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Ok, so it might not necessarily be a best friend who decided to make you the confidante of their very personal matter; it can be a friend, colleague or just someone you met a few days ago. The matter is- most people don’t know how to react. You start thinking of things to say to them. Should you say something to them? How does this change everything? Will this change your relationship with this person?
Well, it shouldn’t and it’ll not if you don’t let it.
If a loved one came out to you, it is highly likely that they trust you enough to be understanding and accepting. They have chosen you to be their ‘secret keeper’ (Sorry, I’m a guilty Potterhead) and that means something. Don’t do anything stupid for them to lose their faith in you. It’s not only your relationship you would be changing; this first interaction would also set the tone for their future discussions with other loved ones they might have planned it with.
So without further ado, here are some quick and easy ways to sail through the situation like a freaking captain you are... Aye Aye!
1. Be Honest- You might have heard this a lot of times but really, nothing helps in such situations as being completely honest and your true self. Chances are that the person who came out to you knows you enough to share this piece of information with confidence. So whatever emotions you are feeling, let them out (sensitively, though). If you have doubts, ask your friend if they would like to discuss these with you. Remember, they don’t seek your acceptance; they only want your support along the way.
2. Use humor- If you feel the situation is drifting towards a little on the awkward side; you can use humor to break the ice initially. By humor, I don’t mean you start blurting all the stupid jokes you might have heard over the years about the LGBTQ lifestyle and community; definitely not that! If that is all you know, proceed to the third point…
3. Food, Food, FOOD- Nothing shows support and acceptance better than a full platter of a person’s favorite cuisine! Treat them to a coming out dinner party or lunch in their choice of eatery. There is no situation carbs and a few pints of beer can’t make jolly!
4. Ask-If you are completely clueless about the course of action you are supposed to take, better yet ask the person themselves. How would they like you to support them in this journey? What can you do to make them feel comfortable in your presence? Do they need your help and support for coming out to more friends and/or family? This would make the concerned person believe that you really want to help them and they would be more willing and confident to share their views and ideas with you.
5. Just Listen- If nothing else works, just be there for your person and listen. Active listening is one of the easiest ways to show compassionate support to people. Let them explain why it took them to come out so late or so early; how frustrated they are with some people getting it all wrong; how much are they afraid of being judged; let them rant for God’s sake! And just LISTEN… BE THERE. It really helps.
Another way that one of my shopaholic colleagues was very happy to add to the list is to take them shopping! So, if your friend is one of those who finds recluse in retail therapy, take them out for shopping or better yet, why not send tell them about Kinkpin so that they can pick something naughty of their own from our wide collection! ;)