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DEAR ABBY: I am a 41 year old gay man. Although I grew up in a religious and conservative family, I am out of the closet and proud to live as myself. For much of my adult life, I have primarily attracted women. I have always tried to handle these situations as tactfully as possible. However, some women will not be easily disappointed. On the occasions where I have been forced to reveal myself to them, I have lost acquaintances who I really enjoyed spending time with or the friendship begins to deteriorate. I’ve tried introducing them to straight male friends and deflecting flirtatious banter. Am I confused or do some women really think they can change my orientation? I don’t want to give up female friendships. Am I doing something wrong by being myself? — OUT AND PROUD IN THE WEST
DEAR AND PROUD: Women who pursue you romantically may be interested in you for that reason and be less interested in a platonic friendship. Years ago, a gay friend was kind enough to tell me, “You can’t ‘change’ a gay man,” and it was a lesson I never forgot. “Out” gay men can make great friends. That your friends aren’t open to it is their loss. You’re not doing anything wrong. When this happens, express to the person that you are disappointed that he seems unable to accept you AS YOU ARE and move on. Not all women are so unenlightened and many will appreciate what you have to offer.
DEAR ABBY: I live in Chicago, where our spring and summer months are slowly shrinking to a three-month period. I know there’s nothing you can do about the weather, but invitations to Saturday graduations and birthday parties are draining those long-awaited summer weekends to the point that they’ve almost monopolized them. I work full time Monday to Friday and look forward to the weekends, especially in the summer, but I still get invited to Saturday afternoon celebrations. I own a house on the lake. Some neighbors have boats and I would love to spend most of my weekends there. As much as I want to celebrate these life events, I also want to enjoy summer. If you had them on a Sunday, they wouldn’t interfere too much during the weekend. What is your advice? — LOVER OF WARM WEATHER IN ILLINOIS
DEAR WARM WEATHER LOVER: I have good news and bad news. First, the bad news: It’s unrealistic to expect schools to schedule their graduation ceremonies on a day that fits your schedule. The good news is that if you send a nice gift to the graduate, it will ease their pain over your absence. When it comes to those family celebrations, you have to make some important decisions about which invitations you should accept to avoid hurt feelings. However, my advice is essentially the same: send a nice gift and a warm message of congratulations along with your regret for not being able to participate in the happy occasion “due to a prior commitment.”
— Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at DearAbby.com or PO Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.