How To Be A Good LGBT+ Ally To A Friend Who's Not Ready To Come Out

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How To Be A Good LGBT+ Ally To A Friend Who's Afraid To Come Out
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Being a good LGBT+ ally and friend, today and everyday!

If you’re heterosexual, you’ve probably never questioned who you’re attracted to. You might not know what it feels like to go against the grain. And there hasn’t been a fear of rejection from society due to your sexuality. 

I am this person — I have always liked men. I’ve never worried about what might happen if one day I start to realize that I’m thinking about women in a sexual way. Zac Efron has been my celebrity crush since I was 7 and I’ve never looked back.

If this rings true for you as well (even if Zac Efron isn't exactly your type), you have the power to be a strong LGBT+ ally and help bring about positive change for those who've been challenged by society for who they love.

RELATED: 5 Actionable Ways To Be An LGBT+ Ally

Have you ever thought about what it’s like to have feelings you might've been taught were “wrong?” 

A friend of mine has, and just like many others, she is struggling with her sexual identity. Do I like women? Do I like men? What about both? These are the questions she asks herself every day. 

I’ve seen how hard it is for her to accept who she is when she doesn’t know exactly who that is. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t have an effect on me. The last thing I want is for someone I care about to dislike something about themself. 

Although I’ve always tried to be a shoulder to lean on, sometimes it’s not enough for her. I’ve had to understand a perspective that I’ve never personally experienced. 

While it has opened my eyes immensely, her eyes are still the same. She’s disappointed that her life might be harder just because of her sexuality, and rightly so. It’s unfair to think that someone may be ridiculed because of who they love. 

Nonetheless, this is the reality of our world. Yes, it’s getting better — but being gay is still looked down upon in many aspects. So not only is my friend grappling with self-acceptance but also the respect of others. 

For all these reasons, I’ve had to re-evaluate my responsibility as a friend to her. By no means am I saying I’m an expert. What has worked for my friendship might be different than what will work for yours. 

However, it can be beneficial to hear the other side of the LGBT+ movement. The ones who are trying to offer support and encouragement to loved ones who find it hard to accept a part of who they are. 

This is what I’ve learned about how to be a good LGBT+ ally to a friend who’s not ready to come out. 

1. Listen whenever they need to talk. 

Even if your friend isn’t sure of their sexuality, it’s important for them to talk about it. Keeping things bottled up will only make matters worse. 

That being said, when your friend is ready to talk, you need to be there to listen. Perhaps it’s therapeutic for them and diminishes the fear they might have about coming out. 

In theory, the more they talk about it with someone they trust, the more confidence they will gain to tell other people in their life. No matter how many times you’ve heard what they’re saying, continue to listen. 

Through your discussions, they could have a breakthrough that gives them the motivation to speak out. Talking about their sexuality will take away power from their fears. 

2. Always be accepting. 

I’m assuming this is a given, but it’s important to note that you must always tell and show them that you accept who they are. It will help them to see that someone who cares about them isn’t phased by this revelation. 

My friend has always been afraid of losing people in her life because she’s gay. However, she’s told me that my constant acceptance has made her realize that who’s meant to be in her life will stay. 

Something as simple as saying, “I still love you,” goes a long way in helping your friend love themself. Do your best to demonstrate that this doesn’t change any part of your friendship or how you view your friend. 

RELATED: 5 Things Straight People At Pride Need To Know About Being A Good LGBTQIA Ally

3. Validate any feelings they share with you. 

As I’ve said before, you can’t fully understand what they’re going through. So remind yourself, and them, that there’s no right or wrong way to feel when struggling to come out. 

How they choose to deal with this situation is up to them. Be supportive in knowing that your friend isn’t going to handle things perfectly. And they’re certainly not going to handle it the way you might. 

That’s what makes people unique. Validate what they’re feeling and how they express those emotions. This is hard for them and it’s your job to tell them that they’re strong.  

4. Motivate them to be true to themselves.

It won’t help your friend much if you don’t provide them a safe space to be honest about their sexuality. You shouldn’t push them to do something they’re not ready for, but you should encourage them to be their true selves. 

Remind them of the freedom they will feel when they become honest with themselves and others. If you want your friend to be truly happy, this is an important step in helping them make it happen. 

Always come from a place of kindness and love so as not to seem like you are making the decision for them. They want to hear that it’s okay to be who they genuinely are. 

5. Remind them of the future that awaits. 

Very frequently, my friend will say that she just wants to get to a good point in her life where she fully accepts herself. I quickly learned that I needed to start painting the picture she’s eagerly striving for. 

Explain to the person that you’re supporting that they will not always be going through this struggle. There will be a day when they feel comfortable loving who they love. They have just as much of a chance at a relationship as heterosexuals do. 

All it takes is some strength, resilience, and self-love right now. Remind them that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Someday soon there won’t be any more confusion or anxiety.

RELATED: You May Think You're Being A LGBTQ+ Ally, But You're Not

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Isabella Pacinelli is a writer who covers relationship, self-love, spirituality, and entertainment topics.

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