5 Things Not To Say When Your Friend Comes Out
Coming out is a complicated, difficult, heart-wrenching, and quite frankly terrifying experience. The experience itself is different for everyone, but the general themes seem to be the same across the board. Nine times out of ten when we come out to someone we trust, we tend to hear things that are very inappropriate. Here are some of the things you should never say to someone who has decided to come out to you.
“They did this to me!”
No one did anything to you by telling you they were bisexual. Actually, yes, they did do something to you. They placed a trust in you that you are now showing they never should’ve given you.
Do you not realize how hurtful that is to us, the queer person in question? We’ve been holding in this secret for god know’s how long, hiding our true selves, dealing with guilt and shame and sometimes disgust for years on end. Finally, we work up the courage to pull you to the side and let this soul crushing secret out in the hope that we’re gonna get some type of love and support, and what happens instead? You have a full blown meltdown, crying about how we are ruining your life.
So now, on top of everything else we’ve been dealing with for YEARS, we have to deal with you, your crying, your anger, and the added guilt of knowing that us trying to tell you the truth is what made you feel this way. That hurts more than you can ever know. However, we’re supposed to get over that immediately to coddle you and let you know that “everything’s ok” and “no, you didn’t turn me gay”.
“You’re a completely different person!”
No. We are not. Being out of the closet does not mean that our whole personality has changed. We’re the same people we were five minutes ago. Do you really believe a person completely changes when they come out? If so, wow. How ignorant.
“I’m going to tell everyone!”
Us coming out to you does not give you the right to tell every contact in your phone and/or every person on your friends list. We will come out publicly when we see fit. You should not and cannot forcibly out us just because you’re “hurt”. It doesn’t matter if it hurts you that someone you love or you used to date came out. It’s still not your place to out them to everyone else. You can and will irrevocably damage a relationship that way.
You think it “hurts” that someone you used to date is queer? Well guess what? It’s nothing compared to what we go through. It hurts to feel guilt and shame for years because it’s been implanted in your brain that what you feel and who you are is wrong. It hurts to wonder for years if you’re going to hell because you can’t help but be attracted to people of the same gender as you. It hurts to live around homophobic people and know that everything they’re talking about applies to you, but you can’t say a thing. It hurts to know that if you come out, all the people who claim to “love” and “support” you will turn on you in a second. That hurts. That’s the pain we deal with. Not your petty “omg, ew, you like boys/girls” crap.
“Is everyone gonna laugh at me?”
Straight people (and lesbian and gay people when the person coming out is bisexual) are afraid someone will laugh at them when a queer friend or family member comes out. This one is also a favorite from the former significant other. Your fear of being laughed at is petty in comparison to our fears.
Queer people are afraid of losing housing when we come out. Queer people are afraid of losing jobs when we come out. Queer people are afraid of being assaulted when we come out. Queer people are afraid someone will kill us when we come out. Being laughed at is the least of our worries.
“We want nieces and nephews. We wanna see you with a wife.”
The issue with this one is how do you know we want kids at all? We could be straight, get married, and still not have no kids. It’s also entirely possible for us to have children in same gender relationships. Adoption is always an option and, if you have the money, so is surrogacy. Also, transgender people exist! Two women or two men can be in a relationship and still have children together naturally.
There are a plethora of problems with this statement that begins and ends with “it’s not about you”. When someone comes out to you, it is not about you and your feelings. It’s about them opening up to you and trusting you with a part of their life that is very fragile. They are like the most delicate and beautiful piece of glass you can imagine. You should handle them with extreme care.
The people who say these things will swear up and down they totally “support” the person who came out to them. That is a complete and utter lie. To them, “support” means “don’t worry, we’ll make you normal again”. These people are also the “don’t ever speak to me about anything remotely gay” and “don’t ever correct my homophobia/biphobia” type of people.
If you really love and support us, remember that the coming out process is a sensitive one. Of course you’ll have feelings about what is happening, but remember you are not the center of attention. This is about your queer friend or family member. Love them, truly support them, and most of all listen to and accept them for who they are. They’ll love you forever for it.