Supporting a Friend or Family Member Who Has Just Come Out in Identity

If someone close to you comes out as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, you may be unsure about how you feel about it or how to respond.

It is important to let the person know that you still care about them, even if you don’t understand it all straight away.

Regardless of your initial thoughts or feelings, remember that just because someone identifies as lesbian, gay bisexual or transgender doesn’t make them any less of a friend or family member.

My friend/family member has come out as lesbian/gay/bisexual

Think about how you felt about them before they told you - ask yourself why this would change just because they are attracted to people of the same gender or both genders. Who they are attracted to doesn’t change who they are as a person.

It’s OK to let the person know that it might take you time to get used to the idea, but that you will do your best to support them.

It’s also OK to ask questions, as this shows that you are taking them seriously. At the same time, try and be sensitive about how they are feeling – it’s not easy coming out to someone close to you.

Sometimes it can be easy to dismiss a young friend or family member who comes out as ‘just going through a phase’ – but most people who come out have put a lot of thought into it before telling someone, so it is important to take it seriously.

Try and let the person explore their sexuality without trying to change or pressure them.

My friend/family member has come out as transgender

If someone close to you comes out as transgender, you may feel unsure about how you feel about it or how to respond. It will probably take time to get used to the idea, especially if you weren’t expecting it.

Remember – you have a relationship with this person either due to common interests, or through blood - why this would change just because the gender they were defined with at birth is different to the gender they feel inside?

It’s OK to let the person know that it might take you time to get used to the idea, but that you will do your best to support them. It’s also OK to ask questions, as this shows that you are taking them seriously. At the same time, try and be sensitive about how they are feeling- it’s not easy coming out to someone close to you.

Most people who come out have put a lot of thought into it before telling someone, so it is important to take it seriously. Try and let the person explore their gender identity without trying to change or pressure them.

Why not read LGBT Youth Scotland’s Coming Out Guides to learn more, and find out how you can be supportive? Two guides available: Coming out as lesbian, gay or bisexual. Coming out as transgender