Words by Wayne Dhesi, Founder of RUComingOut | @WayneDavid81  | 

...what should you say when someone comes out to you?

There’s no getting around the fact that coming out as gay or bi can be really scary. You spend what seems like an eternity plucking up the courage to tell someone something so personal about yourself, which is why the reactions you get from your friends, family and colleagues are so important.

Obviously everyone’s coming out experience is different, but from reading the hundreds of stories on rucomingout.com I’ve come up with some simple dos and don’ts for when someone comes out to you.

What to say when someone comes out to you:

“How do you feel now?”

If you’re the first person that someone comes out to, chances are they’ll be nervous, scared or at least apprehensive. Check that they’re OK, and reassure them that they’ve done the right thing.

“Do you need me to do anything?”

Sometimes people need moral support when coming out to certain people in their lives, such as their parents. Offering support, if you feel comfortable doing so, could mean the world to them. Check in with them every now and then and make sure they’re doing OK.

“I’m proud of you/I love you.”

This one depends on how emotionally open you are with the person who has come out to you, but a hug, a smile and some encouraging words can go a long way.

What not to say when someone comes out to you:

“I knew it! I said to Matt! I’ve always known!”

Firstly, there are no prizes here because it’s not a competition, so please don’t make it about you. It’s possible you may have had your suspicions but you didn’t ‘know’ because you’ve only just found out. It can also be pretty upsetting to know that your friends have been gossiping about your sexuality.

“I’m upset that you didn’t tell me sooner.”

Again, this is not about you I’m afraid. The fact that someone may have taken their time to come out to you is not a sign of how much or little they trust you, it’s about how bloody difficult coming out can be. Calm down, and remember who’s just come out and focus on them.

“So what? What’s the big deal?”

OK, so you want to make them realise that you’re cool with the gay thing, that’s fine, but don’t dismiss their coming out as something of no significance. They may have been waiting years to tell someone, torturing themselves every day about how to do this, so give it the acknowledgment it deserves without sounding like you’re freaking out.

“This is so cool! There’s a guy at work who’s gay, I’ll set you up.”

Do I really have to explain this one? It’s ridiculous, it can come across as kind of offensive and it suggests that people can’t function effectively if they’re not in a couple. Just no. Save your matchmaking for later.

Coming out will always be a big deal, at least for the person doing it. The most important thing that anyone going through the process needs to know is that they won’t lose people close to them and that they’ll still be accepted.

Your role in, and your reaction to, someone’s coming out can be crucial.

READ MORE: visit rucomingout.com.

HELP AND SUPPORT: contact LGBT Switchboard, on 0300 330 0630.