I sat on a panel at a small conference in the Atlanta area a few years ago. It was about LGBT issues and one of the questions we were asked was from a nice couple who believed their nephew was gay. They weren’t sure, though, and they felt that there were some religious issues at play that would be might be leading him to repress his feelings. They wanted to know what they should do.
My response: Nothing.
Ok. That wasn’t the whole of it.
Coming out is difficult. It involves a lot of complicated personal feelings. And a lot more complicated feelings about other people.
So, my advice was that they absolutely should NOT confront this young man. Instead, they should simply demonstrate to him that they love and accept him. They could do this by making comments — that don’t require his approval or response — that show that they approve of gay relationships. They could even have their gay friends over while he’s around so they can see that they are accepting — and, even better, that gay people can be happy, functional members of society.
But you can’t rush a kid to come out of the closet. It’s a journey of personal discovery. And no matter how obvious it may be to you that a kid is gay, it may not yet be obvious to them. So, let them figure it out. As an adult, a parent, guardian, family friend, the best thing you can do is to simply let them know that you’re cool. You love them and you’re there for them.