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Happy Pride Month! How to Help Support Your LGBTQ Friends

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young adults are at an increased risk for suicide, substance abuse and mental health issues. This increased risk is a reaction to how they are treated in their homes, schools and communities; it is not a result of identifying as LGBTQ. Bullying, abuse, rejection, judgment, stigma and feelings of isolation and loneliness all have a big impact on how LGBTQ young adults feel about themselves and their future.

As a friend, what you say or do matters…a lot. LGBTQ young adults often need the support of their friends to remain healthy and happy, especially when coming out. By being a supportive, nonjudgmental and loving friend, you can make a big difference in their lives.

Below are a few tips to help you support your LGBTQ friends so they can go on to lead fulfilling, productive and happy lives.

  • Applaud them for their courage in coming out to you and let them know you are happy that they trust you with such personal information.

  • Validate how they are feeling. Don’t question their identity by saying things like, “you are too young to be gay,” or “maybe you are just confused.”

  • Let them know that their identity does not change the way you feel about them or how you will act around them. 

  • If you are feeling uncomfortable, let them know you may need time to work out your issues.

  • Talk with them about their identity and show that you are interested in learning about their feelings and experiences. 

  • Ask them what words you should and shouldn’t use when referring to them.

  • Check up on them periodically and let them know they can talk to you anytime.

  • Ask what you can do to support them and what they may need from you at this time.

  • Support their identity. Don’t try to change or reform them.

  • Respect their feelings and embrace them as they are. Don’t call them names, judge them, exclude them from social activities, harass them, say their feelings or behaviors are sinful or gross or make any other negative remarks.

  • Support them in coming out to others when they are ready. You should never push them to come out or push them to keep their identity a secret. It should always be their decision if and when to come out.

  • Learn the facts about LGBTQ people and break down any stereotypes you may have.

  • Understand that being LGBTQ doesn’t define a person. They remain unique individuals with many positive traits, characteristics, talents and strengths.

  • Welcome any new LGBTQ friends and partners who they introduce you to. Try to hang out with them in LGBTQ and straight settings.

  • Help them research and access community resources and social support networks for LGBTQ young adults. 

  • If they are experiencing a crisis, encourage them to call The Trevor Helpline at (866) 488-7386.

  • Identity positive LGBTQ role models for them to respect and emulate.

  • Believe that they can have happy and successful futures as LGBTQ adults. The best gift you can give them is hope.

  • Stand up for them if they are being mistreated or discriminated against because of their LGBTQ identity.

  • Participate in LGBTQ organizations or events in your community or campus to show your support.

Many LGBTQ young adults fear rejection from their friends when coming out. Oftentimes what they may need most is for you to be just as good of a friend as you were before they came out. Remembering this will go a long way in supporting your LGBTQ friends!

Here are some national organizations that can help support you and your LGBTQ friends:

Check out Coming Out: A Guide for Youth and Their Allies in the Relationships resource group for a resource you can share with your friends and for more information about how you can support your LGBTQ friends