When a friend comes out

Out of the blue, your best mate tells you they're gay/bi/a lesbian. How do you deal with it and how can you be there for them? We give you a few pointers on helping a friend whose just come out.

friend coming out

Remember how hard it must've been for your friend to open up.

Firstly, coming out is a big step for anyone. You should be flattered that your mate chose to confide in you. It shows that they hold you in high regard. Don’t freak out at the prospect though, it is unlikely they want to jump into bed with you. Instead think about the following:

Be careful how you phrase things

When you meet new people, do you ask if they have a boyfriend OR girlfriend? By not assuming other people’s sexual orientation, you let your friends know that it’s OK to tell you if they’re gay.

Don’t believe stereotypes

Don’t expect your friend to change their appearance and their identity because they’re not straight. They haven’t become a different person overnight. They won’t suddenly acquire dress sense and aspirations of a career in hairdressing, nor will they rush to shave their head and join the pool team. Sexual identity is part of your personality, it doesn’t and shouldn’t shape your whole life.

Know how hard it was for them to tell you

You might not share the same beliefs as your mate, but you can still support them. Chances are that they were scared to tell you, especially if they thought you wouldn’t approve of their decision. It’s completely normal to feel uncomfortable and nervous, especially if you haven’t known gay people before. Try to remember that nothing has changed about your friend except that they have been more honest with you.

Interested in supporting gay rights?

You don’t have to be gay in order to support gay rights, it is simply a striving for equality. If you want to help make a difference get out there and do something, however do consider your mate. They may not have told anyone but you, so don’t go parading them about as a gay icon/ needy cause. Don’t turn their emotional rollercoaster into gossip, they have enough to deal with, surely.

Keep talking to them

Don’t clam up after the initial conversation you and your mate have about them coming out. If you keep talking about it you will both be better able to be comfortable with the situation.

Next Steps

  • Do you want to understand your relationship better? Love Smart helps you work it all out.
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.

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Updated on 02-Dec-2015