I’m a 22-year-old graduate student with an amazing girlfriend and an awesome lesbro. This summer, my lesbro confided to me that he had been hooking up with an ex-girlfriend of mine — a girl who more or less identifies as a lesbian — for awhile, well after we broke up and well after I started seeing my current girlfriend. My relationship with my ex had been an important one for me, but I told my lesbro that I had obviously moved on, and thus “gave him my blessing.” Unfortunately, by the time my lesbro had confessed the relationship, their tango had ended.
Fast-forward seven months later. My girlfriend, lesbro and I all went back to Boston together to visit our old posse of friends — including my ex-girlfriend. While we were there, some stuff went down between them, much of which seemed to come to a sordid semi-conclusion. On the drive back to NYC, my lesbro proceeded to divulge what had happened — that they had hooked up, and afterward, my ex said she felt strongly for him, but wasn’t ready for a relationship. After that, he continued with somewhat disparaging remarks about how he and my ex were so right for each other, more than my ex and I ever were, and that they could have a “real” relationship, unlike the relationships that I had with women. He concluded that he didn’t really “get” homosexuality, and that he didn’t understand why my ex was reluctant to take a chance on him and make it work.
I was completely shocked by his quasi-rant; after all, this guy has been one of my best friends for around five years. We’ve stuck by each other through thick and thin. I was offended and hurt by his remarks, but remained silent. My girlfriend was close to infuriated; she felt that he had discounted our relationship as “not real,” even though we’ve been dating for a year.
So here’s my problem: how do I deal with this situation? Should I put my hurt feelings aside to be there for my bro, who still keeps turning to me about his situation? Should I confront him about what he said? I want to be able to keep our friendship intact and strong without anyone getting hurt in the process. – Lesbro, Chill
Anna says: Weird. I had a lesbro once who also slept with my ex-girlfriend. You are much more forgiving than I was. Golf clap to you, my friend.
I’m curious why you didn’t say anything in the moment. Besties don’t tend to stay silent when one of them does something hurtful like negate the legitimacy of their relationship. Do you often find yourself keeping mum about your opinions and emotions with him? If so, there might be deeper issues to explore there. As to the task at hand though, yes, bring it up; it’s time for some Real Talk. Sooner than later is better.
If you need an in, then confront him when he starts weepily bringing up your ex again. It could be that he said what he said in a moment of weakness and hurt, and didn’t really mean it. Rejection sucks. Some of us handle it gracefully, and some of us write country songs about keying their ex’s truck and blaming them for every blight on mankind, then performing that song in front of the entire school. You know, hypothetically. It’s also possible he’s jealous of you and your ex’s relationship, and devaluing your current one makes it seem “less threatening” to him. This is all just posturing, of course. Talking to him is the only way to find out what’s really going on.
If you do talk, and he reiterates his homophobic thinking, you can still use it as a teachable moment, since educating people about queer relationships is the best way to decrease prejudices, misunderstandings, and fear. Do that and I promise to never write like a pamphlet ever again. Deal?
I noticed the phrase “not wanting to hurt someone” came up in your letter as well. Not wanting to hurt someone and avoidance are two separate issues, neither of which are very useful to your situation. Staying quiet in order to avoid messy or complicated feelings is just going to lead to resentment, as I’ve written before.
Lastly, there are so many things in life that one might not “get” – Creed comes to mind, Tila Tequila, Furbies. Being gay is not one of them. If he can’t respect your relationship, and your identity, then it might be time to find a new lesbro.
Hailing from the rough-and-tumble deserts of southern Arizona, where one doesn’t have to bother with such trivialities as “coats” or “daylight savings time,” Anna Pulley is a professional tweeter/blogger for Mother Jones and a freelance writer living in San Francisco. Find her at annapulley.com and on Twitter @annapulley. Send her your Hook Up questions at email@example.com.