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“My Friend is Homophobic”

Marriage Equality

While having lunch with my fishing buddy recently the subject of same sex marriage came up. I strongly support LGBT issues and was shocked when he responded with disdain of same sex marriage in particular and homosexuality in general. We’re both seniors and have enjoyed discussing our commonality and differences for several years. Homosexuality never came up in our conversations before. He’s well educated, non-religious and has accomplished many admirable things, thus worthy of my respect until now. The issue doesn’t impact either of us personally beyond it’s ideology.

As the decades pass I’ve lost too many friends to the great beyond who had different views than I have on various subjects (yet we remained committed friends), and I’d hate to lose anyone who enriches my existence. I could continue this association and avoid the topic, but that’s ethically dishonest. He will remain as he is, I can’t change his mind any more then he can change mine. I asked him why he felt this way and he couldn’t articulate anything beyond “It’s just wrong.”

I feel disappointed, angry and hurt. How can I resolve my conflicting emotions with this individual. Should I remain his friend? — Equality Rules

You have to decide for yourself whether your friend’s homophobia/bigotry is a deal-breaker for you in terms of continuing a friendship. It’s just like when two people are dating and getting to know each other and they stumble upon differences that speak to value incompatibilities. Are those value incompatibilities large enough to pose a threat to the relationship? Does your value incompatibility with your friend pose a threat to your friendship? Does remaining chummy with him threaten your integrity?

It seems it must or you wouldn’t say that continuing the friendship while avoiding the topic you disagree on is “ethically dishonest.” Avoiding something, especially if you’ve already expressed your opinion about it, isn’t “dishonest.” But what may feel ethically dishonest to you is carrying on like you’re this person’s friend when your opinion of him has changed enough to not consider him someone worthy of your respect and admiration, let alone free time.

I can’t tell you whether or not you should continue your friendship with this person. You have to decide for yourself whether bigotry is a deal-breaker. I do think that since your friendship is several years old and you have enjoyed what sounds like lengthy discussions on a range or topics, you might be in a better position than you believe to “change his mind” about his views on homosexuality. Who better than someone he likes and trusts and whose company he enjoys to help open his mind a little? That said, if being friends with him feels more like a chore or a mission rather than the companionship you’ve enjoyed in the past, I’d move on. And I’d tell him why, too. You may not be able to ever change his mind, but you can let him know that his intolerance won’t be tolerated.

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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.

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{ 114 comments… add one }

  • TaraMonster TaraMonster December 2, 2013, 9:24 am

    “As the decades pass I’ve lost too many friends to the great beyond…”

    What are you, 22? Was that first decade really rough for you in the losing-friends-over-ideology department or was it the second?

    Trust me, you’ll see many friendships fluctuate over the next few decades so relax there, Father Time. As for your friend’s opinions being hard and fast, I seriously doubt that. If he’s open minded in other areas of life, then there’s still hope for your bigoted buddy. You don’t have to be best friends with this person, but if you truly have the intellectual dialogue you say you do, then this conversation can just be an extension of that. And IMO a necessary part of that. Because the world could always use a few less bigots, amiright?

    • avatar Tax Geek December 2, 2013, 9:26 am

      THe LW said “seniors” which I first thought was college or high school. But re-reading I’m thinking senior citizen.

      • Dear Wendy Wendy December 2, 2013, 9:27 am

        Yes, he’s in his 60s.

        • TaraMonster TaraMonster December 2, 2013, 10:43 am

          Whoops! Missed the fishing buddy part. Ignore my snark!

      • GatorGirl GatorGirl December 2, 2013, 9:27 am

        Yeah, I’m going to guess senior citizen too…I don’t know many high schoolers who have fishing buddies.

        • Fabelle Fabelle December 2, 2013, 9:32 am

          Exactly, ha. The fishing buddy thing is what made me NOT even think “seniors in high school or college” & go straight to “…citizens”.

    • avatar HmC December 2, 2013, 9:30 am

      That comment made me think that when he said “seniors” he meant older people, not seniors in college. Where did you get that they were 22?

      • TaraMonster TaraMonster December 2, 2013, 10:41 am

        Well I got 22 from thinking they were seniors in college, since obviously I missed the fishing buddy part…

    • Fabelle Fabelle December 2, 2013, 9:30 am

      Er… “We’re both seniors”

      But I agree with you (& Wendy: “I do think that since your friendship is several years old and you have enjoyed what sounds like lengthy discussions on a range or topics, you might be in a better position than you believe to ‘change his mind about his views on homosexuality” ) that LW could take this as an opportunity to challenge the friend’s views. Some people, especially if they’re older in age, only THINK their views are hard & fast until challenged on them? And it seems like the friend doesn’t even have any arguments to back up his intolerance (i.e. religious) so it could be a case of just learning to accept new norms.

  • avatar TECH December 2, 2013, 9:35 am

    I associate with many people who I disagree with on certain issues. If I only hung around people that thought the same way I do, I would be a very lonely person.

    • avatar Tanya December 2, 2013, 10:27 am

      I agree with you. If this is the only major thing you have different views on, I don’t see why end the friendship.

    • Addie Pray Addie Pray December 2, 2013, 11:49 am

      My friends and I disagree on lots of things – lots of Big Picture stuff too, like politics and religion and whatnot. But you know what’s funny? I was thinking about this the other day – not a single one of them is against gay marriage, even my really conservative and really religious friends. I think it *is* a deal-breaker for me – that, and racist and sexist stuff. I’ve never heard a racist or sexist peep out of my good friends – or even my average friends… So I guess those are deal-breakers for me.

      But oh my god, my family on my mom’s side is NUTS. Reading their FB status updates is so eye-opening – it’s like I’m peering into another galaxy where people are *actually* homophobic and racist and sexist – so weird! Though sadly not weird. But yet weird, if that makes sense.

      • avatar MsMisery December 3, 2013, 1:15 pm

        Yeah, I have a lot of friends with political or religious views that differ from my own, but only one who doesn’t agree with me on LGBT issues. She is also about 20 yrs older than me. I have decided to just avoid the topic since I have known her for so long she’s like family. I can only hope that her opinion changes with the general tide…

  • Addie Pray Addie Pray December 2, 2013, 9:36 am

    Oh I love the advice here. So helpful for all of us! LW, I think at your age [WAIT, BY "SENIORS" LW MEANS "SENIORS IN COLLEGE," RIGHT?] a lot of people still carry around a lot of the ideas they pick up as kids from their parents without ever questioning them – until they’re forced to – e.g., in your friend’s case, when they have gay friends for the first time or meet others like you who support gay rights. If this friend is as great as you believed him to be until now, and this bigotry does not jive with his character that you’ve come to know, maybe he just needs some help to open his mind a bit. In my early 20s I had a lot of those heated discussions with friends where we butted heads – e.g., about gay rights, the death penalty, welfare, guns, religion, abortions – all the fun juicy stuff. And some of those people and I aren’t friends anymore, and for some we have just agreed to disagree (and to avoid each other in the months leading up to elections), and for others we convinced each other / helped each other see and appreciate a new perspective. Oh fun stuff.

    • avatar TECH December 2, 2013, 9:39 am

      I agree. I think of people I know in my grandparents’ generation who have outdated/ignorant views on social issues. But I don’t let it get to me because I know their attitudes are not mean spirited. It’s how they were brought up. It doesn’t make the ignorance right, but I am at least able to cope with it because it doesn’t some from a hateful heart. When you can engage in a conversation and talk through the issues, it’s even better.

    • Addie Pray Addie Pray December 2, 2013, 9:40 am

      Ok, I reread this and am now thinking duh *is* not about seniors in college. I doubt you’ll change this friend’s perspective, LW, but who knows! But lately at my ripe old age of 35, I’ve found that I have zero energy to try to change people’s perspectives when it comes to things that I believe are fundamental values like gay rights.

    • avatar NavyWife December 2, 2013, 9:46 am

      Well, I think the “seniors” in question are older, but I tend to agree with you about how your values or beliefs can change/evolve over time…I was a very “black and white” kind of person in high school and even college, to some extent, and I’ve always erred on the conservative side. Most of my friends thought a lot like me, so there wasn’t a huge amount of discourse or debate. Once I got to college (big state university) and into the working world, my views relaxed a bit by being exposed to other people and ideas.

      I’m still a fairly conservative person (especially on fiscal/economic issues) but my ‘social’ views have evolved into a more moderate, live-and-let-live philosophy. I’m definitely that way on gay marriage; at one time I was really opposed to it, but now–while I’m not out marching in parades or contributing money to pro-gay marriage organizations–I have a more “eh, whatever, it’s not hurting me” mentality.

      I do think as some people age, they become even further entrenched in their beliefs and opinions; however, some people also mellow with time and experience. If your friend is someone you enjoy spending time with and have enjoyed discourse with in the past, it might be worth continuing the friendship. He may never come around to your opinion, but I don’t think taking an “agree to disagree” position is intellectually dishonest, or makes you a bigot by association, or anything like that.

  • avatar lets_be_honest December 2, 2013, 9:38 am

    My daughter used to call them Senior Cinnamons.

    • Addie Pray Addie Pray December 2, 2013, 9:42 am

      Hahaha, cute!

    • avatar Miss MJ December 2, 2013, 9:52 am

      I think it depends on why someone holds those views. If the LW had said his friend was religious and that was his basis for his beliefs, I’d say he will never change because he can just ignore whatever you say and go to “God says so” and then the conversation ends because there is no reasoning with that. But it sounds like it’s possible the friend just has not ever really thought about the issue beyond what he learned as a child (when attitudes were very different) since, as far as he knows, it does not personally impact him. If that is the case, and he is otherwise a rational and thoughtful individual, then just being challenged about why he believes these things and pointing out the unfairness and logical fallacies in his arguments can make a difference, at least to a degree. The friend may never get beyond his knee-jerk reaction of “that is wrong,” (although he certainly might), but, he may get beyond being willing to discriminate against an entire group of people based on something he cannot defend, if that makes sense?

      Edit: this was supposed to be in response to the above discussion. Senior Cinnamons sound delicious!

      • avatar lets_be_honest December 2, 2013, 9:58 am

        Jeez Miss MJ. I don’t think a child calling them Cinnamons is such an ignorant view that you have to blast her for it. ;)

        • avatar Miss MJ December 2, 2013, 10:01 am

          Hahahaha!

    • LadyinPurpleNotRed LadyinPurpleNotRed December 2, 2013, 10:22 am

      I did too!

      • avatar lets_be_honest December 2, 2013, 10:31 am

        No way! So cute.

        • LadyinPurpleNotRed LadyinPurpleNotRed December 2, 2013, 10:36 am

          Oh yeah…my uncle has a recording of me in my 4 year old voice mentioning the senior cinnamons!

    • avatar Portia December 2, 2013, 10:49 am

      That’s adorable! My cousin used to call grown-ups “grow nuts.” I’m not sure if he thought we were cashews or crazy…

      • Addie Pray Addie Pray December 2, 2013, 11:51 am

        haha grow nuts and senior cinnamons.

        and now i’m hungry.

  • avatar captainswife December 2, 2013, 9:51 am

    I have a friend who has a radically differing view on abortion than mine. We both feel strongly. We both know that we feel strongly. We know not to discuss the topic, since we’ll end up feeling that the other is close-minded…and we can still have a good friendship. Do I feel that’s unethical? I guess I could, but as it happens, this disconnect doesn’t bother me. I’m much more interested in the fact that we can discuss many things that we agree and disagree about…and that we have mutual respect and affection. In my opinion, there are not so many people around who care about us regardless that we can afford to say self-righteously, “This person’s moral senses don’t align perfectly with mine” and cut him off. That, to me, is the essence of intolerance.

    Thought for you: your refusing to respect his opinion is, by definition, intolerant! Is he marching in anti-rights parades? Is he doing something to further this standpoint and therefore imposing his thoughts on others? If so, you’re talking about a different ball of wax and it’s worth your considering carefully whether you’re comfortable continuing your friendship. If, on the other hand, it’s his opinion that he generally keeps to himself and doesn’t push on others, then he’s being less intolerant about it than you are. I have to disagree with Wendy’s statement that you can take advantage of your friendship to push YOUR viewpoint onto him. If he shows interest, good and healthy discussion can take place and both of you can learn from it. If he doesn’t — then you’re pushing your intolerance of his personal opinion onto him.

    The whole “tolerance” thing is a difficult world to navigate. We should all be allowed room to grow in respect and love (my opinion!). Silly analogy: I don’t like the color orange. Fine. Should that mean that it would be a good idea for me to lobby to have orange outlawed? Not so much. Should I refuse to allow others to wear orange? Nah. Within my sphere of influence? My young kids won’t be wearing any orange clothes that I’ve picked out…but if they fall in love with an orange shirt, I’ll let them wear it with love. So — just as there is room for people who think that discussions of homosexuality are appropriate for all ages, there is or should be room for those who DON’T think that. The tricky part is allowing these opinions to be held in a respectful environment, all the while acknowledging the difficulties of holding widely divergent views.

    I’m the product of highly racist parents. I find their views abhorrent. However, I can still love them as my parents, respectfully refuse to disengage from their racist crap (after my recounting a story of bad service, for example, I won’t answer their question, “And what race was the person?”), and recognize that they have their own historical and cultural reasons for feeling the way they do. I don’t share those feelings at all. And they’d surely better not bring those feelings to bear on how they treat others (interestingly, they don’t)…but the way they feel deep inside? There’s no way that’s going to change at this point, and it would be foolish (and frankly, in my view, rude — or intolerant of them, if you will) to try to change them. They do, however, know not to include me or my children in any of their questionable “jokes” because I have for years looked puzzled at the punchline, and forced them to explain exactly what is funny about the “joke”. I think they’ve realized I will never “get it.” So — they’re tolerant of me, and I’m tolerant of them….

    *** Let the flames begin ***

    • avatar lets_be_honest December 2, 2013, 9:59 am

      You know, you probably will get flames for this, and I keep flip flopping on my feelings about this, but I like your reply.

      • avatar lets_be_honest December 2, 2013, 10:03 am

        Guess I should add a little substance. I have some very different views than my friends and even some family. I guess I’ve just gotten used to it, we don’t talk about it and we all respect each others’ different opinions. It could just be easier because we aren’t discussing it ever or trying to change opinions at all, but I like to think its because of a mutual respect.
        On the other hand, I can see why people will reply to this saying how could you be friends with someone who disagrees with you on such a major thing, and really, such a messed up thing. I don’t understand people who are anti-gay marriage. I just don’t get it. Then again, I’m sure people ‘just don’t get’ my feelings on some things.

        • GatorGirl GatorGirl December 2, 2013, 10:11 am

          So, yeah. I totally agree with this whole thing. I have a bunch of family members who I have VERY different views then. I don’t think they are hateful evil people, and I definitely haven’t stopped talking to them because of it. For example, GGuy and his sister have wildly different views about government assistance, and they are both very passionate about their view. So they just avoid the topic, because they know they aren’t going to convince the other of their view point. So yeah, sometimes you just have to accept a difference and move on.

    • GatorGirl GatorGirl December 2, 2013, 10:02 am

      I actually really agree with your second paragraph. I wasn’t sure how to say it, and I think you did well.

    • avatar SasLinna December 2, 2013, 10:20 am

      There’s no right or wrong in color preferences, that’s different for homophobia. I don’t think there’s much value in respecting bigoted views. I do understand the way you’re navigating the issue though, especially when it comes to relatives.

      • avatar SasLinna December 2, 2013, 10:25 am

        And by color preferences I was referring to the “orange shirt” examples.

        • katie katie December 2, 2013, 10:40 am

          yea, comparing a shirt color preference to something so serious as equal rights is a little…. off.

          • avatar captainswife December 2, 2013, 3:29 pm

            I guess, though, there’s a difference between hatred and disdain. My children show disdain for each other at times, but hatred? No.

            I agree that said disdain for others is disrespectful. But isn’t the letter writer also showing disdain for the friend as a result of his opinions? Given the amount of time they’ve supposedly been friends, it does not appear that this particular friend’s beliefs are front and central to his core, nor that he his highly charged or hateful on the topic.

            Admittedly, the orange shirt was a frivolous example. I was in a hurry and seeking something that wasn’t emotionally charged. How about having wildly divergent beliefs on giving money to panhandlers? Can we consider a discussion using that as an example?

            I think that we as a society jump from embracing everything without reservation to hatred as our only two options. You’re not FOR something? Must mean you’re intolerant and — therefore, by definition, hateful. I think there’s some middle ground.

            My parents aren’t “hateful” about people of another race. I don’t like their assumption that they’ll get worse service, or make “racist” jokes about hair texture or whatever. And, of course, we can argue all day long about how underlying attitudes can be harmful — trust me, as a woman in a man’s field, I know all about sexism and prejudice and underlying assumptions. I get it, I really do. I will say, though, that the best way of combating those latter are not to scream, “He HATES me because I’m a woman”, but rather with good humor and love in the sense of patience and understanding.

            In that context, I think there is a TON of middle ground that we’re not really incorporating here. And I think that we are too quick to scream “hatred” about people who have discomfort or ignorance or whatever about ideologies that are different from our own.

      • avatar Miss MJ December 2, 2013, 10:45 am

        This is what I was thinking, too. I can respectfully disagree with differing opinions about welfare, entitlements, health care, etc. and even abortion, and I think tolerance of differing opinions there is key to furthering discussion. However, racism and homophobia and misogyny are about hate, and I don’t really see any value in teaching tolerance of those opinions. Because by saying we should tolerate everyone’s opinions, been on these things, aren’t we implying that racism and homophobia are valid opinions? That said, you can’t choose your family, and I get not making it a crusade every time you are around them. Setting boundaries may be the best option. But, in my mind, while I may have to tolerate those persons, no one should tolerate their hate. What’s the line there?

    • Kate B. Kate B. December 2, 2013, 10:32 am

      I love this response. Tolerance does go both ways. My in-laws are opposed to gay marriage on religious grounds. They interpret the bible literally and this shapes their views on everything. They believe the world is only 4000 years old, for example, and are anti-woman. It is very, very hard for us to find anything to talk about. I try to respect their right to feel the way the do, even though I find their views distasteful. And they find mine just as distasteful. So, we don’t talk about those things. Quite honestly, if they weren’t my family, I’m sure I’d have nothing to do with them and I’m also sure the feeling is mutual. In fact, based on things I’ve heard through the grapevine, I know it is. The key is mutual respect, which we struggle to achieve. If I gave in to the urge to call my FIL a racist bigot to his face, I would be putting myself on his level. I’m not the policeman of the world. Walking around thinking that everyone has to have the same opinion as you about everything is very intolerant. It’s what keeps the cycle going. I agree with this 100%.

      • avatar captainswife December 2, 2013, 3:30 pm

        I love your comment about being the policeman of the world. When we all think the same way about every topic OTHER than color, it will be a sad and boring place to be.

    • katie katie December 2, 2013, 10:38 am

      i get this, i really do- but if we took this view for everything, we could justify *anything*. literally anything. we could justify the holocaust, we could justify japenese internment, we could justify slavery, we could justify the people who murder based on color or sexual orientation or gender or sexual status.

      my line in the sand is “does your view hurt others?” and if it does, your view is wrong. sorry. its one thing to intellectually disagree with things, but intellectual thoughts are not just imaginary things in our heads that dont hurt others. certain views on things really, really can hurt others, as history and our own 6 oclock news shows us.

      • avatar captainswife December 2, 2013, 5:14 pm

        I think MY line in the sand, by contrast, is “Do your ACTIONS hurt others?” And therein lies our difference…

        • theattack theattack December 2, 2013, 5:18 pm

          But what is an action? To speak hateful things about a group of people is an action. It would harm that group if they overheard it, and if other people learn that attitude from the speaker, it’s spreading more intolerance, which can spark things like political change or hate crimes or ostracizing family members. Words aren’t empty, and if you speak your opinions at all, that is an action in itself.

        • katie katie December 2, 2013, 8:52 pm

          well, ill just say it again: ” intellectual thoughts are not just imaginary things in our heads that dont hurt others.”

          i mean are you ok being friends with someone who actively hates on *you*, for instance, for whatever reason -your a woman, or your handicapped, or your gay, or whatever- but would you honestly be ok being friends with that person who never ACTS on that, but just holds that belief? i know i wouldnt. thoughts are important, thoughts are powerful. thoughts sometimes mean more then action, actually.

          what would you do in that situation?

    • avatar NavyWife December 2, 2013, 11:21 am

      I really like much of your response, although I think there is a difference between not liking the color orange (and thus not ‘promoting’ it) and racism.

      In the end, I think tolerance is key. I don’t know…generally, I’m just not going to try and ‘convert’ someone to my way of thinking. If asked, I’ll outline the reasons why I believe what I believe (don’t get me started on fiscal responsibility!) but battering someone over the head with my opinions is unlikely to get me anywhere, and will just cause tension and frustration. I have learned to take a more “live and let live” approach with *most* things (although certain things that previous posters mentioned–the Holocaust, for example–definitely cross the line and would be something I would batter someone over the head with:)

    • theattack theattack December 2, 2013, 4:03 pm

      I can agree with you to a degree on this, but like Katie, I draw the tolerance line where a person’s views (or actions, political desires, whatever) harm (or seek to harm) others in a way that unjustly affects their lives. I have many people in my life who I vehemently disagree with on several things, so I really do get where you’re coming from. I’m a liberal in the South, so believe me. I get it. But it’s hard for me to overlook a desire to directly attack other people, such as same sex marriage that wouldn’t hurt anyone else, whereas it might be easy to overlook something like a disagreement in healthcare law, even if that does negatively affect others, because it’s probably not based in hatred or an active support of inequality like an opposition to same sex marriage is. It’s even easier to overlook a difference in opinion on abortion, just because I know most “pro-lifers” base their opinions on an actual argument instead of hatred, even though their opinion hurts me as someone who’s had one.

      Sorry, that was a major ramble. Basically some things are easy to overlook and some aren’t.

      • avatar captainswife December 2, 2013, 5:17 pm

        I guess I didn’t have the impression that this fellow desired to “directly attack other people”, though — he has a view that it has apparently taken the LW years to uncover. That’s where I see the difference. Is he in an “I want to oppress others” parade? Doesn’t seem like it. Seems like he holds a view, doesn’t really parade it particularly, takes no action on the basis of that view…and therein lies a HUGE difference, in my view…

        • avatar SasLinna December 2, 2013, 5:24 pm

          I wouldn’t put someone who holds homophobic attitudes in private on the same level as someone who makes homophobic statements in public, but the thing is, over time attitudes do not usually stay completely secret. The chance that someone who is homophobic will hurt someone with their words at some point is extremely high. And I’m just disgusted at people who will cultivate attitudes that are associated with violent hatred, attitudes that are used to drive innocent people to kill themselves, even if they don’t contribute to that with their own actions. It implies a bad character.

          • avatar Andnonemyous December 2, 2013, 11:30 pm

            My dad has always had gay friends. I know this is the kind of thing you say when you say “I’m not racist, I have black friends” but it’s true. My dad is not the typical macho guy. He’s been mistaken that way and has had many friends who are gay. He is also against gay marriage. He is Catholic, and therefore believes that marriage is one-man-one-woman. He would be fine with civil unions for gay couples, but for whatever reason the words GAY MARRIAGE set him off. Does that make him hateful? I don’t think so. Does it make him homophobic? Not really. Do I agree with him? To his chagrin, no. So we set it aside.

        • theattack theattack December 2, 2013, 5:28 pm

          I don’t mean attack in a hate-crime kind of way. I meant it more in a political, attack-your-rights kind of way.

    • CatsMeow CatsMeow December 2, 2013, 4:45 pm

      I’m supposed to tolerate intolerance now? Or else I’m the intolerant one? Having a different political or religious view isn’t the same as not supporting equal human rights.

      • avatar Miss MJ December 2, 2013, 5:01 pm

        Yeah, the more I think about it, the more uncomfortable I am with the concept that people who refuse to tolerate racism and homophobia are “intolerant” in the same way that those who are racist and homophobic are intolerant. These two things are simply not equivalent. Being intolerant of intolerance is not a bad or negative thing. It’s how society changes and moves forward (and becomes more tolerant!). And, while most of us all have people, be they friends or relatives, in our lives who we tolerate despite their intolerant views, no one should feel bad or ashamed to speak up when those views offend them, either. People who are racist or homophobic should be ashamed to speak up because they’re wrong. So, yeah. It’s not really the same.

  • avatar csp December 2, 2013, 10:00 am

    LW – My husband had a friend who was racist and homophobic. At first, it was just off color jokes but then he started to spout comments unprovoked around others and that is when the friendship ended. It is one thing for someone to make a comment in the middle of a rational discussion and another to be hateful. It sounds like your friend has very conservative views but overall he is nice, so I would just avoid the conversation.

  • avatar SasLinna December 2, 2013, 10:13 am

    I personally wouldn’t be friends with someone who is homophobic. It’s not just a difference in opinion to me, it’s about core values. I also feel that anyone who’s ready to voice a homophobic opinion to others will likely do it again under different circumstances where it could hurt someone, and that by voicing that opinion they condone the unjust treatment of gay people. As long as gay kids are still driven to suicide by bullies, I cannot tolerate any homophobic opinions in my friends. Maybe that’s too rigoristic. But I feel strongly about this.

    • avatar AliceInDairyland December 2, 2013, 10:19 am

      I’m with you, I just…. can’t. And maybe that makes me a bad person. And maybe if it was family I would feel differently, but with a friend? No. I just always imagine that I have a hypothetical gay child, and then make my decisions from there. Or I even imagine that I identify as gay (which I don’t, and I can’t possibly understand what it is like). If you identified as gay, or your child did… would you be friends with someone who fundamentally disagrees with who you are?

      My fierce mamma-bear protection of my hypothetical gay child has forced me to speak up when I would not otherwise have.

      • avatar lets_be_honest December 2, 2013, 10:31 am

        Excellent point Alice!
        And to Sas, I don’t think there is anything wrong at all about feeling strongly about this or not being able to be friends with someone like that.

    • Fabelle Fabelle December 2, 2013, 10:40 am

      I agree it’s a core values thing, but I guess I’m just putting myself in this LW’s position—I’d ~probably~ ask the friend WHY he felt this way & assess the friendship from there before deciding I just couldn’t be friends/friendly with the person anymore. Like, as an example, my one friend once expressed views about gay marriage that surprised me—but when I pursued the subject, I realized his views were just so poorly thought-out that I couldn’t even be mad?

      Basically, his stance was the whole, “Don’t call it marriage, call it something else” thing, which is fucking stupid, in my opinion, but easier to swallow—because although I disagree, it’s less about condemning a lifestyle, & gets more into the idea of what marriage itself means? So, okay. But if someone I knew was all fire & brimstone about it, then yeah, that’s *not* something I’d swallow & “agree to disagree” over for the sake of the friendship.

      This was a bit scattered, but my point is that negative outlooks—ingrained, prejudicial opinions—are more nuanced when addressed on an individual basis (rather than addressed as a societal thing). And personal relationships fall into the “individual basis” category for me.

      • avatar SasLinna December 2, 2013, 10:47 am

        Yeah, I would also ask some more questions usually to see how deep-seated the homophobia is, but this guy justified his view with “it’s just wrong”. I don’t know what’s left to dig for in this situation.

        • Fabelle Fabelle December 2, 2013, 11:03 am

          True—I guess I was just reading the “it’s just wrong” as an opening for being like, “WHY do you think that?” because that statement has no supporting arguments, & thus leads me to believe the friend’s stance could simply fall apart under scrutiny?

          BUT that could be my logic/debate brain talking… obviously, things don’t always fall under that umbrella, especially when the “debate” revolves around topics like this…

          • avatar SasLinna December 2, 2013, 11:59 am

            OK, I was reading it differently, as in “It’s just wrong, and I’m not discussing the reasons (cause I dont’ have any, shhh)”

    • avatar fast eddie December 2, 2013, 5:15 pm

      Sadly you’ve hit the worst aspect of homophobia, sometimes it kills people.

  • avatar bethany December 2, 2013, 10:29 am

    I don’t think I could be close friends with someone who was anti-equality. I have family members who don’t share my views, and with them, I just try to avoid the topic- we have plenty of other stuff to talk about… Family you’re born into- Friends, you choose. I just don’t think I could choose to be close with someone knowing that they didn’t believe in equality. I mean, sure we can disagree on politics or animal rights, or religion or whatever, but to me, being friends with someone who is blatantly against equal rights for LGTB people is the same thing as being racist, and I just can’t get down with that.

    • avatar lets_be_honest December 2, 2013, 10:34 am

      I love dw for things like this. I change my mind I think. Being against equal rights/being racist is so different than disagreeing on politics, religion, etc. You just can’t lump that all in together. You can choose for yourself on things like religion, and that choice will only affect you.

    • Kate B. Kate B. December 2, 2013, 10:39 am

      And that is a totally valid opinion. As I mentioned above, the only reason I associate with the people in my family is because I have to. And I don’t even have to do a lot of that, since they live on the East Coast and I rarely get out there. I could never be married to someone like my FIL. But, that said, pushing your views on someone is different than just not associating with that person. The first is more aggressive. The second is more a live-and-let-live point of view, which I try to adopt. You have to be true to yourself, but also allow others to be true to themselves, whatever self that may be.

      • avatar bethany December 2, 2013, 10:47 am

        Who is pushing their views on someone? I said I would chose not to be friends with someone who was anti-equality, just as I would chose not to be friends with a racist.

        • Kate B. Kate B. December 2, 2013, 12:46 pm

          I didn’t say you were. I am saying that that is one way to handle it.

  • katie katie December 2, 2013, 10:32 am

    oh how interesting… is it unethical to continue a friendship with someone who holds different views then you do?

    i dont think its just as cut and dry as a yes or no. i think it for me it would, and does, depend hugely on the deeper stuff. i mean, just saying you dont agree with something doesnt mean that you actively participate in making it illegal, or that you support like killing all the people who partake in it or whatever. i mean i dont agree with fertility treatments, but that doesnt mean id ever try to make it illegal (i would try to regulate it much better, and id try to make adoption much easier, though). and also, i have friends who have used fertility treatments, obviously, and thats fine. its a thing that exists in our world and everyone is free to make their own choices about it. its not like i disowned them or told them how horrible of people they were or anything.

    so how deep does this go, for both of you? do you care a lot about this, either intellectually or having gay friends or family members that bigotry directly affects? does he have round em up and kill em view that he actively tries to make happen in our world?

    and then, finally, sometimes old people just think what they think. it sucks, but there it is. and, unless they are actively trying to hurt others with their view, i dont *really* see the harm in it. so if you have to take the “eh, hes stuck in his ways, the old man” view on it, you can do that.

  • Lyra Lyra December 2, 2013, 10:52 am

    For me, as I’m getting to know someone that I’m dating I typically bring up LGBT issues because that’s a topic that is important to me. My uncles are getting married next July after 21 years together and I couldn’t be happier for them — and if I have a boyfriend at that time I would want him to come to the wedding with me. I usually frame it as “if you were invited to a gay wedding for a family member or friend, would you go?” If he says no and that “it’s just wrong”, I’m not ok with that. It’s important that a partner has the same view as me on that particular issue because so many people close to me are in the LGBT population.

    This is obviously different since it’s a friend instead of a significant other. I don’t think you need to end this friendship though I definitely see how it would make you uncomfortable. If you’ve been friends for a good number of years it’s obvious you’re close to him. What are the benefits to being his friend? Is this the one thing you see so differently on? If so, maybe from here on out avoid this type of conversation. As TECH said above, if you only hung out with people who agreed with you all the time you would be very lonely.

  • avatar AliceInDairyland December 2, 2013, 10:58 am

    I can understand people who say they would still be friends with this person, I can. But for some reason I really can’t wrap my head around it, maybe you guys can help.

    If you identified as homosexual, could you be friends with someone who essentially “others” you and “has disdain” (as it says directly in the letter) for a fundamental part of you?

    Not a choice, not an opinion, but a PART OF WHO YOU ARE. There is no way around that, in my opinion. If a person rejects my identity, and says that I am “just wrong” (again, as it says in the letter) then I cannot be friends with that person. And so, even though I do not identify as homosexual I have the ability to empathize and therefore I am *compelled* to uphold that judgement call even if I am not personally being persecuted.

    So I’m throwing it out there to everyone. IF you were gay, and someone told you what was told to the LW, would you still be friends with that person?

    • katie katie December 2, 2013, 11:03 am

      if i were gay, hell no! absolutely not, full stop. to me in real life, that would be like someone saying the same things about me being a woman. hell no.

      because of the small disconnect here, with the LW not being gay (and im assuming not having family or friends who are?) i can see how it could be a little easier to just agree to disagree. but like i said in my comment, i think it depends a lot on the deeper stuff.

    • avatar bethany December 2, 2013, 11:12 am

      I’m with you 100%. Being against equality for all people (regardless of sexuality, race, gender), is on a whole different level than differences in religion, politics, whatever. I could not choose to be friends with someone who was against equality.

    • GatorGirl GatorGirl December 2, 2013, 11:57 am

      I have no idea what I would do, honestly. We’ve semi faced this in our family. The matriarch is really “old school” and basically racist and homophobic…and one of the guys in our generation is gay. So, I really feel for him because his own grandmother pretty much hates a core part of him. But she still loves him and accepts him etc etc. I don’t know where I’m going with that, because I honestly have no idea what it’s like to be part of a group anyone hates.

    • avatar Milla December 2, 2013, 1:11 pm

      As a queer person, no, I would not continue to be friends with someone who has disdain for my relationship and tells me ‘it’s just wrong.’ But if it were someone who said that without knowing I was queer, and was shaken by realizing that I was, then I might hang around for a while. I think it does make a difference, knowing queer people, and if I felt like I could change their mind, I’d stick it out for a bit. No yielding, though, and I’d be out the door.

      If they were just straight-up homophobic, though, I’d immediately cut ties. I used to be more yielding on this issue, but life’s too short to be friends someone who doesn’t respect me and my family. It’s a luxury, I think, to be able to remain friends with homophobic (or racist) people. It doesn’t mean that you’re a bad person if you do, but it does demonstrate a certain amount of privilege.

      Family, though— grandparents and whatnot— that’s a whole other tangle of thorns, and a completely different conversation.

    • Imsostartled Imsostartled December 3, 2013, 12:59 pm

      I definitely don’t think that if I was gay, I could be friends with someone who was anti-equality at all. I barely feel comfortable talking with family members who have this view right now. I also can’t get behind the “you have to tolerant the intolerance otherwise you’re just as intolerant as them” line up above. I’m pretty proud of my intolerance to racism, sexism, homophobia and the like. You don’t get a better world by looking the other way for everything.

  • avatar Guy Friday December 2, 2013, 12:45 pm

    See, I just don’t like the fact that this is titled “My Friend Is Homophobic.” You can be opposed to something and not scared of it. You can disagree with something and not have it affect your interactions. I have disdain for uber-conservative “let’s hate Obama every chance we get!” people, but that doesn’t mean that if I’m out at a bar with a friend who feels that way I have to run away from him. And I get the whole “but sexual orientation is a core part of a person, not a choice!” and I agree with that concept, but that doesn’t mean that he can’t be a good friend.

    What does the LW mean by “disdain”? Is he openly calling out gay people in the street? Did he march on the Supreme Court when they struck down DOMA? Is he saying he wouldn’t attend the wedding of your hypothetical gay son if he was invited? Or is he saying that he simply isn’t going to support gay marriage, will vote against it on a ballot, and won’t be particularly thrilled if it’s allowed? Because if it’s the first two, then, yeah, I can see disconnecting your friendship. If it’s the third one, I could maybe see it too, but I think if it’s done respectfully it isn’t necessarily worth disowning.) But what if she means the fourth one? Can’t a person vote against gay marriage and still be a good friend? If the person holds an opinion but keeps it to himself, does that somehow make him a terrible person?

    I don’t know. I guess I think we’re assuming too much about the way he addressed this issue.

    • meadowphoenix meadowphoenix December 3, 2013, 12:33 am

      I guess I don’t understand why you have a problem with the title. Is there something about seeing either gay people or gay marriage as “just wrong” that isn’t homophobic? I mean the dictionary definition or current popular one of homophobia, not the pedantic greek root one people sometimes use as if greek roots always come down into english in their original meanings in all cases.

      • avatar Guy Friday December 3, 2013, 3:07 pm

        First of all, if you’re going by “current popular definitions” a vast majority of people say “that’s gay” as a pejorative term. Does that mean we should accept it as so?

        Second, this is the big problem with the gay marriage debate in the US: people assume that you’re homophobic if you oppose gay marriage. There’s a difference between being scared of something and disagreeing with something, and people who disagree with things don’t always publicly condemn others that they disagree with. Some do, but most don’t. To suggest that opposing gay marriage means telling gay people they’re going to burn in hell is silly; I have plenty of friends who don’t like the concept of gay marriage but are still social with our gay friends. One does not exclude the other.

    • avatar SasLinna December 3, 2013, 5:46 am

      They can’t be a ‘good friend’ if being a good friend presupposes being a good person.

      • avatar Guy Friday December 3, 2013, 3:15 pm

        . . . and suggesting someone isn’t a “good person” if they oppose gay marriage doesn’t presuppose YOU being a “good person,” since your issue with the LW’s friend’s comment seems to be his judgmental nature? It’s a hypocritical position to take.

        Also, the implication in your statement is that the only people who are “good people” are the ones who fit your moral definition of “good people,” which is a bit unfair since your definition may be different than mine or the LW’s or anyone else’s.

  • avatar starpattern December 2, 2013, 1:00 pm

    So, I recognize that there is privilege attached to what I’m about to say – also, it’s worth noting that I live in Alabama and I’m surrounded with people like the LW’s friend – but, I personally don’t feel I can sustain a strict view on this kind of stuff in my personal life, even with friends, and especially with family. I wholeheartedly believe in marriage equality, but I can’t analyze every friend or relative’s view on it and cut them out cold turkey if they hold views I don’t agree with (even if I disagree strongly). My line is usually how people act – typically, some people I know and love may hold some backward view regarding homosexuality due to religion or whatever reason that I personally think is dumb… but when it comes down to it could never bring themselves to be an asshole to a gay person’s face because they see that individual as a person instead of a faceless monolith and are able sympathize with their struggles. If they felt justified being a jerk to someone’s face about it, I wouldn’t keep them in my life because that person is aggressively hateful, and there is no fixing that. And if they felt the need to constantly have heated arguments about it, I wouldn’t want to be a part of that either. You know? We all have different thresholds for this stuff – and again, I realize there is privilege in how I personally handle it, since I would probably feel different if I weren’t straight – but you have to do what is comfortable for you.

    • avatar captainswife December 2, 2013, 5:21 pm

      This. Thank you for putting it so nicely.

  • AKchic_ AKchic_ December 2, 2013, 1:09 pm

    I’ll be honest, I have friends that are homophobic who know I’m bi-sexual. Sexuality isn’t a conversation that comes up often and we have an “agree to disagree” agreement/rule. We know that we won’t agree, so we usually don’t worry about it. We know we aren’t going to chage the other person’s mind, even though, deep down, we hope that our time with the other will help influence the other to change his/her mind. Otherwise, my friend is a lovely (if slightly flawed) person.

    Something may change in your friend’s life to make him/her rethink his/her viewpoints. A grandchild may come out of the closet, for example. A favored niece/nephew may come turn out to be gay. These things can and do change the viewpoints of the staunchest homophobe.

    If you like fishing with this person, continue fishing. Just know that you don’t agree on everything in life. Not everyone has to. I’m sorry that your friend failed to measure up in all things, but it’s okay. Not everyone has to. Neither of you has failed in life, or failed each other. We’re all different, and that’s okay.

  • avatar Ammie December 2, 2013, 1:55 pm

    Let me digress and tell a little story. My friend is an equestrian extraordinaire, and we have a ton in common. We get along fabulously. My friend is a generally moral and tolerant and kind person.

    My friend also hunts foxes.

    They go out on their horses and they bring dogs. And then they chase down and kill foxes and their cubs. Did you know there’s a practice called cubbing? They flush out the vixen and murder her. Then they slaughter the cubs. It’s to give the dogs practice.

    It makes me sick to even think about it. I mean, literally, I want to hurl. I understand the historical underpinnings of foxhunting, and I even understand why it’s practiced today (aside from giving riders an opportunity to get drunk and go wild with each other out in the woods… foxes kill chickens, etc). But it still makes me sick.

    I didn’t mean to stop hanging out with my friend. I don’t think it’s necessarily a reason to stop hanging out… I have friends who are deer-hunters, turkey-hunters, whatever. I eat the meat they bring in, and I don’t think twice. But something about this… it hit me hard. And I just haven’t made plans in a while. It was no grand gesture, no blow-up fight. I just naturally kind of faded away. If my friend calls and asks me to go to a movie, am I gonna say no? Of course not. But this thing, which I hate, is enough to dim my desire to spend a lot of time with someone who I have a long and fond relationship with.

    So… like Wendy said, this is up to you. It’s a matter of how much your heart can take. Some things that I feel very strongly about, I can still overlook in a friend. Some things that may seem objectively not as bad as others, I can’t get past. I think there’s hope for slowly changing your friend’s mind, given what you’ve said. But it’s not your obligation to do that, either. If it’s a dealbreaker, that’s completely fine. If it’s not, keep fishing with him while holding firm on your principles about this in conversation. Could be a good example will be a good influence on him.

    • KKZ KKZ December 2, 2013, 2:36 pm

      Ooo yeah no, I’m with you on hunting for sport. I’m not super staunchly anti-hunting in any kind of political way, it just doesn’t appeal to me and makes me kinda sad and sick to my stomach/heart.

      I recently hit a deer with my car, and I felt horrible. The deer got up and walked away, I only clipped him, but for days I was haunted by images of him limping around the woods, unable to eat or mate or run from predators, slowly starving to death. Forget the damage to my car, forget that I walked away unscathed from a potentially serious collision, my soul was sick for that deer.
      Then the next week, I sent an email around the office as a cautionary reminder about all the deer out and about right now, and the reply-chain quickly turned to deer hunting as a solution, and one guy shared a photo of him and his buddy with two bucks they’d killed that past weekend, on the ground, tongues lolling out of their heads and vacant eyes staring at nothing… My heart just can’t take that.

      I wouldn’t disown a friend who hunts for sport as long as they’re not expecting me to celebrate their kills or constantly showing me photos. The worst for me is when people take their kids hunting and then pose for the kill shots, and the kids are so proud.

      • avatar Ammie December 2, 2013, 4:59 pm

        That’s just disrespectful on the part of the guy in your office. :/ I mean, maybe he didn’t realize you were saying it for the sake of the deer (lots of folks are just pissed their car got damaged if they hit one), but come on. Let’s not send dead animal photos around at work. :/

        But yeah, this is a bad time of year, since it’s getting dark so much earlier. I was out trail biking a few weeks ago, and the first snake I’ve seen all season was in the middle of the trail, sunning herself I guess. I swerved to avoid her, but I’m not sure I succeeded entirely because she curled up toward me like I had clipped her tail or something, and I was like OMG I’M SO SORRY and jumped off my bike, but she was already in the brush. Ugh. Poor little thing. She wasn’t very big either… hopefully she was just freaked out. And hopefully your deer healed itself OK… if it makes you feel better, when we were in Yellowstone some park ranger was telling us that he saw a bison with a broken leg in the fall, figured it’d be dead by spring, and the next spring he saw the same one walking around… leg was slightly askew, but it had survived the winter. So they can take more than we think sometimes.

  • Lindsay Lindsay December 2, 2013, 3:09 pm

    I agree with Wendy. This is something you have to decide for yourself. I have some friends who disagree with me on certain issues, and some of them are ones that do annoy me a lot. But even for myself, I don’t have any hard rules on what I will or won’t tolerate. Certainly someone who is spouting off offensive, mean things, but someone who simply holds a belief? Who knows. Some of my family is probably homophobic and racist, and I know the point of friends is that you choose them, but tolerating someone who disagrees with you doesn’t make you a bad person. On the other hand, I can see where you might not be OK with someone who does not believe in equality.

    I’ll also add that deciding not to talk about it isn’t ethically dishonest. Lying about your beliefs would be, but there’s no rule that you have to talk about all the issues all the time and keep reminding each other of your opinions.

  • avatar snarkymarc December 2, 2013, 3:58 pm

    If the issue was abortion how would you guys feel? For me racism and homophobia are essentially the same thing and so it is easy to know where I stand with the opinions of others. My level of tolerance for other people’s opinions on abortion gets murky, though.

    • avatar SasLinna December 2, 2013, 4:20 pm

      I’m pro-choice and I feel strongly about that because making abortion illegal IMO violates women’s fundamental rights. I wouldn’t want to be close friends with someone who wants to outlaw abortion – because basically they would want to take away my rights – but there are people who oppose abortion on moral grounds without saying it should be illegal. I can sort of deal with that because at least I can see an argument there. Whereas homophobic people literally have no argument at all, IMO.

    • avatar lets_be_honest December 2, 2013, 4:22 pm

      For most on here (I assume), racism and homophobia hurts actual people. Abortion (again, for most on here) doesn’t. So I would think that’s why it would be different.

      • avatar rachel December 2, 2013, 4:47 pm

        Well, not really though. Access to safe, legal abortions can definitely save the lives of pregnant women. And to the other side, abortion is killing a human life.

        • avatar lets_be_honest December 2, 2013, 5:02 pm

          Yea, I worded that lousy.

          I was trying to refer to abortions where it isn’t saving a woman’s life (not medically necessary I guess?). And presuming that one believes abortion doesn’t kill a human life, abortion doesn’t hurt actual, living people. Racism and homophobia do.

          • theattack theattack December 2, 2013, 5:13 pm

            The short version of what I said below: Abortion doesn’t kill life, no, but when someone advocates for taking away abortion rights, they’re also advocating for women to suffer.

    • avatar rachel December 2, 2013, 4:46 pm

      I’m friends with a few people who are pretty vehemently anti-abortion. I try to avoid engaging them in discussions about it, but I guess, for me, I can respect that in their minds they are saving lives by being pro-life. Whereas, I can’t respect hating someone of a specific race or orientation because that doesn’t make any sense.

    • avatar Ammie December 2, 2013, 4:47 pm

      I’m more tolerant of divergent viewpoints here because of instead of, “Should we also grant this group of humans their basic human rights?” (to which the answer is an obvious yes; they’re humans, so they get human rights), the question is, “Is this class of organism, a developing fetus, a human being to be afforded the human rights that we obviously all agree humans should get, and if so, what is the nature of the balance between the rights of that human and the rights of the human mother who is carrying it? How does its biological dependency impact its rights? Can she reasonably be expected to carry it at all if she doesn’t want it, even if we agreed that it was a human with rights?” And that’s a much more complex question, to my mind, because it involves defining a human, which is a more dispassionate biological point. It’s never been as easy to me as seeing the fetus as definitely just an outgrowth of my body until some defined number of weeks at which it definitely becomes a separate human being that I can’t abort. So while I come down on the side that abortion needs to be legal, I can understand people who think it should be more restricted. It’s a gradient of where that human vs human balance lies, what timepoint the fetus is a human, etc, and all of those can slide to bring different people to different conclusions. The fact that pregnancy is such a unique biological situation makes the ethics tricky enough that I can tolerate a range of positions.

      • avatar rachel December 2, 2013, 5:00 pm

        Yeah, you said this better than me. Basically it’s a more gray issue because there are so many questions involved.

    • theattack theattack December 2, 2013, 5:12 pm

      I’m slightly more tolerant of people who are anti-abortion, partially because I’m surrounded by it and would have no friends otherwise, but also because the argument is usually based more in a concern for someone else, rather than hatred.

      It DOES hurt people though. I’m very open on DW (not in real life) that I had an abortion at 18, and it was the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. It irreparably shattered my heart when, at a dinner party, some close family friends said some very hurtful things about women who get abortions. I will never forget those words, and I can’t feel emotionally safe around them anymore even though they were like family to me and those people can’t be replaced. I have a hole in my heart where those friends should be because of their intolerance.

      My abortion saved my life because I was dead-set on killing myself if I couldn’t get one. I had a very firm plan that I absolutely would have followed through on, and it hurts me when people say that I shouldn’t have had the right to an abortion. When a friend says that they believe I should have died instead of having one, that is a hard stab through the heart. When someone chooses an anti-abortion stance, they are also advocating for all of the hardships a person would have had without one. They’re advocating for that woman to suffer. It’s hard to overlook in a friend.

      It’s a more understandable argument than bigotry, but it’s not any less hurtful, and it’s not easier to tolerate.

      • avatar lets_be_honest December 2, 2013, 5:16 pm

        I’m sorry you had to deal with that (your friends) and I thank you again for being so open about this, but I don’t think its fair to say they are advocating for a woman to suffer or have hardships. They are advocating for the lives of babies they think exist already. Regardless of my comment, I am sorry you were so hurt by them. People really need to think before talking.

        • theattack theattack December 2, 2013, 5:25 pm

          Thanks, LBH. I appreciate your thoughtfulness, especially since I remember that we haven’t always agreed on this topic.

          Pro-lifers might not actively be advocating for it, but they are indirectly choosing the suffering over abortions. I doubt many of them wish hardships on struggling women (although some do outright), but they still know it’s a reality and choose to support the other side. I’m sure my perspective is colored by my experience, but it’s still true that they would rather have women suffer than to have abortions.

          • avatar lets_be_honest December 2, 2013, 5:30 pm

            Right back at you :)

        • avatar SasLinna December 2, 2013, 5:30 pm

          I think it’s fair to say they are advocating suffering. People who want to restrict abortion access are either ignoring that women will suffer badly – and even die – as a result, or they are even tacitly accepting it. It’s not really possible to advocate for outlawing abortion without being ready to sacrifice some women’s lives.

          • theattack theattack December 2, 2013, 5:32 pm

            Yes! And quality of life.

          • Lindsay Lindsay December 2, 2013, 6:43 pm

            I agree. When you take a moral or political stance, you have to be realistic in terms of what that stance actually means. Intent vs. impact. You may not WANT people to suffer, but if what you are advocating for would indeed make people suffer, then that’s what matters. And if someone is not aware of the possible repercussions of their political stance, then I’d say they haven’t thought it through enough.

    • theattack theattack December 2, 2013, 5:49 pm

      Just want to add that I think anti-abortion doesn’t seem as hurtful because people aren’t open about their abortions. You can’t see the pain or the people who could be hurt because they are silent. Probably sixty years ago homophobia didnt seem harmful either because most LGBTs were closeted, but now we can see that pain and the potential for pain, so we’re more likely to oppose that bigotry. If the taboo around abortion ever loosens, people might be more considerate, less hurtful, and more liberal. It doesn’t mean the pain isn’t there. It’s just not as visible as the suicides in gay teens or hate-crimes or even just LGBTs being vocal.

    • Lindsay Lindsay December 2, 2013, 6:41 pm

      I try to be respectful of people who are pro-life because I know that it either comes or they think it comes from a place of caring about babies/life. However, to me, the whole concept brings a lot of baggage relating to the idea that women, in particular, can’t be in control of their bodies and that their bodies are essentially public property where people, which end up primarily being men, can make decisions about them based on their personal religious beliefs. So, even if a person doesn’t really think about it that way, I’m still going to see them as supporting that concept, even if they don’t mean to.

      Most of my friends, though, are pro-choice, except a few of them are the type who technically don’t think it should be illegal, but they still have a lot of qualifications surrounding it or are uncomfortable saying they are pro-choice without saying they hate abortion. Which I consider to be different from my own views. So, I try to respect that, but if their beliefs stem from some fundamentalism or sexism or whatever, then our friendship would probably have issues anyway.

  • avatar fast eddie December 3, 2013, 10:23 am

    I’m Equality Rules and this thread is a wonderful dialogue which is a huge help for me to resolve this inner conflict. The fact that he’s a friend, not family, leaves the association a choice rather then someone I “have” to see from time to time but it’s a chink in his armor and changes the extent of my respect for him. As the decades pass the limits of life span reduces the Xmas list and despite my opinions of some people I don’t want to lose friends. At some point I’ll try better understand how and why he feels the way he does, but I wish the subject had never come up and I could have continued in blissful ignorance.

    Thank you Wendy for removing some of the 72 candles from my birthday cake. Any “Senior Cinnamon” LOL would love to go back a few years.

    • avatar Banana December 3, 2013, 4:58 pm

      Aw, thanks for “coming out” as the LW, Eddie :) I wanted to add one quick thing: you mention your friend expresses “disdain” for homosexuals…but has he said anything overtly hateful, besides that he just doesn’t get why they are the way they are/it seems wrong? Because when my brother came out, it was hard for my dad to wrap his head around, and it’s not because he’s a bigoted guy…it’s because (as my mom put it) sometimes it’s really difficult for super straight guys to “get it”…they can’t get past the squick factor. My dad didn’t reject my brother, and he was nothing less than warm and loving and accepting of him, but privately, he also struggled to imagine my brother leading that life. Not because he hates gays, but just because it seemed…gross, on an instinctual, primal level to him. Because he’s straight. But he got over it. This isn’t a particularly articulate post, but I just wanted to say — are you sure your friend is even bigoted, or is he just squicked out a bit by the thought of gay relationships? Because if he’s the latter, I see no ethical problem with continuing to hang out with him. Maybe one day if someone comes out in his family and he has to confront the idea head-on, in the context of a family member’s happiness, he’d reexamine his repulsion.

      • avatar fast eddie December 3, 2013, 9:50 pm

        He didn’t articulate his reasoning and perhaps he couldn’t. I was so shocked that I didn’t probe further. We’d just finished lunch, I dropped him off headed home. For the moment my ego is trying to recover from the bruise. His friendship is important to me, but this changes things quite a bit. Ultimately I owe it to myself to get clarification. If I didn’t value the relationship it wouldn’t matter to me nearly as much.

        Here in California it took the US Supreme Court to overturn a proposition that banned same sex marriage. There are may opponents still actively pursuing it. I wish they’d all move to Texas and withdraw from the union.

  • avatar tbrucemom December 3, 2013, 2:41 pm

    Just because someone believes in traditional marriage doesn’t mean they’re a “homophobe”. My sister is a lesbian and I love and support her but she understands that I believe in traditional marriage and to a certain extent she does too (when it comes to children). You can have different views as long as you aren’t hateful or discriminate, etc. Tolerance works both ways.

    • Dear Wendy Wendy December 3, 2013, 2:47 pm

      But keeping gays from marrying IS discrimination!

      • avatar Miss MJ December 3, 2013, 5:36 pm

        Exactly! And, tolerance doesn’t work both ways when one person’s opinion is discriminatory toward an entire class of people. It is NOT intolerant to say that the opinion that certain people should be denied a benefit afforded our society (i.e., marriage) because of a core characteristic of who they are (i.e., gay) that others not in that category (i.e., straight people) are automatically afforded is wrong. Discrimination is wrong, no matter how right the people doing the discrimination believe they are, and no matter how nice and otherwise reasonable those people might be. The people who were against interracial marriage thought they were right, too, and I’d bet some of them were considered by many people to be fairly nice people otherwise. Not all discrimination comes in the form of a foaming at the mouth, hate-spewing sound bite. But, it’s still discrimination.

    • avatar lets_be_honest December 3, 2013, 2:49 pm

      What do you mean when it comes to children? She won’t have kids simply because she is gay?

      Not that I understand why people are anti-gay marriage, but I especially don’t understand why people don’t think gay people should have kids/adopt.

    • avatar Milla December 3, 2013, 6:46 pm

      Errm. . . . what do you mean by traditional marriage? If you mean that a church should be able to limit who they marry in religious ceremonies, then I’d agree with you. Churches doing their own thing is something I’m totally in favor of.

      If you mean that people like your sister and I shouldn’t have access to the rights of married people (as a civil institution) then that’s discriminatory. And my partner and I are planning on having children (through the use of a sperm donor) as do many other couples. But my partner and my future kids should be treated as a family, with all the legal rights that being a family entails.

      • avatar Ammie December 3, 2013, 7:02 pm

        Or traditional marriage could also be the type where parents sell their young teenage daughters off to older, wealthy men to improve the family’s standing. Or the type Jacob had in the Bible, where he was in love with one woman, but she had a sister he got tricked into marrying first, and then finally he married both of them.

        Marriage, traditionally, isn’t always very nice. :P

    • avatar Ammie December 3, 2013, 7:27 pm

      I’ll bite. If you’re not afraid of stable partnerships codified in the law for couples that don’t have the same genitals as you and your partner, then why do you oppose it? Ie, what impulse is strong enough for you to hurt someone when *refraining from* hurting them would not be harmful to you or anyone else? There’s very little I can think of that would force me to hurt my friends, much less my sister.

  • avatar Savannah December 3, 2013, 7:56 pm

    For those of you who are talking about being tolerant to the intolerant, maybe that rang true more so 20 years ago. But access to civil marriage is quickly becoming a basic right which benefits the state and the couple getting married (including about a thousand state and federal rights and protections). Opposing gay marriage is no different than opposing interracial marriage and those that do will once again find themselves on the wrong side of history and liberty. Opposition to gay marriage and gays in general, however hushed, however structural, is rooting in pure discrimination. Tolerating that discrimination is whats the phrase… Silence is consent. Recognizing your straight privilege but not doing anything about it is also kinda worthless. Everyones got a racist great aunt but you don’t need to call her a good person cause she’s family or a friend.

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