My gay pal keeps making lewd jokes about my brother: Ask Ellie
Q: When my male friend and I began hanging out together, I had a small crush on him, but it dissipated into a brother/sister relationship. Besides, he’s gay.
The first time my friend met my (straight) brother, he commented about how attractive he is. I thought it was funny. He never mentioned it again.
Years later, my brother and his wife have begun divorce proceedings.
Since my friend found out, he’s gone from making harmless comments to very lewd ones about what he’d do to my brother sexually. He’s also bragged that he can “turn a straight guy” if he chooses.
I’m very uncomfortable hearing about it. I’d prefer that he keep those comments to himself, or when I’m not around.
Recently, I asked him to stop and expressed my discomfort. He responded with, “it’s all in good fun,” and, “you’re just acting out because I’m not attracted to you.” I laughed it off, but it stung me that he’d accuse me of this, seeing as it’s far from the truth.
I explained that if he were straight and said similar kinds of things about my sister, it’d be just as inappropriate and I’d react the same way.
I don’t think I’m overreacting.
How do I get him to understand that when it comes to sexual innuendo, my family is off limits?
Maybe I’m Overprotective
A: It’s a basic social rule in a close friendship — usually unstated yet understood — that you don’t verbally “vandalize” your pal’s family members.
The “rule” applies, no matter the sexual identity of the provoking friend. Yet, he’s teasing and taunting you “in good fun,” with a bite in the message.
He’s obviously aware of your former crush, and is now expressing a long-repressed one of his own … for your brother.
Since your brother doesn’t need your protection, focus on your friend’s behaviour:
Tell him that, no matter his “fun,” relaying sexual fantasies and references to you about your brother is unacceptable, period.
If he persists, end the conversation and, if necessary, walk away.
Q: I was raised in a village in Europe by my maternal grandparents, while my divorced mother was working. She and I moved here when I was an adolescent and visited my grandparents every summer.
We’ve known my grandmother was battling illness these past years, but on our very recent visit of several weeks, I saw that she’d become extremely ill. I stayed by her bedside much of that time.
I’m now late 20s, live on my own, have a full-time job with long hours to pay my bills. Add in the high expense of airfare, and I’m wondering this:
Since I was just there, and all reports indicate her awareness is diminished, is there any point to my going back for the funeral?
A: It’s a question asked by countless people with relatives left “behind” in their country of birth when they emigrated:
Do you go “back home” for illness, or the funeral?
Considerations include not only the cost of travel, and the demands of their job (sometimes having to forego salary or even risking being let go) but also some responsibilities to children and others that can’t be met if even only one parent is away.
In this case, you were there for your grandmother. The funeral is a show of respect that others see, but she had you at her side when needed.
(However, you’ll know emotionally when it happens, whether that answer is acceptable for you).
Ellie’s Tip of the Day
Having friends with different sexual identities doesn’t change the social norms for respecting each other’s families.
Read Ellie Monday to Saturday. Email or visit her website, ellieadvice.com. Follow @ellieadvice.
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