I have a friend I’ve known since I was a little, confused fourteen year old. We’ve been like sisters for years and since then, I’ve come out. She says she supports my “choice”
but doesn’t want to talk about sex or politics.
Even if I table the “choice” issue (she’s still kind of confused with how I could “give up” men and a “normal life”),
I’m still stuck about how to proceed with our friendship.
Sex I understand, but when she says politics she means talking about rights I don’t have or even acknowledging the privilege she has that the gay community or any minority do not. How do I try to explain something as basic as that to someone from such a different position and mindset? Do I need Oprah to mediate us?
I don’t want to lose my friend but I don’t want to be continually offended by what she says and does. Is that possible?
What do I do?
Gay-zed and Confused
Well, if there is something we love more than a pun, it’s a GIF. Thank you for the opportunity to respond in kind to add some modern communication into the column. Thank you, too, for a question that requires a little extra perspective. Without further ado, I give you Guest Miss, Robyn Dettman:
Dear Gay-zed and Confused,
My gut response is: you two need to have at least one open and honest discussion. She needs to hear how you feel during all this, how her actions and words offend you. The thing is, when people feel threatened by something, their vision gets really narrow.
Why would she feel threatened? Remember, your coming out is a change in her life as well. And it might be really hard to know how your coming out really affects her because she might not actually know herself. Her biggest fear could actually be that she could lose you because of this. She might not even get that she is being totally offensive.
It also sounds like your friend is making statements about “choice” and “giving up men” but not letting you tell your side of the story because she doesn’t want to talk about sexuality and politics. That’s not fair to you and not the kind of balance needed for a healthy friendship.
One of the hardest things to deal with is people thinking that sexuality is a choice. You can ask them why they think that and explain how it’s not a choice but the sad fact is, some people will just not ever agree. This is something you run into all the time and sometimes you just have to pick your battles.
You asked if its possible to keep a friend who continually offends you: the answer is, you shouldn’t have to. Friends don’t always have to agree with everything, but they need to respect and support each other. And the sad fact is, not all friends will make it through with us for the long haul in life.
But the only way for you two to get past the emotions of reaction and really understand each other is to open up and find out. That’s what friends do. And if she isn’t willing to do this, then she isn’t the kind of friend you need.
Coming out is never easy: you need people who – while they might not totally get what it means – will love and support you.
All my love,