My friend just came out as bisexual. How do I help her?

Thanks for your question. It sounds like you care about your friend very much, and like you’re working really hard to support her. One of the best ways to help your friend is by communicating your acceptance and empathy, and it sounds like you’re already doing exactly that. You mentioned that you want your friend to feel supported by the people around her – it sounds to me like you’ve been one of those supportive people.

 

You mentioned that your friend wants to come out to her parents, but that she is afraid about their reactions. I think it is normal for a person in her situation to experience fear of being rejected by the people she cares about. The decision to be fully open about one’s sexual identity can be very daunting. It is important to know that the decision to come out is different for everyone. Every person and family has a unique home environment, so the consequences of coming out are unique for every person. Some people receive support and acceptance from their families, while others are left hurt, rejected, or even in danger. You mentioned that you believe her parents are good people, and that’s great to hear; but it might be helpful to clarify why your friend is afraid of her parents’ reactions. What does she think the situation will look like if she tells her parents she is bisexual? How have her parents responded to other people who identify as bisexual? Thinking about these questions might help your friend to clarify how she feels about coming out to her parents, and whether coming out is a safe thing to do right now.

 

As your friend considers whether coming out is a good decision for her right now, she might find it helpful to reach out to people who have more knowledge or training with respect to sexual identity and health. She could consider contacting Calgary Outlink: Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity to access information, peer support, or referrals. Their website is http://calgaryoutlink.ca and their phone number is 403-234-8973. Another option is the Calgary Sexual Health Centre – they offer resources, counseling, and other services pertaining to sexual health. Their website is http://www.calgarysexualhealth.ca and their phone number is 403-283-5580.

 

Lastly, you mentioned that you want your friend to feel comfortable with who she is. I think it’s normal for people to want to feel comfortable with themselves, and it makes sense that you would want the same for your friend. Just remember that learning to be comfortable with her sexual identity might be a long, difficult process, and unfortunately, it is not a process you can control. All you can do is continue being the caring, supportive friend that you already are. That being said, being a supportive friend can be emotionally exhausting – remember to look after yourself, too! Check in with yourself and notice when you need to take time for you. If being a friend ever feels challenging, or if you just need someone to talk to, you can always reach out to us here at ConnecTeen. You can call us at 403-264-TEEN (8336) or text us at 587-333-2724. We’d be happy to hear from you.