When someone you love and are close to chooses to come out as lesbian, gay, transgender or bisexual, how you respond is important. Even if you feel shocked, taken aback or simply don’t understand, letting the person know you love them is a good way to start. This is a hard path to follow as many people have reservations about a loved one coming out about their sexuality, but it doesn’t make them any less of the person they were or are to you.
You may feel a certain way about the LGBTQ community, and many people give into misconceptions, therefore, it is vital to focus on the person coming out. This is someone important to you, and possibly someone you may have known most of your life, which is why you need to show your willingness to understand and support their choices. At the core, this is the same person you know and love, the only difference is their gender identity or sexuality.
How Do I Properly Respond to Someone Coming Out?
Before you really choose how you’ll respond to the news of someone coming out, consider this: how did you feel about them before you knew? Why should the way you felt about that person change because of their gender identity or sexuality? Just because a person doesn’t ascribe to traditional ideals doesn’t make them any less of who they were.
It is perfectly alright to let the person know you will need time to process what you learned, and more importantly, you will support them nonetheless. This is also a good time to ask reasonable questions as it shows the person you’re serious about wanting to understand them. However, it is important to tread lightly and remain respectful because as uncomfortable as you may feel, the person confessing probably feels worse.
When a person chooses to come out, it is usually many months or years of internal struggles that lead to the point of confession. Don’t make a person feel bad or pressured to change. It is important to let a person define who they are on their own terms, and when they’re willing to share, lend an ear!
What Do I Do if Someone I Care About Is Transgender?
In some instances, someone coming out as transgender is wholly random and unexpected. In other cases, you may have had an inkling about the person. Regardless of how surprised you are, it is important to respond as well as you can under the circumstances. Remind yourself of your past relationship with the person, whether through blood or interests, and consider why any of that should change.
Let the person know that you’re going to do what you can to show your support, however, you will need time. It can take practice and plenty of acceptance to learn a person’s new name and the pronouns they prefer to use. As you’re on the topic of the person coming out, you can seize this opportunity to ask questions and talk about what’s going on. This shows a higher level of caring and understanding. LGBT counselling is available for those who may need it.
**Do exercise caution when posing questions, especially with something as sensitive as coming out. It is best to stick to questions that are fair but not too deep.
You will undoubtedly feel uncomfortable during this conversation, and understandably so. However, never discount the true feelings of someone coming out as it is a process that takes a long time!