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The Wrong Questions to Ask Someone Recently Out In The LGBTQ+ Community

by | Dec 21, 2021

Have you ever stood at the threshold of revealing your true self to the world, unsure of how it will be received? Coming out within the LGBTQ+ community is a profound act of courage and self-realization, marking a pivotal moment in one’s journey towards authenticity. Yet, amidst the celebration of personal truth, there lies a tapestry of challenges and sensitivities that demand our attention and understanding.

As societal attitudes evolve and more individuals find the courage to embrace their identities, it becomes increasingly crucial to navigate the complexities of the coming out journey with empathy and respect. Microaggressions, though often subtle, can leave lasting scars on the psyche of those who dare to share their truth. From well-intentioned yet misguided questions to outright discrimination, each interaction shapes the coming out experience in profound ways.

A young gay man at his first Pride parade.

Navigating Sensitive Conversations: The Weight of Words

In the delicate dance of coming out, the words we choose hold immense power. One common misstep lies in asking, “When did you decide to be gay?” This question not only oversimplifies the intricacies of sexual orientation but also implies that being LGBTQ+ is a choice rather than an inherent aspect of one’s identity. By understanding that sexual orientation is a complex interplay of genetics, environment, and personal experiences, we can foster a more inclusive and supportive environment for individuals navigating their truth.

When Did You ‘Decide’ to Be Gay?

Study after study has shown that our sexual orientations derive from a mixture of genetics as well as our environment, not our will, so asking someone about their ‘decision’ to come out as gay is not only incorrect, it is resoundingly offensive and should not be uttered. 

A person doesn’t decide to be queer and thus the word should not be used at all as it implies that a choice has been made and that – even more importantly – it can be unmade, a notion that goes beyond a microaggression to downright volatile. Your questions should not shame someone confiding a part of themselves with you. Instead, ask about their first experience in a respectful manner to engage them. 

Does Your Religion Allow Gay People?

Religion should never play a role in infringing on the rights of someone else to live in an authentic way. Second, aligning with groups that pick and choose which groups to persecute is a vile practice that has kept the LGBTQ+ community living on the fringe for generations and should come to an end, especially now. If you have a hard time accepting people that are unlike you, be respectful enough to keep your beliefs and perceptions to yourself and be considerate of someone sharing their truth with you. Mutual respect is the name of the game when it comes to coming out. 

Are You Attracted To Me?

Contrary to what some may believe, queer people are not attracted to everyone they come across, and that includes the people they choose to come out to. Does a heterosexual person have a crush on all their friends of the opposite gender?

Case closed. 

Instead of assuming that the person coming out to you is making sexual overtures towards you, ask if there is anyone that they would like to get to know or possibly date. This is a way to keep conversation open and expand it without making assumptions that can cause the person coming out undue stress. 

Are You Sure Your Gay (Even Though You’ve Never Been Someone of the Opposite Gender)?

We don’t adopt our sexualities as it is only natural that our brains signal the gender we are attracted to. If you are curious as to how your friend discovered their sexuality, then ask that instead of asking questions that are based in ignorance and misinformation. Be mindful of your phrasing and instead ask if they have ever done anything that could be categorized as heterosexual. 

Are You the Man or The Woman in the Relationship?

Rude. Wrong. Foul.

Assigning traditional gender roles to a relationship not only shows how behind the times you are, but reeks of sexism. There is never a reason to break things down to a concept this simple as gender roles are not the only factor in a fledgling romance. The correct path to take in this instance is to not say anything at all. 

Why Have You Changed?

This is another question that should not be asked because it implies that your friend has morphed into a totally different person when they are in essence only coming out. Any change they are making is for their personal elevation, and you should receive this with excitement as they accept themselves and enter the world in a new way with the announcement. Instead, remind them of your support and your intentions to be a great friend during this time of transitioning out of the closet. 

Do You Know (Insert Queer Celebrity Here)?

Even if your friend knows who the celebrity in question is, that does not mean they want to spend their time discussing the stars with you. Tokenizing random celebrities as an attempt to relate is a sure-fire miss. Instead, try asking about their hobbies and current interests. 

Have You Had Surgery Yet?

Not only is this an invasive question, but it also can be categorized as sexual harassment and should never be asked of someone as it is private medical information. Transgender people – just anyone else – is more than their body parts and the whole of them should be respected. Remember that the decision to undergo gender-affirming procedures is a personal decision that is ultimately up to the individual as well as the decision to share the information. 

Respect Their Journey

There are a million of questions that can strike out and these are just a few of the main ones that get uttered when someone comes out to friends or family. Remember that being mindful and respectful is always the route to take and the best way to remain a trusted confidante. 

What other questions do you consider offensive to ask anyone coming out? Let HomoCulture know in the comments section below!

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Brian Webb

Brian Webb

Author

Brian Webb is the founder and editor-in-chief of HomoCulture, a celebrated content creator, and winner of the prestigious Mr. Gay Canada – People’s Choice award.An avid traveler, Brian attends Pride events, festivals, street fairs, and LGBTQ friendly destinations through the HomoCulture Tour. He has developed a passion for discovering and sharing authentic lived experiences, educating about the LGBTQ community, and using both his photography and storytelling to produce inspiring content.Originally from the beautiful Okanagan Valley in the southern interior of British Columbia, Brian now lives in Vancouver, British Columbia. His personal interests include travel, photography, physical fitness, mixology, drag shows.

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