Your loved one has come out! This is a very fragile yet wonderful and exciting time, and is something to be treasured. It’s equivalent to announcing they’re having a baby or getting married. It’s a huge transformative life change. It’s usually the result of deep introspection, exploration, and discovery because they finally feel confident enough in their new identity to communicate it to you. It also shows they trust you enough to confide this in you. This is something that takes great courage and strength from them and their courage, strength, and new identity deserve to be celebrated and respected highly.
Whether it be to a closed group of people, publicly, or just you alone, it’s an incredibly intimate, sensitive, and vulnerable time for your loved one. It can also be extremely dangerous for them. According to this article from NBC News, The 2020 National Survey on LGBTQ+ Youth Mental Health surveyed 40,000 LGBTQ people between the ages of 13 and 24 and found “68 percent of the respondents reported symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder, 55 percent reported symptoms of major depressive disorder and 48 percent reported engaging in self-harm. In addition, 40 percent say they have ‘seriously considered’ attempting suicide in the past year.”
These are alarming and catastrophic statistics which show an overwhelming crisis in society because of what is happening in the LGBTQ+ community. Let’s get some facts straight about LGBTQ+.
First, they do not actively choose to be this way and can not choose to be some other way. A person’s sexual and gender identity stem from something deeply intrinsic to who they are inside. Being LGBTQ+ has nothing to do with a psychological disease, personality disorder, or cry for attention that you can stamp out or “fix.” This path has serious implications for their physical safety, psychological well-being, relationships, social status, career prospects, and overall sense of self-worth. For your loved one to come out it must mean that it was more painful to keep going on as they were than to face the enormous societal pressure, stigma, and risks associated with coming out.
Facing the pressures and dangers of the outside are often nothing compared to the pressure and danger they face on the inside to not honestly express, honor, and be themselves. Your loved one has decided to honor who they are inside without regard to what people think on the outside. They care about what you think and feel about them but they care more about what they think and feel about themselves. It’s an important distinction to make in understanding their position. You must know that they have to first be good within themselves before they can be good in their relationships with others.
Let’s get the facts straight: this is NOT about you. They came out to you because they trusted you. They knew how dangerous it was to make the change and share it with you. They knew that you could become violent against them by judging them, berating them, griefing them, abusing them, and by not supporting them. They came to you because they trusted you would love and support them, and they needed to know whether you would accept them or reject them.
Remember, they came out. This has nothing to do with you. So it’s important that you do not make it about yourself. This is their moment and it’s about them. They’re going through something extremely scary which requires enormous love, compassion, understanding, patience, and support. They really could use your friendship, unconditional love and support right now. On some level they probably don’t feel safe, accepted, understood, heard, and they’re probably afraid you’ll reject them. According to truecolorsunited.org, LGBTQ youth are 120% more likely to experience homelessness. If you’re their parent or someone they depend on, the worst thing you can do is react negatively.
The best thing you can do is respond with unconditional love and understanding. It’s okay to ask questions, they’re probably eager to share their journey of self-discovery with you. Help them feel understood by listening and not demanding. Help them feel safe by letting them know you accept them, the dangers of not doing so are very real. If you prefer to reject them in favor of trying to manipulate or control them into being how you thought they were instead of how they are telling you they are, then you are very likely to find you no longer have the real them in your life.
If you don’t accept them and you attempt to make it about your version of them, you’ll find they will probably move on without you. Denying their expressed identity is a form of violence whereby you attempt to murder their true selves with your refusal to listen to and honor them. They will quickly learn how bad it feels to be in a relationship with you and will likely grow apart. But accepting them for who they are means you will be able to join them in the joyous new chapter of their human experience.
If you are too cold, callous, selfish, and controlling to accept their victorious coming out, then you don’t deserve to celebrate their joyful newfound understanding and awareness of themselves. You don’t deserve to be near them and they’ll hopefully leave you to be alone and bitter as you cling to the empty skin of who you thought they were while they dance joyfully in their newfound understanding and awareness – hopefully around people who will love and accept them.
We hope you choose to lay down any thoughts of bitterness and selfishness in favor of warm, compassionate acceptance. To fail to do so is not only violent and evil, but its far-reaching consequences will surely come back to haunt you in the form of the rest of your life without your loved one’s delightful presence by your side.
Offering unconditional love, acceptance, support, and understanding during this challenging yet victorious time for them will surely earn you love, respect, and deep appreciation from your loved one. Your relationship with them will grow deeper as they learn that you are a source of comfort and strength in their lives, and that they can trust and depend on you to always be there for them. You better believe that kind of closeness is worth it!
We also have compassion for you, the loved one, in that this new information your loved one is sharing is likely shocking and potentially unexpected. You may feel like you lost a son or a daughter, and you’re not sure how to reconcile the change within your mind. If you do choose to stand by your loved one’s choice of coming out and/or transitioning their gender but you feel upset, loss, grief, confusion, and not sure how to cope or explain to your other family members about your loved one coming out, then we highly recommend reaching out to support groups for friends and family of LGBTQ+ such as:
Rainbow Love & Blessings,