#PrideMonth is finally over today, boys and girls.
Which means that as you read this sentence, thousands of companies are taking down their rainbow flags and pushing their glitter glue supplies back into their office store rooms.
But it doesn’t end here. 19 years ago, on 2 July 1999, something revolutionary happened. The country held its first Pride March in Calcutta, and India walked on the streets, out and proud for the very first time.
And it hasn’t stopped ever since. See, 2 July is a day that is important for many reasons. It also marks the ninth anniversary of the historic judgment of 2009, which decriminalised gay sex by reading down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code.
Which makes today (almost) Indian Coming Out Day.
I’ll tell you something: Whether you are 14 or 40, coming out can be an ordeal, but that’s a story for another time. If your friend is lucky, everything will go well, and the two of you will be downing shots at the bar later tonight.
But if it doesn’t, you – yes, YOU – owe it to him to make his life a whole lot easier. To help you in ‘your’ journey of acceptance, here are a few things you shouldn’t say when a friend (or a sibling) comes out to you any time soon:
1. “Oh that’s amazing, dude. But wait a minute, you won’t hit on me now, will you, ha-ha?”
No, because you clearly aren’t my type. If you were, we would not be friends in the first place – I’d just be gushing about you to my best friend.
2. “You know what? I always knew it.”
When someone comes out to you, it’s an exhilarating feeling – it’s full of the giddiness that comes with riding a rollercoaster. Telling someone that you already knew (even if you did) is like pulling the handbrakes.
3. “Maybe if you only started playing more sport, you never know…”
This is when I make a list of all the sportsmen in the world who are gay. Stop with the stereotyping – it wasn’t cool back in 1966, it isn’t cool in 2018.
4. “Haha, is this just because you’ve not had a girlfriend yet?”
Ditch the biology book when you are wondering what your gay friend does behind closed doors – love has nothing to do with how things fit, because it’s not the big 5000-piece jigsaw puzzle that we all assume it to be.
5. “I don’t really know what to say right now, bro.”
If you don’t, sometimes a hug would do – there’s nothing worse than radio silence. Be normal, the best reactions aren’t even worth remembering because they felt so natural.
6. “So, are you the guy or the girl?”
7. “Whoa, when did you decide you want to be gay?”
The same time that you decided to be straight.
8. “But bro, do you have AIDS?”
Let’s get it straight (pun intended). AIDS is not a gay disease. On the other hand, sir, you suffer from something far worse: ignorance.
9. “Well, duh!”
Read point number two, but only slap yourself around your head this time.
10. “Why didn’t you tell me sooner?”
Making someone’s coming out process about you is usually not the best idea. Focusing on them and their experience instead? Let’s get out those medals of honour.
11. “Man, now you can help me with my shopping!”
The fact that gay men love to shop is probably the worst stereotype that ever exists. That, and the jazz hands.
Just wear what you want to, you’ll look great.
12. “No, you are not.”
Do you know what you are not? A nice person.
13. “Let’s go hit the clubs, mate!”
Yes, thank you. But that’s not why I just told you something this important, right?
14. “Are you really sure about this? Maybe it’s just a phase, you never know? Remember, back when I was younger and I…”
Being able to finally feel comfortable in your skin is the best feeling in the world. Someone wanting to share that feeling with you is like wanting to share a large ice cream sundae on a hot summer day. Cherish it.
15. “You mean you are bisexual, right?”
No. Gay. G-A-Y. Get that?
Now that you’ve finished reading the guide, how about you go help your friend with the closet door instead? Those shackles can be tough to pry open, and they could use all the help they could get.
But make sure you do it with pride.