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When someone you know “comes out of the closet”

What do you do when a friend or loved one tells you they’re gay?

I am learning that right now.

A few days ago, on National Coming Out Day, a friend of mine did just that, and she posted about it on her blog.

I’ve realized over the last couple of days that there’s not much out there in Christian circles to help Christians respond to friends or family who come out to them.

That’s sad because chances are we all know someone who’s gay.

I was able to find one article that helped me.

Sarah is a Christian woman whose brother is gay. She wrote this article for others who may be dealing with the coming out of a loved one.

In thinking over the past several years since I learned that my brother was gay, I see a lot of mistakes I have made, but also some things that I feel I did right. Uncertainty will always exist in life, no matter your journey. Truth is that constant thing that helps us continue on. I have recognized four things were demonstrated both by my brother and myself as we learned to develop and maintain a relationship while disagreeing about a very fundamental issue of his personhood. Disagreement is like fire; it can purify what was muddy and the result is beautiful.

1. Be a listener.
Take time to listen to their heart with its insecurities, fears, hurts, hopes and dreams. Take time to hear their perspective and opinion on the issue. Understanding is not synonymous with agreeing. Set aside for the moment your desire for them to agree with you or even understand how you feel and just listen.

2. Be honest.
After you have taken the time to really listen, it is okay to ask others to listen to you in return. Express honestly what you think and feel. Don’t just present your theological argument, though that is necessary, also present your heart, with all its insecurities and fears. Once you have expressed where you are coming from, there will be little room for misunderstanding and you will not need to re-iterate your point in the future (though you will be tempted to: refrain). I believe the best thing that happened between my brother and I took place one night while we hashed things out for many hours. After much frustration and tears, we agreed to disagree, but we also had no doubt that we loved each other.

3. Be okay with disagreement.
This is key in many relationships. If you cannot be comfortable disagreeing, you’ll never get anywhere here. Yes, it is important to express truth, but do not pointlessly spin your wheels. You cannot ever make someone see truth. You must not take that responsibility upon your shoulder. Your only responsibility is to let the truth shine, be consistent in living it, love others and pray for them. My brother and I do not dwell on disagreement, but neither are we afraid of it.

4. Be okay with uncomfortableness.
There were/are a few times when my brother and I will be watching TV and he will remark how some guy is cute. Then uncomfortable silence will fall. Nothing needs to be said; we both know what the other thinks. Running from or trying to avoid a moment because it is uncomfortable is selfish. You must learn to live through such a moment and move on.

I have discovered many things in the past several years. I have discovered how selfish I am, but also how selfless I can be. I have discovered how courageous my brother is, living out what he believes in the face of persecution as it were, and I discovered how courageous I am, standing up for what I believe is true even if someone I love and respect disagrees with me. In closing, be daring enough to hope and expect that your relationship and journey will be a good one. It will make all the difference. – The Gay Christian Network.

Question: Do you have any gay friends or family members? How did you respond when you found out they were gay? Is there anything you would do differently now?



4 thoughts on “When someone you know “comes out of the closet”

  1. As a Gay man I’ve been through the other side of this; the ‘coming out’ phase; and I suppose for me, the best responses I had were the ones who didn’t make a big deal of it. The people who accepted that I am still me, regardless of who it is I find attractive.
    I think the article you found pretty much hits the nail on the head in that love is key. If a friend or loved one tells you that they’re gay, it’s because they love and trust you enough *to* tell you – and so you should make sure that they know that feeling is mutual – and just be as accepting as you can be.

    Posted by followingcarrie | October 14, 2011, 7:55 am
    • “If a friend or loved one tells you that they’re gay, it’s because they love and trust you enough *to* tell you – and so you should make sure that they know that feeling is mutual – and just be as accepting as you can be.” That is so good, and something people who are not gay often don’t think about. And you’re right, love is key, and sometimes Christians don’t show Christ’s love, which is sad.

      Posted by GraceGirl | October 14, 2011, 8:38 am
  2. You’re right. I think, without love for each other we don’t have an awful lot going for us, regardless of sexuality 🙂

    Posted by followingcarrie | October 16, 2011, 2:35 pm
  3. Thank you for writing this. I have a loved one who has not shared with me yet, but I know the day is coming when he will. Although I do not agree with his choices, I love him so much no matter what, and I want him to know that. He is still the same person to me no matter what and my love for him will never change. Thank you.

    Posted by L | February 1, 2013, 7:43 pm

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