These helpful words and harmful phrases will help you support your loved ones if they share they’re part of the LGBTQIA+ community.
Sometimes when our loved ones open up about being a part of the rainbow community, it can be difficult to know how to support them. LGBTQIA+ is extremely diverse, and there is no one right way to approach it. Listen to what they have to say and take cues from that.
Potentially helpful words
- “I love you. Thank you for sharing/ trusting me.”
- “Is there anything I can do to support you?”
Tips to keep in mind
- Ask if they have a partner rather than a girlfriend or boyfriend.
- Be wary of stereotypes, they can be harmful and offensive.
- Ask what language works for them. I self-identify as queer, which is an umbrella term for the rainbow community, but there are a variety of terms others may prefer.
- Research more about your loved one’s sexuality or affiliation to LGBTQIA+. There are plenty of resources online to help you understand. It’s not your loved one’s job to educate you about the whole community.
- Understand that they might not have all the answers, even about their own experience. Let them figure it out and be there to listen.
- Watch, read, listen and engage with media created by queer people.
Potentially harmful phrases
- “You don’t look queer.”
- “Are you sure you’re gay?”
- “So you’re gay/bisexual now? What changed?”
Other things to avoid
- Referring to them as your “gay friend” or “queer friend”. They are more than their sexuality.
- Offering to set them up with the only other gay or bisexual person you know.
- The assumption that being bisexual or pansexual is a phase or “just a route to being gay”.
- Asking why they hadn’t told you before now – everyone’s journey is different.
- Asking them inappropriate or personal questions. Let them set the boundaries of the conversation.