Gay cou­ple won­ders how to re­spond to neigh­bors' petty ha­rass­ment

Orlando Sentinel - - PUZZLES & ADVICE - Amy Dick­in­son You can con­tact Amy Dick­in­son via email: askamy@amy­dick­in­ Read­ers may send postal mail to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068.

Dear Amy: I live in a condo build­ing with my girl­friend (we are gay), in a large city. We've lived here for three years.

Our neigh­bors (a mar­ried cou­ple in their 60s or 70s) have been rude and stand­off­ish ever since we moved in. They ig­nore us when we greet them and typ­i­cally just glare at us. We've al­ways been con­sid­er­ate neigh­bors, so they have no rea­son to dis­like us -beyond the ob­vi­ous.

Re­cently, my girl­friend bought a rain­bow-col­ored wel­come mat for our front door.

Within a few days, we were in­formed that our neigh­bors had filed a com­plaint with the home­own­ers as­so­ci­a­tion, say­ing that the mat was an "eye­sore." The pres­i­dent of the HOA told us that the com­plaint was petty, and not to worry about it.

Since then, those neigh­bors have sent in over a dozen or so com­plaints -- ev­ery­thing from false noise com­plaints, to (in­cor­rectly) stat­ing that we don't dis­pose of our garbage cor­rectly.

The HOA pres­i­dent has told us to work out our dif­fer­ences.

My girl­friend wrote our neigh­bors a let­ter ask­ing to have a di­a­logue with them. They never re­sponded.

This has been dom­i­nat­ing our lives. We refuse to move, and we love our place oth­er­wise. How do we get these peo­ple to talk to us? —Up­set

Dear Up­set: It was very kind of you to react to this ha­rass­ment by try­ing to talk it out, but why, oh why, do you want to force these peo­ple to talk to you? Their ac­tions are speak­ing loudly enough.

You and your girl­friend should worry less about win­ning over your neigh­bors, and think more about the pos­si­ble ha­rass­ment suit com­ing down the pike if they don't stop their campaign. (Ig­nor­ing you isn't ha­rass­ment; fil­ing mul­ti­ple false re­ports about you might be.)

The HOA should not en­cour­age you to "work out your dif­fer­ences," be­cause ac­cord­ing to you, you don't have any dif­fer­ences. In­stead, the HOA should start ac­tively dis­cour­ag­ing these peo­ple from fil­ing un­true and ma­li­cious re­ports about you.

Cor­dially ig­nore these neigh­bors, doc­u­ment ev­ery­thing, and -if things don't die down, you should con­sider speak­ing to a lawyer.

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