Dear Dish-It: My Uncle Is Gay
My uncle is gay. I saw him and his partner locking lips in the living room. Now every time I see him I feel very strange. I find it hard to talk to him about anything now. What should I do?
I think I know why you feel uncomfortable around your uncle, and the reason may surprise you.
For too long society (mainly due to religious beliefs) has told us that the only intimate union that’s OK is between a man and a woman. Unfortunately, human beings, who come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and have many different backgrounds, beliefs, needs, wants, preferences, dreams, fears lifestyles and, yes, even sexual orientations, do not fit into this extremely narrow-minded mold. True, some guys are attracted to girls and some girls are attracted to guys – without the kind of attractions, our species wouldn’t last very long. However, the reality is that some guys like other guys, some guys like other girls, some guys and girls like guys AND girls, etc. Sexual orientation (i.e. heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, etc.) is a personal decision and choice, and it’s time we all started not only to accept that, but to embrace it, as well. There’s too much fighting and hatred and prejudice in this world to begin with. We should stop making sexual preference into an excuse to dislike or feel uncomfortable around other people.
Having said that, I’m not going to sit here and give you advice about telling your uncle how you feel or asking him not to do certain things when you’re around (harmless things that in no way can hurt you). The way I see it, GD, your feeling uncomfortable around your uncle just because his partner is a guy means you’ve come to a point in your life when you need to decide what kind of person you want to be from now on. Do you want to be someone who sees the differences between yourself and other people, or do you want to be someone who embraces the similarities we all share as human beings? If you pick the first choice, I can promise you a pretty sad life. What will happen, for example, if one day you get your dream job and it turns out your boss is gay? Will you not be able to work there because of that? Will you risk giving up your success and happiness just because he’s got different opinions than you do? If you choose the second option, you’ll be able to live your life however you want, simply because you allow other people to live their lives as they wish, too. (Treat others like you want to be treated yourself. It’s a pretty good rule to live by.)
If you’ve always had a good relationship with your uncle (and it sounds like you have), you should continue to love and respect him and you should start accepting the fact that he’s got his own life and he has a right to make his own decisions, as long as they don’t cause harm to anyone else (and trust me, his being gay isn’t going to hurt you in any way, ever). Furthermore, you really ought to start accepting the fact that everyone in this whole entire world – your uncle, your parents, your teachers, your friends, your baseball coach, the guy at the video store, the garbage man, the lifeguard at your local pool and even YOU – has the right to live their lives the way they want to (again, as long as their actions don’t hurt anyone) and you have no right to say or tell them what they can and can’t do. I don’t care how weird their choices make you feel.
I’m sorry to sound so harsh, GD, but I think the whole issue about feeling weird or not accepting people for being gay is so tired. Who cares about that? I’m sure your uncle is a great person and that there’s much more to him than the fact that he’s gay. I’m sure you’ll be missing out if you choose not to associate with him anymore just because you have a problem with that. It’s your life. Choose wisely – for your own sake.
In short, here's my advice to you: get over it.
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