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Coming out as gay or bisexual is one of the most personal things someone can share with another human. We live in a society where even though we have made significant strides in understanding human sexuality, there still is a stigma in being openly gay. With National Coming Out Day landing this October 11th, a day to celebrate being out and proud, we decided to create a guide to all our non-queer readers and customers of what to do if someone you know comes out to you.

There is no correct way to react to someone coming out to you, you just do your best to remind them that you love them no matter what. Since so many dudes still seem unsure of how to react to their best buds stepping out of the closet, allow me to break it down for you. That way if one of your crew comes out to you as gay, you’re ready to react and accept them with open arms.

Take a Beat

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At first your buddy coming out to you may be a shock. You may feel confused, or possibly even angry that your friend kept a secret from you. It is important to always remember that the terms of someone coming out to you are never personal: this isn’t about you. Perhaps they told you to wait because they were not comfortable with the idea themselves. Perhaps they were afraid of how you would react. No matter what your feeling s are, it is important to just tell your friend “thank you” for trusting you with this information and that you need time to think about it. This way, no one says anything they’ll regret later after the dust has settled.

Think about how it will affect your friendship

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If you actually step back from the situation and think about how your buddy being gay will affect your relationship the answer is simple: it won’t. Just because he is into dick doesn’t mean he’s a totally different person. He’ll still be down to drink brews with you and watch the game on a Sunday. It’s not like his body is suddenly taken over by some sort of dick-demon that will change his personality. If you don’t let it get in the way of your friendship, then he won’t either.

Think about if things we’re reverse

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Always try to keep in mind how much things will be changing for your friend now. They may be petrified to tell their family, they may worry they’ll be treated differently at work. Your job is to still be their friend and comfort them through this time of transition. If you’re struggling to understand how he may be feeling: imagine telling your friends and family a secret you’ve kept your entire life and how fucking terrifying and freeing that would feel. Now you know what is probably going through his mind.

Just because your buddy is gay doesn’t necessarily mean he wants you. Fight the urge to self-indulge and worry he’ll come onto you. Being gay doesn’t mean you’re willing to touch every dick you wander upon.

Read up on the topic

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If your best bud is gay, it’s time to expand your horizons on the queer community. Take twenty minutes to google other coming out stories and statistics on gay people. For example, queer teens are twice as likely as their heterosexual peers to take their own lives. Your findings may surprise you and will definitely open up your mind to the trials and tribulations the queer community faces each day. Then, remind yourself that you probably don’t have to worry about any of the struggles your friend may face. Find your empathy for him this way. You’ll be a better person for it.

Ask Questions

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If your friend is opening up to you, chances are they’ll be open to you in turn. Take some time to ask your friend any questions that you may have. Like, no, just because they’re gay doesn’t mean they’re trying to touch your d. No, there is no girl or guy in a relationship, they’re both guys, that is the point.

Take any questions you’ve had about the gay community your new queer authority. If your friend doesn’t have the answers, he’ll go out and find them. It is an opportunity for both of you to become more comfortable with the idea by discovering new aspects of the queer community together.

Accept him

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I don’t mean with a surface level “Being gay is OK, man,” because your pal doesn’t need to be reminded that his sexuality is OK. Instead, show him how much you accept him by joining him for a brew at the local gay bar he enjoys. Maybe you’ll even end up being his wingman for the night. Either way, sometimes it isn’t enough to just say you accept the gay person in your life, you need to go the extra mile to show just how comfortable and accepting you are about the situation.

Defend him

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Just because your buddy has come out to you doesn’t mean the rest of the world isn’t full of assholes who will try and bring him down. A true friend always has his friend’s back. If you hear your other friends talking shit, shut it down. It’s 2018 and it stopped being “cool” to be homophobic years ago, so get with it. Be a leader in your group, proving to people that being open and accepting is the norm, not the exception.

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