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Supporting Someone Coming Out

Coming out as LGBTI+ can be terrifying. If a friend or family member choose to come out to you, it’s because they trust you and want to share this important part of themselves with you. Being LGBTI+ is not wrong or strange, so don’t act like it is. Try and accept their sexuality without prejudice, and show them love and support. For many LGBTI+ young people, this is a really difficult time.

If a friend comes out to you, remember that they are still the same person; you just have more information about them than you did before.

  • If someone is choosing to come out to you, it shows that you are important to them. Reassure them of your continued friendship and support. This is important as they may be afraid that you will  reject them, and that they would lose you as a friend. Be the friend you have always been.
  • Try not to react badly, even if you have strong feelings about LGBTI+ issues. If you judge your friend, or express disapproval, you will do nothing to change your friend’s identity, but you will hurt them and make them feel rejected and uncared for. It is also important to remember the potential impact rejection by friends and family can have on the mental health and wellbeing of LGBTI+ people.
  • Offer your friend a hug – it could mean a lot to them.
  • You might feel hurt that they hadn’t told you before, but try to remember the challenges and fears LGBTI+ people often face in being open about their identity.
  • Respect your friend’s privacy – it is up to them to decide if, when, and how they tell other people.
  • Just because a friend has told you that they are LGB or T, don’t assume that this means that they fancy you.
  • Just because your friend is LGBTI+ doesn’t mean that everyone will think you are.
  • You may be curious, but be sensitive when asking questions. Don’t ask questions that would have been considered rude or inappropriate within your friendship before they came out to you.
  • Your friend may not want you to do anything. They may just need someone to listen and be positive.
  • Offer to support your friend in whatever way they need, for example support them in coming out to others or to their families. Help them to find information about local LGBTI+ groups and offer to accompany them if they want to have a friend with them.
  • Learn more about LGBTI+ issues and the LGBTI+ community. This will help you to better understand and support your friend. But remember, everyone’s experience is different.
  • Continue to do what you have always done together. LGBTI+ people often fear that coming out will change everything in their lives and this can be frightening. If you have always played football with your friend on Saturday, continue to do this.
  • It’s never too late. If someone has come out to you before and you reacted badly, you can always contact them and try again.
  • Be an LGBTI+ Ally. Challenge homophobic comments, attitudes, and help to create LGBTI+ friendly environments.
  • You could make it easier for friends to come out to you by making it clear that you are positive and respectful about LGBTI+ people. For example, if they have heard you challenge homophobic comments or talk comfortably about LGBTI+ issues and people, this could help to reduce any anxiety they have about coming out to you.