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How to support a queer person when they come out

In this article, we will use "queer" as an umbrella term for every member of the LGBTQ community which includes lesbians, gays, bisexual, transgender, pansexual, asexual and other non-heterosexual orientations.

It’s pride month! And In the spirit of appreciating queer people, I thought of the many different ways that homophobia can show itself, even in the little microaggressions. I remember listening to a podcast one day about how even families who want to be supportive of their family member or child who just came out can be unknowingly insensitive. As allies and even members of the community, it’s up to us to listen to (other) members of the LGBTQ community about the different ways we could be perpetuating harm against each other and try to fix them.

So based on research and also from conversations with individuals in the LGBT+ community, here are a few ways you can make your queer friend/family member feel accepted when/if they come out to you. 

 

 

  • Don’t assume you know. Each individual’s coming out process is different based on their personality. Remember to give them time, to take as long as they want before they claim their orientation. Don’t push, or out them. They should have all the power to come out the way they feel most comfortable. 
  • Show outright support, go out of your way to support them, talk to them about how to help. When they finally feel comfortable enough to talk about their orientation with you, be supportive. Don’t make it about you, or about how people will view you because it is not about you. Ask questions about how to help and how to be supportive. 
  • Don’t ask them if they’re sure. Even though many countries of the world have made same-sex marriage legal, homophobia is still very rampant and so if a friend, child or sibling is coming out to you, chances are they have struggled with it for years, and are absolutely sure that is who they are. Even if they aren’t it is not your place to question such a huge part of their identity. It can be very damaging, especially for LGBTQ kids. 
  • Don’t tell them it’s just a phase. This happens a lot when queer kids come out to family members. It is NOT a phase. Don’t ask them that. 
  • Don’t ask them about sex, because sometimes, they aren’t sexually active yet and it really isn’t any other person’s business but theirs. 
  • They’re trusting you with a very special part of them, don’t be insensitive.
  • Leave religion out of the discussion. It would be pretty insensitive to bring it up or talk about it when you have a loved one come out to you. 
  • If you as a family member got someone coming out to you, firstly ERASE the thought that you “understand” them, truth is; you don’t. Give a listening ear, and ask how best you can support them. Individuals require different degree of “support” from you. This could be as simple as you not rolling your eyes when you see them with the same gender, and it can be as strong as you being an Ally for who they are.

It’s not that difficult to be supportive of a queer friend/family member when you are of the strong opinion that every human deserves love in whatever form they inherently seek it and that they are deserving of respect solely because they are human. 

Do you have more questions around supporting friends or family who might be queer? You can reach out to our Moderators on our Facebook Page and we will respond.

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