Dear Straight People,
Every time I come out to one of you, I’m usually greeted with a stunned silence. Every now and then, I elicit an uncomfortable chuckle. But most of the time, it is just a very awkward and tense silence.
That reaction of course, is understandable. There is no script to follow when it comes to situations like these. No social etiquette established for moments like these. Even gay people like myself never quite know what to expect whenever I come out to someone.
If it is confusing for me, I am sure it is even more confusing for the straight person receiving the confession. After all, having a friend whom you’ve always assumed was straight tell you that he or she is gay is probably as shocking as getting told Darth Vader is your dad. Except that in your case, disbelief wouldn’t quite pass off as an appropriate reaction.
In order to put a stop to all the uncomfortable painful silences occurring around the world, here are some tips on how to deal with a gay friend or relative who just came out to you.
The most important thing you should demonstrate is to show acceptance. Every coming out confession is always haunted by the fear of rejection. So the most important thing you should do is to first and foremost, put that fear of rejection to rest.
For example, you can tell them that you still love them (as a friend).
But if you can’t bring yourself to say something too mushy or cringe worthy, a simple ‘It’s ok’ will suffice. The crux of the matter is that you reassure your friend that you accept him or her regardless of their sexuality.
While this may come as a surprise to you, demonstrating an appropriate amount of curiosity is actually a good thing!
Under no circumstances should you act like this:
The reason is that whenever a gay person comes out to you, chances are that he or she has played that scenario over and over again in their head beforehand. So while it may not be a big deal to you, it is a huge deal to the gay person making that confession. Thus, acting indifferent only serves to convey that you don’t care enough about your gay friend or relative’s life.
So remember to demonstrate an appropriate level of curiosity. An example of an appropriate question is to ask them when they realised that they were gay. An example of an inappropriate question is to ask them whether they have AIDs.
Unless you have been specifically told otherwise, common sense should tell you not to spread the information around. Most gay people would prefer to choose whom they come out to. It is not your right to come out for them without their permission.
While making fun of each other is pretty common in any close friendship, there is a time and place for that. The time when a gay person comes out to you is definitely not the right time to make jokes about his or her sexual orientation. If you want to make gay jokes, save that for the next time you meet him or her.
Feeling insulted or hurt that your gay friend did not come out to you sooner is actually pretty understandable. However, being angry at them is definitely not going to help anything. I am sure your gay friend or relative had very good reasons for not coming out to you sooner so try to be understanding of that fact.
So regardless of how insulted you feel, don’t be like this gif and try to control your feels
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