All of us want to be accepted for who we are and to be able to love whoever we want. That’s exactly what those who are labelled as LGBTQ fight for. Even if you are sure you are not one, it is a sign of open-mindedness and humanity to accept and respect alternate sexual orientations. They are people just like us who deserve equal rights and fair treatment. Such people were around in all cultures at all times.
It is going to be tough experience when someone you love (a child, sibling or friend) comes out to you declaring his/her difference. You may go through mixed emotions.
As the current generation, we can bring changes to anti-LGBT attitudes that we are accustomed to and show our support by being an ally to their cause. Ultimately it is your personal call. Read on to find a better footing before you decide how to respond.
Not a mental illness or disorder
One’s sexual identity and orientation are not something you could or should try to change. It is as much a human variation as being left-handed. Don’t assume that a professional counsellor or reparative therapy will help be ‘normal’.
Not a phase one goes through
Sexual orientation is not an either/or situation. One may “feel different” or find one’s gender identity not matching parental and social expectations, as early as a kid or when an adolescent or as an adult. One need not be sexually active to know who one is attracted to.
Coming to terms
Realise that you are responsible for your negative reaction, because that’s how we are conditioned to think. So don’t tease or criticise for being different. Don’t try to brainwash to conform to your notions of proper sexual behaviour.
On their shore
An LGBTQ person goes through different stages of accepting of his/her own self before confiding in another person. Talk to someone who has been through this directly, or to their parents/friends or seek information from literature. Understanding from their point-of-view makes it less perverted.
As otherwise normal beings, they deserve to live openly free from violence and discrimination. Defend them against prejudice, rejection and bullying. They have the right to pursue individual goals and to form committed and loving relationships.
One’s gender identity and orientation have no effect on one’s ability to be moral and spiritual. Coming out implies such a person sharing a part of his/her identity to you. He/she is being honest with themselves and holding onto who they are.
Who is Gay/Lesbian?
You can’t assume anyone to be LGBTQ. They don’t look a certain way nor confine to stereotypes. There is no test or questionnaire to give a definite answer to your identity.
Create a safe space for them by showing support so a loved one can come out when they feel ready without fear of negative consequences. Openly discuss matters like same-sex marriage and LGBT rights in workplace.
It is okay to sometimes feel attracted to someone you’re close to or admire, be it a close friend or teacher; it doesn’t mean you are homosexual.
Whatever your sexuality, be honest with your partner about your feelings and attractions to other people.