Q Center

May 30, 2014

When Friends are Gross

I am a cis female who is pretty feminine and recently came out as bi to some of my closest friends. A lot of them are men. Do you have any experience with or advice about combatting comments like “Can I watch?” or “That’s so hot!” when it comes to sex between two women? It makes me really uncomfortable and is pretty hurtful, but I am usually at a loss of how to tell them these comments are not okay. Help me!

That’s so gross! That’s so disrespectful to you and they absolutely need to know that they’re being atrocious friends! I wish I could say that I haven’t experienced this (or something like this) before, but being a DFAB person in a social circle of mostly boys unfortunately puts you in a shitty position for emotional affirmation. Such is sexism. When I say “such is sexism,” that in no way translates to, “Oh well! That’s life!” I’m saying that this is something that happens because men are taught that they deserve access to women’s bodies and sexual experiences and it’s awful and needs to be called the hell out. In high school I was a part of a group of friends that was hyper male-dominated. While I had a ton of fun with them and in a lot of situations they made me feel incredibly supported and safe, it felt so often that my body was on display for them, and they totally took advantage of that. It’s really easy to pretend it’s not happening or that it isn’t an issue for the sake of retaining friendships that matter to you, but I’m really glad that you want to put a stop to it now. There are a few ways to handle it and this is something that definitely requires fine tuning depending on the actual people… you know how your friends respond to confrontation better than I do. There’s a big part of me that wants to say screw ’em but friendships are important! Wrongs can be repaired sometimes! Ignorance can result in some hurtful stuff but it doesn’t come from a place of maliciousness, learning can happen, and if it’s something that you think is worth a shot I want to support you in that. So. Here are some possibilities:

  1. Pull them aside some time or do it over the phone if that’d make you more comfortable. Say that there’s something you want to talk about, and it’s important to you that they listen. Tell them they’ve hurt your feelings with the way that they responded to you coming out. Tell them that they’ve been really disrespectful and rude. Tell them you’re not a sexual object and the fact that they’re treating you as such when they’re supposed to be your friends is messed up to all hell. Tell them they’re being sexist and homophobic because they completely are. Tell them that if you have a relationship with another girl it’s for you and her, not for them.
  2. If they’re not responding well, maybe rephrase some things. Why do you assume I would let you observe a intimacy between me and a girl when I (presumably) haven’t let you observe intimacy between me and a guy? Why do you think a relationship between myself and a girl would be intrinsically different? Why do you think you are entitled to that part of me past what I have shared with you? Why do you think this involves you at all?
  3. I think it’s important that if nothing’s working at this point, you make it about yourself a bit. Coming out to them was a big deal. You know that and I know that and if they don’t know that, tell them. You took a big step and they’re tarnishing it and that sucks. They hurt you, and you need to know if they’re going to try to be more respectful of that in the future. Are they going to make an effort to not be total assholes about the fact that you’re not straight? Accountability and support from your friends is really, really important! You really deserve that from the people you’re close to!
  4. If you’re not getting good feedback at all like… dump these dudes. They’re not the kind of people who are going to treat you with the kind of respect that you need to have from your friends. It’s not cool that they responded to you coming out that way and if they can’t see that, aren’t willing to listen and apologize, aren’t willing to work to make you more comfortable, those are relationships you need out of. Ending relationships is not fun and kind of scary but you’re doing yourself a favor in removing toxic people from your life.

This is such a hard situation but I have a lot of regrets about letting my friends get away with the way that they treated me. A handful of them apologized down the line and made up for it with really strong support in other ways, but those who didn’t definitely turned out to be not so great friends in the long run anyway. You have to think about yourself here, and you have to know that you deserve comfort and safety from those you’re close to. That’s not an added benefit of friendship, it should be a guarantee.

I wish you a LOT OF LUCK and a LOT OF LOVE!


P.S. The featured picture is from this, mostly because it’s really cute 🙁 Relevant! Applicable! But most just so cute 🙁