Thursday, October 16, 2014

How Can I Support a Gay Family Member or Friend?

The following are suggestions that were given in a thread in which I participated about how to support a gay member, focusing especially on the question of how to do so in the LDS Church.  I came across that thread again and want to share the suggestions, of which the first three are mine - and the last one comes from a friend who has struggled mightily to stay actively involved in the Church despite what he hears regularly in church from people who don't realize he is gay.  It's hard to express how much I admire and respect him:


1) Don't approach the member about it proactively, if that member has not told people that s/he is gay. The decision to share one's sexual orientation should be a personal one, and forcing it before someone is ready to deal with all of the reactions is cruel and simply wrong.  Don't take it upon yourself to ask the person about it, especially if you aren't 100% certain.

2) Talk in the person's presence about acceptance and unconditional love generally (not specific to homosexuality), regardless of whatever issues might exist, but don't be obsessive about it - and do it in other situations, as well, so it's not obvious you are targeting one person and/or family with that message.

3) If the person comes out, offer support immediately and openly - and charitably. Damn the consequences with other people in the moment; support the person. Having said that, do it in a way that doesn't alienate others simply as a result of how you respond - in support of the person, not by attacking anyone else.

4) Keep an open mind, and learn to deal with your own feelings before it becomes a problem - then be ready to help others. A person who is gay is just like the rest of us in every other way, looking for love and acceptance. If two humans love and respect each other, that is enough to overcome all differences.

5) Let the person know that there are people who love him and will support him no matter what. He needs to know that he will have somewhere to turn if he needs help.

6) Support people who are gay by just treating them like you treat all your family members and friends, with lots of love and respect. You don't have to do anything different, and they don't want anything different.

7) As a gay man myself, I think it's very important to stress that gay people will talk when they're ready, and not before. They also won't talk about it unless they either a) have felt out the situation/person well enough to feel it's safe, or b) have come to such a deep crisis that they either have to talk about it, come out, or self-destruct. The self-destruct part can take a couple of forms. One is the obvious--suicide attempts. Other ways of self-destructing include developing addictions to numb the pain, self-mutilation, participation in highly risky sexual behavior, and internalized self-hatred.

There is a great resource that you can download from a group called the "Family Acceptance Project" that might be helpful for you to read and keep in mind. Here is a link:


I also want to add the link to the Church's own website about this issue.  It is worth viewing, especially by any members who struggle to accept and love people who are homosexual for who they are:

Mormons and Gays (

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