Dear Amy: My friend said something homophobic. I told her that my son is gay and she said, “Oh, I hope I did not offend you?”
My co-worker said something anti-Semitic. After he saw the expression on my face he said, “Oh, I hope I did not offend you?” (My grandparents are Jewish).
I am not comfortable talking with them further about this.
My real question is — how do I get past what they both said?
— Not Sure How to Feel
Dear Not Sure: Your question implies that people with a close connection to an offended group should perhaps feel more offended by slurs than other people, because the offense becomes personal and therefore cuts deeper.
This might in fact be true, but you should not have to disclose a close personal relationship to the subject of a slur (“My son is gay”) in order to be disgusted, and to express your disgust. If you truly believe that we are all sisters and brothers (as Dr. King taught), then your kinship to any offended group would be implicit.
Readers often ask me how to respond to others who hurt or offend them. Recently I responded to an offensive commenter with this: “WHY did you say that?”
You seem to feel a burden to “get past” these offensive comments. But the people who made them showed you who they are: They express their bigotry when they think they are safe and sound in their bigot bubble.