Dear Annie: My family is very conservative, and they are rather religious Christians. For the past seven years, I have known that I am gay. I tried dating boys to please my parents, but it just didn’t feel right. During my senior year of high school, I went out with a few girls, but I was still very much in the closet. Now that I’m in college, however, I’m out and proud. I have a girlfriend, and things are going well for us. We are talking about moving in together.
I came out to my mother and sisters because I knew they would accept it eventually, although they were disappointed. But the rest of the family is a different story. I want to bring my girlfriend home to meet my folks. I want to be honest about our relationship, but I am crossing a generational, religious and moral line. My grandmother believes lesbians are going to hell.
I don’t intend to rub it in their faces. But it feels like a burden to lie about it. I know they love me and would continue to love me. I have not changed who I am. But I’m afraid they will treat me differently, and I’m worried about how they will treat my girlfriend. How do I come out to the rest of my family?
— The L Word
Dear L Word: You already know that your family will love you regardless, and that is the most important thing. They may treat you differently at the beginning, but that is not unusual, and over time, their behavior will normalize. (They may already suspect you are gay.) But we don’t recommend you introduce a girlfriend on the same trip where you come out to the relatives. That may be more than any of you can handle, and it is unfair to your girlfriend to put her in the middle of the drama. We suggest you contact PFLAG (pflag.org) for suggestions on the best way to approach this.
Dear Annie: Nearly 40 years ago, my daughter had an abortion. She was 17, and there was no possibility of carrying the baby to term and having it be adopted.
My daughter and I never talk about this, but I have never forgotten it. This child would now be an adult, and I would have a grandchild. I will regret this experience until the day I die. I believe everyone should be able to do what they need to do, but be sure you can live with the consequences.
— A Regretful Grandma
Dear Regretful: No woman is eager to have an abortion. It is a difficult and wrenching decision, often the option of last resort. You never had the opportunity to properly grieve for this unborn child and the potential the child represented. Please take the time to do so now. You have held on to this pain for 40 years. A grief counselor can help you let go so you can forgive your daughter — and yourself.
Dear Annie: “New Hampshire” said her brother-in-law, “Bob,” came to their home for the holidays every year and never treated them to anything, including groceries, and somehow managed to forget his credit card when they went out for dinner.
I had a similar experience with my sister, and like “New Hampshire,” I was frustrated. I began limiting what we did together and opting for less expensive things, knowing I’d be stuck with the bill.
Three years ago, my sister passed away from cancer at the age of 51. Since then, I have often thought how happy I would be to take her out to eat every week if only she were still here to go with me. It’s only money. Please tell your readers to enjoy the time they have with loved ones. One day they may be in my shoes, wishing you could be together.
— Miss My Sister in Kansas
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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