What to do when a friend comes out to you
Last week we celebrated National Coming Out Day, an opportunity to celebrate people who have come out or are thinking of coming out as LGBTQ+. Maybe someone you know used this day as an opportunity to come out to you. You may not know how to respond when someone you know and love comes out to you, so we put together some tips.
1. Thank them for trusting you!
Coming out to you means your friend trusts you! Thank them for sharing this information with you and for trusting you.
2. Remember they are still your friend!
No matter how you feel – happy, sad, concerned, or unsure – the person who is coming out to you is someone you care about, right? Your response should reflect that you care! Be loving and supportive. Your initial reaction should be positive. If you have any concerns based on your personal and/or religious beliefs, hold off on sharing them until after you’ve had a chance to process what your friend has shared with you. Reinforce your love and your friendship. If they are coming out to other people in their life, your support may be even more important! Invite them to do fun things with you, check in with them via text or phone call to show them you still care!
3. Respect their privacy
Make sure your response shows respect. That means respecting your friend’s boundaries and privacy. It’s not the time to ask them personal questions. While you may be excited or confused by what your friend is telling you, be sure to respect their privacy, and not say anything to others. If you need a way to process your own feelings, think about who and how you’re going to talk about those feelings. Perhaps it would be helpful to write in a journal or talk to a parent or trusted adult. You can check out our tips for talking to trusted adults. Coming out is a very personal thing. Don’t share their name or what they’ve said to you unless you have their permission.
4. Try not to make it more awkward
For some, a friend coming out may be a positive experience! For others, it might feel uncomfortable for the both of you. No matter what, try not to make it harder for your friend. You can use a little humor or be positive in your response to help make both of you feel more comfortable.
5. Remember they are still the same person
Sharing this information may make you think that your friend is somehow different. But remember, they are the same person as they were before coming out to you!
If you are thinking of coming out yourself or if you want more information on how to support your friends, check out these resources from GLSEN, HRC, and read these celebrity coming out stories from Teen Vogue!
Remember, having a friend come out to you can leave you with a mix of emotions, but at the end of the day, remember that nothing has really changed. It is likely that people will come out to you at different points throughout your life and responding will probably be easier and easier with practice.