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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » LGBTQA Relationships » How to be Supportive

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Author Topic: How to be Supportive
Member # 76736

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Here's the deal: I've begun to wonder if one of my good friends is gay. While I understand that there's no way I can know for sure unless he specifically tells me he is or he isn't, if he did come out, I wouldn't be at all surprised. Personally I don't care if he's gay, straight, or somewhere in between, but we live in a part of the U.S. that's not very GLBTQ-friendly, so I can see why he'd want to keep it on the DL if that was indeed the case. Recently, though, when we've talked about relationships (in general--not his or my romantic escapades specifically), he's made comments that seem like he's trying to feel out where I stand on this topic. Is there anything I can say or do to let him know that if there's something he wants to tell me, it's OK, and that I'll be there for him no matter what?

For the record, I'm straight, so I don't know what it's like to come out to one's friends. But after seeing my cousin face the wrath of his homophobic parents when he came out, I get that there are a lot of risks involved. It just breaks my heart to think that my friend could be holding back something important out of fear, you know? [Frown]

Posts: 6 | Registered: Aug 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Member # 48854

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It sounds to me like you're doing the right thing, just answer his comments honestly and don't pressure him. He might not quite be ready to come out, and like you noted, it is a scary and risky thing for some people. If he is gay, and he feels safe coming out and wants to, he will-what you can do is just let him take all the time he might need.

I knew I was gay for nearly four years before I told anyone, and when I told my best friend, it was by copying a link to a thread I'd posted on a different board where I said I thought I might like girls and asked for advice. I told another friend by messaging her on MySpace (remember that old site nobody uses anymore?) because I started having a panic attack when I tried to type it into a message on the site she's on most often, because I knew that she would read it soon, whereas if I told her on the other site I didn't know when she would read it and I didn't have to face her as quickly (so to speak...both friends were 1500 miles away at the time). And this was when both friends had already come out (via Facebook...I admire their courage) as lesbian. I had no rational reason to be worried about their reaction, they were both great people and incredibly nice, plus I've known them for years. I'm not out to any straight friends, at least not directly. The first friend I told ended up telling at least one person, and my mom told at least two people, who probably mentioned it to other friends and such. Again, I had no real reason to be afraid of telling any of these people. My mom's first husband came out as gay while she was married to him (she said it seemed hypocritical for her to freak about me when she was ok with her first husband-she used to go say hi to him, we'd visit every so often and see how he was doing. He ran an antique shop and gave me and my brother each a little toy thing once.

So I'd say just be patient and let him take his time. Answer his comments supportively and just be there.

[ 08-26-2011, 12:36 AM: Message edited by: Kawani3792 ]

Posts: 183 | From: USA | Registered: Sep 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Member # 51804

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I agree with Kawani, I think you're doing pretty good.

Does he know much about your views of gay people? If not, it might be worth bringing it up in conversation. If your cousin is out, that sounds like it could be a conversation starter. Also, keep a check on yourself and make sure you aren't saying anything homophobic without thinking about it (things like "that's so gay")

I really think the best thing you can do is to be clear that you have no problems with anyone being gay, and that you are a supportive friend. Don't ask him if he's gay, or pressure him into talking to you. It might be that he just needs time, or maybe you being clearly supportive will be enough for him to come out, or maybe he isn't gay at all. Let him come out in his own time (Like Kawani, I knew for a couple of years before coming out, even though I had no reason to think my friends would be bothered by it, when I did come out many of them told me that they suspected)

Is there anything I can say or do to let him know that if there's something he wants to tell me, it's OK, and that I'll be there for him no matter what?
That sounds pretty good to me as it is. [Smile]
Posts: 134 | From: UK | Registered: Jan 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Member # 44405

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For the record, my friends opened the line for the orientation discussion with a "If any of you lot is bi or gay or something you should know that you can tell me."
However I was somewhat intimidated by this so I didn't tell them anything until years later!

It was very, very helpful to know that my friends would not judge me or would not treat me any different and that to them, my orientation would never be that big a deal. That is why my friend was the first person I ever told. Followed by my sister half a year later as she asked me directly.

Posts: 239 | From: Europe | Registered: Oct 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator

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