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FIL - how do you deal with homophobia?

(22 Posts)
FloLarkin Mon 22-Feb-16 13:40:43

My FIL is in his 70s and his health has been terrible for years (which he refuses to do anything about) so it's assumed by my DH and his family that FIL won't be around long (this is relevant)
He is incredibly old fashioned in his views. Or just pig-ignorant and getting away with it because his age means people assumed it's 'old fashioned'. I don't think his age is an excuse at all.
We're expecting a baby and bought some clothes at the weekend - one was a t-shirt, White with red stars on it.
DH said he wanted one in adults size for himself, cue FIL piping up that he would 'start worrying' about DH if he wore a t-shirt like that etc... Basically implying he's gay which FIL clearly thinks is a bad thing.
This is his favourite thing to say - he does it at every opportunity (usually including a limp wrist hand wave)
I am really struggling not to shut him up by saying something like "what would you be worried about FIL? Just his taste in t-shirts or the fact that he might like bum sex?" Or ask him why he thinks his son's sex life is any of his concern.
DH thinks you won't change his attitude and FIL will be dead by the time our baby is old enough to understand what he's saying.
I still don't like sitting by quietly when he comes out with this rubbish though

FloLarkin Mon 22-Feb-16 13:41:55

So my question is more of a WWYD than an AIBU! grin

Wolfiefan Mon 22-Feb-16 13:43:13

I couldn't sit by either. If he had a terminal diagnosis of a few weeks I wouldn't start a war over it. But this is unacceptable. If comments are made in your house you can use that as the grounds or say there won't be any contact with grandchild.
But then I hate this kind of behaviour and attitude.

ProcrastinatorGeneral Mon 22-Feb-16 13:43:19

Just point out that you don't need to be a gay man to enjoy a good arse-rogering, and seeing as he's so interested in the matter you assume he's a fan?

FloLarkin Mon 22-Feb-16 13:49:59

Procrastinator that's precisely the kind of thing I'd love to say!!
Or mention that I've always assumed those that are really anti-gay may be protesting a little too much grin
I think the 'we don't allow comments like that in our house' rule is great for home
The irony of this is that my own father has HIV and has struggled with his sexuality his whole life. He's estranged for different reasons but I know one day that I'll have to say 'actually FIL my dads gay and attitudes like yours helped to destroy his health, life and relationships with his family' and watch him squirm.

aginghippy Mon 22-Feb-16 14:11:44

No you probably won't change his attitude, but that's no reason to tolerate his offensive remarks. The fact that your baby won't understand is neither here nor there. You understand what he is saying and you don't like it. Don't sit quietly!

Age is no excuse. My fil is in his 80s and would never say crap like that.

Wolfiefan Mon 22-Feb-16 14:14:01

My FIL is racist. We made it clear that if he expresses those opinions around my kids he won't be seeing them again. And in my house? Don't come back.
I know I won't change what's in his head. As far as he is concerned his attitudes are reasonable and based on experience. But I won't raise my kids to be twats.
Sorry about your dad. X

TitClash Mon 22-Feb-16 14:22:27

Totally agree with what others have said, I got these comments so many times when DS was little. He liked dressing up with handbags and glittery stuff.
I dont think you can change elderly peoples views, they grew up in a different time. People are entitled to their own opinion but not to shove it in your face in your home. If they choose to be obnoxious they cant be surprised if you stop visiting with the kids.

ComeonSummer1 Mon 22-Feb-16 15:02:14

Er can we have less generalising over age going hand in hand with racism/homophobia please. It's so lazy and stupid.

I know a few middle class youngsters with your fils views.
However I imagine he's winding you up op and you would do best to cut visits to occasional ones and ignore him.

KatharinaRosalie Mon 22-Feb-16 15:18:25

My dad was not quite as bad, but still in the 'but that's not normal' camp. Mostly because he didn't know any gays in real life and had exactly this charicature from movies, prancing around in leather thongs, in his head.

So I took a couple of friends of mine, a gay couple, with me once time I was visiting my parents. And this did change his attitude, in one day. Because they were, obviously, utterly 'normal' and any kind of warnings that 'but you will end up like X and Y' would have sounded totally ridiculous.
Does your FIL actually know anybody (openly) gay?

RatherBeRiding Mon 22-Feb-16 15:24:50

I had this kind of crap a lot with my late father, whose views were bigoted and intolerant (to put it mildly). I got fed up with just ignoring his offensive comments, because it wasn't good for my blood pressure.

So I started challenging him every time he said something snippy. What do you mean dad? Why would you be worried? Do you have a problem with xyz? Why do you have a problem? And if he persisted trying to justify his unpleasant opinions after I had pointed out how offensive they were I used to shut the conversation down by saying something along the lines of "I find your opinions offensive, so please keep them to yourself in this house".

You won't change his opinions, but there's no reason why you should have to have them inflicted on you.

FloLarkin Mon 22-Feb-16 15:37:58

Just to be clear - I don't agree that age is an excuse.
He is of completely sound mind and perfectly aware of what he's saying and my grandparents (the same age) have no such ignorant opinions, so it's not a generational thing at all.
The only reason I mentioned age is because he's very likely to be dead in the next 5 years and I am torn between wanting to tell him he's a massive prat everytime he says something stupid and then not wanting to ruin all my DH's last memories of his dad by calling him out constantly everytime we see him which will make things awkward. That said, he is quite capable of keeping his gob shut.
I have tried the questioning his views before but found it really only gave him the attention of the room to spout his crap.
He knows of a friend's openly gay son but sadly it sounds like FIL and friend are appalled by it and it's a great source of gossip which he gleefully tells everyone.
I honestly think his head would explode if I mentioned about my dad.

MadameDePompom Mon 22-Feb-16 15:42:08

I'd just give a withering 'oh please shut up with the homophobia, it's deathly boring'.

MadameDePompom Mon 22-Feb-16 15:43:58

Or tell him that scientific studies have shown that men who constantly spout homophobic nonsense often have a stronger erectile reaction to gay porn than the non bigoted.

WeAllHaveWings Mon 22-Feb-16 15:56:50

Surely your dh being gay would be a bad thing, well to you anyway, because he's your husband and soon to be the father of your child confused grin

More seriously yes he's wrong, and personally as an adult I would ignore or throw back a non confrontational homophobe jibe to an elderly person in ill health. But if he was still around when ds is starting to understand, you will need to work out at the time how you and your dh will manage together and I would expect dh to support this even if it meant visiting being limited/cut short.

dh's gran was a bit like this making racist comments (brought up in South Africa where she had black maids etc). She was a very old lady (died in her late 90's) so conversations were easily managed, topics changed and I used as a real life opportunity to explain to ds about the past and how the world has changed so much and for the better and those opinions would no longer be tolerated.

squiggleirl Mon 22-Feb-16 16:15:39

I would be with your DH on this. I'm not condoning what your FIL says, but at this point in his life, you're not going to change his opinion, and nothing will honestly be gained by you speaking up about it.

BlueEnvelope Mon 22-Feb-16 16:26:30

Changing his opinions is neither here nor there. Why should the OP have to sit in silence while Mr Homophobe spouts off about poofters and shirt-lifting or whatever elderly homophobes say these days? It may be that he genuinely thinks everyone 'normal' thinks as he does - I would challenge, challenge, challenge. My own grandmother, whose appalling behaviour her children tolerated because they thought she would be dead in a year or two, held on for twenty, poisoning the lives of everyone around her.

And yy to homophobia not being some kind of quasi-understandable side-effect of age. My parents are in their 70s and despite heavy propaganda from the pulpit, voted for gay marriage in the Irish referendum. As did a heartening number of their devoutly Catholic friends and neighbours in their 70s and 80s.

GruntledOne Mon 22-Feb-16 16:30:52

I dont think you can change elderly peoples views, they grew up in a different time

Nonsense. Someone now in his 70s was a young adult in the hippy 60s so you can't suggest that every 70+ year old grew up in an era where homophobia was the norm; and sadly the membership of the likes of Britain First tends to be exclusively thick 20-40 year olds.

My grandmother tended to come out with the odd racist comment. We never let it go but would simply respond countering it. For instance, if anyone was telling a story about someone who had behaved badly or stupidly, she would invariably say "Was he black?" and we would always say no, the person was white - even when they weren't.

aprilanne Mon 22-Feb-16 16:32:09

my hubbys dad is like this hates anyone who is a non white british protestant .he always says i dont discriminate i hate everyone .he really liked my gran who was born an irish catholic i used to snigger when he said i shes a fine woman your grandmother .it just showed how stupid his predjidu
ces were

Pollyputhtekettleon Mon 22-Feb-16 16:47:31

I would just say straight to him that in our family (meaning dh and kids and i) we don't have any issues with people being gay and would appreciate it if he kept his negative comments to himself as you don't want your children thinking there is something wrong with being gay.

Said politely but directly and firmly.

GoringBit Mon 22-Feb-16 17:35:38

OP, you mention that he's unlikely to live longer than a few years, but presumably he could go on for another 10 - and become more entrenched in his attitudes. In your shoes, I'd be inclined to challenge his views, but I appreciate that this could be more easily said than done.

DisappointedOne Mon 22-Feb-16 17:43:30

FIL is homophobic, sexist and racist. I don't hold back when he starts, to be honest (although I do limit my time with him!)

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