104. 6 Ways of Responding Skillfully When Someone Comes Out to You
In the previous episode, host and transformative communication coach Alejandra explained the history of the idiom ‘coming out’ and taught three mistakes to avoid when a person chooses to come out to you. Today, she expands on this discussion by sharing six ways of responding skillfully, compassionately, and respectfully when someone comes out as a member of the LGBTQ+ community.
When someone comes out to you, they are taking a big risk with their emotional safety. Show them that they are right to feel safe with you and validate their sense of belonging by thanking them for their vulnerability and trust. Listen carefully to what they say and do not try to make the conversation about yourself. Demonstrate your respect and acceptance by using the language they use for themselves. This includes using the label they identify with, using the name they would like to be called, and using the pronouns they want to be addressed by. If you care about this person and their safety, be sure to keep what they have told you confidential. Just because they are ready to come out to you, does not mean they are ready to come out to the entire world or that it would be safe for them to do so. Additionally, if you have any inherited negative beliefs about being LGBTQ+, keep those thoughts to yourself and do not burden the person with any intolerances or judgements. Finally, do not change the way you relate to the other person after they have come out to you. This means continuing to do all the same things together that you did before and not changing your behavior just because they are LGBTQ+.
Honor the person coming out to you for their courage and their trust in you by taking the time to learn how to communicate skillfully and respectfully. When you remember that someone coming out to you is about them and not yourself, it becomes easier to navigate being a good ally.
• “If your intention is to contribute to the wellbeing, safety, and sense of belonging of the person who's coming out to you, then when someone comes out to you say, thank you.” (3:07-3:19 | Alejandra)
• “Use the word that the other person has used to identify themselves. If they said to you, I am gay, use the word gay. If they said to you, I am bisexual, use the word bisexual. If they said queer, use the word queer.” (4:23-4:38 | Alejandra)
• “The fact that this person told you about their identity doesn't mean that they're ready to come out to the rest of the world.” (6:02-6:08 | Alejandra)
• “When someone comes out to you, keep your judgments, your intolerance, and your inherited negative beliefs to yourself.” (8:47-8:56 | Alejandra)
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Podcast Music composed by Gary Lapow: open.spotify.com/artist/1HlMhcNfKIELxYil5mVqD