Dear Annie: I am a 45-year-old gay man who has never had a relationship, and I don’t expect it to change. I have lived all of my life in the closet. I know it’s not emotionally healthy, but I feel unable to confide in anyone. When I was a teenager, I confided in a minister, who then told my parents. They never accepted me.
My parents are both gone now. I have no friends. I work two jobs, which precludes a social life. I’ve listened to my co-workers’ conversations and can tell they wouldn’t understand. I live in an area where coming out could mean the loss of my jobs, my landlord could evict me, and I worry that someone’s intolerance could turn violent.
There is no PFLAG or other resource in my area. There are no gay bars. I feel unable to relocate due to economic concerns. I realize my isolation is my own fault. I’m not an outgoing, talkative person. In particular, I have always found it difficult to talk about myself. How do I open the door?
— In Turmoil in Kansas
Dear Kansas: You don’t need to go to a gay bar. You can look online, and not only for prospective partners, but also to make new friends regardless of their sexual orientation. It will protect your privacy while giving you an opportunity to connect with others. Regular email conversations can also help you learn to communicate better. And PFLAG has online support at pflag.org. Please check it out.
Dear Annie: I have an adult niece who no longer speaks to her grandparents. No one knows why, and her parents tell us the niece “deals with things in her own way.” Her grandparents are heartbroken.
The question is: Do I invite this niece to a family wedding? She is difficult to be around and makes things uncomfortable for those of us who must observe her behavior. It is important to the bride that her grandparents be at the wedding, and we want them to feel at ease. We have no problem not inviting the niece, but do not want to start a war with her parents.
— Family Issues
Dear Issues: We generally favor inviting those people you wish and letting the chips fall where they may. You are not responsible for your niece’s estrangement. However, you also are not obligated to invite her, although it’s quite possible that the grandparents might welcome a chance to see the girl, even from six tables away. The decision ultimately rests with the bridal couple, but you might first talk it over with the grandparents, as well as the parents of this niece. Explain the problem and ask whether they believe she can behave appropriately. If there is a genuine risk that she will cause a scene, we say leave her off the guest list.
Dear Annie: You told “Frustrated” to call those people who had not RSVP’d and ask whether they plan to attend her daughter’s graduation party. As much as I love traditional invites, sadly, tradition is heeding way to technology. Instead of calling, she should turn to her social media accounts to initiate invitations.
I have used Facebook for three events in the past year. I received more RSVPs than I ever would have gotten with mailed paper invitations. That said, however, most people did not show up and never bothered to respond. It resulted in wasted food and guests taking home extra favor bags. However, this was my fault. I easily could have posted a message asking for a head count before making final arrangements.
— Everything Online Now
Dear Everything: Your fault? No, dear. The fault lies with those who are too inconsiderate to tell you whether they plan to attend an event that you have been kind enough to invite them to. It doesn’t matter whether the invitations are mailed or sent electronically. (And many people do not have Facebook accounts. Really.)
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