From Pride Month and birthdays to National Coming Out Day and wedding anniversaries, we want to uplift, support and celebrate the LGBTQ+ loved ones in our lives. No matter the occasion, a card is the perfect, tangible way to deliver your heartfelt words. These tips and suggestions will guide you as you write meaningful messages to friends and family.
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If you don’t identify as LGBTQ+, you might wonder how to best communicate authentic love and celebration as an ally. What’s the best way to support and acknowledge the process of coming out? How do you uplift and encourage a loved one who’s transitioning?
Even if you are LGBTQ+, you might question what to write about identity. For example: As a cisgender LGBTQ+ person writing to a trans friend, how do you create a message that’s authentic and personal even if you don’t share their lived experience?
No matter who you are or what identities you hold, the goal is to know what’s going on in your LGBTQ+ loved one’s life, to empathize with their needs and to write from your heart.
Helpful tip: Part of getting the message right is learning specifics in LGBTQ+ community language. For example:
- LGBTQ+ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and other identities.
- Cisgender means someone’s gender identity aligns with the sex they were assigned at birth. (Source: HRC.org)
- An ally is someone who supports, celebrates and stands up for members of a marginalized group.
For more information and terms, you can check out the Human Rights Campaign.
Celebrating LGBTQ+ love calls for more than a couple of rainbows and “Yas, queens!” Rather than relying on well-known phrases and icons, get to the heart of why the couple in your life deserves celebration.
And remember—LGBTQ+ relationships aren’t completely different from cis heterosexual relationships. After all, love is love. So don’t be afraid to offer your own relationship insights—and maybe drop in some tips for a newly married couple.
Here are some messages that go beyond “couple goals”:
- “You two remind me just how strong, real and everlasting love can be.”
- “The world needs more love like the love you two share.”
- “A love like yours really raises the bar! I’m just over here taking notes.”
- “It’s a beautiful thing when two great people find each other…even better when they’re two great women that I love!”
- “Good for each other, good to each other and good-looking together. Your love is all good!”
For more ideas for LGBTQ+ love, check out:
Coming out is not a “one and done” event: LGBTQ+ people have the choice to come out with every new person they meet and in every new situation they enter. When they change jobs, they come out to a new set of coworkers. When they make new friends, they come out to them. Coming out is a lifelong journey, and each coming-out moment is different from the next.
You might send messages to congratulate your loved one on a recent coming out, as well as acknowledge the continued journey of coming out that spans across a lifetime.
- “Coming out is a journey, and I can’t wait to celebrate with you every step of the way.”
- “I’m here for long phone calls, midnight vent sessions, spur of the moment celebrations—whatever your coming-out journey calls for.”
- “When you come out, you gotta have a party committee and a support committee. Just letting you know I’m signing up for both.”
- “It’s a big deal to be your authentic self anywhere, but especially in the workplace. Congratulations. I’m so proud of you.”
- “Happy coming-out anniversary. Here’s to all the years of being who you are, flawlessly and unapologetically!
Like coming out, transitioning is a journey. It can involve hormone therapy, anniversaries, name changes, surgeries and finding or creating new spaces that affirm and support their identity. As a friend and ally, it’s just as important to celebrate the good as it is to be encouraging during challenging moments and adjustments. With the right messages, you can support and encourage your trans loved ones along the way.
Here are some ideas:
- “Transitioning isn’t easy—but seeing you this happy is. Keep going. You’ve got this.”
- “I’m so excited to call you by your true name.”
- “New name, new ID, same phenomenal you!”
- “Everyday I’m seeing you become more and more of who you are…which means everyday I’m like, ‘Hot, damn!’ ”
- “Three months on T. The glow up is real!”
- “Happy second birthday! Two years of being you to the fullest, and two years of showing the world how wonderful you are.”
Helpful Tip: Read up about transitioning. Listen to the experiences of trans people. Learn about the history of trans identity. And most of all, stay connected with your friends on their journeys. The more you know about trans experiences, the stronger your messages—and allyship—can be.
If you have Black LGBTQ+ loved ones, their LGBTQ+ experiences are heavily informed by race. This is “intersectionality,” a term coined by Black feminist scholar, Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw. It describes how race, gender, sexuality and other social identities shape our lives according to privilege and oppression.
Black LGBTQ+ people face disproportionate amounts of discrimination. And in a time where Black people of all identities are being made to feel as if their lives don’t matter, support from families, friends and allies is critical to their emotional well-being.
Supportive words and actions have power. Here are some ideas:
Ally to Black LGBTQ+ recipient:
- “I can’t sit back and let things ‘just be.’ I’m here for you, and I’m fighting with you.”
- “As your friend, I’m not only here to comfort you—I’m here to be vocal about the things that matter to you.”
- “I love you and I want to do my part to make this world a better place for you.”
Helpful Tip: Maybe you usually focus on being a listening ear or a shoulder to lean on. But for Black LGBTQ+ loved ones, think about what actionable steps you can take as an ally to show your support and make a true difference.
Between Black LGBTQ+ Friends:
- “Being Black and LGBTQ+ means we’re going through double the obstacles. As we’re navigating through it, just know you’ve got me.”
- “In a world where we have to fight for so much, I love that our friendship is the one thing we don’t have to fight for.”
- “For all the challenges of being Black and LGBTQ+, there’s triple the amount of blessings. You’re a reminder of all the goodness that comes with being who we are.”
Though LGBTQ+ identity is cause for all the celebration, it also comes with challenges. Folks don’t always feel they can bring their authentic selves and relationships to all aspects of their lives—home, church, work, school and even institutions like healthcare. When our identities aren’t accepted, we can be subject to discrimination as well as mental, emotional and physical abuse.
If you are someone that an LGBTQ+ person trusts with their whole selves, your encouragement matters. Your love makes a difference. And your handwritten message is a tangible reminder of your support.
Authentic messages go a long way when it comes to offering encouragement:
- “I can’t imagine what you’re going through right now, but I do know this is hard for you, and I’m here for you in whatever way you need.”
- “Things are harder than they need to be at work right now, but remember that people got you and people love you. I’m one of them.”
- “I’ll not able to walk in your shoes, but I’m able to walk beside you.”
- “I love you, which means I hate seeing you hurt like this. Whatever I can do, know that I’m willing to.”
- “I know you’re going through difficult times with family. Just letting you know you can depend on me as you go through this.”
- “This moment is tough. You have every right to take a breath, take a break and heal at your own pace. I’m here for you.”
Helpful Tips: As an ally, you can never know what these challenges feel like. Avoid saying, “I know how you feel” or “I’m in this with you.” When expressing support as an ally, it’s okay to acknowledge that your lived experiences are different. The focus should be on how you can be there for your loved one in their time of need.
If you’re part of the LGBTQ+ community, messages feel more authentic when you give a personal touch. Reflect on a difficult experience you’ve had: What helped get you through? Offer the same advice or words of wisdom to uplift your loved one through their difficult time.
When describing the lived experiences of LGBTQ+ people, the word “brave” comes up a lot. LGBTQ+ people are brave for being who they are in a world that doesn’t always accept them. It takes immense courage to assert their authenticity.
These messages of bravery may resonate with some LGBTQ+ people, but for others, it takes the focus off of them and puts it on the unaccepting society in which they exist.
LGBTQ+ people do not only want to be celebrated for being brave in the face of oppression. They also want to be celebrated for being who they are, peacefully, without highlighting the struggle. So here are some messages to go beyond bravery:
- “You have joy and confidence in who you are, which inspires me to have the same.”
- “You love who you are, and I love who you are. I love that we have that in common!”
- “I love watching you live a life that’s true to you, a life that fulfills you, the life that’s 100% you.”
When can you send a message like this? Any time: Pride Month. Coming Out Day. Birthdays. Or just when you’re feeling grateful to have your LGBTQ+ loved one in your life.