In honor of National Coming Out Day we decided to give all the allies and soon to be allies out there a few tips on what not to say when someone comes out to you. Your reaction and what you say when someone comes out to you is very crucial in the coming out experience of a person and the ones yet to follow. So, sit back and take notes!
- “OMG I have this other friend who is also gay I should totally set you guys up!”
While we do appreciate the sentiment, we are quite capable of finding someone that we connect with on more topics than just our sexual orientation. What if we told you “OMG I have this other friend that happens to be straight, you should TOTALLY meet them”.
- “I knew it”
I’m sorry but unless we have come out to you, you did not know it. You were assuming! Saying “I knew it” to someone is not something we like to hear especially when we are coming out to you unless you’re a character from Scooby-Doo. Most people who haven’t come out spend a considerable amount of effort and time in protecting this part of their life until they feel comfortable enough to come out to you.
- “Are you sure?”
Yes, we are sure, we don’t enjoy being part of a community that is oppressed and marginalized in several countries of the world just because we are unsure. Before we come out to anyone, we spend a substantial amount of time coming to terms with it ourselves so if we are coming out to you rest assured that we are “sure”.
- “Who else knows?”
This can often mean two things: You are either trying to be respectful of us and want to know who else has joined the inner circle and do not want to accidently out us to someone. However, what this also means is that you intend to talk about this with other people which isn’t really a conversation you should be having unless we tell you otherwise. Never push someone out of the closet. Instead of asking who knows about our story just be grateful we gave you a chapter
- “I love you still/anyway”
Keep the first three words and ditch the last. Adding a “still” or “anyway” translates as “despite what I see as a negative I will still love you”. I’m sorry but if you feel negatively about certain aspects that is a YOU problem and something we wish you could work on over time but not make it an US problem.
- “Oh No! All the hot ones are gay”
Oh really? Then why did you even have to ask me if I was? Honestly this one doesn’t really bother us that much, but it is still a generalization you should not be making. Some straight men are hot too 😊
- “Who’s the man and woman?”
This is one of the questions that we get so often and each time we hear it we want to pull our hair out. There is no man and no woman we are both two human beings. Besides this also happens to be one of the most sexist questions ever. Asking who’s the man or the woman or who’s the dominant or submissive one implies that you live with a ludicrous notion that women are the weaker sex. In the words of Queen Bey
“Boy you know you love it how we’re smart enough to make these millions strong enough to bare the children Then get back to business”
- “You’re so lucky you are bisexual, you have a larger pool of people to go out with”
Yes, and you have half. Besides we focus on quality rather than quantity 😊. Implying that being bisexual makes things easier for us couldn’t be further from the truth. Bisexual people struggle to be visible both in the straight and the gay community.
- “What are you by birth though? What does it say on your birth certificate?”
Our birth certificate also says that we weigh 4 Kgs. Clearly a lot has changed since then. Also, just a reminder, gender is not what is down there, but it is to do with how we identify and feel irrespective of our birth assigned gender.
- “OMG, my best friend’s uncle’s sister’s daughter’s step brother’s roommate from Jaipur is also bisexual;”
“NO WAY! And my aunt’s sister’s daughter’s cousin’s best friend from La La Land is straight! This is incredible!” We know you just want to feel included but us coming out is not about you so please stop trying to overcompensate by making this “relatable.”
- “Why didn’t you tell me sooner?”
Again, please don’t make this about you. We did not tell you sooner because It took you that long to seem ready to hear it. We don’t stay in the closet because its comfortable in there, we stay in there until we feel that the environment outside is a safe space for us to come out.
- “This is just a phase”
Sorry to disappoint you but our sexuality is not just a phase. Phases are the Kiki Challenge or Pokémon Go. While we do agree that gender and sexuality can be fluid, it is up to us to state the same and not for you to assume.
- “You don’t act gay/or like a lesbian?”
Orientation is not the same as someone’s personality type. Dozens of straight men have similar mannerisms as what you would stereotypically consider gay but that doesn’t make them suddenly crave hot dogs instead of tacos 😊
- “But how do you know if you have never tried it?”
We also have never tried throwing an electric toaster into a bathtub but we sure as hell know we aren’t going to like it. Keeping the same logic in mind how do straight people know they are not queer unless they try it as well?
Now that we have gotten these out of the way, here are some thing you SHOULD say:
- “I am glad you felt comfortable enough to tell me and I shall respect your desire to keep this confidential unless you prefer otherwise”
- Apologize for using the wrong pronouns or mis-gendering someone and as a tip please don’t make the apology about you.
- “What else can I do to educate myself more about this?”
- “Is it alright if I ask questions?”
- “Thank you for trusting me with this and I’m glad you felt comfortable enough to come out to me”
- “I’m so proud of you”
- “I care about you and this does not change my feelings towards you or our relationship”