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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I am a 39-year-old gay man. After knowing I am gay for more than 15 years, my parents recently announced that my longtime partner and I are no longer welcome in their home. They say that if any of their neighbors found out they have a gay son, they would be outcasts in their community.

Abby, I am devastated. Although they were never totally supportive of my orientation, they have been guests in our home many times and seemed to genuinely like my partner. We are successful people in our community and socialize with an array of civic leaders and wonderful people of all orientations. I am unable to accept the level of shame my parents wish me to bear, and they seem unfazed about dropping me from their lives.

I cannot convince my parents of their folly. They say their decision is final and don't wish to discuss it further. I have spent thousands of dollars in counselling trying to deal with this loss. My siblings tell me that having put my parents through the "horrors" of having a gay son, I should be more understanding of their fears. This has destroyed my relationship with them as well.

I have trouble sleeping at night and would appreciate any advice you can offer. -- HURTING IN HOUSTON

DEAR HURTING: Please accept my condolences for the premature loss of your dysfunctional family. You're not going to change them, and they're not going to change you. Perhaps one day they'll realize their loss and change their minds, but you can't live your life waiting for that to happen. It might help you to remember that sooner or later, every one of us becomes an orphan. Sadly for you, you were "orphaned" sooner than most.

Alcoholics Anonymous has a saying called the "Serenity Prayer." I hope you will commit it to memory and use it as the need arises:

"God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

You now have the opportunity to create your own supportive family through your loving friends and neighbors. The good news is that from your description of the people with whom you socialize, you and your partner are already off to a good start.

DEAR ABBY: Recently a friend from my church passed away. She was 83 years old. I stopped by the funeral home to pay my respects to her and her family.

During my visit, I was completely ignored by family members who were standing around in nearby rooms enjoying animated conversations.

I feel that at least one family member should have acknowledged my presence and that of several others. Should I have interrupted their conversations to pay my respects? -- MOURNING IN PITTSBURGH

DEAR MOURNING: I agree that someone should have taken the time to acknowledge the presence of a new arrival, whether a staff member at the mortuary or a designated family member.

However, since no one did, you could have stepped forward, introduced yourself and expressed your sympathy.

DEAR ABBY: How can I tell my boyfriend that he is a bad kisser? -- WANTS TO BE TACTFUL

DEAR WANTS: Say nothing negative. Keep the message positive and offer to demonstrate.

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS, and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-sized, 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, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600