Is my friend homophobic?

All was going well with my new friend until she discovered I once had a relationship with a woman. Now she won’t talk to me.

It sounds like you might be better off without her, says our elder.

Dear EWC

I’ve been becoming friends with someone and have spent almost every day for the past three months hanging out or texting. Recently, she was asking about one of my old friends and I let her know we had once been in a romantic relationship and that I loved her (more than 10 years ago). While it occurred to me that my new friend maybe a little “hung up” on homosexuality, what happened next never crossed my mind… We were sitting next to each other in a meeting with maybe 20 other people and when I went to look for something in my pocket (laid over the back of my chair) and she literally flinched! She went out of town the day after for a few weeks and we haven’t exchanged any words for almost a week. I did text her and she gave some thin response. I can only assume that she doesn’t want to be my friend anymore. I’m heartbroken to lose a new friend. I’m confused that anyone might imagine I’d touch them inappropriately or otherwise be afraid around or disgusted with me. I keep thinking about whether I should bring it up when she comes back, whether she’ll even want to be around me long enough to talk, or whether I can be friends with someone who flinched around me. Should I just leave her be, nurse my heart, and move on… or talk to her about how hurt I am and attempt some understanding and friendship, if possible? Thanks for listening! P.S. If it’s at all relevant she knows I’ve dated men since and want to now.

Lincoln-Parker replies

I think you should address the issue tactfully but without any embarrassment.
You might first address the issue head-on — i.e., “Friend, you have been acting differently since this incident, and I can only think that you thought that I was making some type of advance. I want you to know that wasn’t my intention, and I would never take advantage of our friendship in such a manner.” Depending on how upset you are, you may tell her how hurtful it has been that she would even think that you might take advantage of your friendship.
As you stated, she may be “hung up on homosexuality”, but since a lot of the rest of the world isn’t, she shouldn’t be allowed to jump to conclusions on the issue and assume a predatory nature of other people. It wasn’t your intention and, whether she believes that or not, you should state your case. If she doesn’t want to accept her error, you may have lost a friend, but it may not be a major loss in the long run.
I say that you should do this tactfully because depending on her level of homophobia, she may suddenly feel it necessary to spread her concerns among at least 20 people that you know. Hopefully, they would tell her to wake up, get with the real world, and stop “flinching” every time someone inadvertently bumps into her on a crowded bus. It appears you value her friendship in-spite of her ancient take on homosexuality, so let’s hope she ups her acceptance level and understanding and wants to continue the friendship. If not, agree to disagree as long as she understands that she was wrong about your intentions. Then move on and don’t spend a lot of time while you “nurse your heart.”
She’s wrong; you aren’t.

Letter #: 443140
Category: Friendship

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