When a friend comes out: a guide

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author: katelynn kowalchuk | contributor


jeremy davis

I first came out as bisexual on Facebook four years ago, when I was a senior in high school. I figured that by doing it that way, people would be able to approach me of their own will, rather than me sitting everyone down for “The Talk.”  

Of course, I recognize my own privilege in being able to come out in this fashion; being raised by an incredibly supportive family with LGBTQ+ family members and having a wonderful support group within my circle of friends enabled me to continue about my daily life after coming out with very little backlash. My experience has been relatively easy compared to so many others who have been faced with prejudice, social exclusion, and hatred from both within and from outside the LGBTQ+ community.  

Many people fear that which they do not understand, and that can be seen across the spectrum of social interaction. As well, many people don’t know what to say or do when a loved one comes out, as bisexual or otherwise. Below, I list a few simple actions one can take to support someone who comes out to them.  

 

  1. Don’t out them to anyone.If a friend comes to you in confidence regarding their sexuality orgender identity, that is a sign of incredible trust and should not be taken lightly. While you might be accepting of the LGBTQ+ community, there are still many people who are not, and outing someone (whether intentionally or not) can place them in a severely compromising and potentially dangerous situation. 

  2. When asking questions, be respectful.It is exhausting having to answer “So when you get married, does that mean you’ve chosen a side?” over and over again. While your friend may be happy to answer questions about their orientation, others simply may not have the emotional energy, and that is completely valid. Google is your friend, and chances are your question has already been answered by the Bisexual community at large. If your friend is alright with questions, just make sure that you are respectful of personal boundaries.

 

  1. Stand up for them (and the LGBTQ+community).If you’re hanging out with a group of people and one of them makes a derogatory remark about the LGBTQ+ community, call them out. Being a good ally means standing with us even when it’s difficult; remember, if it’s difficult for you as an ally, it is fifty times more difficult for us.  

 

  1. Listen.This one ties into allthe others. Active listening and learning is crucial when supporting a loved one who has come out. If they say that something makes them uncomfortable, listen to them. If they tell you it’s not okay to refer to them with a certain term, listen to them. Coming out can be terrifying, and it is your responsibility as an ally to make that process as painless as possible.  

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