How To Support A Friend Who Just Came Out

(BuzzFeed LGBT asked a bunch of writers to give advice to people whose friends just came out. This is my too-long answer.)

First of all, you’re gonna want to start the process by providing your friend with some food, preferably something in the pasta or potato family — ideally both, covered in cheese — and at least three pints of mint chocolate chip ice cream. Little known fact: the coming out process burns a tremendous amount of carbs, and your friend will need your help replenishing them. Sometimes the best way to say “I love and accept you” is a plate of baked mac n’ cheese, a side of cheesy mashed potatoes, and one of those lava cakes that ooze chocolate when you break them with a fork.

Second, as you fill your mouths with melted cheese and noodles and ice cream, treat your friend exactly like you always have. The most daunting thing about coming out is the fear, however unfounded, that they’ll be forever labeled as “the gay one,” that every joke made from now until forever, however harmless or friendly, will be about their gayness. That their sexuality will fundamentally define their lives after they tell the world, and thereby strip them of everything else that makes them who they are. Just… don’t do that. Judge them like the rest of society has always judged them: by the shitty TV shows they watch, by the shitty food they put into their bodies, by the shitty but beautiful friends they keep (you). Be the friend you’ve always been. Show them their sexuality doesn’t define them by not defining them that way. It’s that simple.

Third, take them to H&M and buy them one of those polka-dotted t-shirts that every gay person has. It’s a gay requirement and the first step in accepting a long life of shopping for clothes that make them feel comfortable and yes, fabulous. If they don’t want the polka-dotted shirt, I guess it’s fine. Let them buy what they want, and what they’re comfortable in, and tell them they look great.

Four, take them out for a long night of having fun without the pressure of doing anything but having fun. Go to a bar. Maybe it’s a gay bar that serves sparkly pitchers of Long Island Iced Teas and plays Beyoncé and Gaga on a dance floor covered in glitter and shirtless go-go boys. Maybe it’s the regular old bar you go to every weekend that doesn’t have any of those amazing things. Just have fun like you always have. Don’t pressure them to do anything they don’t wanna do. Maybe they’ve come out but they aren’t ready to really explore it yet. Let them be their fabulous gay selves without the pressure of being anything but their fabulous gay selves.

And finally, never stop supplying the ice cream. Ice cream is love. Ice cream is life.