What to do when your friend comes out to you

Coming out is different for everyone who does it. For some, the rewards that result from telling the truth are incredible. For others, though, the thought of shining a spotlight on their sexuality is intimidating. If your friend recently came out to you, then they might be feeling free, freaked or—even more likely—some combination of the two. No matter where they fall in the feels category, your friend will need you to be there for them. Putting their feelings first and doing these four things for them will make you a rock-solid source of support

Learn more about the LGBTQ+ community
It’s pretty common to be confused by what’s not familiar to you, so don’t sweat it if your conversations with your friend lead to some confusion on your end. What you should do is spend time reading up on the LGBTQ+ community. Find definitions for the terms and phrases your pal uses. Better yet, look into events that the community hosts each year so that you can tag along with your friend (should they want you to) to be an active ally and supporter. No matter what, gain an understanding of the topics your friend may talk about.

Show them you care
Coming out can be an emotional process in a lot of ways. Your friend likely needs to be reassured that you still care about them after receiving this new information. Some love powerful, passionate hugs. If your friend is one of those people, wrap them in a bear hug. If they prefer emojis over embraces, text them a heart each day to let them know you're always on their side. Whether it’s a tight squeeze or a text, the gesture you choose should be one that makes your friend feel cared for and completely comfortable being themselves.

Don't try to change things
This isn’t the time for dramatic switch-ups in your friendship. Although you might think swapping your usual routine for a bunch of new activities will boost your friend’s comfort level, that's probably not the case. They still look forward to your Friday froyo dates and love your Tuesday trips to the gym. Continuing to conquer the activities you’ve always done together will prove to your friend that coming out doesn't have to change a thing.

Do cheer them on
Now, there is *one* thing you could do differently. If you’re not already your friend’s greatest cheerleader, then it’s time to snag a set of imaginary pom-poms and get to work. Is your friend getting ready to come out to another friend or a member of their family? Make sure they know that you’ll be with them every step of the way. Does your friend want to hold off on telling certain people? Remind them that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with taking their time. 

No matter what, be supportive of your friend in this time of transition and don't forget to celebrate their bravery—after all, coming out is a huge accomplishment and something to be wildly proud of!

Has a friend ever come out to you? What did you do?

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by Megan Sawey | 12/11/2019