How to Talk About Being Gay

two women hugging
Marga Buschbell Steeger/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images

Questions sometimes come up from people who want to talk to their friends about being gay,lesbian, or bisexual, but they don't quite know how to broach the topic. Whether it's because they want to come out themselves or they're curious about their friend's sexual orientation, this can be an awkward subject to introduce into conversation, especially if you don't know where the other person stands.

Tips for Talking About Being Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual

If you want to check your friend's temperature about homosexuality or bisexuality, try these tips.

  1. Casually bring up the subject. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Let them know how you feel. If someone tells a gay joke, be sure to say you don't think it's funny. If someone calls someone else a 'fag' or says something mean about gay people, be sure to stand up for them.
  4. Talk about popular entertainment. 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 he or she has or would consider kissing someone of the same sex.
  5. Mention 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.
  1. 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 men/women.
  2. 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.

    More Tips for Navigating the Conversation

    • If your friend is obviously uncomfortable, drop it and change the subject.
    • Don't outright 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.