What To Do When a Loved One Comes Out
Though acceptance of LGBTQ+ people is on the rise around the world, many people still find difficulty coming to grips with reality when a family member comes out. When an individual decides to come out as lesbian, gay, bi, trans, or queer, they might fear that their family will reject their sexual orientation. Instead of questioning their loved one’s sexuality, family members must extend their full support to help them get over emotional upheaval.
Studies have shown that gay and lesbian individuals who do not have a strong family support system are more likely to develop mental health problems. One study found that trans people whose families accept their gender identity are more likely to have high self-esteem.
Here are some ways that therapists in Brooklyn suggest supporting a loved one who has come out as LGBTQ+.
Do Not Be Judgmental
Whatever your religious beliefs, do not let them influence you. If you let religious beliefs guide you, you may inadvertently drive the person away. As a result, your bond with them may weaken with time.
Do not judge them by their sexual preferences. When you do not judge an LGBTQ+ loved one, you show a willingness to accept them as they are. Talk to the individual about how to take your relationship forward.
Do Not Distance Yourself from Them
Coming out as LGBTQ+ can send shockwaves through the individual’s family. Family members may struggle to accept their loved one’s sexual orientation. In many cases, when an LGBTQ+ person comes out, their family members feel anguish and sever ties with them.
Lack of family support can lead to isolation and loneliness, and the person may slip into depression or develop some other mental health problem.
By not distancing an LGBTQ+ loved one, you show that you still care for them. To show the person that they and their relationships matter, including their partner in family celebrations. Call them or pay them a visit periodically.
Listen and Ask Appropriate Questions
Take some time out of your schedule every day to sit down and talk to your loved one. Lending an ear and offering a shoulder to cry on is a great way to show empathy. When the person is talking, show that you are listening. Stay focused and take note of verbal cues. Instead of imposing your opinions or views, help them identify the best solutions to their problems.
Don’t try to rush things. Allow them to share their story in their own time. Be mindful not to cross any lines or invade their personal space. Be respectful and tell them that you are proud of them and that you are glad they finally mustered the courage to come out.
Coming out is a difficult process. Many LGBTQ+ individuals and their family members experience a range of emotions after the individual finally comes out. If you or a loved one experiences emotional meltdowns, Cooper Mental Health Counseling can help. Our certified LGBTQ therapists in Brooklyn use different types of therapies designed to help individuals regain their confidence. To learn more, call (347) 244-7873.