DEAR READERS: I have stepped away from my daily column for two weeks to finish writing my next book, which is due to be published next fall. I hope you’ll enjoy these topical “best of” questions and answers while I’m away. Today’s questions both come from people who are struggling to tolerate others’ sexuality.
DEAR AMY: I recently discovered that my son, who is 17, is a homosexual. We are part of a church group, and I fear that if people in that group find out they will make fun of me for having a gay child. He won’t listen to reason, and he will not stop being gay. I feel as if he is doing this just to get back at me for forgetting his birthday for the past three years — I have a busy work schedule. Please help him make the right choice in life by not being gay. He won’t listen to me, so maybe he will listen to you.
DEAR BETRAYED: You could teach your son an important lesson by changing your own sexuality to show him how easy it is. Try it for the next year or so: Stop being a heterosexual to demonstrate to your son that a person’s sexuality is a matter of choice — to be dictated by one’s parents, the parents’ church and social pressure.
I assume that my suggestion will evoke a reaction that your sexuality is at the core of who you are. The same is true for your son. He has a right to be accepted by his parents for being exactly who he is.
When you “forget” a child’s birthday, you are basically negating him as a person. It is as if you are saying that you have forgotten his presence in the world. How very sad for him.
Pressuring your son to change his sexuality is wrong. If you cannot learn to accept him as he is, it might be safest for him to live elsewhere.
A group that could help you and your family figure out how to navigate this is Pflag.org. This organization was founded for parents, families, friends and allies of LGBT people, and has helped countless families through this challenge. Please research and connect with a local chapter. (February 2013)
DEAR AMY: My husband and I have lived in our quiet suburban Denver neighborhood for six years. About two years ago two young gay men moved in across the street. They’ve taken the ugliest, most run-down property in the neighborhood and remodeled and transformed it into the pride of the street. When it snows, they shovel out my car and are friendly, yet they mostly keep to themselves. Last month I went out to retrieve my newspaper and watched them kiss each other goodbye and embrace as they each left for work. I was appalled that they would do something like that in plain view of everyone. I was so disturbed that I spoke to my pastor. He encouraged me to draft a letter telling them how much we appreciate their help but asking them to refrain from that behavior in our neighborhood. I did so and asked a few of our neighbors to sign it. Since I delivered it, I’ve not been able to get them to even engage me in conversation. I offer greetings but they’ve chosen to ignore me. They have made it so uncomfortable for the other neighbors and me by not even acknowledging our presence. How would you suggest we open communications with them and explain to them that we value their contributions to the neighborhood but will not tolerate watching unnatural and disturbing behavior?
DEAR WONDERING: You’re lucky that these gentlemen merely choose to ignore you.
Your neighbors could respond to your hospitality by hosting weekly outdoor “gay pride” barbecues and inviting all of their friends to enjoy life on your quiet suburban street.
I can hold out hope that they will choose to do this, but I’m spiteful in that way. Your neighbors sound much more kind.
In your original petition to these men, you basically stated that while you value them when they are raising the standard on your street and shoveling your driveway, you loathe them for being who they are.
The only way to open communication with your neighbors would be to start by apologizing to them for engaging your other neighbors in your campaign. Because you don’t sound likely to apologize, you are just going to have to tolerate being ignored. (November 2006)