1. Stop bugging them.
If you know someone who’s living in the closet, allow them to get out of it on their own. They’re probably struggling enough as it is, and they don’t need you to create another source of anxiety about their sexuality.
2. Don’t hint at it.
Look, if you’re not even sure if they’re in the closet, don’t go fishing for answers. Ambushing your friends with questions and comments can turn any friendly conversation into a minefield.
3. Don’t compare them to others.
Everyone has their own pace and way of doing things. There’s no point talking about yourself, or your cousin who came out to her entire family, or your friend who left home in his twenties.
4. Cut the gossip.
You hear the rumours, and maybe you do your part in keeping them going, but you shouldn’t. When someone starts speculating about another person’s sexuality, just leave it alone. Don’t get involved, and don’t perpetuate gossip.
5. Have a comeback ready.
If someone asks you, „is that guy gay?“ have an answer ready. Could be as simple as, „why don’t you ask him?“ Just avoid speculation and gossip.
6. Defend people from homophobia.
Even if someone isn’t out, they can suffer from homophobia, and it can be compounded because they’re not comfortable speaking to anyone about it. Just take a fundamental stand against homophobia, and show your closeted friends that they have your support.
7. But don’t feel like you need to cover for their lies.
Even if you’re trying to help someone who’s in the closet, you don’t need to lie or deceive others for them. Pretending to be in a relationship with someone, for instance, so that they can „pass“ as straight doesn’t help anyone. Empower your friends instead!
8. Don’t judge someone else’s motives.
There’s any number of reasons that someone might choose to stay in the closet. Their silence could stem from fear, personal biases, or from professional or family issues. Try not to judge others, or push them into something they’re not comfortable with.
9. Create a safe environment.
Don’t expect someone to be comfortable enough to come out to you if all you do is gossip and disparage others. Show empathy and trustworthiness. That’s the first step to getting others to open up.
10. Put yourself in their place.
Open up a little yourself, and tell your friend something personal about yourself. Share your secrets, and how they make you feel. By putting yourself in their shoes, you might start to understand how hard it is to be vulnerable.
11. Be real.
Sincerity is key. If you can maintain an honest relationship with someone, they won’t want to hide anything from you.
12. Never, under any circumstance, force someone out of the closet.
Blowing someone’s secret before their ready can be one of the most traumatizing things in a person’s life. If they are not ready, wait. Having your patience and support will make all the difference when they are ready.
DISCLAIMER* This article was originally written by Victor Nascimento and published on www.buzzfeed.com. I don’t own this nor I claim to have written this. This was just used as an example for a final project in my university.