"how do you properly react when someone comes out to you?"
- Question submitted by Anonymous
I always think being honest is best. BECAUSE YOU GUYS. When people try to act like everything is cool it just makes EVERYONE FEEL SUPER WEIRD.
Things that people said to me that made me feel weird:
“oh yea, I kinda figured”
“Jesus still loves you, he just doesn’t necessarily love your choices”
“ohhhh is that why you always spent the night with Carly?”
“I don’t care, I know lots of gay people”
Now, some of these were well-meaning, but anytime someone said “I don’t care” it made me kind of sad bc like… I DO CARE. You know? It took all my guts to figure out how/when to say I’M A GAY (or whatever I ended up saying) and then PERSON was so dismissive about it, you know?
I don’t think you should act fake surprised and I don’t think you should make everything super dramatic and say things like “OH MAN ARE YOU GONNA BE OKAY?!!?” I think you be the good friend you are, and be honest. Whether you were expecting it or not, simply saying, “So, if I have questions should I ask or are you not there yet?” can be an AWESOME way to open up the floor and make the conversation more inclusive of your friends feels without making a big statement that might make the whole convo weird. You know? If they’re open to questions, ask if they’ve talked to family, how that went, their thoughts on being out at work, if they’re dating someone, stuff like that so they have the floor to talk about anything and feel totally supported and comfortable!
Agree, agree, agree.
Also, I am sorry to break it to you, but 8 out of 10 coming-out moments are totally awkward. IT’S JUST THE WAY THINGS ARE. Unless the coming-out moment is part of a larger conversation, ie: “Oh my ex-girlfriend used to LOVE One Direction,” there is really no way to react that will make the conversation seem like your everyday exchange (btw in that exchange you obviously reply, ‘omg who’s your favorite member?!’).
Coming out has a tendency to be awkward, because not many everyday exchanges include announcing our identity categories. “HELLO LISA, I AM DOMINICAN, JUST SO YOU KNOW.” “HELLO TODD, I AM A COMPETITIVE SWIMMER. DIDN’T WANT TO KEEP ANYTHING FROM YOU.” “HELLO MOM, FYI I PREFER TO WEAR BOXER BRIEFS.”
If the coming-out moment is an announcement (as many are) rather then part of a larger conversation, then what I recommend is to say, “Thanks for sharing that with me. I know coming out is a big deal for some people, and for others its really easy… but whatever it was for you, I just want you to know I care about you and I appreciate you trusting me enough to share a part of yourself. Also, so long as this doesn’t affect your affinity for pizza, do you want to go to the dining hall with me?”
Then, you’ve not only said, “I care about you,” but you’ve acknowledged the moment as important, AND you’ve given them the opportunity to just grab some pizza and move along if that’s what they need/want/etc. On the way to pizza-town you can then follow up with, “Also, if you ever want to talk more about anything I am all ears.”
Blam. Boom. Best friend award goes to YOU.
Thank you and good day.