Responding when someone comes out

When someone chooses to share the truth of their existence with you, it reflects their view that you are open and trustworthy. You may not know what to do, you may feel like you do not know enough to handle their questions. The good news is that you are not expected to have answers; what they most often want is for you to be present with them, listen to them, encourage them, and be honest.

Your willingness to truly listen to their story can be freeing for them and you. Be open to learn about their lived experience, with them. Coming out is not a one-time-and-you’re-done experience. It is a process that will unfold over time. Awareness of and sensitivity to the alienation felt by persons of different sexual orientations from communities of faith may invite others to share with you. Remain available; the challenge to be true to self will require support over time.

Share God’s love for them, express your love for them, and joyfully affirm them. Assure them that they are a gift to your congregation. You can also offer your support in tangible ways; recommend resources, support systems, share your knowledge of faith and spirituality, and commit to journey with them. Embrace their sharing with you as a fresh invitation to be in relationship and to grow together. Their coming out means they are ready to know themselves more fully, to know others and to be known for who they are.

Here is an inspiring video sharing the difference one person can make.