October 22, 2020
Your niece has told you she’s a lesbian.
Your best friend has told you he’s pansexual.
Your cousin has let your whole family know that she’s trans, and to please call her something new.
Your ‘wife’ has told you he’s a man, and could you please call him your husband.
Your child has told you they are not actually your son or daughter - just your dazzling nonbinary child.
If you’re an ally, even if you’re queer yourself, you may not know quite how to react when someone comes out.
Maybe you haven’t thought of yourself as an explicit LGBTQ ally before, but now this person that you love needs you to figure it out. Where do you even start?
Your internal journey is your own, but if you want to show up for your loved one I suggest thinking carefully about how you express yourself. Often very well meaning people say things that unintentionally poke old wounds, or steam roll over a conversation that likely took a lot of guts to start.
It’s going to be different for everyone, but here are my dos and don’ts when it comes to supporting a queer loved one when they come out as LGBTQ.
- Does this mean we are going to start going to drag shows?
- So now that you’re a dyke, when are you going to cut your hair?
- Welcome to womanhood!
- OMG you’re so brave.
- But what about having kids?
- What will your aunt think?
If a loved one has come out to you and some of these were your responses - don’t worry! Chances are your person knows that these sentiments come from a deep place of love and concern. The point of this list is not to shame you, but to offer a way forward that opens up more space and freedom for your relationship to flourish. It’s about being a better ally, not being a perfect ally.
Remember, your loved one is the expert here - it’s their life. They are telling you truths that they have likely spent a very long time mulling over and coming to terms with. It doesn’t actually have to make sense to you yet. And honestly, it might not for a very long time! That’s ok.
*if this is you, may I suggest, um...doing some self reflection, learning about compulsive heterosexuality, and maybe chatting with some friends? You too might be queer! But that’s another conversation.
- Feel free to write an email or send them a card to make sure you have expressed all that you want to express. Maybe even this one, say? Bonus: they can look back on it when times are rough and know you’re in their corner.
Accept that they might not want to talk much about it
Accept that they might want to talk about it A LOT.
Above all, act from a place of gratitude and follow their lead.
Your queer loved one knows what they need far better than I, a stranger, ever could. You’ve got this.
One last thing: your feelings are ok. Whatever they are: joy, trepidation, confusion, worry. They are all ok. You can’t help having your feelings.
However. You can control how much you let those feelings affect your relationship.
It’s not your responsibility to eradicate complicated feelings on site, but it is your responsibility to sit with those emotions, interrogate, and work through them.
Plus, to some extent having worries and fears makes sense. The world we live in is not set up to support queer and trans people. But trust me - your loved one is keenly aware of this, they don’t need you to remind them. Embracing a queer identity can also be a source of incredible joy, and that might be something they need you to reflect back to them in the coming years.
If you’re struggling with understanding any of this, there are many resources for partners, friends, and family of queer people. I cannot overstate how important it is that you build your own support network, whether that’s friends, a therapist, or even a queer affirming religious figure.
You’re doing great, feel free to ask me questions, and congrats on having more queer people in your life!
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it’s a pretty good place to start! Have your own favorite resource, or want to weigh in on the dos and don'ts? Leave a comment and we'll add it to the list!
In my mind, the Trevor Project is one of the best LGBTQ+ nonprofits out there. They focus on crisis intervention and suicide prevention for queer youth, and these are excellent resources for both queer people and their allies.
PFLAG is a support group for families and friends of LBTQ people, as well as an educational resource. You can even find a local chapter near you!
This is a resource created a few years ago specifically for the parents of LBTQ children, whether they are kids, teens, or adults. Most of it is in the form of Q&A. It features stories of kids and their parents, with the parents talking about their process of dealing with their child coming out. It also has some good information about concepts and definitions regarding gender and sexuality.
From a Christian perspective
Moriah has compiled a list of sources that help elucidate what affirming christianity can look like. She is also working on a doctorate in clinical psychology and you can follow Moriah’s travels here: @mconantpsychology
I really like this guide on how to be a better ally. It also includes a list of excellent nonprofits you can get involved with.
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March 03, 2021
July 22, 2020
Today's story is about how I came up with the concept for Our Back Pockets (stationery to celebrate queer lives, heyyyy), as well as how I came up with the name Our Back Pockets.