October 11th is National Coming Out Day, when many members of the LGBT community and its allies share their stories with the world in hopes of helping those who are struggling with gender identity issues.
This article is for the friends and family members of gay people who have not yet come out of the closet. I want to provide you with some tips that you can use ... not only to support your gay loved one, but also to help you cope with the news.
1. Remain calm. I know that the news may come as a shock, but you have to remain calm. Heightened emotions can make any stressful situation ten times worse, and chances are, your loved one is already dealing with a lot of emotions internally.
Remember, it probably took a lot of courage for him/her to open up to you about his/her sexuality. The worst thing you can do is get mad and lash out because you run the risk of saying something that you don't mean and possibly pushing your loved one away. If you truly love them, the last thing you want to do is make them feel like they can't count on you as a parent, sibling or friend.
2. Take your time. Learning that a loved one is gay can be a lot of information to take in at one time. Make sure you take the time to stop, look and listen to what is going on and understand what it means to you and your loved one.
If you find yourself at a loss for words and need some time to think it over, make sure you say it. Try not to leave the person in question hanging after dropping such a big bomb. If you communicate that you need some time, he/she will appreciate it much more because he/she will know that at least you are trying to work through your feelings.
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