You can call me fed up, because that’s exactly what I am. Although I’ve never really been in the closet, I just confirmed my family’s suspicions about a year and half ago. Well since then, I have a great uncle that is the biggest asshole when I’m around him. When I go to family functions, he is always there and is always making insulting jokes about me because I’m gay. For example, the men love watching sports when we get together. Well when I sit down to watch football or basketball with them, my great uncle may say something like “you sure you won’t be more comfortable in the kitchen with the women,” or “these ain’t the soap operas nephew.” I would feel embarrassed in these situations, but my other family seem horrified by his comments. The thing is, no one checks him. And I want to cuss him out so bad, but my mom told me to bite tongue and be the bigger person. She says he’s old and he doesn’t know any better. She also reminds me that he helps pay a lot of my tuition. What do you think I should do?
Dear Fed Up,
Let me start by saying wow! I know family can be complicated and draining at times, and unfortunately, you find yourself in one of those infamous lose/lose type of situations. On one hand, I completely get you wanting to throw every insult you can think of at your great uncle. Heck, a person can only take so much disrespect before he snaps and goes off. On the other hand I get why you feel you can’t let him have it.
I admittedly have been in a situation myself where I wanted to cuss out my mom’s first cousin. While he wasn’t insulting me due to my sexuality, he kept taking digs at my mother for absolutely no reason. Everybody that knows me, knows I’m somewhat of a mama’s boy, so needless to say I was ready to whoop some ass. LOL! The only thing that stopped me was my grandma. My grandma really hates messiness, and I knew fighting her nephew would definitely be messy and break her heart. So I vented to my one of my best friends, prayerfully gathered myself, and took the high road. And taking the high road was not easy by any means.
In your particular situation, you’ve found an offensive personality in a family member who happens to be an elder and a benefactor for your tuition. Sometimes people of a particular age no longer attempt to filter themselves. They aren’t concerned with what sounds politically correct, and aren’t thinking about what someone may find rude. And he probably thinks he is making harmless jokes. To be clear I’m not giving him an excuse or pass to be offensive. I for one think that “well he’s old,” logic is a cop out many times, because folks like my grandma are sweet as pie. However, I do know that some people when they age do lose a bit of their ability to perceive the power of their words. They don’t know what’s insulting until they are told such.
Given the fact that your great uncle is giving you some funds for college, I feel his remarks don’t stem from a place of ignorant hatred, but his own personal misunderstanding of gay culture. I mean I don’t know too many people that would give college tuition coins to a person they don’t like and love. His attitude and remarks are a reflection of the era in which he grew up. Instead of cussing him out, I think this situation calls for you to talk to him in private about how offended you are by his jokes. Force him understand why what he has been saying is not okay. Also, update him on what being gay means to you. It will help you feel better, and shouldn’t make your mom feel as if you violated her request.
Suggestions going forward.
- When you talk to your uncle, be in a private location and keep calm. Again, KEEP CALM!
- If your great uncle is unresponsive to the conversation you have with him, then either get a job or two for college, or master biting your tongue. If you do the latter, I won’t consider that selling out, because Sallie Mae is a lady I will tell anyone to avoid if they can.
- Remember, sometimes in life you won’t be able to clap back right away out of anger. So in every situation, try to keep a leveled head and see what the best approach will be.
- Keep in mind that cussing someone out or educating him are two different things. One of them requires patience, but helps to better shape someone’s understanding.
As always nothing but love,