The most supportive things to say if your loved one comes out to you

These helpful words and harmful phrases will help you support your loved ones if they share they’re part of the LGBTQIA+ community.

Sometimes when our loved ones open up about being a part of the rainbow community, it can be difficult to know how to support them. LGBTQIA+ is extremely diverse, and there is no one right way to approach it. Listen to what they have to say and take cues from that.

Potentially helpful words

  • “I love you. Thank you for sharing/ trusting me.”
  • “Is there anything I can do to support you?”

Tips to keep in mind

  • Ask if they have a partner rather than a girlfriend or boyfriend.
  • Be wary of stereotypes, they can be harmful and offensive.
  • Ask what language works for them. I self-identify as queer, which is an umbrella term for the rainbow community, but there are a variety of terms others may prefer.
  • Research more about your loved one’s sexuality or affiliation to LGBTQIA+. There are plenty of resources online to help you understand. It’s not your loved one’s job to educate you about the whole community.
  • Understand that they might not have all the answers, even about their own experience. Let them figure it out and be there to listen.
  • Watch, read, listen and engage with media created by queer people.

Potentially harmful phrases

  • “You don’t look queer.”
  • “Are you sure you’re gay?”
  • “So you’re gay/bisexual now? What changed?”

Other things to avoid

  • Referring to them as your “gay friend” or “queer friend”. They are more than their sexuality.
  • Offering to set them up with the only other gay or bisexual person you know.
  • The assumption that being bisexual or pansexual is a phase or “just a route to being gay”.
  • Asking why they hadn’t told you before now – everyone’s journey is different.
  • Asking them inappropriate or personal questions. Let them set the boundaries of the conversation.

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