5 Ways to Support Someone When They Come Out as LGBTQIA+

Thursday, June 1 2023

Coming out as an LGBTQIA+ identifying person can be a very uncomfortable and scary experience, but with the help of a supportive loved one, it can be liberating and exciting. If someone you love comes out to you, responding appropriately can make a huge difference in how they remember their experience.

Being an ally means making this experience as safe and comfortable as possible for your loved one. Here are five tips for supporting a loved one when they come out as an LGBTQIA+ identifying person. 

1. Thank them for their courage in coming out 

Coming out is a courageous and vulnerable act. Your loved one chose you to be vulnerable and share their identity with  which means that they respect and trust you. Thanking them lets them know they made the right choice by trusting you and that they are safe to confide in you. Additionally, an extra boost in confidence in this vulnerable moment may help them to open up even more.

Here are a few ways to say “thank you” to your loved one when they come out to you: 

  • Thank you so much for trusting me with this information. 
  • Thank you for your bravery and honesty. 
  • Thank you so much for opening up to me. 
  • You are so brave. Thank you for sharing this with me. 

2. Limit distractions 

Coming out is scary enough, so you don’t want your loved one to feel like they aren’t being prioritized during such a major moment in their life. Limiting any distractions that may arise while they’re coming out is the best way to let them know you value their vulnerability. 

Here’s a brief checklist that might help you prioritize your loved one when they’re coming out: 

Cut down on tech distractions 

Silence your phone, mute social and text messages, turn off the TV or music playing in the background, and make sure you aren’t looking at your phone while your loved one is coming out. 

Find a quiet, comfortable place for them 

They might pick the location to make themselves feel comfortable, but if you notice your location is a little noisy or crowded, consider suggesting a more private location so they feel more comfortable opening up. If they choose to come out over the phone, make sure you’re in a quiet space free of external distractions. 

Avoid cluttered spaces 

If you find that the space you’re occupying is cluttered, messy, or dirty, it could lead to distractions. Consider finding a place that’s tidy to keep your attention from wandering during the conversation. 

3. Be courteous 

Being respectful is always important, but it’s especially important when someone is being vulnerable and confiding in you about something as significant as their identity.  

Here are a few things to keep in mind: 

Avoid judgment 

Even if you have different beliefs, or you are uncomfortable with the conversation, keep that to yourself during this conversation. Coming out can come with a lot of judgment from society as a whole, and they don’t need judgment from a loved one they are confiding in.  

Keep it light 

This is a big moment for your loved one, but that doesn’t mean the energy of the conversation needs to be heavy. They are probably extremely nervous and would appreciate someone keeping the mood light and respectful. 

This doesn’t mean making jokes about their identity, it just means making sure they know that they don’t need to approach the conversation so seriously if they don’t want to. 

Avoid excessive/invasive questioning 

For example: Say you just opened up to a friend about your decision to leave college. How would you feel if they started bombarding you with questions about your decision? 

You might have a lot of questions, but this initial conversation is about them, not you. Let them be in control of the conversation and ask questions only when it feels appropriate and even then, make sure they are respectful and not intrusive. 

Actively listen to your loved one 

Sometimes staying focused can be difficult, but it’s important to remember that this is a big moment for your loved one and you don’t want them to think you don’t care.

4. Keep it confidential 

How would you feel if you finally opened up and told your friend a secret and they told everyone they knew? What if that secret was something that could put you at risk of violence or public ridicule? 

Coming out is already a vulnerable experience, and with the added social stigma, it can even be dangerous for some. Even if it’s not a dangerous experience for everyone, telling others about your conversation would be taking away your loved one's opportunity to come out on their own terms. If someone is choosing to confide in you, don’t make them regret it by sharing the information with others. It’s not your information to share. 

5. Offer resources and follow up 

Coming out can be a very mentally and emotionally draining experience, especially for those who aren’t accepted by their loved ones. In fact, LGBTQIA+ identifying people are more than twice as likely to experience a mental health condition in their lifetime than heterosexual or cisgender men and women. An LGBTQIA+ mentor, general self-care, a network of friends, or even a therapist can help support your loved one through this time of change. 

Here are a few resources you can provide them with: 

The Trevor Project  

Human Rights Campaign 


You can support your loved one by making sure they have access to any resources they might need, but also by checking in regularly with them to see how they’re managing. Just knowing that someone is out there supporting and thinking about them can make a huge impact on their journey. 

Support is available 

If mental health support would help them through this major life change, SonderMind can connect your loved one with a licensed mental health professional who specializes in caring for LGBTQIA+ individuals. 

To connect with a therapist today, start here

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