DEAR AMY: I’m a 14-year-old. My family is pretty much the perfect family ... except for their homophobic attitude. This wouldn’t be that big of an issue if I was straight, but I’m not. They’re always saying things like “GLBT people are disgusting and need to die.” I’ve been putting up with these remarks for a while now, and I’m starting to believe them. I need to talk to someone, but I don’t have anyone. We live in a conservative area, so most of my friends are homophobic too. (I know this because they express it constantly.) I can’t put up with them any longer, but I don’t have anywhere to go, and I don’t want to abandon my life here. Besides the homophobic attitude, everything is great. Do you have any coping tips for getting though the next three to four years? — Gay but not Happy
DEAR GAY: Please check out my fellow advice columnist Dan Savage’s groundbreaking project for GLBT youth called It Gets Better: itgetsbetter.org. On the site you can view hundreds of video testimonials submitted by GLBT people who have survived bullying, harassment and cruelty, and who don’t see themselves as victims but as survivors and victors.
Connecting with other people who have been through this experience is an important and inspiring step for you to take. The site also features hotline numbers for GLBT youth: 800-246-PRIDE (7743). (In Canada, visit kidshelpphone.ca)
Closer to home, I hope you can find someone to talk to in person, either a sympathetic family member or a teacher or counselor at your school.
Please try to remember that you are perfect just the way you are, and that you are worthy of love. There is a worldwide fellowship of people who are ready to embrace and support you.
DEAR AMY: My husband’s brother “Michael” has been dismissive of our son, his only nephew, all his life. Mike also has a son several years younger than ours with whom we have an excellent relationship. When both Mike’s son and ours were involved in the same athletic activities, Mike would watch his son’s games and take him out to dinner but ignored our son. (We always included both boys.) When our son was accepted to a good college, instead of congratulating him on his achievement, Mike expressed resentment. Most recently, our son invited Mike and his wife to his wedding. They live within an easy drive but did not attend. My husband, my son, his wife and I were deeply hurt by this snub. However, my husband has never communicated with his brother about how he makes our son feel and even sent him a cheery Christmas card! I have urged my husband to stop all communication with his brother and to tell him why. His response is, “There’s enough negativity in the world.” Please advise. — Bewildered
DEAR BEWILDERED: There is enough negativity in the world. “Mike” is spreading enough negativity for several people, so I can understand your husband’s instinct not to double down on the bad feelings.
Your job is not to manage your husband’s relationship with his brother. I suspect this negativity extends back to a rivalry from both men’s shared childhood.
Try to be honest without being hurtful. Because this bothers you so much, you (and/or your son) can say, “We were so disappointed not to see you at the wedding.” However, remember this: disappointing his brother’s family might be Mike’s (unconscious or actual) goal. The more you let this eat away at you, the more it will diminish your own success. Negativity is dark and weighty work. This man is to be pitied.
Always be kind and generous toward your nephew, partly as an example but mainly because it is simply the right way to be.
DEAR AMY: Your response to “Engaged Daughter” was awful. Why blame a young couple for wanting to create a splash for their engagement? Engaged’s mother was invited to partake in this but declined. She obviously doesn’t support the couple, and they have nothing to apologize for. — Disgusted
DEAR DISGUSTED: “Engaged Daughter’s” mother was invited to witness the engagement, but it was a surprise, so no one told the mother what she would be missing if she didn’t attend the gathering. Then the couple posted their engagement video on Facebook without even telling the mother they had become engaged. Given both sides’ flair for drama, I think apologies should be exchanged.