Dear Prudence

Dear Prudence Uncensored: The Homophobic Mother

Every week, Danny M. Lavery and Nicole Cliffe discuss a Prudie letter. This week: the homophobic mother.

Nicole Cliffe: Ahhhhh jeez

Yeah, you shouldn’t have invited your homophobic mom on this trip.

You will be stressed the entire time, waiting for the shoe to drop

Daniel Lavery: And I want to push back against the attempt to defang your mom’s homophobia by claiming it’s based in ignorance and not malice

because 1. those things are not mutually exclusive

2. she definitely knew what she was saying the last time you two spoke and you said “Claire and Rebeca are dating” and she said “No, they’re just friends”; ignorance would have been something like “Wait, what are lesbians?” This was malicious and purposeful.

and 3. It’s still homophobia either way

Nicole Cliffe: I don’t have a time machine, unfortunately.

I think they will be on the defensive because they are being placed in a defensive position!

especially with your magical thinking about your homophobic mom

Daniel Lavery: You can still love your mom and be honest about her homophobia at the same time. Admitting that she’s homophobic on purpose and that it’s hurtful and harmful doesn’t mean you’re saying “And I hate her and I hope she dies”

Nicole Cliffe: Can you disinvite your mom at this point? That could be impossible. But you should at least be honest with your friends so they can decide if they still want to come.

Daniel Lavery: Yeah, I think my first option would be to disinvite the mom and be very clear about why: “Some of the guests are gay and I don’t trust you not to say something insulting and homophobic to them; that makes me really sad and I hope you stop so I don’t have to keep you away from some of my favorite people in order to protect them.” If for some reason that’s not possible, definitely let your friends know so they don’t find out when they’re already trapped in a car with her for who knows how many days.

Nicole Cliffe: And your plan to have your co-worker just absorb surprise homophobia from your mother and tell you so you can handle it

again, in a car on a road trip with other people

is not great

Daniel Lavery: It will presumably be painful and uncomfortable for EVERYONE in the car, not just these two, to hear your mom suddenly call them “gal pals” or ask a rude and invasive question about their sex lives

I remember the time an older relative turned to me in the car and said “Are you sure you want them to cut off your breasts if you’ll never have a penis?” and like, I was very uncomfortable in that moment, sure, but so was *everybody else* just by dint of having to hear that

as a general rule of thumb, if your feeling about the prospect of putting a particular person in a car with some gay people is “Oh man, I have a sinking feeling they might say something homophobic,” trust your gut, you are 100 percent right, act as if that would be a guaranteed outcome and make alternate arrangements.

Nicole Cliffe: Especially if you then have to go back to work and deal with each other on a professional setting

Daniel Lavery: Right!

Nicole Cliffe: If you’re trying to work together and all they can think about is “I had to spend five days crammed in a car with your gay-hating mother”

Daniel Lavery: you’re gonna have a bad time

I hope your mother stops doing this this! If she experiences real pushback, she might.