Coming out can be a difficult process. It requires understanding and acceptance and facing societal reactions and attitudes towards the LGBTQIA+ community. That said, coming out can also be very liberating and freeing, and helps one embrace their authentic self.

So, we reached out to Richa Vashista, a women’s mental health expert in gender and sexuality, and asked her to host an Ask Me Anything session on the Girl Tribe by MissMalini App on “Being An Ally To Those Coming Out”. She answered all the questions the Tribe had on what coming out means, how does one come out to their friends and family, how to respond to someone coming out, how we can create safe spaces for the LGBTQIA+ community, why coming out is important, and more! Read on to know all that she shared.

Q. What kind of advice and support can we give a friend if they haven’t come out to their family yet and how can we make this process easier for them?

The thing with coming out is that it is personal. It’s completely on the person if they want to come out or not. Regardless, if they want to come out, as a friend you can check in with on how they’re doing and how they feel about the situation. Let them know that you’re here for them as it can really be a scary space for them. Discuss a ‘coming out plan’ and the different outcomes that can be anticipated. If they’re looking for professional support, feel free to reach out to any of the AtEase experts who are queer affirmative.

Q. I’m queer but have not come out to my family. Because I speak about my queerness openly, I often fear I may publicly get outed by news articles or someone else without my permission. How do I handle that if it ever happens?

Thank you for your vulnerability in sharing this. First of all, your fear is VALID. Since you mentioned that you openly talk about your identity, it’s best to come up with an action plan to cope with ‘D Day’. Start with identifying some people who can be your safe space and talk to them about your fears and what it means to you. Once you feel ready, it’s best to speak to a professional and create a plan of action and what you can do if that happens.

Q. What can I say to show my friend that I support their coming out? Are there any specific words one should avoid? And certain questions to avoid asking?

Thank you for being so thoughtful. You should assure them that you will never see them differently and you love them just the way they are. It’s also important to acknowledge that they came out to you and found trust in you. Most importantly, check in on them. Ask them how they’re feeling. Ask them what they need. Assure them that you will always be there for them.

Do you have any questions about coming out? Please share them with us in the comments below!

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