I am a gay man, out of the closet at work, at college and with friends. I'm out to everyone except my family, which has made it clear that being gay is unacceptable.
I spent years trying to change my sexual orientation, which I now know to be about as achievable as changing the color of my eyes.
I don't know how to come out to my family, or if I even should. The only family member who knows said, "They'll only hear what they want to hear, and they don't want to hear this."
A friend recently asked me what would happen if I were in a relationship. Would I hide forever or come out by saying, "Folks, meet my boyfriend!" He said I should come out for ME, not for them.
Right now I'm confused. One of my family members is disabled and I don't know if the news would kill him. What's the wisest thing to do?
Almost Out in Canton, Ohio
In all the time I have been associated with this column -- and it's decades -- I have never heard of anyone "dying" from being told that a family member is gay. In fact, the family usually has had some inkling by the time the person chooses to say it.
In your case, the "wisest thing to do" would be to contact Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays and request information about how to come out to your family. At the same time, ask for literature that will help your family understand that sexual orientation isn't something a person "chooses" on a lark, nor is it something for which a person should be punished. PFLAG can be reached at www.pflag.org; or by e-mail, email@example.com; or at 1726 M St. NW, Washington, DC 20036.
I hope members of your family are willing to broaden their perspective. If not, the loss will be theirs, because it appears you already have other sources of emotional support. Good for you, because people who are happy and involved with others live fuller, more productive lives than those who stay locked in emotional isolation.
I'm a widowed 48-year-old grandmother, raising three beautiful grandchildren, who has been lucky enough to find a really special man I'll call "Dale."
I have had four major relationships in my life. The last two have ended with their deaths. The first -- my late husband -- died in a work-related car accident. The second died of an aortic aneurysm.
Dale has proposed marriage and I said yes; however, my doubts are linked to the adage, "Things come in threes," and I'm afraid I'll lose him too. If this seems silly, I'm sorry. I loved both of the men who died, and after the last one I swore never to love like this again. However, God says, "Never say never." Can you help me?
Gun-Shy in Phoenix
Consider this: The only thing sillier than bowing to your superstitions would be to sacrifice a mutual love out of fear. You can't change what happened in the past, but if you think positive and concentrate on the present, the future will take care of itself. In a sense, we all place our bets and take our chances because in life there are no guarantees. The secret is to think positive.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, Calif. 90069.
(c)2004, Universal Press Syndicate