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, 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.