Dear Queer Abby,
My forever bestie is a straight white cis-male. I am a queer female. In the past 18 months, he’s been doing and saying things that drive me crazy (political, misogynist, “not all men” kind of things). I’ve tried to push back and talk to him in a loving and honest way but he often strikes back defensively. He just told me that he’s going as Brett Kavanaugh this year for Halloween. When I told him that folks might find that triggering and perhaps he can rethink his costume, he responded with a dismissive “That’s okay.”
Should I just keep my distance from this person because interacting with them causes me frustration and sadness or should I try once more to communicate my feelings?
Furrowed Brow in Fayetteville
P.S. It’s doubly offensive because he thinks he’s “one of the good ones,” but he isn’t.
My friend and colleague Beth Pickens is a Capricorn woman with a 3+ tier system for friendships.
I’m paraphrasing here, but:
Tier one is for your closest friends. Your very best, nearest and dearest people who you talk to almost daily, call in a crisis, and who would show up to your hospital room in a flash.
Tier 2 are people you like very much, but for whatever reason (perhaps distance) they are not your daily inner circle.
Tier 3 are people you occasionally have coffee with, but you don’t go too deep.
Then there’s the (dreaded) ACQUAINTANCE RADIUS.
It sounds like this friend served you well at one point in your life as a Tier 1 person, but as times have changed and you’ve both grown and made different decisions, he is self-selecting into a different Tier by being defensive and insensitive to things that are important to you.
It doesn’t mean you need to ghost him or cut him out completely — you don’t need to tell a person when you make a boundary around them — but it does mean that you are under no obligation to give him the same amount of emotional energy now that you did when you were younger and considered yourselves more aligned.
I would honestly just attempt the path of least drama and become less available. If he inquires, you could let him know that you do care about him so much and the place he held in your life, but that it is hurtful and stressful for you to be around someone who doesn’t feel like an ally right now. You could even tell him what an ally looks like to you.
For me, part of being an ally is someone acknowledging their own privilege, using their privilege as a resource for the good of others, listening (without being defensive or making everything about themselves or their guilt), and reaching out to offer softness and support when times get tough. That, to me, feels like a very simple acknowledgment of our shared humanity and that of the people around us who are currently suffering A LOT due to the political haunted house that we are all living in.
If he takes that to heart and attempts to show up for you in a way that feels meaningful, wonderful!
But if not, to put it in Shark Tank terms: I don’t have the bandwidth to do self-defense maneuvers and political needling regarding the civil liberties of people I love when I’m supposed to be having recreation and relaxation. For this reason, I’m out.
I do believe that the people you surround yourself with shape your reality. Your time on Earth is limited. Choose situations that nourish you. Does hanging out with this person feel like vitamins? If this friendship cannot offer you sustenance and solidarity right now, kick him to the Tier.