Being yourself after coming out to a conservative friend

How do you respond when a longtime friend won’t come to dinner unless you “chill with the PDA”?

Dear Carolyn

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

DEAR CAROLYN: I have known “Sarah” for half my life. We are now in our late 20s. I came out to her as a lesbian two years ago and am currently dating someone.

Sarah is a conservative Christian, so I have made sure to be careful around her regarding our public displays of affection. I basically told my girlfriend we should act the same around Sarah as we would around family. The occasional kiss on the cheek or hand-holding, nothing more.

Recently, my girlfriend and I asked Sarah out to dinner. She initially replied maybe, then about an hour later told us she would come if we “chilled with the PDA,” and added, “I would ask the same if your girlfriend was a man.”

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I am angry. I have been very careful around her, and was shocked at her request. I don’t really know what to do. My family is unsupportive so I hide a significant amount of my life already — they know but refuse to talk about it — and I don’t want to have to hide around my best friend. Any advice on how to proceed?

— Careful About PDA

DEAR CAREFUL ABOUT PDA: Her beliefs do not carry an obligation for you to sugarcoat who you are, so you have already chosen to compromise yourself to please her where best friends typically wouldn’t have to.

Treating it as a PDA issue is a red herring, too. Bystanders have begged handsy straight people to “get a room” since forever, of course — but that “EW, yuck, PDA!” can’t be cover for those who witness same-sex hand-holding to complain that they’re “OK with gay people but sick of having homosexuality rubbed in their faces” or whatever wording the Bigotry Lite Brigade is currently spewing.

So I hope you’ll challenge Sarah’s weak self-justification:

“Are you sure you’d ask…

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