The don’ts and the oh my God why would you say that’s
It’s the year 2019. While some of us are still stuck in the Victorian ages, the majority of people are pretty normal. It’s not that unusual for somebody to come out and say, “Hey! I’m not heterosexual!” or, “Hey! So I’ve realized I’m x/y/z gender!” If you haven’t had this experience, I have to question what bubble you’ve been living in.
The point is, we as a society have come to realize that the gays are out there. There’s a million and one posts floating around on what to do when you come out or how to react when a friend or family member comes out. However, we seem to be lacking in the area of letting people know what dick moves they might have not been aware they were making. So, with a lot of outside input and a little bit of wine, I’ve compiled a list of things to be aware of next time somebody decides to drop the big reveal.
- Don’t make a massive deal out of it. There is really no need to jump out of your seat, point and scream, “Hey guys, guess what - this person is G A Y!” Chances are, your friend is probably already nervous because humans are strange creatures that are unpredictable at the best of times; and this is the best way to have them either shrinking back into their chair, or about to throw hands at your head.
- At the same time, don’t completely gloss over it. If you launch immediately into the next topic or just give an awkward middle-aged woman laugh, I can guarantee your friend is going to walk away feeling worse than before they decided to have this conversation with you. Ignoring what they’ve said gives the impression that you’re uncomfortable with this new knowledge and is going to put strain on your relationship, whether or not you realise it.
- Don’t immediately start digging for their sexual encounters with people of the same sex. It’s weird. It’s uncomfortable. It’s a big leap from coming out as gay, to giving explicit details on your sex life that you may not feel completely comfortable with yet. Even worse, if your friend is of the opposite gender to you, it’s going to sound like you’re looking for juicy details to fulfil some fetish or scenario you have in your head (and most people aren’t going to be particularly down with that).
- Don’t immediately start texting everyone you know. In fact, unless you’ve been given a very clear okay to share this information, pipe down. Your friend doesn’t need to find out that the person you both lived down the hall from in first year is actually a raging homophobe, all because you thought that them coming out would be good gossip material.
- Don’t immediately start wanting to know every challenge they’ve faced as an LGBT+ person, especially if it concerns homophobia. The last thing anybody wants when sharing important personal information about themselves is the reminder that there are people out there who hate them for existing. You also don’t know if your friend has had violent or other traumatic experiences because of their identity. If they want to share that with you, they will. Don’t push. Don’t be a dick.
- For the love of God, don’t try and correct their sexuality. If somebody says they’re bisexual and you insist that they’re straight because of that one boy they ‘dated’ in year 7; or that they must be lesbian because they didn’t appreciate Zac Efron in High School Musical, I can guarantee that you are single handedly one of the most irritating humans out there. This isn’t just targeting the heterosexuals out there either - even if you’ve been out longer and have decided to purport yourself as some kind of queer authority, do not do this. Your friend is never going to want to share anything with you again, and is probably going to tell other people about this experience and that you suck.
- Don’t start talking about how your cousin came out as gay once. Or your sister’s friend’s roommate. Or your primary school teacher’s stepson’s doctor’s dog. This, once again, is extremely annoying. This isn’t about you and your experiences; it’s about your friend trying to share something important with you. Focus on how they’re feeling and coping with all of this.
Coming out can be a completely laid-back experience that you both look back on and smile and laugh about. It doesn’t have to be a dramatic thing. The underlying theme here is use your common sense. If that’s something you really struggle with, then please for all of us, at least hesitate and consider the outcome before you speak. It’s a sure way to protect your friendship and prove that you’re a decent human being.