By Thomas Whitfield
National Coming Out Day was October 11 and, perhaps unironically, I received some questions from straight people asking about their LGBTQ loved one.
I’m 99% sure my best friend is gay, but she won’t tell me. As kids we were neighbors in Brooklyn, and she was always kind of into guy stuff, like sports and whatever, so I think I’ve always known. Anyways, she’s hiding this from me, and I don’t know how to make her come out. I’m straight, but I want to be supportive and stuff, and it sucks because I feel like there’s part of her that I don’t know. How can I make her come out to me? – Female, straight, 22
It’s great that you want to be supportive of your friend and let her know that you’re cool with her sexuality, whatever it is. However, coming out is an enormous step in every LGBTQ person’s life, and not everyone is ready at the same time. There may be specific reasons she hasn’t told you yet. She may fear that you’ll reject her or perhaps by telling you, it could get back to her family since you’ve grown up together. She could also be straight—just meeting stereotypes doesn’t ensure identity. You can’t force her out of the closet, but you can continue to be a good friend and let her know that you’re accepting of the LGBTQ community. Maybe part of loving her is allowing her to have her secrets.
Six months ago, my dad came out, and it’s been really weird. I still love him, I just don’t know what to say. I saw this magazine while out with my gay friends and figured I’d write in. I’ve talked to my gay friends about my dad, but they just laughed and said “he’s hot” and “yum,” which grosses me the F out. My parents have been divorced since I was very young, and my dad raised me. Then, six months ago, he says he’s gay and dating a man. I love gay people, but I just didn’t think my dad was one. I want to be there and let him know I’m accepting, but idk how to act or what to say. – Female, straight, 23
Learning any information about our parents that doesn’t align with the image we have of them can feel jarring. It’s makes sense that this would be difficult for you even though you have gay friends and love the community. It’s great that you want to be accepting and open to him, but keep in mind that he’s still your parent. Sexual orientation aside, no one wants to think about their parents’ dating or sex lives. I think the best thing you can do is continue to treat him exactly the same way you always have. His sexual orientation may be a part of who he is, but it’s not ALL that he is. Eventually, the relationship between you will feel settled and natural again.