In the wake of vast lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender stigma and discrimination - it’s not unusual for families and friends to experience varied emotions upon learning of a loved one’s sexual orientation. Typical reactions may include all, some, or an intermingling of the following:
What should you know?
1. Your loved one’s sexual orientation does not equate to loss. He or she will gain a sense of peace and freedom when they are true to who they are.
2. It’s beneficial to keep open, respectful communication between you and your LGBT loved one, or even an open-minded friend. Vent, ask questions, feel your emotions and experience their emotions too.
3. Focus on what you can learn about LGBT people - this will strengthen the bond between you and your loved one. You never know what amazing qualities they’ve concealed for the sake of you and others. There are many resources, support and advocacy groups available to you. Through education, and relating to those who are in similar situations – you will learn empathy and thoughtfulness.
4. Considering your loved one’s sexual identity as a “phase”, or not acknowledging it altogether is dismissive and hurtful. Support where they are, and if it turns out to be a phase at least you know you backed them on through it.
5. Respect and recognition create a healthy environment for your loved one’s mental health and self-concept. Rejection may cause higher susceptibility to risky behaviors involving substance abuse and suicide with LGBT individuals.
Coming out is a scary and courageous decision to make. One of the main worries for these individuals is the type of reaction they will receive from loved ones and society. Equally important, many loved ones of LBGT individuals struggle with the same fears.
What you should know? We all share one unwavering commonality...
Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Human
Accepting someone as human is not condoning their lifestyle, its conveying your character and compassion.
Written by Brianna Colbert, MA, LLPC.