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by Abigail Van Buren

Fear of 'Coming Out' Kept Son in Unnecessary Pain

DEAR ABBY: I wrote you some time ago, asking for your help because a girl I had been dating was pressuring me to introduce her to my father as my girlfriend. Actually, it was a little more complicated than that. I am bisexual, and she wasn't the only person I had been seeing. I had been wanting to tell my father about my bisexuality, but I was afraid I would lose him if I came out to him. Two days before your letter arrived, my girlfriend broke up with me because I wouldn't make the introduction.

Thank you for your very sound advice. I took it and called PFLAG. I explained what was happening in my life and my fear about what would happen if my father found out I was "bi." Well, a counselor talked to me at length about what happened when his son came out to him. He told me that because of the closeness my father and I share, I had nothing to fear. He advised me to come out to my father as soon as possible. I took the advice and had a little talk with Dad, and you know what? The counselor was right; my father had known I was bisexual since I was 13.

If I had just talked with Dad years ago instead of running away, it would have saved me a lot of pain and heartache.

Please print my letter along with PFLAG's phone number and address. My experience could be very helpful to some other young person out there. You may use my name. -- ROBIN

DEAR ROBIN: I'm pleased to print your letter. I'm gratified not only that PFLAG was helpful to you, but also that I'm able to remind readers about this worthwhile organization.

PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) was founded in 1981. Since then, its affiliates have grown to include chapters in more than 390 communities and all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and 11 foreign countries. Its mission: To promote the health and well-being of gays, lesbians and bisexual persons, their families and friends through support, education and advocacy -- to end discrimination and secure equal civil rights. PFLAG provides opportunity for dialogue about sexual orientation and acts to create a society that is healthy and respectful of human diversity.

PFLAG chapters provide the welcoming support of families and friends at local meetings, quarterly newsletters, invitations to local, regional and national events and conferences, opportunities to act against homophobia, and up-to-date information.

PFLAG is a tax-exempt, nonprofit 501(c)3 organization that is not affiliated with any political or religious institution. For information about a chapter in your area, write to PFLAG, 1101 14th St. N.W., Suite 1030, Washington, D.C. 20005; or call 1-202-638-4200.

PFLAG has my unqualified endorsement.