family member that you support them. Even if you just say the words, “I support you” it will mean a lot. Coming out of the closet is stressful, even if your family member knows that you will support them. I knew 100% that my family would support me, but my stomach was still in knots until I heard the words.

3. Ask what they’re comfortable sharing

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Not everyone likes to share every part of their lives. Asking your family member what they’re comfortable sharing is important-- it shows that you care about them and want to know more, but only if they want to share that information. Personally, I hate sharing personal experiences with people I don’t know too well. Some experiences I would love to share with my family, and some I would never share with them. I know that I can tell my family, “I don’t feel comfortable sharing that,” and they’ll back off.

4. Don’t make their sexuality into a joke

This is very straightforward. DO NOT make their sexuality a joke. That makes them a joke. They are not a joke. They are a person, they deserve validation. I don’t care if they made jokes, hearing those exact jokes from a loved one hurts. I’m pansexual, and the most common joke I get is, “Haha, so you’re attracted to pans? What about the pots?” I hate it. As soon as someone says that joke to me a red light goes off, and they’re branded as untrustworthy in my mind.

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5. Follow your instinct

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If you think you shouldn’t say something, "Be quiet, Tiffany." If you think you should, do it. Most people are good at taking hints from others, and you can read body language. If you’re having a conversation and your family member looks uncomfortable, stop.

6. Respect

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This should seem easy, but sometimes it’s not. There’s no need to tell everyone and their mother about your family members (sexuality, gender identity, etc.). Respect your family member. If you’re confused/interested, ask them questions. If they say they’re not comfortable answering, accept that and move on.

Everyone has been where you are. Everyone starts somewhere, and it’s great that you’re thinking about learning more about the LGBTQIA+ community! There are plenty of informational books on gender identity, sexual orientation, gender expression, and more online through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google Books, and so many more sellers. Here are a few of the resources I found when I was just starting to educate myself about these topics (including some mentioned in this article already):

The Social Justice Advocate’s Handbook: A Guide to Gender written and illustrated by Sam Killermann (http://www.guidetogender.com/)

The Genderbread Person v3.3 (http://itspronouncedmetrosexual.com/2015/03/the-ge...)

Comprehensive* List of LGBTQ+ Term Definitions (http://itspronouncedmetrosexual.com/2013/01/a-comp...)

LGBT Books for Adults of All Ages ( http://www.uua.org/lgbtq/discuss/25457.shtml)

Milk, the documentary. Released in 2008 about the life of Harvey Milk, leader of the 1970s Gay and Lesbian movement and the first openly gay politician of the United States. Includes a lot of LGBT history as well as dramatic action!

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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