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Don’t just say you’re ‘there’. Offer practical support.
Coming out should be a celebration. Say something encouraging and active, if someone comes out to you, rather than passive. Open up the conversation as much as feels right, by asking questions and thanking them for sharing their news with you.
Know that you can come out to people on the internet – if that makes you feel safer.
Find a queer person online and, if their DMs are open, send them a message. Say, “I’m gay and I needed to tell someone”. Chances are they’ll send you a wonderful supportive message back.
Don’t tell someone you ‘already knew’ they were going to come out.
Telling someone you “already knew” they were gay is not helpful. This is their story, so let them tell it. It’s dangerous to assume anything about someone’s private life.
Confide in someone you know will support you.
People’s mental health can take a knock if coming out lands on deaf ears, so it’s a great idea to choose someone you’re pretty certain is going to be supportive, before you make the jump and share your news with them.
Don’t feel pressured to come out.
National Coming Out Day can feel like a load of people celebrating that they’ve come out – but the day is also supposed to be about spreading the message that there’s no rush: don’t come out unless you’re ready to, and are in a safe position to do so.
Know that coming out can often be like a daily exercise.
Some straight people or straight allies may mistakenly think coming out is a one-time thing. It isn’t: it’s something LGBTQ people have to do literally daily.
New neighbours? New job? Meeting strangers at a house party and being asked about a heterosexual partner? It’s essential for allies to remember that coming out becomes a part of your daily routine. It takes courage every time.
Remember there are support groups.
Plenty of queer people from non-white and religious backgrounds shared their experiences this National Coming Out Day. If you don’t feel represented, know that you are. For more support, check out the LGBTQ charities that specifically work to represent the underrepresented in the queer sphere.
It can be hard… but that’s okay. It’ll be worth it in the end.