How to talk to gay people (a primer)


Firstly, say hello.  Similar to straight people, most gay people begin their conversations with a greeting.  Common variants are “hello,” “hi,” “yo,” or very rarely, “greetings and salutations.”

Before you proceed, check for eye contact.  Eye contact is a common signal among gay people that a conversation has begun.  If you have not succeeded in making eye contact, DO NOT PROCEED.  As a conversation for gay people is an encounter involving two or more people (i.e. more than just you), you have no conversation if you have failed to gain their attention.  Don’t take it personally and simply try again another time, just like you would treat a missed connection with a straight person.

Next steps

Next, you may ask any of several small-talk type questions, such as “How do you know (insert mutual friend here)?” Or “How long are you visiting the area?” or even “What lovely weekend weather we had!  Were you able to get outside?”  Most gay people are reasonably well-versed in social customs, in a proportion likely similar to straight people.  That’s why they are called “social customs,” because people who are members of society are generally aware of them.  Even gay members of society.

Caution: Similar to straight relationships, gay relationships may be complex or a sensitive subject, so it may be a bit forward to ask directly about their partner or their family. Instead, share a comment or a story about your own significant other and if they want to share, they will respond in kind. You may then follow up with more specific questions about their family.

Caution: As with many straight people, politics and religion are generally not good topics for small talk.  Even if you think you’re safe with a comment like, “How ‘bout that Supreme Court marriage decision?  I bet you’re super excited!” be aware that, like straight people, gay people have nuanced and complicated views.  Respect their depth and diversity of thought just as you would a straight person’s thoughts.

After that, anything goes! Be sure to explore in more depth any shared interests or other things you have in common. You may already know how to do this from the conversations you have had with straight people.


Finally, say goodbye before you go. Similar to straight people, gay people like their conversations to have a definite end.

TL/DR: You talk to a gay person the same way you talk to a straight person.

Bonus guide: How to talk to transgender people – Go back to the beginning of this post.  Replace every usage of “gay” with “transgender.”

TL/DR: You talk to a transgender person the same way you talk to a straight person.

Note: This silliness inspired by a piece advising us all on how to convert “the gays” to Christianity.  The piece was titled “How to talk to the gays,” and this post was the first place my brain went.



  1. I like the devious sarcasm with which you lure the reader to believe you are serious. You are not a New Yorker, are you? My NYC partner does this a lot. OF COURSE we should talk to gay people like we talk to straight people. ANd not even use that silly positive comments like ” Gay people are more fun, or dress better. Some do, some not. It is like when people think I must be more intellectual because I am Jewish. All cliches are prejudices . Nice blog Thanks !

    1. Lol – no, I am not a New Yorker! I live in the Chicago suburbs but I felt like I fit in best in Alaska, so I don’t know what that means.

  2. Thanks this is a great instructional article. I had been struggling to make friends and I think this might help!!

    Followed you here from the Modern Philosopher – if you like that crazy guy you must be alright!

  3. I think I should add–and I’m speaking here as an official gay person–that if you’re trying to convert me I’d just as soon you find someone else to talk to.

      1. Oooh, did I trademark it? I’m sorry. I did want to leave the phrase open for other people to use freely, but since I have, hands off, everyone. Gotta put those little initials in parens after it or I’ll sue every last one of you.

        In the friendliest and most open-minded possible way.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s