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by Abigail Van Buren

To Be or Not to Be Gay Is Not a Matter of Prayer

DEAR ABBY: My nephew -- I'll call him Neil -- is gay. He came out of the closet to his family a few weeks ago on his 20th birthday. You would never suspect that Neil was gay by looking at him or talking to him, but when his brothers were outside playing baseball, Neil would be in the house drawing pictures of flowers.

Neil's father says that Neil is gay because all the time his mother was pregnant with him she kept praying for a little girl. (She already had four boys and no girls.) Abby, can praying for a little girl have anything to do with having a gay boy? -- NEIL'S AUNT

DEAR AUNT: According to Dr. Judd Marmor, eminent psychoanalyst and past president of the American Psychiatric Association, there is no scientific evidence that supports the theory that a boy could become homosexual because his mother, while pregnant, prayed for a little girl.

It is more likely, however, that Neil was born with a predisposition toward becoming gay, and his mother's strong wish for a girl contributed to his preference for doing "little girl" activities rather than "little boy" activities during his childhood years.

Thus, Neil's ultimately becoming gay was a combination of nature and nurture.

DEAR ABBY: This is in response to the letter from the woman whose mother had a painful lump in her breast.

I, too, had a painful lump in my breast for 2 1/2 years. The lump did not show up on my yearly mammograms, and the doctor said, "Don't worry about it -- it's just a 'mass' -- if it were cancer, it wouldn't hurt." Well, it became painful to the point where I couldn't even lie on my left side. My doctor then did a needle biopsy, which was not accurate because the needle happened to hit a spot where there were no cancer cells present.

Finally, I was in so much pain, I insisted that the lump be removed. It WAS cancer! I was very fortunate, as it was a slow-growing cancer, and I was able to have a lumpectomy followed by six weeks of radiation treatments, which saved my life.

Don't listen to doctors. Cancer DOES hurt. -- DAR BARBAR, COSTA MESA, CALIF.

DEAR DAR: Thank you for sharing your experience. However, I wouldn't advise women not to listen to doctors; I would say, "Get a second opinion, and a third opinion -- and if you are still in doubt, get a fourth opinion."

Some "masses" (or lumps) are painful -- some are not. The most competent doctors follow this rule: "If it doesn't belong there -- it should come out."

CONFIDENTIAL TO 'JUST ME' IN HEMET, CALIF.: Don't put yourself down. You sound like a very worthwhile person to me. In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson: "The only gift is a portion of thyself." You don't have to spend money to give something of value.

Most teen-agers do not know the facts about drugs, AIDS, and how to prevent unwanted pregnancy. It's all in Abby's new, updated, expanded booklet, "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054. (Postage is included.)

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