The big question to understand first is what is LGBTQ? You can also read our article What If I Think I Am Gay to understand more about sexual orientations.
Speak to adults you know and trust about anything you are unsure of. Seeking advice from your parent or trusted care-giver means that you know for sure this person has your best interests in heart.
So don’t just google for answers! Remember the internet is made up of many sources of information with different opinions. Many of these are opinions, not factual information from experts. Some of them may also be biased because they want to convince you to take a certain viewpoint.
If you sense that your friend may see you as more than a friend, it may make you feel awkward.
A helpful tip to remember that you have a choice when it comes to dealing with unwanted crushes and affections from anyone in the same way. Regardless of the sex of the person, you should feel safe enough to voice how you feel and if need be, put distance between you and your friend.
But just like how it would not make sense to speculate over crushes unless the other party has announced their intentions, it is unnecessary to worry about a scenario that has not materialised.
You can remain friends and even ask questions like “What are the reasons behind your identifying as LGBTQ?” if they are comfortable talking about this.
It is natural for good friends to ask questions about each other’s convictions and behaviours. After all, that’s what you do when you are trying to understand any new topics or differing opinions.
Just because you ask someone why they think they are LGBTQ does not mean you are being bigoted or judgmental, if you are genuinely interested in understanding more about your friend.
Discussions that enhance connection stem from a sincere desire to understand the other better, so be clear of your own intentions.
Understanding means empathy and a sincere desire to know someone better and see their views as valuable. But it doesn’t always need to result in agreement.
You may find it hard to express your own opinions in the face of strongly opposing views but remember, you are not trying to win a debate. Your opinion is equally valuable.
If you feel uncomfortable with where a conversation is headed - whether in topic or tone – it is also perfectly okay to say you would rather talk about something else.
Does loving someone mean accepting their beliefs even when they clash with yours? Let’s think through this. We have many friends and family whom we love, each of them with differing beliefs. If loving them means we have to adopt all of their beliefs, it can get pretty confusing.
Loving someone does not mean you have to agree with everything they believe or do.
What makes a good friend? Someone kind and caring? A good listener who seems to understand you? How about someone with the same hobbies so you can spend time together on shared interests?
Would you expect your good friend to change their convictions to follow all of yours? No, that is not a usual ingredient for friendship.
In our teenage years, we often look for something bigger than ourselves as we work out our own inner convictions and how to express them externally. This is part of the identity-forging process.
What makes up our identity? There are many factors, such as our biological sex, our family of origin, upbringing, past experiences and more. While sexual orientation can also be a factor of how people view themselves, it need not be the biggest defining factor.
Your LGBTQ friend is more than their sexual orientation. If we care about the people dear to us, we should see beyond their sexual orientation. This is particularly important if their entire identity seems wrapped up in just their sexual orientation.
As a friend, continue to love and journey with your friend (chances are they may feel lonely in their experience). Wherever appropriate, bring up some common teenage relationship concerns like physical boundaries, sexual consent, and sexual boundaries within relationships to help your friend think about what is acceptable for them.
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