Coming of age
Acknowledging when differences in age are hurdles, drawbacks or just plain creepy
Published: March 28, 2012
Thanksgiving, 2019: "I'm so sorry you got raped when you were 13. I thought something was off about that guy. But I didn't say anything at the time because I was afraid your mom would yell at me. So, um, pass the yams?"
Unless you're looking forward to making an apology like that after your nephew confronts his whole family for failing to protect him when he was a child, AWA, you should speak the fuck up. Talk to your sister, temper be damned, and talk to your nephew too. Your sister could be color-blind in addition to being an angerbomb — prone to rages and incapable of seeing red flags — and it's possible that your nephew already told his mother that this man makes him uncomfortable and got yelled at himself.
Firmly raise your concerns, AWA, but don't make accusations. You may not have all the information. It's possible that this man has no sexual interest in your nephew. It's also possible that your nephew is gay, recently came out to his mother and father but wasn't ready to come out to his extended family, and this man is mentoring your nephew at your sister's request. But even so, fiftysomething gay men do not invite 13-year-old boys to sleepovers for the same reason fiftysomething straight men don't invite 13-year-old girls to sleepovers: Suspicions will be aroused, even if nothing else is. In my opinion, the invite itself is a mentor-disqualifying display of piss-poor judgment.
Speak up, AWA.
Find Dan Savage's weekly podcast every Tuesday at thestranger.com/savage. Send letters to firstname.lastname@example.org.
> Email Dan Savage