Wow, this wordy.
I recently became good friends with “Absalom” and “Richard.” Richard is queer and non-binary but very masculine-presenting, while Absalom is a straight cis man (I myself am a gay cis man). When we first became friends, Richard and I both developed small crushes on Absalom before we knew his sexuality. We both subtly and innocently flirted with him a couple times. After Absalom offhandedly mentioned he was straight, I backed off, no big deal.
Richard, however, has kept belabouring the issue of Absalom’s straightness in the ensuing weeks—not aggressively, but in a gently teasing way. This would normally not be an issue—I gently tease my straight friends sometimes and Absalom is normally the type to take it in stride—but Richard has also continued the subtle flirting. It’s nothing outrageous or boundary-crossing, but it’s enough that some of our other friends have started to notice. Absalom has repeatedly reiterated—sometimes jokily, sometimes more seriously—that he is straight, and even that he’s experimented with men but found that it wasn’t for him. When Richard has brought their intentions toward Absalom up to me, I’ve reminded them of all of this, but I’ve always been dismissed. They’ll say that maybe Absalom just hasn’t found his type, or that he needs to broaden his horizons. Prudie, I know that sexuality and gender are a rich and ever-shifting tapestry, but I also believe in taking people at their word. Richard is an otherwise conscientious person, and their behavior hasn’t struck me as alarming or blatantly non-consensual, but it still bothers me. Absalom is a good sport, but if some of his friends are a little uncomfortable at this dynamic, I’m wondering how he’s feeling about this whole thing. I want to let him know that if he’s uncomfortable he can be clear without being thought of as homophobic or closed-minded (since I know this is an anxiety straight people sometimes have), but I don’t know how to broach the subject with him.
Prudie, do you have any recommended scripts for a) communicating to Absalom that he can talk to me if Richard’s behavior makes him uncomfortable, and b) more effectively communicating to Richard that I value them as a friend but their behaviour is edging towards “not OK”?
–Looking For Straight Talk