How To Support A Friend Who Revealed Their Sexual Identity

Sharing your sexual identity with somebody is always nerve-wracking. Even if you know that the person will love and support you unconditionally, it can still be a challenge to bring up. If you’re a good friend, you want to be there for your friends, no matter what their orientation might be– but nobody’s born with the innate ability to be the best ally possible. It’s important to understand that when somebody chooses to tell you about their sexual orientation, they’re doing it because they trust you and want you to share in this important part of their life. Sharing their sexual identity is a significant moment in your friend’s life, and how you respond can have a profound impact on their well-being and sense of acceptance. So how can you show your support? Here are some things to keep in mind.

Listen with an Open Heart and Mind

When your friend confides in you about their sexual identity, it’s crucial to listen attentively and without judgment. Create a safe and supportive space where they feel comfortable sharing their feelings and experiences. Avoid interrupting or offering unsolicited advice. Instead, let them know that you are there to listen and support them unconditionally.

Validate Their Feelings

It takes courage for someone to come out and share their sexual identity with others. Validate your friend’s feelings by acknowledging the significance of their disclosure and expressing your support and acceptance. Let them know that you value and respect their honesty, and that their identity is valid and deserving of respect.

Educate Yourself

Take the initiative to educate yourself about different sexual orientations and identities. Familiarize yourself with terminology, resources, and organizations that support LGBTQIA+ individuals. This knowledge will help you better understand your friend’s experiences. For basic things, it’s easy to find great resources; GLAAD maintains an excellent list. But make sure to pay attention to your friend’s lived experiences. No sexual identity is a monolith, and your friend’s experiences are just as unique and special as they are.

Respect Their Privacy

Coming outis a deeply personal decision, and your friend may not be ready to share their sexual identity with everyone in their life. Respect their privacy and confidentiality by not disclosing this information to others without their consent. Let your friend take the lead in deciding who else they want to confide in and when they are ready to do so.

Offer Your Support

Let your friend know that you are there for them and ready to offer support in any way they need. This may involve providing emotional support, accompanying them to LGBTQIA+ events or support groups, or simply being a shoulder to lean on during difficult times. Ask them how you can best support them and be responsive to their needs.

Challenge Homophobia and Discrimination 

As a friend, it’s essential to challenge homophobia, transphobia, and discrimination whenever you encounter it. Speak out against derogatory comments or discriminatory behavior, whether it’s in your personal interactions or in larger social contexts. Be an advocate for LGBTQIA+ rights and equality, and use your voice to create a more inclusive and accepting environment for your friend and others in the community.

But also, make sure that you’re doing advocacy the right way. If you dive headfirst into allyship without putting in the time and doing the research to educate yourself, it can come off as shallow and uninformed. Supporting your friend is an ongoing process, and it’s essential to continue learning and growing. Stay informed about LGBTQIA+ issues and experiences, seek out opportunities for education and advocacy, and be open to feedback. And don’t forget your friend in all of this! You should be taking cues from them to find out what they want and what type of support is actually helpful for them.

Celebrate Their Identity… And Follow Their Lead!

You probably want to celebrate your friend’s sexual identity and embrace their uniqueness. Your friend has trusted you with something that can be very sensitive, and while some people are ready for pride parades and glitter bombs right away, not everybody who comes out wants that kind of enthusiasm. Remember to keep things centered around your friend and let them lead. Be enthusiastic, but always let them take the lead. Maybe they want to go to all of the events! Maybe they don’t! Every person in the LGBTQIA+ community is different, so listen to your friend and don’t overstep their boundaries. By showing your support openly and proudly, you affirm their sense of belonging and acceptance– whatever that support might look like.

Be Mindful of Language

Pay attention to the language you use when talking about your friend’s sexual identity. Avoid making assumptions or using language that is insensitive or offensive. Use inclusive language that respects and affirms their identity, and be open to learning and correcting yourself if you make mistakes. And when you do make mistakes– it happens!– the best thing to do is apologize sincerely and strive to do better in the future. Don’t make a big production out of the apology; drawing it out can make a newly-out person more uncomfortable than the mistake did!

Encourage Self-Care

Coming out can be an emotionally draining experience, and your friend may need extra support and self-care during this time. Encourage them to prioritize self-care activities that help them recharge and maintain their well-being, whether it’s spending time with loved ones, practicing mindfulness, or engaging in activities they enjoy.

Be Patient and Understanding

Remember that coming out is a journey, and your friend may be navigating complex emotions and experiences as they embrace their identity. Be patient and understanding as they navigate this process, and avoid imposing your own timeline or expectations on their journey. Offer your unwavering support and understanding, even if you don’t fully understand their experiences.

Respect Their Boundaries

Your friend’s comfort level and boundaries may evolve over time, and it’s essential to respect their boundaries and preferences. If they express discomfort or hesitation about discussing certain topics or participating in certain activities, honor their boundaries and avoid pressuring them to do otherwise. Respect their autonomy and agency in navigating their identity journey.

Keep Your Fears To Yourself

It’s not a secret that there are immense challenges to anybody under the LGBTQIA+ umbrella today. In the US, LGBTQIA+ human rights are under attack in many states, and you may be fearful for your friend if they live in a place or have a family situation that isn’t supportive of their identity. But their coming-out moment is not the time to express this. Trust us: Your friend knows. But they’ve chosen to come out because they need to feel like their true selves, and they chose to tell you because they feel like you’re a safe person who they can trust. Let them know that you’re there to support them, and in the moment, that’s all that matters.

Remember that at the end of the day, your friend trusting you with their sexual identity is an act of love. If you or they need additional support, reach out to the therapy team at Love Heal Grow. Our therapy team is LGBTQIA+ friendly– in fact, some of us are part of that community, too– and we’re happy to help you with any questions you may have.



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