I best honor my friend by asking about those who are important to them
There is so much power in this simple insight. Asking about the person’s significant other seems like a bold move to many conservative people I meet. There’s fear that you might send the wrong message. But asking about the people & events in someone’s day to day really says one thing very loudly: “I’m interested in the details of your life”.
As a gay person, if you expected me to want to spend time with you but had made it clear that “that part of my life is off limits to discuss”, then I’d likely not want to build a deeper relationship. The things that are most important to me, the people I love, and my identity are core parts of my life – regardless of the morality of them. If you’re not interested or are uncomfortable, then I’ll have to spend considerable energy editing my life when I ‘m around you. Quite frankly, it’s not worth the effort and I’ll naturally gravitate to people that do want to know. And so would you. Think about the people in your life that don’t understand or are offended by the fact that you follow Jesus. Do you lean into those relationships or do you feel the need to edit and put your best foot forward? When I’m with gay people, I want to truly know them. What makes them come alive? Where do they have doubts & regrets? I don’t want the edited version of anyone’s life so that I’m more comfortable. I find God does the same with us. He truly wants to know what’s in my heart and it doesn’t have to be pretty, pure, or palatable. It just has to be true & honest.
So when I’ve learned that the LGBT person has a significant other, I readily ask the questions that invite them to tell me more (which communicates that their life doesn’t overwhelm or offend me).
· How long have you two been together?
· How did you guys meet?
· What drew you to her?
I could almost promise you that asking those very simple questions will make the LGBT person take notice – especially if they know you are a Christian. They’ve likely spent much of their life editing for the sake of straight people in order to guard against rejection, contempt, discomfort, etc. and have sacrificed being truly known by others.
Also, be aware that some LGBT people may initially talk about their partner quite a bit. This could be for a couple reasons:
· They’re actually talking about them a normal amount but you aren’t used to hearing about the day to day details of gay relationships.
· They’re testing the waters to see if they’re safe & you’re okay with this topic. If you seem overwhelmed or divert the conversation, they have their answer.
So, feel free to ask about the things that are important to your LGBT loved one - especially their significant other. The relationships in all our lives are important and we enjoy talking about them. Give LGBT people the space to do the same.
This blog is one in a series of 30+ tips for relational effectiveness with LGBT people. Find the condensed list HERE. These relational tips are from a handout acquired from “Lead Them Home”, a Boston based ministry that equips the church on LGBT issues. These blogs have been expounded upon with permission.
These tips, along with numerous other insights, are found in an excellent resource called “Guiding Families” available HERE.