Dear Ms. Behavior:
I’m a gay woman, and I’m getting married to my girlfriend next month. I love my gay brother, Ray. I was pleased to have him and his boyfriend Jack take part in our recent engagement party.
The party went smoothly until Jack started dancing very suggestively, swinging his hips, and slapping his ass. In no time, a circle of guests, gay and straight, gathered around to egg him on. It was hugely embarrassing, as if suddenly, Jack were a go-go dancer in a sleazy club. It wasn’t subtle or fun—it was gross.
My partner’s family was totally uncomfortable, and I felt terrible for my brother, Ray, who walked out of the room. It was shocking, and it makes me think that maybe Jack isn’t exactly who we think he is. Maybe he’s a former hustler, or at least a stripper.
I’ve tried a few times to talk to Ray, but he doesn’t seem to want to discuss it, nor does he want me to say anything to Jack. Meanwhile, I’m anxious about what Jack might do at my wedding and the parties scheduled before the big event.
Is there any way I can ensure that such an incident never happens again, especially on my special day?
Don’t try to get Ray to control Jack’s behavior. Do it yourself. Because Ray doesn’t want you to be direct with Jack, treat him as you would a child found whacking off at a dinner party. You wouldn’t scold him, and tell him never to touch his wiener again. You merely would encourage him to find a more appropriate context for his hobby.
So, here’s an opportunity to think outside the sacred box of your wedding. Instead of criticizing Jack for his slutty dancing at the party, reinforce that his talents might be welcome in the proper context. Then, in lieu of holding a boring rehearsal dinner prior to your wedding, plan a late-night celebration in a rowdy gay bar.
Tell Jack you’d be honored to have him participate in the evening’s entertainment. Stress that you’re providing this party opportunity because the uptight people at your wedding won’t appreciate his talents the way you and your friends do.
Let’s hope this party will fulfill his need for gyrating.
Dear Ms. Behavior:
My girlfriend, Hanna, and I currently are “taking a break” from each other. I always was the one who chased her, who wanted more out of the relationship, and who got fed up when she wasn’t emotionally available. I put up with a lot of crap: her cheating, lying, manipulation, etc.
Recently, I was totally fed up, so when Hanna threatened to leave me during a fight, I took her up on it. Much to my surprise, she suddenly became the messy, crying, needy one!
I thought it would pass, but now, Hanna continues to show up, uninvited. Every few days, she comes over, cries in the middle of my kitchen, throws herself on the couch, and locks herself in my bedroom.
It’s really unbelievable to me that she has so much emotion, because it all was so hidden from me before. It boggles my mind that I’m suddenly the strong one.
But the more that time goes on, the more I feel my defenses dropping. I don’t want to take her back, and go back to being a doormat.
If I do decide to let her back in, how do I stay strong?
—Taking A Break
Dear Taking A Break:
Before worrying about how to “stay strong,” you need to decide whether you really want to be with someone whose behavior is so dramatic—at least in combination with yours.
You may be surprised to learn that personal drama attracts you at least as much as it repels you. If not, you wouldn’t have stuck around, while Hanna cheated, lied, and manipulated.
It sounds like you don’t live together. Keep it that way. You currently need to step back, and figure out where you begin and end. Look in the mirror. Do yoga. Take out a tape measure, and measure yourself. Dance by yourself in a big circle.
During some of your alone time, pick up a broom, and sweep your side of the street. You may find it to be more cluttered than you think.
© 2009 Meryl Cohn. Address questions and correspondence to <[email protected]>. She is the author of Do What I Say: Ms. Behavior’s Guide to Gay and Lesbian Etiquette (Houghton Mifflin). Signed copies are available directly from the author.