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What To Do If A Friend Comes Out As Gay

Updated on February 12, 2016

"Help! My best friend came out to me!"

If you have a friend who just came out as gay, you may be concerned about saying the right thing or how to show your support. First of all, you should realize that your friend has chosen to tell you because you've proven yourself trustworthy and a good listening ear as well as a shoulder to lean on.

Educating yourself is the most important step to take now that your friend came out as gay. Here are a few tips and resources to get you started.

Being gay is not a problem for you to solve.

Your friend told you they are gay because they trust you and need to someone to listen. They likely do not need advice, your political opinions, religious beliefs or recommendations. Regardless of your friend's feelings about their sexuality, I guarantee you they have researched the topic much more than you have, and they know their own feelings better than you do. Don't try to convince them they're not gay or give them the third degree over their sexuality. Treat this like you would treat any other confidence in your friendship and try to put yourself in their shoes.

Some of the worst questions straight people ask when their gay friends come out include:

But aren't you afraid you'll go to Hell?
There are thousands and thousands of gay Christians worldwide, as well as gay people of a variety of other faiths. We lead rich spiritual lives and do not believe we are going to be eternally damned because of our love for another soul. If your gay friend is an atheist or an agnostic, I'm afraid you may have just lost all their respect. Would you go up to someone who is divorced and remarried and ask them if they're afraid of going to Hell? If not, please use the same judgment and etiquette with your gay friend as you would use with anyone else.

Are you SURE you're really gay?

Yes. They are sure. They wouldn't have bothered telling you otherwise and, in the unlikely event that they're not sure, badgering them about it isn't going to help. In no case has a gay person been asked this question and responded with, "Wow, you know, now that you put it that way, I guess I'm really NOT gay!"

But how do you really KNOW if you've never been with someone of the opposite gender?

This one is perhaps the most logically absurd and yet most commonly asked question when someone first comes out. You are straight. You've never had sex with or dated a person of the same gender, have you? No? Then how do you know YOU aren't straight? Because you just know? Exactly. End of story.

But you said you had a crush on that one boy/girl that one time at the sixth grade summer retreat. What happened?

Sexuality is a complex thing. When you factor in that we live in a world where everyone is straight until proven gay, it gets even more confusing for LGBT youth. Many of us go through transitional stages of talking about the opposite sex and even have straight dating relationships while we're in the process of coming out to ourselves. This does not invalidate your friend's gayness in the same way that straight adults who had crushes on their same gender friends or experimented in younger days are not any less straight.


Why don't you just give it time?

Leave any words or phrases that imply your friend's sexuality is just a phase out of your vocabulary. Most people wait until they're at least relatively sure of their own sexuality to begin telling others and speaking openly about it. Unless your friend acknowledges that they are uncertain, implying that they are is just insulting and suggests that they haven't put much thought into something that affects them so deeply.

What do you think made you gay?

Again, if you can't answer the question of what made you straight, don't ask the same question of your gay friend. It's not productive and sounds ignorant. We simply can't be anything other than what we are and life is too short to try.

Is my gay friend in love with me?

Now that your friend has come out, you may be wondering, ''Is my gay friend in love with me?" The answer is no, your gay friend is probably not in love with you. It's possible, but unless you have some reason to think this other than the fact that your friend just came out as gay, chances are very low that they are in love with you.

LGBT people are presumed straight until proven gay in the world we live in. This means that most of us, like most straight people, grow up with friends of mostly the same gender. We develop close attachments to those friends, like anyone else, and those attachments can sometimes turn into crushes or deeper feelings.

However, there is no reason to assume that your gay friend is in love with you or has any romantic attractions towards you at all just because they are gay. I have plenty of straight female friends and I've never felt even the slightest romantic attraction towards them. Gay people are just as capable as straight people of having healthy, platonic friendships with people who belong to the gender they are attracted to.

How should I treat my gay friend now that they came out of the closet?

Treat your gay friend the same way you treated them before they came out of the closet. All the qualities that made your friendship work are still there. Your gay friend is still the same person they were before they came out of the closet. The only difference is that you know more about who they really are. Hopefully a lot of things now make sense, too, such as why he doesn't check out the girls you like at parties or why she never talks about boys. If handled with maturity and understanding, the experience of having a gay friend come out to you can improve your friendship and bring you both closer together.

''I wasn't sure about Jenny's new girlfriend, but then she bought me this awesome wolf shirt!"
''I wasn't sure about Jenny's new girlfriend, but then she bought me this awesome wolf shirt!" | Source

How should I treat my gay friend's boyfriend or girlfriend?

This is one of the toughest topics for straight allies to face. You may feel that you have to tiptoe around the subject of your gay friend's partner, but this isn't so. Just uphold the usual boundaries that are already in place for your friendship. If you think their relationship isn't good for them, say something just the same as you would if they were straight. Gay relationships are flawed just as straight relationships are. We all have the same ups and downs because a relationship is simply two people trying to find a way to enjoy life together. We all need friends to keep us grounded and tell us the truth about our relationships, gay or straight.

As far as your personal interactions with your friend's partner go, treat them just like you would anyone else: with courtesy, respect and an open mind. Get to know them and respect the same boundaries you would want your friends to respect with your significant other. If you're a straight girl and your lesbian friend has her girlfriend over, don't parade around in your undies if you wouldn't want her doing so in front of your boyfriend. If you're a straight guy, don't joke about lewd things in front of your gay friend's boyfriend if you wouldn't want him to do so in front of your girlfriend. By the same token, your gay friend should respect any boundaries you may have as well.

''Aw, I don't care if you like boy dogs, Spot. Now if you liked cats that'd be another story...''
''Aw, I don't care if you like boy dogs, Spot. Now if you liked cats that'd be another story...'' | Source

Can I still tell gay jokes?

If they're funny and they don't offend your friend, sure! Why not? I enjoy a good gay joke as the next person. "What did the lesbian bring to her second date? A moving van." That one gets me every time.

Relationships are funny. People are funny. Gay people are no exception. As long as the joke isn't mean-spirited and you know for certain your friend will find it funny and not hurtful, we're not immune to humor any more than the rest of the population. Overly modifying your behavior once your gay friend comes out to you may leave them feeling like you're walking on eggshells or uncomfortable to be around them.

Respect your gay friend as you respected them before they came out to you. Laugh with them as you laugh with all your other friends. Share life with them, because gay or straight, that's what friendship is all about. Don't get so hung up on the "gay" half of the term "gay friend" that you lose sight of the fact that they are still your friend.

In conclusion...

Gay people in general tend to be fairly decent judges of character. It's not an inborn trait but rather one gained through years of having to analyze people and determine who will and won't accept us. We know what's in your heart.


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    • profile image


      2 years ago from Harrisburg Pa

      I have a few friends that came out to me and I am honored that they trusted me enough to do so. Second I also have a couple of newer co workers who MIGHT be gay. Sometimes my assumptions are wrong but either way is fine with me. I see it ad it's hard enough to find a persomn to love, why make it harder on yourself?

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      I've had a lot of people come out to me, 'cause I'm sort of the first person to go to lol. But lots of times I could tell they only thought they were sure that they were (bi/ace/whatever they came out as) but actually weren't. I refrained from asking if they were certain (because I agree, that's just obnoxious), but later I found out that what they first told me wasn't true. I'm pretty young myself, but if a really young person comes out to you it is completely normal to have doubts, especially if you know the person.

      For example, a friend I have used to tell everybody, and I mean everybody she would encounter, that she was a lesbian. Much later she turned out to be pansexual, which is much more believable when you know her. But I guess she needed that time to accept the fact she likes girls too (and she needed the attention, definitely, unfortunately. It is said that no one comes out just for the attention, but apparently, there are some cases where bitchy teenage girls do just that.)

      What I'm trying to say is when you know the person really well (your best friend for example) it can be okay to ask if they're certain and talk about the whole subject :) Acquaintances usually are sure when they tell you, some friends maybe really aren't.

    • Rebekah Ozanne profile image


      5 years ago from Western Australia

      Could you rewrite this for parents? my mother broke every rule!!!

      Thanks for writing this... I had a colleague tell me that when her friend came out to her she went and locked herself in her bedroom for 2 hours because she didn't know how to respond!!! To me that means the poor friend was left thinking a thousand negative things and it all became about the person that was told rather than the courage it took to come out!!!

    • lanablackmoor profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from New England

      Good for your friend! She's taken a huge step. It really is such a tense but freeing experience when you first come out. All the best to her!

      I agree, gender really is as complicated as sexuality. Unfortunately, people are more likely to give criticism than encouragement. I hope that's changing as the course of history slowly moves towards progress.

      Thanks for your insightful comment! :) I'm glad you enjoyed the hub!

    • Astra Nomik profile image

      Cathy Nerujen 

      6 years ago from Edge of Reality and Known Space

      I recently in the last few days had a friend who is a blogger - come out as bisexual. She has had a tough life up to now. She admitted that a conversation with me made her decide to admit it publicly instead of keeping it hidden from everyone. Why me I will never know. But I hope she is more happier for it.

      She is not in any same-sex relationships at the moment. But it is all ahead of her. It is a time when a person admits to herself - look, there is nothing wrong with me. I'm an adult and I know my own mind. I have to be honest with myself and everyone around me...

      It is a good thing to be honest and fair with friends. Give them positive encouragement and show understanding and empathy. For a lesbian that goes without saying.

      Yes, love can be complicated and so can gender... it is a minefield for many people. I remember being in the closet all too well.

      Thank you for an interesting hub. Best wishes to you for publishing this hub.

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 

      6 years ago from San Francisco

      I had many gay friends. Two who were faced between the choice of friendship and the risk of taking it to the next step. Thank you for this.

    • lanablackmoor profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from New England

      Thank you, jlpark for the lovely comment!

      Oh, dear! What an ego she had! I have RLS, too, so I completely understand what you mean about having to move while sitting still. It's such a pain. I'm glad your other friends understood. I'm sure she had to eat a piece of humble pie after that, LOL!

    • jlpark profile image


      6 years ago from New Zealand

      Thank you for this hub. Well thought out, insightful, and a must read for anyone who has had the experience (or even if they haven't) of a gay friend coming out.

      I had an experience where a movement I make unconsciously to quell my Restless Leg Syndrome (and have made same movement with my feet whilst watching TV, sitting, etc ALL My life) - A flatmate who knew I was gay, thought I was coming on to her and complained to the others - who thought she was nuts thankfully - and rightfully so - I thought "just because all the boys seem to want to sleep with you doesn't mean I do!" - wish she'd read this! Hah.

      Thanks - voted up and awesome.


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