Pride month may be over, but we still cover lots of different types of LGBT+ bits and bobs all year round. We wanted to share our list of 8 key things to remember when your sibling comes out to you so that you can support them and be there for them the very best way you can.
1) Keep it to yourself
Just because they have come out to you does not mean they are out to anyone else, including your parents. It’s important to remember that this is their coming out journey, and even though it’s great to help and support them, this is their business to tell, even if it means you have to keep it from your parents for a little while.
2) They are still your sibling, no matter what
It can feel like a lot to deal with when your sibling first comes out to you. The most important thing to remember is that this does not change who they are, and they are still the same sibling you have had your whole life.
3) Remember, it matters to them
It is really tempting to use phrases like “it doesn’t matter to me” and “it’s no big deal”. We know, and they will probably know, that this you trying to be accepting. Remember though, it matters to them enough that they wanted to sit you down and tell you this. Why not try something like “that means so much that you told me” and “I will love you no matter what”.
4) Let them say what they need to say
This is their time, and a huge step that they are taking. Whilst you might have opinions or things to say, let them say everything they need to first. They have probably had this conversation in their head a hundred times before actually sitting down with you, so let them get through it in their own time.
5) It might affect you, but the this is not the time to talk about that
So, with the above in mind, make a bit of a mental note of the things you want to ask them and the stuff you have to say and wait for them to invite you to speak. If you have a lot, try and be supportive in the moment and hold off. Remember, this has been a huge deal for them to tell you, and they might still be getting to grips with it themselves, so they might not be able to answer all your questions. Keep them in your brain, or write them down somewhere private until you can sit down and talk about it.
6) Have a think about the plan for coming out to the rest of your family…
If your sibling has told you before anyone else, it’s probably because they would like a bit of moral support when it comes to telling the rest of the family, especially your parents. Have a chat about what their plan is, if they have one, and work on it together. They will probably be super grateful for all the help and support. However, if they want to sit the parents down on their own and tell them, don’t push in. It can seem tempting to protect them, but you need to respect their wishes.
7) … and have a think about what you’ll do if it doesn’t go well
In an ideal world, no one would be homophobic, no one would have to come out and this would never be an issue. Unfortunately, this is not always going to be the case. If you think your parents might not react that well for whatever reason, try and have a think about what you will do. It might not be something your sibling can think about right now as it’s a pretty scary thought, but you should have a bit of an idea of how to help them, or how to talk your parents around. Read this article on coming out to homophobic parentsto get a little help.
8) Be there.
Really, the best thing you can ever do when your sibling, or anyone else, comes out to you, is just be there for them. Let them know that they can come to you at any point during this process and that you want them to feel like they can still come to you with all the same relationship dramas and joys that maybe they used to before.
If you have a question about sexuality, relationships, families or anything else, you can reach out to the Ditch the Label Community here, and we will listen to you.