How To Be A Good Ally To Someone Coming Out
- Reassure them that they can trust you
The most important thing you can do is tell your friend that you care about them just the same as always, and then ensure you respect and maintain their trust. Telling someone that they can trust you and that you’re on their side may seem simple, but it’s very meaningful.
- Work through your own thoughts
As well as showing up for your friend, checking yourself and seeing if you need to work through your own internalized or externalized homophobia, however minor it may seem, is the most productive way to be a good ally in general.
“Telling someone that they can trust you and that you’re on their side may seem simple, but it’s very meaningful. “
- Don’t minimise it
It’s also important to realise that even if you don’t have a problem with LGBTQ+ people and don’t see why disclosing identity to you would be difficult for someone, anyone who comes out to you has probably had to build themselves up to tell you this new information.
- Listen to understand rather than to respond
If you know someone who had a terrible time coming out or someone who had no trouble at all, referring back to such examples is not always very helpful when a friend discusses the prospect of coming out to others with you. Listening to understand rather than to respond can often be the best route to good ally-hood.
- Be mindful of what you say around others
It can also be very important not to ‘out’ someone in situations where they haven’t explicitly done so themselves. In other words, just because a friend has decided to tell you something about their gender or sexuality, and even if you think it’s very apparent to your whole social circle, that doesn’t mean they have told everyone.
Make sure you’re tactful when referring to a person’s identity when you’re around other people who may not know about it – be they shared friends, family, colleagues, acquaintances, or even people who don’t know the person at all. This remains the case even if discussions around identity are something that seem like no big deal between you and your friend.
A good way to avoid ‘outing’ someone is just to ask them who exactly they are comfortable having know about what they’ve shared with you. Or better still, stand back from discussing their identity until they decide to bring it up themselves, which is a good time to show your support.