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by Abigail Van Buren

Sibling Rivals Now Find Family Bond as Gay Adults

DEAR ABBY: My two brothers, two sisters and I are not close. Our parents did everything possible to foster sibling rivalry, and as a result, we speak only a few times a year and rarely visit.

During the last few years, however, I have discovered quite a bit in common with my younger brother, "Randy." Among other things, we are both gay.

Randy recently asked me if I thought anyone from our family would show up if he and his live-in partner, "Jeff," were to hold a commitment ceremony. (Many members of our family belong to the Reformed and Christian Reformed churches, both well-known for being unfriendly to gays.)

I am excited and happy for my brother. Would it be tacky of me to ask him if I could be his best man? He may have friends he feels closer to, who have played a bigger part in his life, and I wouldn't want to make him feel pressured to include me. Should I mention it to Jeff -- a fantastic guy, by the way -- and see what he thinks? Or should I keep quiet? -- EXCITED OVER MY BROTHER'S BIG FAT GAY WEDDING

DEAR EXCITED: If I were you, I would take no chances on a miscommunication. Tell your brother how excited and happy you are for him and his partner, and that you would love to be a part of his commitment ceremony in any capacity he and Jeff see fit. (If he already has a best man in mind, perhaps you could do a reading.) Considering the dynamics in your family, your brother should be pleased by your gesture of solidarity.

DEAR ABBY: I am an 18-year-old girl with a problem. I think I'm going crazy. For a couple of years now, I have been having strange thoughts. For instance, I believe there are people who can see me. I talk to them. (My family has overheard me talking to these "people." They can be acquaintances, famous celebrities or anyone.)

I don't hear their voices or hallucinate, but for some reason I just can't shake these "feelings." I do not use drugs of any kind. I have told my parents about this, but they tell me I need to get out more, to serve others and take my mind off it.

I have done research on mental illnesses like schizophrenia and personality disorders, but I can't identify what's wrong with me. I want to see someone about this, but my parents think it's a bad idea. I love them and I know they care about me, but when it comes to my problem, it seems like they want to ignore it and hope I'll grow out of it. Please help me. I am ... DESPERATE IN PARK CITY, UTAH

DEAR DESPERATE: You appear to be a very intelligent young woman. Although your parents might wish it, you and I both know that talking to people who aren't there and thinking they can see you is not behavior that will go away if you "get out more and serve others" to distract yourself. I urge you to contact your physician and ask for a referral to a mental health professional -- preferably a psychiatrist. You need more help than I can give you in a letter or newspaper column. Please don't wait.

ODE TO MYOPIA

My face in the mirror isn't wrinkled or drawn.

My house isn't dirty -- the cobwebs are gone.

My garden looks lovely, and so does my lawn.

I think I might NEVER put my glasses back on.

(Author unknown; submitted by Willis A. Sterner, Madison, Wis.)

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