Dear Jane, How Do I Support My Friend in Coming Out?
One of my best friends since childhood is finally ready to live in his truth and come out to his family and to the rest of our friend group as gay.
I’ve known for years about his sexuality but he was never comfortable enough to share his truth with his religious family and our, at times, judgmental friends.
He’s been leaning on me for guidance on how to deal with the possible fall-out and I’m nervous because I’m not sure that I have the best advice to give since I’m a straight woman and I’ve never had to deal with homophobia or coming out personally.
Jane, how do I support my friend in coming out and make sure that he’s emotionally prepared if his friends and family aren’t ready to accept him?
– xoxo, Coming Out Loud + Proud
Tell your friend to make it clear that he’s not asking for their permission to live his life on his own terms, but that he is asking for their support.”
Dear Coming Out Loud + Proud,
First, I want to give your friend a big virtual hug and let him know how brave and strong he is for having the courage to live his truth out loud and proud – regardless of what his friends and family may think. That is the true essence of being your authentic self and everyone deserves people in their lives who see them and accept them unconditionally.
Also, don’t feel too nervous about not knowing exactly what advice to give to him, the fact that you’re there for him without judgement is more than enough. But don’t fret, I have a few insights on how to better navigate supporting your friend while he steps into living his truth.
Get some back-up
When the day comes for your friend to come out to his family and friends, enlist the help of a moderator and/or therapist who has experience in this particular arena. Having a professional and objective person in the room to facilitate the conversation could help in making sure that everyone feels safe to ask the difficult questions and that there’s someone there who can guide the conversation in a healthy way.
Write it out
Take a few Hello Mellow capsules to relax the mind and open up the soul and then light some candles, put on some soothing music, and pour your favorite beverages, to set the scene for writing personalized letters to your friend’s loved ones. Sometimes it’s easier to write out how we truly feel with a pen and a paper than to verbalize how we feel in-person. So dedicate a night to self-care with the Big Night In Bundle and to writing out everything that your friend wants to say when coming out. The letters might also be a safer way for his loved ones to receive the message that he’s embracing his sexuality rather than hiding away from it.
Give it time
In the perfect world, everyone would be accepting of everyone else without any judgement, push back, or fighting, but unfortunately we don’t live in a perfect world and people have their own prejudices, insecurities, and ideologies about ‘what is right’ and ‘what is wrong,’ so give your friends and family time to adjust to your new normal. Tell your friend to make it clear that he’s not asking for their permission to live his life on his own terms, but that he is asking for their support. Be prepared to have some people that won’t be accepting at first, but go slow and give it time.
Have a security blanket
Not sure how old your friend is, but make sure that he has his own place to stay and source of income prior to coming out. Unfortunately, many LGBTQIA youth become homeless or displaced after coming out to families that don’t approve of their sexuality. I know that this would be the worst case scenario, but I want to ensure that your friend is safe, physically, emotionally, and financially after coming out, so be sure that he has a plan in place to be able to take care of himself with or without the support of his family.
CELEBRATE: Gift your friend with a customized Rainbow Bracelet to show him your support and friendship. All proceeds go to the non-profit Equality Maine.
Jane is the fictional heroine of the Betoken lifestyle blog, Good For Jane. Think of Jane as your virtual BFF. She lives a healthy lifestyle, but not like, over the top. When it’s not a pandemic, she loves hanging out with her friends, dating, and exercising in public. Throughout the pandemic she has baked her fair share of sourdoughs, gotten more than her fair share of takeout to “support her local restaurants”, ordered wine online and taken plenty of CBD to keep the anxiety at bay.
Jane is also the editor of the Dear Jane column. If you have a question for Jane, you can email her at email@example.com.
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