Recently, a friend and I were hanging out and discussing what is going on around town and she mentioned that one of her friends had recently com out, acknowledging, accepting, and appreciating one’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity. After giving this topic so thought I decided to look into maintaining relationships after a friend comes out.
The first step is for people to remember that, in actuality, very little has changed. The person has not mutated into an unrecognizable form. The only difference is that now more information is known about the friend. Also consider that your friend has just admitted something very personal to you. They, obviously, felt as though they could trust you with this information and that you would not judge them harshly while they are just trying to be open and honest with you. They are probably feeling a little insecure or vulnerable at this point.
The second step is to acknowledge your own feelings. A friendship is a two-way street. If something makes you uncomfortable with the situation talk to your friend about it. Often you will realize you were worried over nothing. Often people do not even know that they have an issue with sexuality and/or gender identity until they are confronted with it. Nevertheless, do not jump to conclusions about the friend. For example, coming out is not saying they have a crush on you. There are many rumors and myths that are out in society about this topic that are fictitious or over stretched to the point of being false.
Step three involves educating yourself. Look into the Human Rights Campaign and articles related to this issue. If you do read articles make certain that they are from scholarly sources. Do not assume that just because something was published that it is a fact or valid in the modern world. Before the Kinsey Institute there were probably people that believed certain “immoral” acts caused natural disasters. There are many other steps to consider but it is best to start with these three.
Remember that companionship is an important aspect of being human. A friendship should not be lost over a difference such as this. The sign of a strong friendship is continuing to maintain it instead of letting it end.
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