Dear Amy:

I just found out that my live-in boyfriend has a 2-year-old child. He wants nothing to do with her or her mother, who was pregnant when we began to date. He had already broken up with her and has not seen her since the breakup.

We have no desire to see this child. He may have to pay child support anyway. We had to change our telephone number when we moved to avoid the calls.

The problem is his friends and family. I found out about this child when I read an e-mail -- we share everything -- from a close friend just ripping him to shreds.

I want to send an e-mail to everyone on his list telling them to butt out.

What do you think?

Not Interested

Ewww. I think I need to take a shower.

Of course your live-in boyfriend will have to pay child support; furthermore, running from it (changing your phone number, etc.) is against the law.

This guy's friends and family aren't the problem.

He is. And you are.

Don't you get it? Guys who dump pregnant girlfriends and deny their children are sleazebags. And, just to be clear, when I say "sleazebag," I mean a giant bag of sleaze.

Women who do the dirty work for their sleazebag boyfriends are aiding and abetting in the commission of a crime against society -- and though it's not technically a crime, I certainly wish that I could make a citizen's arrest.

Dear Amy:

Is there a difference between being gay and being homosexual?

When I came out in the early '60s, homosexuality was a sexual preference. It was what I did in bed, and the early gay rights advocates were fighting for the right for legality of what was done by consenting adults in private.

Today, it seems as if "gay" is a minority group on a par with racial and religious groups. There are gay stores, gay music groups, gay restaurants, etc., none having anything to do with homosexuality except for the sexual preference of those involved.

Gays parade in the streets and let people know what they do in bed. I have been told on more than one occasion that I am homosexual, not gay, because I don't participate in primarily gay activities.

I do not hide my homosexuality, but I don't flaunt it either. I don't think it is something to be proud of, nor do I believe it is something to be ashamed of. It is just one part of me, but I do not build my whole life around it.

I'd be interested in your views on the difference between homosexuality as a sexual preference and being gay as a total "lifestyle."

Not Gay but Happy

My one quibble with your letter is your assertion that being homosexual is a sexual preference. If sexuality were a preference, then I might choose to be gay, because I seem to know so many fabulous women. Let's stipulate that a person's sexuality is not a preference or a choice any more than a person's eye color is.

I ran your letter past Josh Tager, editor of PlanetOut.com, the popular online gay community. Tager says that "gay pride" is the natural reaction of people who have been shamed for so long, but really, "it's all semantics."

Tager points out, "We are all the sum of all of our characteristics. Gay versus homosexual is an artificial distinction." He says your attitude -- that your sexuality is private and not necessarily a lifestyle -- actually puts you on the forefront of where gay culture is headed.

After the cultural pendulum takes its inevitable swing back toward the middle, you may find that you feel less pressure to be "gay." Then you will realize that, as Tager says, "you can define yourself in any way you choose."

Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

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