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How to react when a friend comes out…

October 11th 2018 marks the 30th year of National Coming Out Day, a day to celebrate friends, family, co-workers or anyone coming out as LGBTIQA+. Each person’s journey to coming out is unique, people come out at different ages, for different reasons and in different ways and there is no right or wrong way to do it. Despite marriage equality passing in 2017, coming out can still be a daunting process and many may be worried about other’s reactions. Some people’s reactions are great, others are… not as positive, whilst some just don’t know what to say.

So we asked four young queer people about how they would like someone to react if they came out to them.

  1. “Just listen – you may have had an inkling and may be tempted to say “I KNEW IT!” or maybe you had no clue at all and it’s a complete shock. But the chances are the other person has been thinking about telling you for a while and might have a couple of different things they need to get of their chest. Even if you’re being supportive, jumping in to speak straight away may make the other person feel uncomfortable or overshadowed.”
  2. “You just want people to have unconditional positive regard and be empathetic about it. I think even if you know the person won’t react badly it can still be a very hard thing to tell someone for the first time. I can’t think of specifically what you could say I think it would be very individual.”
  3. “What I would have liked someone to say when I initially came out was ‘Thank you for telling me this. I understand that may have been a hard thing to say, I still care about you.’ Because it is important to acknowledge that it can be hard for people to come out. It would be good for that person to then end the conversation with ‘Is there anyone else who knows? Is there anyone else I shouldn’t mention this in front of?’ If that person is the first person I came out to I wouldn’t have wanted them outing me to others. I also wouldn’t want them to talk about me in front of people that, if they found out my identity as a queer person, would put me at risk.”
  4. “I’d want them to assure me that it doesn’t change our relationship. I’d probably want a hug and I’d want them mostly to be an ear.”

Regardless of whether you are LGBTIQA+ or an ally, take a moment on National Coming Out Day to celebrate the courage it takes to come out.

For more information about coming out, how to react and much more visit: https://www.hrc.org/resources/national-coming-out-day

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