I get a lot of letters from young people who want to talk to their friends about being gay or lesbian. Sometimes they want to tell their friend that they are lesbian or bisexual, sometimes they want to know if their friend is. But how do you bring the subject up?
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- Bring the subject up casually. Start generically. Ask, do you have a crush on anyone? Or who do you think is cute? You can ask about people you know or celebrities.
- Bring up the issue. Ask what they think of gay marriage, gays in the military or Gay/Straight Alliances in the schools. This is a good way to test the waters to see if they are homophobic or not.
- Let them know how you feel. If someone tells a gay joke, be sure to say you don't think that's funny. If someone calls someone else a 'fag' or says something mean about gay people, be sure to stand up for them.
- Use a Celebrity. Do you watch Queer as Folk or The L Word? Talk about the show and see how your friend responds. It seems like the tabloids are always talking about some famous girl kissing another girl. Ask your friend if she has ever, or would she consider kissing another girl.
- Use another friend. Is there some one in your school or circle of friends who is gay, lesbian or bisexual? Mention that person's name and see how your friend reacts.
- Go for it! Depending on how the above steps go, you may decide to take the plunge and ask your big question, "Are you gay?" or drop the hint that you've been thinking about other girls.
- Breathe. Discussing sexual orientation is one of the most stressful things a person can do. Be sure you're ready to have the conversation before you start it.
- If your friend is obviously uncomfortable, drop it and change the subject.
- Don't ask someone about their sexual orientation unless you have a close friendship with them.
- Choose the right time for this discussion. You should make sure you're not in a place where it could be over heard.
- Start out with the least amount of commitment. Instead of saying, "I'm certain I'm a lesbian and I've always felt this way," try "I think I might be gay." Instead of asking your friend if he is gay, ask, "Have you ever felt attracted to another boy?" That can be easier for friends to hear.