Anna shares some top tips for coming out and how you could support a friend going through the same situation.
Hi, I'm Anna, I'm 14 years old and LGBT. I wanted to write this article so people like myself and my friends have advice on how to support a newly out friend as there was nothing when I first came out.
So one of your friends has come out to you as LGBTQIA+. What do you do? How do you react? Well as a queer person I think there is some advice I can offer you.
If they come out as trans, non-binary or any other non-cisgender identity, ask them about their pronouns and if they would like you to use a different name. If they ask for you to use a different name then ask who else knows them as that name to avoid confusion and possibly outing them to a person they have not yet come out to, no matter what their reason is for that. You might also offer to go shopping with them for more gender-neutral clothes or clothes that just make them feel more comfortable. Also, if it's appropriate and you feel comfortable, offer to walk with them to the bathroom if they would feel safer perhaps just to wait outside the door and be there when they leave. Just in general ask what you can do to help make their lives better.
No matter what a person comes out to you as make sure they know you accept and love them. Also, don't be afraid to ask questions about their identity but try to be sensitive about it because coming out can be scary even without being asked loads of questions. Be aware that people's identities can and do change but it's also completely normal for people to find an identity that suits them and stick to it. This also applies to a person's pronouns as these do change which I can tell you from personal experience is completely normal and does happen.
Coming out can have a positive effect on a person's mental health, it can feel like a massive weight has been lifted off of their shoulders. I know from personal experience that coming out can make a friendship closer, for instance since I came out to my friends another one of my friends has felt able to come out also. Even if you yourself aren't LGBTQIA+ then appreciate how positive an experience coming out can be.
On the other hand sometimes when a person comes out they can face homophobia or transphobia or both at the same time which is horrible for those who experience this. This is where being careful not to out people to those they don't feel comfortable coming out to comes into play a lot since for the person who has come out to you it can at times be dangerous for them to come out to certain other people.
If the person who has come out to you does experience some homophobia or transphobia then make sure they know they can speak to you and that you support them in coming out and being themselves. Also if they want to report what has happened, offer to go with them for moral support. Always make sure that they know who can help them, this could be anyone from a trained counsellor to an adult family friend or family member they trust.
If you don't take anything else from reading this then please remember that coming out is scary and to always be there for the person who comes out to you, make sure they know that they can talk to you whenever they need to and that you will always be there for them. Also, remember that these things take time and be patient with people when they come out.
Talking about what is going on can make a difference.
Do you ever feel like you would like a bit more support but aren't sure where to turn?
LGBT Youth Scotland has lots of ways that you can get in touch online and get support from youth workers. Wherever you are in Scotland, whatever your worry or concern, they are there to listen.
The LiveChat feature on their website is an easy way to chat with trained youth workers in real-time about whatever is on your mind. It's text-based: you don't need to speak over voice or video and can remain anonymous.
From questioning your sexual identity, coming out and relationship issues to bullying and sexual health – this is a private place designed for you to chat, confidentially, with a digital youth worker.
Sessions run at the following times:
- Monday: 4pm to 8pm
- Tuesday: 6pm to 8pm
- Wednesday 4pm to 8pm
- Thursday: 6pm to 8pm
If you would like to chat online but aren't free during the LiveChat times - let LGBT Youth Scotland know and they might be able to open it for you.
If LiveChat isn't open you can send them a message by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or clicking "Send Message" in the bottom right corner of the website - just make sure to type your email address in carefully or they will not be able to get back to you.
Visit the AyeFeel Blogs page to check out more blogs.
Take a look at our Mindfulness Monday videos if you're looking for some mindfulness activities.
Take a look at our list of organisations you can use if you need support.
If you're interested in volunteering, visit the #YSHive page to see what volunteer opportunities are available with Young Scot.
For more information about supporting your mental health and emotional wellbeing visit our AyeFeel page.
Young Scot supports young people to share their own voices, views and opinions and works with partner organisations and professionals who are experts in different topics. The views expressed in this blog are those of the young people, organisations and/or individuals who have taken part in the blog, not necessarily the views of Young Scot.