What I Realised When My Close Friend Came Out To Me

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You know you’ve found that special friend in your life, when you can share anything, absolutely anything, with that person.
More often than not, most of us will sooner face a “coming out” situation – whether we’d like to face it or not. Perhaps, us coming out to our dear ones or some dear one coming out to us. It’ll be an inevitable situation for most of us.Very recently, I was caught off guard by one of my close friends – who chose to stun me for a moment with his/her “secret” in the middle of a dinner, at a restaurant. And it probably hits you the hardest when that someone coming out has been close to you for years now. And, especially, when you’ve been absolutely unsuspecting of their sexual orientation all this while.Man that strikes like a bolt of lightning.

A volatile reaction is expected of you. And it’s all right for the surprised emotions to take an ireful turn. But this is the defining moment and harsh reactions would certainly hamper the relationship between you two.

Instead of throwing up, I chose to gulp down the food. From the expressions, I assumed my friend expected a reaction out of me. But I simply said: “Gimme sometime to digest this!” (I guess I got too carried away by the food.) We didn’t talk much after that for the whole evening. Until a day or two later.

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That night, I slept over it. Like they say, the realisation happened. And I not just had things to say to my close friend but to you all guys as well. So here’s what I realised when my close friend came out to me. And here’s how one should respond (preferably) when someone comes out to them. (Especially, in the Indian context since we know how unpleasant the scenario is for the homosexuals here.)

1. UNCHANGED

Sure you’ve been made privy to additional information about your friend, which you didn’t happen to know previously. But should his/her sexual orientation change anything that’s currently existing between you two? He/she is still the same person you’ve known long. We all have secrets. Not all secrets mask our personality, our humanity. To say the least, the top ten things that made my friend my close friend didn’t have “sexual orientation” on the list. So I guessed nothing was really going to change!

2. HONOUR

Out of everyone, if my friend chooses to tell me first, or even just tell me something that is so private to him/her, I’d of course be honoured. And so should everybody feel. It’s a big step for your friend. For anybody to believe and trust in somebody else. So value that decision, and take it like an honour. They trusted you, let’s not prove them wrong!

3. LISTEN

That which everybody should generally do more. And more specifically in this situation. Your friend is already going through a lot of internal turmoil, agitation. They just need someone to share their feelings with, to talk their heart out probably, have mental support. So don’t counter-talk them with questions and assumptions. Listen.

And if something worthwhile comes to your mind speak out. But something that tries to calm your friend, in case they are all nervous and going nuts. Otherwise, little supportive words are enough to assure your friend of your support. No big speeches. Please.

4. GAY

Also means “happy”. So while you are doing all that listening, don’t sit like a zombie. Emotionless, expressionless. You may not speak at that moment, but you can certainly respond through your expressions. And trust me that’s a lot easier than speaking the right kind of words!

Have feelings of happiness on your face. A smile, DEFINITELY. Laughter, NO. Nod. Look into their eyes. That’s the most assuring. And if you are comfortable then, don’t forget to sign off with a warm hug. I think hugs make everybody happy irrespective of the orientations.

(Also, try reacting a little less surprised or less happy for someone who breaks this news on Social Media. I’m still figuring out that part)

5. DISCREET

More than your friend is. Because, intentionally or unintentionally, it’s not your job to spread the word about your friend’s sexuality. Not unless your friend is OK with it, and the two of you have that understanding between each other.

Either way, let’s not be the speakers for something that isn’t ours to tell, unless the situation compulsively demands for it.

That’s all I have for now. But I sure would like to conclude with a few pointers.

  • Mostly, your friend doesn’t fancy you if they come out to you (for same sex friends!)
  • Please don’t ask silly questions. Have some general knowledge about the LGBT community
  • Importantly, continue doing what you’ve been doing with your close friend
  • Know the difference between sexual orientation and gender identity (refer pointer 2)
  • And it’s never too late. You can still make up with your friend
 This post was originally published here