Life is about learning.
We learn to adapt to new situations, we incorporate new ideas, we evolve through our lives by devouring all the information available to us.
This process isn’t always tidy.
We can be selfish when learning about ourselves, we can be vile when learning about others.
What happens when you’re given an opportunity to reveal the cruelties of someone else’s past?
That was the question facing Redditor and Original Poster (OP) aita-howitwas when he came to the “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for some outside opinions.
“AITA for revealing that a guys boyfriend that he used to be a homophobic bully back in the day?”
He began with the relevant history.
“Well just get right into it.”
“I (26 male) used to go to high school with this guy, we’ll call him Kevin (26m).”
“Back in the day he used to be a huge bully, not sure now since honestly I completely wiped him from my mind.”
OP even gave specifics that would become important to the story.
“He used to torment LGBT kids and his go-to phrase used to be ‘yo, that’s gay’. I never liked him, not just for the homophobia, but he was genuinely just a piece of sh*t in all regards.”
He then got to the incident in question.
“Anyways, I was at a get-together on the weekend that my other friends from high school was hosting.”
“Kevin was invited and he brought his boyfriend, which I found surprising since, well the above.”
“I just kinda stayed clear of him, since again, I just don’t like the guy.”
“At one point I stepped away for a smoke (weed) and his boyfriend soon after joined me.”
“He was talking to me, y’know small talk style – it got to the topic of how I knew Kevin, I told him from back in high school.”
Everything was fine until,
“The boyfriend asks ‘how was he back in high school? he doesn’t ever talk about it’ and me being maybe too tipsy for my own good said…”
“(Paraphrasing since I think this was what I said) ‘pretty bad I’d say, he was a pretty bad bully back in the day, he’s probably leaving LGBT people alone now given that he’s dating you I guess’ the boyfriend looked shocked to say the least and excused himself.”
“Well, apparently all hell broke loose (I stayed out more to smoke more so I wasn’t there to see what happened).”
“Apparently the boyfriend confronted Keven and they left in a pretty grand fashion from what I was told.”
“People asked what we talked about to make the boyfriend so mad, so I told them the above.”
“A few people were on my side saying Kevin had that coming, especially if he was keeping that a secret from his boyfriend.”
“But others said I shouldn’t have said anything and just said the generic ‘oh yea, he was aight’ or something along those lines.”
“Got a vague message from Kevin the day after saying I ruined his life so now I’m here.”
OP was left to wonder:
“Was I the a**hole here?”
“Should I have just kept my mouth shut about his past? I tend to say more than actually needed and I do feel bad for bringing up his past to his boyfriend.”
Having explained the situation in detail, OP turned to Reddit for some outside judgments.
Redditors weighed in by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
Redditors decided: NTA
Some responses were very direct.
“NTA. Are you supposed to lie?” ~ eddiejumpalot
Others put the ownership back on Kevin.
“Being homophobic is one of the standard (incredibly sh*tty) ways to keep up appearances while closeted. I know a couple of vocally anti-gay folks from back in the day that came out later.”
“That said, being honest about it with the boyfriend was his responsibility.”
” ‘I don’t like to talk about high school much. I was deep in denial about being gay, and I was a complete jerk about it.’ “
“No guarantee how a potential boyfriend will take that news, but at least it starts a relationship honestly.”
“His boyfriend was already curious, which means Kevin was already handling it poorly.” ~ SnarkyBeanBroth
“People are right when they say that Kevin has the right to move on and build a better life for himself.”
“But reversely people have a right to know who the people they’re with are and want to protect themselves especially when the people moving on aren’t entirely honest about who they are and the journey they’ve taken.”
“Information, not everyone would be entitled to but would be pretty important for the person that you are romantically involved with and intend to grow with.”
“You as an outsider didn’t do anything wrong when someone else came to you with a question that clearly affected the way he sees his partner.”
“You didn’t go out of your way to harm the man.”
“You just told the truth. Only the consequences of his own actions caused problems here. You’re not responsible for protecting him from them.” ~ Patient_Trouble80
” ‘But isn’t it obvious that Kevin was ashamed of being gay in high school and hated himself so took that self hate out on those who were comfortable being out.’ “
“If he was ashamed for being gay in high school, there were a wide variety of options at his disposal that did not include tormenting people who were already out.”
“One of those options was keeping his yap shut and choosing not to be a bully.”
“He deserves zero sympathy and zero leeway for this.”
“He has not taken accountability for his behavior and just kind of hoped it would go away that he is now openly gay.”
“It does not work that way. Kevin’s feelings are unimportant.” ~ False-Guess
Commenters suggested that Kevin needed to take accountability.
“He asked you answered. I think that’s fair.”
“Apparently Kevin had internalized homophobia that he was dealing with. That is fairly common.”
“If he’s since come out as gay or bi etc. then that was possibly a real struggle for him. If he was awful in h.s. then he doesn’t necessarily get a free pass 10 years later just because he’s gay.”
“He obvs hurt you and left an impression. The party people that said ‘oh he was aight’ etc were they straight?”
“B/c if so he may have been fine to them. And you didn’t ‘ruin his life’. Sounds like he’s still blaming others for his own feelings.”
” *Edited to say I really went back and forth on this one. NTA or NAH or ESH.” ~
“Kevin is facing the consequences of his own actions, and he’s still an a**hole for blaming OP for ‘ruining his life.’ He has clearly learned nothing and has not accepted any responsibility for his past bullying.”
“He was an a**hole and still is.”
“Edit: No one is obligated to lie for him. A lie of omission is still a lie.”
“Yes, he was no doubt experiencing self-loathing. And no doubt so were his victims, who had to deal with that as well. His self-loathing is not a justification for the trauma he caused.” ~ solo954
Some pointed out how long trauma can last.
“Kevin may have had some internalized feelings around his sexuality and lashed out because of it. Completely valid.”
“Kevin also ruined the lives of the queer people he bullied. Imagine how many years he set those people back on their journey to coming out and accepting who they are.”
“I can imagine because it took me about 9 years to be completely fine after I had a Kevin in my life.”
“Good on him for coming to terms with his identity, but you did his partner a favor by letting him know.”
“It’s so important to be open about the past and why one may have done what he did, and he was fully prepared to never tell his partner the ways that he stomped on queer peoples’ spirits.” ~ swoocetown
A few rulings were very nuanced.
“I would say NTA/NAH. When it comes to you… all you did was tell the truth and give your impression of him.”
“At some point former bullies are going to need to confront the harm they’ve done to others, and that can indeed include having to deal with the reputation of having been a bully in the past.”
“You didn’t ‘ruin his life.’ He did damage in his past and he should’ve been prepared to address the issue when it would be inevitably brought up.”
“That is, he should’ve taken responsibility.”
“When it comes to Kevin… people can and do change a lot as they grow up.”
“Many of us, even if we weren’t bullies, had some degree of toxicity and sh*theadedness we developed in our teen years (me included) and it was only later on in life that we realized we needed to unlearn a lot of the toxicity we embraced.”
“My own ex-boyfriend admitted that he used to be a homophobe and a bully when he was in high school, but once he realized that he himself was gay he knew he needed to do a lot of work to make up for the harm he’s done, and he’s definitely put in work to do just that.”
“If Kevin had indeed changed and improved as a person it’s understandable he’d be upset for having his past pinned to him once again.”
“At the same time, it’s not your fault for not seeing the growth he’s gone through.”
“Frankly, no one here is in the right or wrong. It’s one of those incredibly messy and complex life situations that doesn’t have a clean or easy answer.” ~ mrcatboy
To learn is to be responsible.
Once we understand a concept we are responsible for all that the concept entails.
Empathy, remorse, and consequence are the price of understanding.
Be wary of anyone who runs away from the results of their choices, and don’t forget to keep learning from the choices you make.