Oh, no! Your friend / family member / coworker just came out to you. What do you do? Not to fear! Here’s a short guide on what to do when it happens to you:
- ACCEPT THEM AS THEY ARE. It took considerable thought and courage, in finding the right moment and the right words. Now is the time to show openness, patience, and attentive listening. If needed, take a moment to reflect before responding, allowing their words to sink in.
- ACCEPT THEM AS THEY ARE. Understand their apprehension about your reaction. By confiding in you, they’ve made themselves quite vulnerable. Acknowledge the significance of their trust and the courage it took to reveal this aspect of themselves. Let them know their decision to share is deeply meaningful to you.
- ACCEPT THEM AS THEY ARE. With this newfound knowledge, they’re likely anxious about the future of your relationship. What lies ahead? Ensure your response is sincere, avoiding any hint of taking their disclosure personally. Reassure them that your understanding extends beyond yourself; this is about them, not you.
- ACCEPT THEM AS THEY ARE. They shared this with the intent of having you know them better and to have a more authentic relationship with you. Continue to extend the same love and support you’ve always shown them. Nothing has changed, except you now have a little more information about this special person in your life.
Above all, remember that this disclosure was never intended as a personal attack. There was no ill intent. Coming out requires a level of bravery and resilience that may be hard for any cis/het person to truly comprehend. They chose to share this part of themselves willingly; they owed you nothing. Think about it! In this day and age (and political hellscape), you have a person in your life who values you so much, they put their very real fears aside to pursue a more genuine connection with you. That’s beautiful and should be celebrated!