Ask Amy: Friendship Falters Over Shunning
When an effort to spread hate gets thwarted
Dear Amy: My friend, “Cynthia,” and I have been close for 24 years. For most of that time, we have met for lunch once a week (when possible). We are both women over 60.
I have a 22-year-old granddaughter, who is gay.
Cynthia has decided that I am “too accepting” of gayness in general and has told me that she can no longer be my friend.
She has gay family members that she shuns; she told me she wanted me to shun my granddaughter. I will not do that.
Cynthia has four grandchildren under the age of 10. Any of them could be gay.
I asked her if we could agree to disagree, and she refused.
My granddaughter has not asked me to shun anyone who is anti-gay.
My friend has many fine qualities, and I enjoyed her company.
I realize I am much better off without her hatred in my life.
Was it wrong of me to be willing to “agree to disagree” in order to remain friends with Cynthia?
Is that disrespectful to gay people?
Dear Worried: Many people make choices to tolerate someone whose views are diametrically opposed to their own. I believe there are valid reasons to do this, among them: the hope that you can influence the person to change their thinking. Some people also try very hard to lovingly accept those whose views they abhor, as a form of radical acceptance. Also, deep and long-term friendship does mean that we see and accept that our friends are flawed, just as we are.
Where this goes awry is when your friend demanded that you adopt her hateful views. In the end, she rejected you for refusing to hate. In my opinion, this shows how irredeemable she is, and why you are now wondering why you walked even partway toward her.
I’d say that you should allow your guilt about your own acquiescence to be your teacher. To be a true ally, you must reject hatred, and not “agree to disagree,” when the matter at hand involves human beings who are simply being human.
I think you should feel very sorry for this former friend of yours, as well as relieved to be shunned by her. No doubt, you are in very good company.
In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068
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