So you have a friend, and you think they are gay. Better yet, they have already come out and told you about their alternative lifestyle. Either way, dealing with the issue of a friend coming out and the issues that go along with their alternative lifestyle is never easy at first, especially for a straight person. In any case, here is a guide for straight people who need a bit more grooming on the proper etiquette to use when dealing with a potentially gay friend or one who has chosen to come out to you.
Coming Out Styles
Understand that people have different methods of coming out . Some people think they are breaking big news to you, even though you may have known what they had to say all along. Some people plan things out carefully, and others may accidentally bring up a topic of conversation that outs them. In each situation, it is best to react in the way that is going to make them feel the most comfortable. Coming out is never an easy thing to do.
If it seems that a friend has made big plans to come out to you, act surprised even if you knew already. Always be supportive in your reaction , whether you agree or not. Nobody ever wants to hear, “I knew that already!”
In the instance that the issue of their alternative (dating) lifestyle is brought up casually, react casually. If you feel the need to freak out inside, find the time to do that later when you’re on your own time.
If You Already Knew…
In the instance that you were already well aware of your friend’s gay-ness, be careful not to ‘ out them ’, to anyone—ever. This is the number one rule that must be respected by friends and loved ones of gay people. Nobody wants to be ‘outed.’ Everyone deserves the right to tell their loved ones on their own.
If you know, never tell anyone else that you know. Don’t ever tell them that you know, unless you are sure they will be comforted by the fact that you had prior knowledge of their dating preference.
Polite conversation with your friend doesn’t have to be any different than it was before. You can say all of the things that you said before you found out that your friend was gay, just be careful that they are all respectful. If the person is truly a friend to you, you should be able to say anything that you might have ever wanted to say before, as long as it is not disrespectful to the choice that they have made.
Avoid slang and terms that might cause them to feel labeled, even if this was the type of thing that they might not have minded before.
Don’t Flaunt Your Heterosexuality
Many folks who find out that their friends and loved ones are gay feel the need to be the exact opposite. Unless you are gay, you are NOT gay; there is no question about that—usually. You don’t have to flaunt your homosexuality. Talking about straight dating sites, straight bars, and constantly flaunting the fact that you are straight only makes you look gay. It may sound backwards, but it’s true.
Dealing with finding out that a friend is gay is a different issue for everyone. Just be sure that you are always respectful, and always supportive.
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