Tuesday, February 9, 2016

What To Do When Someone You Love Comes Out

I've been on both the giving and receiving ends of a coming out, so while I'm not a trained professional, I like to imagine I am. I have things I wish people had done when I came out to them, and I have things I should've done when people came out to me. I've compiled a list of a few of them:

  1. Listen - Its taken years for your loved one to finally be comfortable with the idea of being LGBTQ, let alone comfortable with telling us. They've got a lot built up, let them talk about how they're feeling, what they're worried about, what they're happy about, etc. Give them as much time as they need to express this large spectrum of emotion. 
  2. Give assurance - Chances are that if they're talking to us specifically about this, they care about our relationship, and feel like we deserve to know something still very personal. We need to assure them that we love them, and that we're thankful for our relationship with them. Assure them that being LGBTQ doesn't effect that love, its just another part of them to love and appreciate. 
  3. Don't make it about you - Have I made this mistake? And has someone made this mistake when I came out to them? I plead the fifth. They don't need to know about our gay uncles or our trans teachers, that can be discussed later. Right now they need to know they aren't in the wrong. Theres still a bit of self loathing going on, so its nice hear that they're both loved and supported. 
  4. Have a sense of humor - Being someone who uses humor as a defense mechanism, I've found this to be useful and harmful. Its an incredibly thin line that has to be walked with care. You need to think about what you're saying ten times over before you say it, but if its something really good that'll lighten the mood, go ahead and say it. Its a tense situation, some ice will definitely need to be broken. 
  5. Offer assistance - This isn't a conversation that'll happen and be over. 41% of trans people and 30% of gay people attempt suicide every year (source1/source2), so its important that we offer as much support to them as we can. Offer to accompany them when they come out to someone. Go with them to an LGBTQ center, it wouldn't hurt for either of you to be informed. Our loved one is going through an odd time, they're going to need us close by for a couple months, just like they'd do for us.  
Obviously I'm far from a therapist, or any type of professional really, but I'd like to believe that some of what I listed will help ease the coming out process for someone. Its pretty difficult, and can get a bit awkward, so I think we should take any lil piece of advice we can get to try and ease the situation. Remember to offer as much love, support and guidance as possible.

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