What would you say...?
...I wouldn’t say anything to someone coming out as homosexual, bisexual, or transgender...
...rather I would nod politely and grasp their hand, as in my understanding, it’s physical reassurance that is needed here instead (to show acceptance) at this critical moment where a person “coming clean” may feel like a social contagion or leper facing potential emotional rejection...
Then, I’d add: “Hey brother, sister, amiga, amigo! let’s go, we’ve got sh*t to do....” and redirect us to whatever pursuit it is that forms the basis of our common-ground. If the individual wanted to talk about anything further, my presence would hopefully encourage their confidence; if not, I would respect their privacy and accept their silence.
...to someone who might come out and declare their interest/attraction, words would be inevitable. As this has happened to me, I can reiterate the unhypothetical scenario. I said simply the truth: ”...thanks. I appreciate that you like me. A nice compliment, but I don’t feel any attraction to you, or to women in general. Please don’t feel awkward, I like you; we get along well. Really, thanks for your honesty!”
...And what did she say? She gave me her entire view on the subject of homosexuality... a fascinating conversation. For it’s initial awkwardness, I can say for myself that I walked away richer having heard someone else’s perspective... She said that she has many friends and relatives who have come out in the community, and that she has found that in most cases homosexuality is a choice, not an imposed life sentence.
She said she herself has chosen a lesbian lifestyle because her ex-husband so disgusted her that she feels she could never love a man again. I was sorry that she was badly experienced, and had closed her heart like this (because her husband is after all not every-man). However, I do not know what her marriage was like, nor what it was about him specifically that traumatized her, and I don’t condemn her for the choice she’s made. It is her own private matter.
As to “gay marriage,” I have had the experience of acquaintances coming up to me and announcing to my surprise that they just got married... and I shook their hands and gave them all the customary congratulations and well wishes due on such an occasion. From my observation, marriage is rough, in any configuration, and adding a label in front of the word to brand the thing as white, black, gay, straight, or religious, really bothers... it’s either marriage or it isn’t... I admire a pair’s commitment and willingness to go through Life together.