Dear G Philly: Answering Reader Questions

You ask. We tell.

I started dating my ex again. We had a bad break up – we both dated other people – but after a lot of discussion and forgiveness, we decided to give this another try. We both really love each other, so for the past few weeks we have been dating very casually. My question is with Valentine’s Day coming up, is there an obligation to make a fuss? We’re taking this slow, but I don’t want to overlook an opportunity to reconnect with her in a fun way. I also don’t want to come on too strong – that was a point of conflict in the past when she needed space. I’m worried about screwing this up again. Any advice?

If you’re already discussing things and coming to terms with your expectations, why not just ask her if she’d like to do something fun for Valentine’s Day? Or you could just have a date night – dinner or a movie – without making much of a fuss at all. You don’t need to show up with candy hearts and a pink teddy bear to show someone you care about them. The bigger question is whether getting back together is the right decision for both of you. If the same problems are resurfacing – and you’re worried about making the same mistakes – that may prove to be a major obstacle in your happiness – and hers.

My friend has a son in high school who recently came out.  I always thought my friend and her husband were open minded – I’m gay and have been friends with them for years. But neither of them are being as supportive as I would have expected. They seem to think he is too young to make a decision like this. As a gay man, I can see that this is really hard for their son. He’s sensitive and somewhat shy, so I know it was a big deal for him to tell them. I wish they would see that. I want to help, but I’m not sure how. Is it appropriate for me to let him know I’m available if he needs to talk? I don’t want to upset mom and dad, but I also can’t stand by why he suffers in silence.

Have you tried speaking with your friends about this first? Sometimes parents have a hard time accepting the fact that their children are growing up. And even the most open-minded parents might have trouble discussing sex and sexuality, especially if they’re not ready to accept their child’s homosexuality. That’s certainly no excuse for making their son feel sorry about coming out to them. If anything, the discussions about suicide among gay and lesbian youth should alert parents and other family members about how important it is to create a supportive, healthy environment at home. You’re right to worry.

One way to reach these parents is to maybe discuss your own coming out process. Let them know about how important it was to have someone who supported and loved you. Also tell them about how it felt when you faced adversity from people, letting them know how brave it is that their son felt comfortable enough to share this major revelation with them. It may put things into perspective. Perhaps if they consider the situation from a different perspective they will start to see what’s really best for their son.

If that doesn’t work, make yourself available and be a great role model for this young man. Perhaps if he sees a healthy, happy version of what it means to be gay, he will be able to accept his own sexuality without feeling guilty about it. It may take time, but your presence may really make a difference in how this family relates to one another – for the better.

It may also be helpful to introduce them to the local chapter of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). The organization offers workshops and events that help parents and their kids come to terms with being LGBT.