Question: I am lesbian and every year I go back home, I have to deal with family members making ignorant comments to me about my “Lesbian Lifestyle.” It makes me so angry and I don’t want to deal with it for the entire week I am home… What should I do?
I would urge you to examine whether it was ill-intentioned or well-intentioned ignorance.
There ARE some people who just want to patronize or belittle you. But it’s really not about YOU at all… These people live their lives that way and try to control or aggravate everyone around them. So really it is like dealing with an insane person. They may make underhanded comments at the dinner table or get belligerently drunk and call you a bull dyke. The intended affect of the provocation is actually trying to bait you into an argument. People who purposefully say inflammatory things want to get under your skin and get you to react so that they can have a chance to “look cool” by berating or belittling you or get you to become a Hetero. DO NOT GIVE THEM THE SATISFACTION OF THAT. As our future president Michelle Obama once said, “They go low, we go high” Just be high like a cloud! How can anyone take swings at a cloud? Just literally don’t let these people bother you. If you remain non-reactive for long enough they will find a new target.
But then there are cases where people actually can be well-intentioned with ignorant comments. A well-meaning and curious aunt might ask a question like, “Are you the boy or the girl in the relationship?” Before you close off or get defensive, in this case I would urge you to try to appreciate that this person actually wants to understand you better! If you actually answer that question from a place of love and use it as an opportunity to express your point of view and humanize the LGBTQ+ experience at the same time, that’s pretty cool! You might even get her to understand the concept of there being “no boys” in a woman-woman relationship. But if we were to react to hostility with an angry “that’s ignorant,” the person will take a step back away and close themselves off from us, which is the exact opposite reaction that we actually want to be having not only as individuals but as members of the LGBTQ+ community as a whole!
I recognize it is unfair. Why do we have to deal any of this at all? But to be brutally honestly, those are the cards that we were dealt and I say the “why me” narrative doesn’t help us at all (although it feels good momentarily). I promise if we can examine and change our own reactions to external experiences instead of trying to change those around us, it will be a way more pleasant time.
Dear Aidan is a reoccurring advice column written by Aidan Park. Questions for Aidan can be submitted via social media or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Aidan on Facebook/Instagram/Twitter @AidanParkShow and check out his upcoming comedy shows on his website AidanPark.com