Though we live in a liberal society, our thinking isn’t always as progressive as it should be. We all might have someone in our family or social circle that has come out of the closet at some time. They have trepidations about being accepted by their loved ones in addition to dealing with cultural pressures and social norms. Irrespective of how we feel, our reaction and what we say to approach the situation will show our loved ones that we still care. For those of you who are completely unfamiliar with the term, LGBTQ+ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual and queer. The ‘+’ is an inclusive symbol that includes all other communities as well including pansexual and bigender among others.
If it is difficult for you to accept your loved one’s disclosure and you are going through an emotional turmoil of your own, the best solution for you would be to seek counseling. An experienced therapist will help you navigate through these unchartered waters. Whether you choose therapy or not here are a few guidelines on how you can approach the situation and help build those bridges instead of breaking them down.
Don’t be judgmental
If you have deep seeded religious or communal beliefs, it is essential that you are not influenced by them in the light of the new information. Don't allow your principles to rule your heart, because that may damage the strong bonds that exist between you and the person who has come out. By not judging we show a willingness to accept. Later on, once the dust has settled, you can both have a heart to heart talk about how to take your relationship forward and deal with religious and communal commitments.
Listen and ask appropriate questions
For the person coming out, it takes a lot of guts, for fear of rejection, harassment, oppression or even disownment. You might be going through an emotional roller coaster yourself, but the first thing you can and should do is listen. Being supportive. Lending an ear and maybe a shoulder to cry on, shows that you still love them.
Allow the person to share his or her story in their own time. Don't rush them or inquire about too many details, unless they are willing to divulge such information. Be careful you don't cross any lines and infringe on any personal space if he or she isn't ready to tell you all now and depending on how close you are they will in time.
Be respectful and show them you still care
Thank them for having the courage to finally tell you shows that you respect their choices, irrespective of how they clash with yours.
No matter how you feel, remember that God has created each of us differently. Tell them you love them and show them that you still care.
Don’t distance yourself
It is vital that you don’t distance yourself from them. On the contrary, nothing should change in terms of how often you meet or call each other. When a person comes out, they are most afraid of rejection and many spiral into depression because of it. By not distancing yourself you will show the person they are still an important part of your life.
Your loved one’s partner might have gone through rejection of his or her own. By including them in your routine celebrations and maybe even holidays, you will not only build a healthy support system for your loved one but also show them how much their life and relationships matter to you.
Help your loved one seek therapy if required
Coming out to one’s own family is hard enough. Coping with social pressure and living up to preconceived expectations is a whole other ball game. Research shows that it is not uncommon for people who have come out as LGBTQ+ to suffer from depression, discrimination and rejection which may spiral into substance abuse. Younger people especially are susceptible to being victimized in their schools, even though their orientation might be accepted at home. As a result, many of them are suicidal and resort to self-harm. If you or your loved ones need a helping hand, therapy might be the best solution. Visit https://www.therapycts.com/blog/ and help your loved one gain access to the best counselors and therapists in Tampa, FL.
For more information on the types of therapy that may help you or your child contact us today.
Collaborative Therapeutic Services (CTS) seeks to maximize clients’ options by offering a variety of services, hours, and service providers with diverse specializations. We offer evening & weekend appointments. Have questions? Contact Us Here or Call 813-951-7346. Located in Tampa, Florida.