Dear Readers: Every year during this time I step away from my column to work on other creative projects. I hope you enjoy these (edited) “Best Of” Q&As from 10 years ago.
Today’s topic is: Coming out.
I also invite readers to subscribe to my weekly “Asking Amy” newsletter, at Amydickinson.substack.com, where I post a favorite Q&A, as well as commentary about what I’m reading, watching, and listening to.
I’ll be back with fresh columns in two weeks.
Dear Amy: I am a 15-year-old girl.
I have known my friend “James” for 10 years. We are close. We attend the same school and church. Our religion is against gay marriage.
A few days ago, I was on Facebook but it was logged into my friend “Tiffany’s” account. I didn’t realize I was logged into her account until I read a message that James sent her. James told Tiffany that he was gay.
He said he didn’t know how to come out and tell other people. He was also slamming our religion. He has been called gay since sixth grade but always denied it.
I told my sister what I found out, and then she told my father.
My dad told James’ dad, and the whole thing got back to James. James now hates me. He says that I shouldn’t have been looking through Tiffany’s messages, and that I should have kept the news about him to myself. I told him the whole story, but he doesn’t believe me.
Was I wrong for telling my sister? I still love James but I don’t agree with his lifestyle. What can I do to fix our friendship?
– Sad Teen
Dear Teen: “James” is right. Though it is possible to be on Facebook under someone else’s account without necessarily realizing it, you read your friend’s private message and then, after you knew this message was private, you disclosed it to someone else.
When you are close friends with someone, you should take your personal questions and concerns directly to them.
James now doesn’t have the option to make his own choice about how to talk about his own life because you and your family have made this choice for him.
You’ve made a mistake. The most you can do now is also the best thing to do – always. Tell the truth. Acknowledge your mistake. Ask for forgiveness, and hope it will be granted.
Dear Amy: I am a gay man, and I have been involved with a younger guy (he’s 25 and I’m 48) for close to a year.
We have a million things in common. He’s sweet, kind, funny, and I’m very appreciative of his emotional support and advice. I’ve encouraged him to continue his education, and I’ve tried to be supportive.
He’s very new to the whole relationship thing and hasn’t come out to anyone yet.
He’s very shy about being in public with me, and I don’t think that’s as much about the age issue as it is about being gay.
He’s concerned about what people think, and he’s always worried that he will run into someone he knows when we are out in public.
Because of this, we mainly stay home. I’ve talked to him about confiding in a friend or a family member to feel better about himself and become more comfortable in his own skin, but he’s dragging his feet.
I have no intention to deliver ultimatums, but I don’t want this to go on forever. I want him to meet my family, and I want to meet his one day. What else can I do to help him overcome his fears? What we have is extremely special, and I think it could last a lifetime.
– No Closets
Dear Closets: You say you two have a million things in common, but I can think of two very important things you don’t have in common: your age and your life-stage. You, for instance, know who you are. And you are trying to mitigate his immaturity by telling him who he is.
You sound like a nice guy, but this is not a relationship of equals. You can’t pull him out of the closet; instead you are stepping into the closet yourself to guard his sensitivities. Is this what you want?
You don’t need to deliver an ultimatum but giving him some distance might actually be good for both of you. Without your kindly mentoring, he may be able to make some choices of his own.
(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)
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