A Gentleman's Guide

MAY | 2019

MAY | 2019 | LOVE & RELATIONSHIPS

YOUR ‘LIL “FRIEND”

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One of the few things in life we can’t control is the family we’re born into. Some of us have families or family members who are more supportive than we could have ever imagined, while the acceptance of others leaves a lot to be desired. Our heterosexual brothers don’t have to worry about this too much when it comes to bringing a partner home because their partners are what many would consider to be the “right” gender.

Although his family may not be too fond of his Belle, she’s a Belle, and not a Beaux. They might not like the fact that she wears her clothes too tight, doesn’t have a church home, has a child from a previous relationship, or the fact that she’s a Delta while every other woman in his family is an AKA, but at least she is not a he. Things can get a lil spicey if she’s white, but that’s another conversation for another time, and for another website.

Many of us either have, or will find ourselves reaching the point of our relationships where it’s time for our Beaux to meet the family. Some revel in the idea of introducing their Beaux to their bloodline, but others...not so much. A lot of us hail from families that are far from pillars of acceptance and support, and finding the balance between our love life and our relationship with our unsupportive family can be a pickle, Dill. However, we’re hopeful that this month’s Love & Relationships will give you some insight on how to balance the two to ensure that the relationship you and your ‘lil ‘friend’ have isn’t driven into the ground as a result of your family’s trash ass belief system.

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There are a few types of families to consider in the context of this subject but we’ll only touch on least desirable types because we know you don’t have all day. These family types range from homophobic to slightly homophobic to tolerant. There’s no chance in hell that you’ll get anywhere with introducing your Beaux to your homophobic family so we can go ahead and count them out.

The only thing that out classes their stubbornness is their limited view of reality. The slightly homophobic family can offer a brief reprieve as they’re more likely to keep you included so that they have someone to secretly rag on. They say stupid stuff all the time, but as long as you’re around they won’t feel like the familial black sheep. The tolerant family is the apex here, as though they may not “agree” with your “choice”, they’ll still invite you to family events and do everything in their power to make sure you don’t feel left out. But don’t get it twisted because Jesus still doesn’t agree with your lifestyle.

Creating a balance between your Beaux and your bloodline will almost never be an easy feat, but we’ve got a few ideas for you to consider. The first of these suggestions is going to require you to exhibit some of Pete Davidson’s big dick energy by being up front with your family. While our hope is that you can take a civilized approach in talking to your family about introducing them to your Beaux, we encourage you to be fully prepared to lead with your pinky as you set some boundaries.

Setting boundaries with your family gives you the chance to assert that your needs are important, that you’re willing to walk away from them, and serves as a reminder that you are in charge of who you love, not them. Boundary setting with your family will require for you to be direct and for you to set some consequences as well. You’ve gotta let them know that whether they like it or not, your Beaux is here. He makes you happy you expect them to treat him the way they (hopefully) raised you to treat everyone else. With respect. The consequence of them doing the opposite of this is for you to walk. If they wanna fall out with you over their petty ass beliefs, then y’all are just gonna fall out over it.

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You might be able to soften the blow by casually talking about your Beaux with your family. You don’t wanna add too much spice when it comes to doing this, but we certainly suggest seasoning these conversations to taste. For example, you don’t have to mention how you celebrated your one year anniversary, but you can mention that the two of you saw a movie, got a dog, or bought a piece of furniture.

Either way you should be very strategic about casually including him in conversations about your life. If there’s one thing we know its that transitions like these must be made as smoothly as possible, so don’t go for the dramatic. This will also ensure that his presence in your life isn’t a complete and total shock. They might not be too thrilled about your “decision” but if they’ve got any kind of love for you, they’ll at least want to meet the guy you’re “always talking about”. When everything is said and done, the goal should be to normalize your Beaux’s presence in your life. They don’t have to like it, but if your family wants the privilege of having you in their life, and your Beaux is someone you’re serious about, they have two options: either get right, or get left.  

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The levels of difficulty vary when it comes to putting any of this into practice, because all of our families are different. There will be some family members who can will themselves into tolerating our Beauxs, but there will also be those who either can’t or won’t. We wish instances like these were more rare than they actually are, but sadly they are not. So what are you to do in the event that your family exists on the extreme side of homophobia?  You’ll always know your family better than anyone else. If you’re beyond certain that introducing your Beaux to them would end in disaster, its best to let your Beaux know. There’s no way on Earth that he won’t understand. He might not be happy about it, but trust us, if he’s worth his weight in gold then he’ll understand.

None of us are required to maintain any kind of balance between our Beaux and our homophobic family members, but we certainly understand why some try. There’s not a soul among us who wouldn’t bask in the glory of familial acceptance if it were available, but that’s not always the case. The homophobic family isn’t going to feature any of this, which is something that you’ll have to learn to deal with. This is going to come with its own set of baggage, which is why it’d never be wise to introduce them to someone you know they won’t accept. Hell, they barely accept you.

The slightly homophobic family would probably be more receptive to meeting your Beaux, but get ready because that’s going to come with its own challenges. The differences between the homophobic family and the slightly homophobic familiy is that there exists a sliver of hope in one while the other is as hopeless as the 2020 Democratic ticket. When it comes to navigating ways in which to introduce your Beaux to your family, the tolerant family is your best bet. Tolerance is cute, but remember- people tolerate headaches. Even though your family may best fit this description, they’ve still got a long way to go.

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No one in our family is going to be able to provide us with the things that our Beaux does.  Well, technically they could, but that’s call incest. Their acceptance of him isn’t something that’s required as much as its desired. The hard truth is that their views aren’t changing any quicker than our sexuality is. The balance we maintain between our bloodlines and our Beaux is delicate and should be treated as such- which is why the best practice is to gage your audience. Look and listen for the signs that indicate whether or not they’re open to the idea. Think about the ways they reacted when you came out, or the things they said when referencing someone else they either knew of believed to be same gender loving. Where they dicks about it? Did they pass judgment? Did anything they said or did make you feel uneasy? Were microaggressive?

Anyone whose family has referred to their Beaux as their “‘lil “friend” knows a thing or two about a microaggression. Microaggressions are those subtle (but intentional) hostilities. It's what happens after you lend a buddy a few dollars and being met with a “Imma pay you your ‘lil money back, or whatevah.” when the time for you to collect on said debt arises. Its being light-skinned and having to constantly deal with people asking “what” you are, instead of who; and any other insidiously insensitive remark that can be made about your gender, race, sexuality, or monies owed- because that “‘lil money” you lent wasn’t so “‘lil” when your broke ass friend needed it in the first place.

They’re normally easy to miss amongst those using them, but the psychic toll experienced by those who endure them can have everlasting effects. This is why we strongly suggest whether or not your family is ready, because while many of us are looking for someone with baggage that either matches or compliments our own, we don’t want to introduce them to a family who’ll victimize them as much as they’ve victimized us. So again, gage your audience.

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Our Beaux is our Beaux, and not our “‘lil friend”. People use this term as a way to diminish our relationships. There are those who use it as a result of them being uncomfortable with outwardly saying “boyfriend”, “partner” or “fiance” but that’s a problem they’ll have to address from within, and it's our job to remind them of this every chance we get. It's not that hard to keep up with what’s appropriate. None of us are allowed to choose our families, but we always have the choice to solidify our position within those families, and if our position is that of the “gay one” then let it be that, but it will be respected. If Dontae can bring Sharonda home, then we can bring Demarcus and introduce him according to the role he plays in our life.

Regardless of how our families feel about our love, our love is our love. We shouldn’t get too caught up in trying to balance our Beaux and our family if our family is less than accepting. Falling under the weight of their homophobia will inevitably tip the scales in their favor. So before we wreck our minds in trying to figure out how we’re going to make it work, remember that it doesn’t have to work. If being up front with our homophobic families, setting boundaries and consequences doesn’t work, then it is what it is. Our presence in their life can either be affirmed or missed, and its important that they know that. We don’t deserve the extra pressure of walking on eggshells around them. We deserve better and so does Demarcus, who again, is more than our “‘lil friend”.  

Jeremy Carter