Coming out can mean a variety of things to the person doing it: The possibilities are endless: exhilarating, tense, painful, upsetting, beautiful, all of the above, none of the above. There is nothing better than coming out to someone who makes you feel comfortable and protected at the end of it, as everyone who has gone through it or goes through it frequently knows, though.
Particularly when done in secure, comforting environments, coming out might easily be a gay person’s first experience of personal empowerment. However, the reality is that the process of coming out has a higher likelihood of disempowerment. This occurs when persons on the receiving end, who are frequently taken by surprise, stumble and slip into outdated mentality. Rather than recognising, accepting, and establishing a safe place, they could respond in ways that invalidate feelings, divert attention, or belittle the queer experience.
Every time I’ve come out to someone since five years ago, when I first started coming to terms with my sexuality, I’ve learned that there are some things you shouldn’t say to them.
Whatever they’re coming out about—sexuality, gender identity, or anything else—there are a few things you should avoid if you want the person to feel supported rather than embarrassed or uneasy at the end. You should never say the following things to someone who comes out.
Things To Never Say To Someone Who Just Came Out
“Are you sure?”
Before making the scary decision to come out, those who identify as LGBTQ+ frequently suffer greatly with their own emotions. Despite your best efforts, asking them, “Are you sure?” in response to this can be interpreted as questioning the emotional process that led them to that place. You may potentially add, “It’s always excellent to know what you enjoy and desire, instead of expressing what can be seen as uncertainty.” I appreciate you reaching out to me.
It must have been difficult for your parents.
Yes, the parents may have found it difficult. But what’s this? longer and more intensely than you can imagine, it was worse on the person. A self-accepting individual finds staying in the closet to be uncomfortable, but the road to self-acceptance is much more difficult. The actual anxieties of being assaulted, abandoned, discriminated against, and disadvantaged have been faced by LGBTQ+ people. In actuality, LGBTQ+ teenagers had a threefold higher suicide rate than their straight peers. Even though it seems reasonable to feel sorry for their parents, it’s inappropriate in this situation. Try saying, “I hope you are handling your parents’ answer well.” If you want to chat, I’m here.
“I knew already”
Even if you may have known something about the person who came out to you for some time, hearing “I’ve always known” in response to something that requires a lot of bravery to accomplish is incredibly demoralizing. Try saying something like, “I had quite a feeling that may be the case, but I’d be interested in hearing more if you’re willing to talk about it,” if a friend or member of your family comes out to you and you want to let them know you’ve known all along. Making someone’s coming out process about you is typically not the best course of action; instead, maintaining your attention on them and their experience is incredibly empowering.
“You are very strong. How challenging it must have been for you to be in the closet.”
Yes, being in the closet is often not the greatest place to be, but it’s vital for supporters to keep in mind that there are instances when LGBTQ persons must remain in the closet in order to protect themselves (physically, emotionally, or both), better understand themselves, or even accept their own emotions. Although coming out of the closet is daring, many LGBTQ individuals wish it didn’t have to be; also, staying in the closet if necessary is not cowardly.
“Chill! Nobody cares. Its 2023!”
Who gives a damn? The homosexual community is concerned. Lesbians give a damn. Bisexuals give a damn. Most people who choose to share a personal aspect of themselves with you do so out of a sense of caring, and some of us care a lot. Although knowing that you are unconcerned with who we want to bang, hold hands with, or make googly eyes at is somewhat consoling, it still undoubtedly took us a long time and a lot of bravery to find the words and utter them. You know?
Why didn’t you inform me earlier?
They most likely did it out of fear, I suppose. Not because you are a monster, but rather because they adore you and were afraid of losing you if they came out. Anything’s crucial to avoid taking it personally. You are asked to provide focused and immediate empathy when a loved one comes out. Although the hurt you feel from being “left out” is genuine, give it a day or two. Your current attention should be on how to honor your loved one’s life and all of their decisions, including the choice to come out to you. Begin the celebration by expressing your pride in your decision to live your truth in front of everyone.
“Are you the woman in the relationship or the man?”
More than anything else, this query reveals a basic lack of understanding of the idea of same-sex love. Additionally, it misdirects attention away from identity and onto the sexual act at a moment when the individual is most vulnerable. When someone comes out, they are revealing their emotional truth with you and exposing their hearts to you. Instead of posing this query, just express your appreciation for the person’s courage in coming out to you by saying, “I embrace you for who you are.” I appreciate you coming out to me.
Will you be my gay best friend?
Like any other human being, people who identify as LGBTQ+ might be entertaining or annoying, but the important thing to remember is that they are people, not things or accessories as the “gay bestie” stereotype in popular culture would have you think. Instead of responding in this manner, take this chance to reiterate your love and helpful relationship: “I appreciate you much more since you are courageous and honest.” I appreciate you reaching out to me.
You’re very manly, though!
This attitude, on the other hand, expresses skepticism that a “manly” man could be homosexual or a “feminine” woman might be a lesbian. Being in the closet is an uncomfortable experience, and it may be equally upsetting to say anything to someone who is coming out that implies they don’t correspond to their “new” sexual identity. Simply saying, “I didn’t know, but I’m so pleased you came out to me,” might be a better approach.
“I bet it hurts your parents not to have grandkids,”
Some individuals like to mention how disappointed they imagine my parents must be for some absolutely illogical reason. In addition, coming out is all about telling the truth and having honest conversations. First of all, there are many methods for LGBTQ individuals to have children (yes, including biological children, if that’s your thing). Unfounded assumptions have no place, which is exactly what it means to believe that LGBTQ individuals cannot have or raise children.
What a pity, you would have been loved by all the boys/girls.
When I initially started out, I received this one a lot. Yes, who in their right mind wouldn’t adore me on the one hand? I am amazing. However, it’s not a shame. No matter if they would have liked me or not, straight, cisgender males are not even on my radar when it comes to seeking a partner.
Who are you dating, exactly?
Coming out does not always imply that the coming out individual is dating someone. People who come out as transgender, gender nonconforming, queer, lesbian, asexual, bisexual, gay, or anything else covered by the abbreviation LGBTQA+ may do it because they’ve begun dating someone or discovered the love of their lives, but they aren’t always doing it for any of those reasons. As you wouldn’t snoop into a straight or cisgender person’s dating or sex life, don’t do it to a queer person either since who someone is dating and whether they’ve come out are frequently unconnected.
Do you believe this will pass?
When someone comes out to you, your first concern shouldn’t be to challenge the very identity that they just had the guts to reveal. Since gender is flexible, you could assume an innocent query is appropriate, but there are also non-urgent, non-essential inquiries. This is a prime illustration.
Be aware that your main purpose in being there is to listen, after which you’ll consider how you might offer assistance if necessary. One thing is certain: challenging their reality is not at all a sign of solidarity.
When did you “decide” that you were gay?
Numerous studies have shown that, rather than being influenced by our own free will, our sexual orientations are mostly determined by our genetics and environment.
So being queer isn’t something that someone just decides to be.
It is crucial that you refrain from using the word “decide,” since it indicates that you are accusing your buddy of choosing to be homosexual and might lead them to believe that they are to blame for the discrimination they face in society. When they are confiding in you with their deepest secret, the last thing you want to do is embarrass them.
Say “Tell me about the first time you had feelings for a boy or girl” instead.
But my faith forbids homosexuals, including individuals like you.
People’s right to live true lives should not be hampered by religion. Second, it’s repulsive that you fund organizations that favor just a certain number of individuals.
If, even in 2023, you find it difficult to accept that humans are just like other things, you should keep your opinions to yourself and instead think about how much confidence someone has in you to tell them the truth.
You’re not interested in me, are you?
If a heterosexual person doesn’t have a crush on every friend they have who is the other gender, then a queer person probably doesn’t either. In this context, we refer to the sex we identify with as “gender” rather than the sex with whom we are anatomically paired.
Instead, inquire as to if there is somebody they like whom you both know. You could speak out on their behalf!
“Does this imply that you’re going to begin…”
Ignorant inquiries about lesbians frequently include, “Does this indicate you’re cutting your hair short?” Is this a sign that homosexual people will start donning makeup?
These are pointless inquiries that, whether posed with good intentions or not, are best avoided. You run the danger of coming off more than anything else as a pseudo-ally who is fixated on outmoded gender boundaries and optics. Instead, turn your attention back to the individual who is speaking openly to you about their particular human experience.
“Haha, is this just because you haven’t had a girlfriend yet?”
When you want to know what your homosexual friend does at night, put down the biology book; love has nothing to do with how things fit.
“I’m not sure what to say at the moment, dude.”
If you don’t, sometimes a hug will do since radio silence is the worst. Be normal, the best responses seemed so natural that they aren’t even worth remembering.
Members in the LGBTQIA+ community face an even greater disadvantage if they are unable to live out their truth. According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America, “between 30% and 60% of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, or transgender persons battle with anxiety and depression at some time in their life” (ADAA). As compared to their heterosexual or gender-conforming colleagues, this rate is “1.5 to 2.5 times greater.”
For individuals who have the opportunity to come out to accepting friends and family, however, things get better. The indicators of anxiety, melancholy, and burnout (such as emotional tiredness, cynicism, and emotions of personal success) were less common in lesbians, homosexuals, and bisexuals who were out and proud of their sexuality.
There is an opportunity for you to change the statistic and, more significantly, the life of a loved one when someone does come forward with their coming out story. Perhaps all it takes is to say something like, “Thank you for coming out to me. Here, you’re secure.