7 Ways To Support A Friend Who Is Coming Out Of The Closet

Reviewed by LaTonya MeChelle, Love & Relationship Coach
Written by Niharika Nayak, BA (Media & Communication)  • 

This Pride month, it is essential for us to acknowledge that LGBTQ+ folk exist and often face considerable stigma from most of society. Due to this, it is challenging for those questioning their decision to come out of the closet and reveal the truth to their friends. So, it is important to find ways to support a friend in need and be there for them. If someone is coming out to you, they probably see you as a trusted person and have decided to take this bold step. Or maybe they have come to you for advice before they come out to the rest of the world. In either of these cases, you must follow some tips for accepting the news. Below are seven ways you can support a friend who has decided to come out of the closet.

1. Listen To What They Have To Say

Listen To What They Have To Say
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The most significant way in which you can support a friend who is coming out is by listening to them. It doesn’t matter what their orientation is; just make sure to hear them out. For most people, coming out of the closet is a way for them to live their authentic lives as the person they were always meant to be. Validate their identity by using terms that they prefer. If you are unaware of these terms, you can research them online or ask your friend directly.

2. Create A Safe Space For Them

Create A Safe Space For Them
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If someone has decided to come out of the closet and reveal their identity to you, you need to understand that they see you as a safe space. This means that it is not right for you to disclose any information they tell you unless you have their explicit permission. This also means that you must not out them in public if they haven’t had the chance to come out to others yet.

3. Don’t Divert From The Topic

Don't Divert From The Topic
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Please do not steer the conversation towards yourself as the conversation is about them and their gender expression. Even if you have a fun anecdote about your uncle, who is also from the community, now is not the time to discuss it. Unless your friend asks you if you know anybody else in the community, keep your stories to yourself.

4. Be Respectful Of Them And Their Trust

Be Respectful Of Them And Their Trust
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When someone involves you with the intimate details of their lives, it can be pretty scary for them. However, you must understand that them confiding in you is a major honor. Thank them for this, and do not tell them that they are confused and need more time. Also, remember that you need to keep your social boundaries in check. Sure, you might be excited and curious to know more but avoid enquiring too much, or else you may scare them off!

5. Be Affirmative

Be Affirmative
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It is essential to be positive towards your friend when they come out. Since it is such a significant decision to make, you mustn’t add any more negativity by telling them to “take some time.” When someone comes out of the closet, they will most likely face exclusion or be seen differently by those around them. Hence, for you to be an affirmative figure in their life will be pretty significant for them. For example, if your friend has decided that they want to change their pronouns, please make use of them, and don’t freak out if you accidentally mess it up. Support can come from many different outlets.

6. Follow Their Cues

Follow Their Cues
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It’s important to note that if your friend has decided to come out to you, they have put a lot of thought into the matter and have concluded that you can be trusted. They might keep things cool and mention it casually during the conversation, or they might want to have a detailed one-on-one discussion with you. Either way, it’s crucial that you don’t over-react or ask them uncomfortable questions like “If you like women, are you attracted to me?” or other silly ones. Be kind and inspiring and don’t become hyper-emotional or question their statements. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you show no interest at all; it just means that you need to make sure that your friend stays the center of the conversation.

7. Check In With Them Regularly

Check In With Them Regularly
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Another great way that you can provide support to your buddy is to be accessible to them. Let them know that they can reach you at any time during the process of coming out and provide them with multiple means of communication. Coming out of the closet often demands a lot of emotional labor, and not everyone can handle it as easily. Check-in with your friend so that they feel self-assured and confident.

We should support LGBTQ+ folks any way we can. And if you find any of your friends coming out of the closet, there are a few ways to support them. Listening to what they say, creating a safe space for them, not diverting the topic, being respectful and affirmative, following their cues, and checking in with them regularly will help you in comforting them. Also, ask them if they need any help and be there for them in their tough times. If they need therapy, help them find the right therapist and mental health resources.

Key Takeaways

  • It is important to be aware of the social stigma against the queer community, making them vulnerable in society. It is a challenge to come to terms with their own identity because of the lack of safe spaces.
  • Be positive towards your friends when they come out. No need to remind them that things will get tough. They are already aware of it and wish you to be their ally on difficult days.
  • Revealing one’s identity is their right. If your friend comes out to you, acknowledge that they trust you. Honor that trust and understand you do not have the right to share this information unless they tell you so.
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