As an "out" homosexual at my church, I've received a great deal of support. I'm willing to wade through any trials and concerns over the feelings of close friends, but not those of simple associates. In short, people I don't know very well feel they have both the right and the duty to push me in the other direction. Is there a good way for me to inform these people that they have neither, without being overtly hostile? I'm tired of being prodded to see if I'm still gay or if I have considered what God thinks.
—Spiritually Fine, but Socially Irritated
Isn't it amazing how ignorant and insensitive some people can be, not to mention pushy and presumptuous? Prudie is greatly offended by the ignoramuses and fundamentalist nuts who believe 1) sexuality is a "choice," and 2) it's up to them to set you straight, pardon the expression. Prudie further believes that people who are way out of line are not entitled to gentle responses. You have a few options, perhaps depending on your mood that day. If you're feeling flip, the answer to "Still gay?" might be, "You betcha!" If you just want to close them down, try: "Why on earth do you think I'd want to discuss such a personal subject?" Regarding the mention of God, a simple sentence about how you and He have a very comfortable relationship ought to stop that line of inquiry. Anyone who keeps going deserves to see your back as you walk away. A small P.S.: Perhaps checking around for a more gay-friendly congregation might solve these problems.
In 1996, one of my best friends was murdered. I was 18 at the time; he was 17. Soon after, I left for my college studies. I didn't get a chance to meet with his parents at the time, and I suppose a funeral was held in Canada, where they had recently settled. Months later, during Christmas break, I had a chance to see them, but I didn't. Being 18, I had never been in such a situation and had no idea what to say. Recently, I came across news reports of the murder trial, and it brought back the grief of losing my friend. A part of me wants to contact the parents and say something, but what do I say after five years? And what do I say about not contacting them earlier (though my parents did meet with them after I had departed for college)? On a related note, should I even risk opening up their wounds again?
—A. in a Quandary
Prudie believes those kinds of wounds never really heal and that a note from you—even five years after the fact—would be much appreciated. It is not as though you will be reminding them of something about which they had forgotten. Just write that, at the time of the tragedy, you were so grief-stricken you felt unable to be in touch with them, but thinking about your friend, their son, recently, you felt impelled to write them and tell them how much you miss him still. Your note will probably mean more to them than you will ever know.
My very good friend is in an abusive relationship. Her husband is a very respectable college professor and professional lecturer. He enjoys fine things and is very intelligent. Unfortunately, he continues his lecturing at home. He treats his wife, a woman with a master's degree and a very good job, as if she were a stupid child. He treats his young son the same way, and this child appears to us to be afraid of his father. Although he has never raised his hand to anyone, this man continuously abuses his wife verbally, demanding an unreasonable perfection in all aspects of life and blaming her when he doesn't receive it. She has confided in me that she's afraid her son has been scarred for life by his father's treatment. Most of their other friends have discontinued their relationship due to the embarrassment of being around them. We have hung on because we love her, and him, too, in spite of it all. When she and I have discussed their getting counseling, she tells me he sees counseling as a tool for weak people who are not intelligent enough to solve their own problems. We have decided to continue to offer silent support. Can you suggest any other action that can help?
—Angry and Frustrated
The only action that would help has to be hers. From the outside, the solution seems to be her leaving him ... thereby sparing herself more years of being undervalued and treated like a student who doesn't measure up, not to mention giving the little boy a fighting chance to have the rest of his childhood be closer to "normal." Something is keeping your friend in this marriage, even if it's that her husband has worn her down. All anyone in your position can do is offer friendship. If she is really concerned about her son, she will re-evaluate keeping the family intact, or at the very least point out to Herr Professor that, since he is apparently one of those "weak" people "not intelligent enough" to make headway with his own problem, a therapist would be in order ... unless he wishes to have a deeply unhappy wife and a damaged child. Interesting that you say you and your husband "love him, too, in spite of it all." Prudie wonders what this guy's got, in addition to a ton of negatives.
My boyfriend and I have been going out for five weeks now. He's two years older than I am. (I'm 21, and he's 23.) He tells me I'm the only one he wants or needs and that he's never felt this way about anyone before. I honestly want to believe him, but I've had more than my share of guys saying those things, and then I end up getting hurt. He wants to know all of my bad experiences, but I don't want to relive the memories of the past. What should I do?
Decline his offer to report all your "bad experiences." Tell him they are behind you and you've moved on to live happily in the present. Take it from old Prudie that the kind of reportage he is looking for is not helpful. For reasons that aren't exactly clear, many guys who want to know every detail about all the previous players at some point in the future "remind" you of them, and then call you a slut. How this chap responds to your choosing not to have an agony recital will tell you whether he respects your wishes or is pruriently curious and just interested in a soap opera.