Ask Amy

Monday, October 5, 2009 at 11:45pm

DEAR AMY: I'm a gay teenage guy, and I have no idea how to come out.

My family is more liberal than most, but I can't even begin to gauge their reaction.

I know they're comfortable with gay rights, but how do I know if they'll be comfortable with my being gay?

I'm not sure about my friends either — we never really discuss "serious" issues with each other, so how do I bring it up? With Facebook and e-mail taking over, should I tell them in person?

And I have no clue what to do about the relatives and friends I don't see every day — do I call? E-mail? Tell them over the holidays?

Oct. 11 is National Coming Out Day. I might be able to bring myself to do it then, but it's tough to do when I can't tell how anybody will react.

— Nervous

DEAR NERVOUS: I understand the concept behind National Coming Out Day, but what I don't like is the pressure it might put on you to come out on a specific day.

Coming out is a process that doesn't follow neat guidelines or timetables.

Start the process by talking with the person in your life whom you deem most likely to be supportive. If you have any "out" gay friends or relatives, they might share their experience and offer advice.

As you and your friends mature, you will all wrestle with questions of relationships and sexuality (and a lot of other things). Please do not make important personal disclosures on Facebook. Tell whomever you want to tell personally.

You can rarely anticipate and can never control how another person reacts to any particular thing. But this will go best if you present it as a fact of your life. If people have a problem with your sexuality, then they'll need to do the work required to come to terms with it.

You can check for local events for National Coming Out Day and read coming-out stories on the Human Rights Campaign's Web site at hrc.org.


DEAR AMY: My grandson will soon turn 16.

I have written, called and given gifts to him over the years, and he does not reciprocate or express interest. In fact, he erased a call a year ago, then lied to his parents, saying I had not called.

My husband and I moved to be closer to my daughter and her family four years ago. There is little encouragement from them to have a relationship with their children. They are busy with jobs, school and rodeo activities.

I do have a relationship with his two sisters. We talk, write and see each other.

What should I do about a birthday gift for him?

— Perplexed Grandma

DEAR GRANDMA: Adolescent boys have a horror of being noticed, and their personal radar can sense a grannie headed their way at 500 paces.

Your grandson may associate the whole idea of grandparents with cheek-pinching, awkward phone calls and the pressure of thank-you notes.

If your daughter and her husband had done a better job of facilitating a family relationship, this wouldn't be so challenging.

Don't give up on the boy. Also, don't fret too much about a gift.

You could ask his sisters for guidance, but your focus should be on developing more of a connection to him, without seeming to try too hard.

Go to school events or any outside events he might be interested in, and be a benevolent presence in his life, accepting that the connection will be different from that with the girls, and that he will have a different way of expressing it.

I realize this is frustrating, but your grandson will mature and change.


DEAR AMY:
I totally disagree with your response that it is OK to knit while being a guest in someone else's home. If it's a group of knitters then, of course, it's a different story. Otherwise the knitting needles should be left at home.


The woman who needs to keep her hands busy could engage them while talking, as the Italians do.

— David

DEAR DAVID: This is an unusual solution, to say the least.

Send questions via e-mail to askamy@tribune.com

Filed under: Lifestyles