Dear Amy:

I am a 15-year-old girl and a sophomore in high school. I'm bisexual.

In light of National Coming Out Day in October, I came out to my closest friends.

My parents are liberals, and I assumed they'd be fine with it, but when I tested the waters with my mom by telling her I was reading a book about gay/lesbian teenagers, her response was, "I'm a romantic. I'd rather read a book about a straight couple."

I said, "Love is love," and went on to say that I'd borrowed the book from a friend. Her response was, "Why, is she gay?" (She isn't.)

This certainly wasn't what I was expecting from my mom. I'd assumed she'd be fine, but it seems that she is uncomfortable about homosexuality (or bisexuality, in my case). This isn't exactly comforting.

My dad probably harbors similar qualms, but outwardly he is very pro gay rights. I was ready to come out to them, but now I'm not so sure. How should I do it? I don't want them to think I'm just following the new trend of girls fooling around with each other to impress guys. I have a boyfriend and I definitely like guys, but I also like girls. How can I break it to them?

Bi the Way, Mom

Your mom is straight, so of course she sees love, sex and romance from a straight person's point of view. Your attempt to hint about your sexuality with an anecdote about a book that you are reading wasn't fair to her.

Let's stipulate that all parents are thick as a brick. We don't always see that our kids are trying to tell us really important personal news when they mention a book they are reading or drop the fact that they love Rufus Wainwright's new CD.

Your parents might be the most liberal and open-minded people on the planet, but don't expect them to be comfortable talking with you about your sexuality. Their discomfort doesn't mean that they don't embrace it -- and you. But matters of sexuality and sexual identity (gay, straight or in-between) are challenging topics for parents. You need to treat this issue with the seriousness that it deserves, by sitting down and talking directly with your folks.

I suspect that your parents take your sexuality more seriously even than you do, because despite your protestations that you are not a sexual trendy, that's exactly what you sound like to me. At age 15, you are way too young and immature to be sexually active, and I certainly hope that your parents impress this fact upon you.

Dear Amy:

I've known an exotic dancer at a local strip club for three years, and I asked her for a date. I told her, "I've been thinking about you for over a year." She said, "I love you and I have feelings for you."

Do you think that it is a good idea to ask an exotic dancer for a date outside the strip club?

Desperate Patron

I understand from talking to dancers (and a manager of a club) that most clubs have rules that dancers cannot date patrons.

Eventually, your dancer friend will tell you that she is very sorry, but, though she loves you very much and has a special feeling for you, she won't be able to see you outside of the club.

Before she tells you this, she will string you along by permitting you to tip her generously, buy things for her, and in general soak you for as much money as possible.

A stripper's job is to take your money. The sooner you realize this, the better.

Ah, romance.

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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