It is that time of the year, soon after pride month (June), a lot of people who have been in the closet would want to come out. So, as an ally, here are few things you could do to help the individuals or friends who come out to you.
A simple understanding that everyone should know is, coming out of the closet is not a single step. It does not end where one just says ‘I am Gay’ or ‘I am Bisexual’ or ‘I am Queer’. It obviously does not require for the whole world to know what is his/her sexuality; until unless they want it out in the open. Today, acceptance in the society is not something that someone is looking for as they only consider the loved ones to understand them.
So, here are a few things that you should and shouldn’t do when someone comes out to you.
- Please do not tell them that you will set them up with another friend of yours who is also a Queer. No, they do not need to you to do the matchmaking business.
- You need not tell them that you love them no matter what their sexuality. They obviously know that you love them and that is the reason they chose to come out to you.
- There is no necessary for you to react like it is a secret that they have been hiding forever from you. Yes, it is a secret but don’t expect that you should have known sooner.
- Do not reply that you are cool with it. Try and understand their emotion and react respectively. You can probably say, “Thank you so much for trusting me with this” or “I feel honored that you chose to share this with me.”
- Avoid any personal questions about their body or sex.
- Avoid making the statement that you always had a doubt or intuition about them being queer.
- Avoid referring to them as your ‘gay best friend’. Being queer is just a part of them like you being straight!
- Have an affirming conversation with them stating that you value them and always remember to wear a smile even if you have million questions.
- If you do not understand their sexuality or gender identity, tell them that you roughly know what LGBTQ is but do not understand what pansexual or trigender is, (i.e. if they identify themselves as pansexual)
- Ask them if they want to celebrate knowing that they have someone to support (you).
- If you are not sure what to say, ask them, how can you be of support to them?
- Ask what they want to represent themselves as – either he or she or they.
- Ask them if they want to be part of Queer groups.
Finally, if you have ever made a comment on LGBT, apologize to them immediately and state that you had made the comment unintentionally.