My sister had a homophobic outburst when I gave my husband a quick beak. Can I mention it constructively? | Family

My husband and I have been together for almost five years, married two. Last year at a family reunion, my older sister saw me quickly slapping my husband on the cheek and threw him into a homophobic rage, accusing us of “rubbing our relationship in her face.” As a queer couple, I felt that her anger was disproportionate to the level of affection she displayed in public (this was a quick beak, not a prolonged tennis session in the tonsils).

The rest of the family was shocked, but no one came to defend us. It was humiliating. I stayed with feelings of internalized homophobia I thought I had managed to deal with it in my early 20s. I feel anxious even holding my husband’s hand in public now.

My sister has not apologizedand I have heard through another family member that most family members have sided with her, because of her history of depression and her recent divorce. All of them (including my sister) deny the homophobic nature of her outburst and have implied that I am overly sensitive (they are not completely wrong).

My husband thinks I should cut them off from my life, but before I do anything drastic, there is a way to mention it to them. is this constructive for all parties involved?

Eleanor says: I’m sorry you had to go through it. It is awful to realize that the people we thought would stand up for us were not as brave as we had hoped.

You asked if there was a way to bring out what makes you feel productive. I wonder if it would be helpful, in discussions with your family, to separate the impact from the intention. Based on what you have written, I tend to agree that homophobia was in what your sister did – the old chestnut “I rub on my face” sounds a lot like “but why do it in public? “Unfortunately, one of the most insidious features of homophobia – such as competence or racism or any other prejudice – is that people who practice it often recognize it less. they do not have the emotions you blame them for, that there is no animus, that prejudice plays no role in their psychic life, it is like watching a puppet swear that it moves on its own.

This creates a dilemma for someone in your position: you judge the case I am doing seem to have the feelings they deny? Or are you focusing on telling them how they hurt you? It’s annoying, but I wonder if focusing on how your sister’s actions affected you – and not where she came from – can help. It could give you something to say that your family could hear more. For example, if you are close enough to feel comfortable telling them, you could share things they do not know about how homophobia has colored your life. Things about how people talked to you, how they treated you. why it took so much bravery to hold your husband’s hand and why it is fragile, even now.

If they had a better understanding of why this reopened some of your wounds and why they hurt so much in the beginning, they could – could – you can see better why you wanted their help.

Sometimes family disputes break along these lines: one side tries to say “you really hurt me” and the other responds indignantly “how dare you accuse me of trying to hurt you”. Focusing on what that meant to you Regardless Intention can do it less as a battle between brothers over who knows the truth and more as a request for solidarity and understanding. Your family should want to protect you from things that hurt you – whoever your sister is Really That is, everyone should be able to agree on that. And whether something hurts you does not depend on them.

As for your sister’s condition right now. Lawyers and ethicists sometimes distinguish between one excuse and one excuse. Having an excuse for an action means that it is no longer wrong. Having an excuse simply means that you will not get into trouble, even though we all still agree that it was bad. Thankfully, you may think your sister has an excuse. But grace must run in both directions – it must handle your pain and history and with as much care as it asks for its own. If your family can not meet any of these points, your spouse may be right – at some point, the model you pass is the model you accept.

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My sister had a homophobic outburst when I gave my husband a quick beak. Can I mention it constructively? | Family

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