Same-Sex Households
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How to be supportive?

I will DD this, fair warning. I don't want to leave any sort of trail to this individual.

I have long suspected one of my cousins is gay. A few weeks ago, my brother overheard him having a conversation with a friend about a relationship he had with another man that didn't end the way he hoped it would. 

I cannot imagine he's come out to his parents. They are conservative Christians, and would find it difficult, to say the last. He's also very close to our grandparents, who already call him a "fairy" because he works in fashion and has some slightly effeminate characteristics.

We are all going to be at a family reunion soon (family spread out from Florida to Seattle), and I would like to somehow let him know that I am on his side ... as are my parents (his aunt & uncle) and my siblings (we have all separately arrived at the same conclusion). But I don't know how to do that, since he hasn't come out to any of us yet.

I don't want to force him to come out to me (because it's really none of my business what he does); and I don't want to make him feel like he's got a big gay spotlight over him the whole weekend ... like if I can see it, anyone in our family can. 

I'd just like to find a way to say, "Hey, you're OK; I'm here if you want to talk."

Is there a good way to do that, at all? Or is it better that I keep my mouth shut (unless I actually hear one of my families' homophobic comments, in which case I will gleefully go ape-shizzle!)? 

Re: How to be supportive?

  • I wouldn't make any hints that you suspect he's gay. Talk to him about his life, and about yours, get to know him better if you don't already, make plans to get together again outside of family events if that's an option. But you hinting that you know, even if you're just trying to let him know that you're okay with it, might freak him out and make him back away if he's not ready to come out.

    I had a kind of similar situation with a guy I was friends with in high school and college. He wasn't out then, but I believe he is now. I'm not really sure, but I get the feeling that he started pulling away because I (maybe not as subtly I thought I was being) tried to tell him that it's cool that he's gay.

  • I think that telling him you're here if he ever wants to talk and that you are glad he's a member of our family and you love him would be just fine. :)
  • i actually had this happen to me with my oldest sister, but on the flip side. i was the one "in the closet" and going through lots of relationship issues at the time that i couldn't talk to anyone about. i thought i was hiding it all pretty well, but i wasn't, some family members "just know". so what worked for me was a general conversation, about life, work, etc. when in the middle of it my sister gently squeezed my hand and said i just want you to know that i love you and want you to be happy with whoever makes you happiest. no matter what. and whenever you want to talk about anything, i'm here. no judgments, just love. and i'll always support you when others may not agree. that was it... i just broke down. we didn't have to say anything further. a huge relief came over me. from there i knew i could come to her and have since then. my gf is now referred by her children as "auntie k".

    but i will say i think it would depend on how close you are to your cousin. i'm sure you'll make the right decision when it comes down to it because it's coming from a good place. good luck to you all!

  • I agree with what others have said... but also, you don't really know how out he is in the rest of his life - if he's comfortable with himself and out in his non-family life he may respond positively to you just outright bringing it up.  But if he's hiding it from others or not comfortable with it himself, that may be a whole other story.  You could try to bring up something LGBT related in the news in a positive light, or mention someone else gay that you know in a positive light if there is anyone.  But generally getting to know him better might just bring everything to light naturally!
    TTC with PCOS since July 2011.
    IVF Oct/Nov 2012
    Beta #1 = 77, Beta #2 = 190, Beta #3 = 1044
    Cautiously optimistic.
  • Just to bookend this post, I ended up finding a way to casually ask my cousin, and it turns out he's been out for years! His boyfriend spends holidays at my conservative Christian relatives' house, even! He says that his parents are doing the best they can to deal with it.

    He said he wanted to tell everyone, but didn't want to make it into a dramatic announcement ... he's just living his life. 

    I think hearing that was the best thing I've heard all year. I am incredibly happy for him, and was so glad to see that he's got such a great attitude and head on his shoulders.

    I get to meet the BF this summer. Can't wait!

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