We all have that one family member who cannot mind their business for the life of them. It could be an aunt, a grandparent, or even a sibling. If you’re really unlucky, you have several. Or, like, your entire family.
You can count on these folks to ask any number of random, nosy personal questions every time you go home for Thanksgiving. They have a knack for bringing up the exact topics that you do not want to talk about, like your recent break-up, lack of romantic prospects, or never-ending unemployment. And in the worst-case scenario, these prying eyes are also homophobic.
It would be nice if you could simply spin on your heels and walk in the other direction when these moments occur, like the Nopetopus (Nope + octopus).
But maybe you don’t want to be that rude to Grandma. Still, it’s annoying to deal with nosy family members, and it’s important to handle the situation in the way that feels most comfortable to you (not to the nosy person).
You don’t necessarily want to regress into your 14-year-old self (assuming your 14-year-old self, like mine, also had a habit of being unnecessarily rude and defensive). To be fair, your family members probably mean well. They want to know about your life, and making conversation can be hard. Sometimes the only question you can think of is a totally random one about someone’s personal life (apparently). But even if their questions aren’t mean-spirited, sometimes they still are judgmental or offensive — like when your whole family knows very well that you are gay but refuses to stop asking about when you are going to meet a man.
So, what’s a fed-up lesbian with a healthy sense of privacy to do?
Tell the truth.
Your first option is to just tell the truth. Sometimes we hold back on the honest answers to these questions because we fear that they might make our family members uncomfortable. But if they didn’t REALLY want to know what’s up, then umm, why did they ask? Sometimes a brutally honest answer helps a family member realize just how invasive their question actually was.
“I’m a lesbian, so no, I don’t have a boyfriend.”
“I found a new sex toy on her nightstand and found out she was cheating on me and now she’s sleeping on the couch.”
The “truth” doesn’t have to include details about your private life, either. It can also come in the form of your truthful reaction to the question, whether that’s annoyance or disbelief or sadness or hurt or any other feeling on the planet. If the topic is one that you simply don’t want to address, you can say that bluntly.
“I don’t feel like talking about that today.”
“LOL, why do you always ask me that?”
“None of your business.”
Tell a white lie.
On the other hand, you are totally allowed to say something vague to get your nosy relative off your back, even if it’s not technically all-the-way true. White lies? Lies of omission? It’s all good, baby. But keep it brief, first of all because you don’t need to spin a web of lies here, and second of all because you don’t owe anyone anything — especially some random second cousin who you know is only looking for juicy gossip for the family group chat.
“Dating is going great, thanks for asking! What about you?”
“I’ve had a few promising job interviews. What’s new with you?”
If you’ll notice, both of these scripts involve quickly pivoting to another question. And speaking of desperately changing the topic as quickly as possible…
Change the subject.
Nothing like a rapid subject change to really send the message: “I would rather die than discuss this with you right now.”
If you’re an awkward lesbian who struggles to stay afloat during regular conversations, let alone touchy ones, here are some go-to topics to steer the discussion away from your sad lack of a love life/your sinful homosexuality/whatever other subjects they’ve forced onto the table. When all else fails, just ask, “What about you?”
The food: “ANYWHO, this turkey though! So good I might literally stuff some into my purse!”
Travel: “ANYWHO, how was your flight here/recent vacation to Mexico?”
Pop culture: “ANYWHO, have you seen Netflix’s new holiday rom-com “Let It Snow”? Cute right? So cute.”
Compliments: “ANYWHO, I really love that necklace! Where did you get it from?”
Turn the tables.
If a family member hits you with a truly rude or offensive question, you can ask a pointed question right back. Turn the spotlight back on them and the fact that they think this is somehow an appropriate thing to ask you at this moment.
“Why do you ask?”
“What do you mean by that?”
“Wow, did you really just ask me that again?”
Make a joke.
The next time your in-denial family member asks you whether you’ve found a man yet, just reply: “Yes! He’s in my trunk.” Your family member will be confused for just long enough that you can quickly make your escape.
Really, though, if you’re blessed enough to be able to come up with zingers on the fly, please use this skill to your advantage. Jokes give you the satisfaction of delivering a snappy comeback, plus they lighten the mood and subtly show that you’re not going to take the question seriously.
Avoid avoid avoid.
No time to think of a clever response? Maybe you can’t just turn around and walk away (or maybe you can!), but you can always excuse yourself to go to the bathroom. Or, pretend like your phone is ringing. Or, go grab another glass of wine. Or, eavesdrop on a nearby conversation and shift your attention to that instead, as if you simply MUST join this discussion on “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” immediately. If you want to get fully passive-aggressive, you can even just pretend that you cannot hear the annoying person in question! Are they really going to shout their question at you until you answer? Probably not.
Good luck out there, fed-up lesbians. Just remember: Every annoying question from your family is new material for your memoir.