DEAR ABBY: I am being married this summer to my fiancee of five years, "Beth." I had always assumed that my brother, "Mike," who is also my best friend, would be my best man. Mike is gay.
When I asked him, I was stunned at his response. Mike said he loves me and Beth, but refuses to be part of a ceremony celebrating something for which he is discriminated against emotionally, financially and socially. He refuses even to attend.
Now that I have been forced to confront this issue, I realize my brother is right. Beth thinks he should "get over it," and he needs to accept that it's just "the way things are in the world."
As hurt as I am, I can't hold against my brother his refusal to participate in what he refers to as a "reminder that he is considered a second-class citizen without the same civil rights" as I have.
How can I handle this without turning it into something that could overshadow what is supposed to be one of the happiest days of my life? -- DISAPPOINTED IN WESTLAKE, OHIO
DEAR DISAPPOINTED: By respecting your brother's decision, and reminding your bride-to-be that accepting the status quo is not always the best thing to do. Women were once considered chattel, and slavery was regarded as sanctioned in the Bible. However, western society grew to recognize that neither was just. Canada, Belgium, the Netherlands and Spain have recognized gay marriage, and one day, perhaps, our country will, too.
DEAR ABBY: I'm in college for interior design. A woman I have many classes with is making class time unbearable. She frequently interrupts the instructor, or says "uh-huh" repeatedly during lectures. It's very distracting. I counted once, and she did it 100 times in one class -- no exaggeration.
She also laughs very loudly at things that are not remotely funny, eavesdrops on other people's conversations and interjects when her opinion is not asked for or wanted. Even our instructors are frustrated with her. When we have critiques of our work -- which is quite often -- she's rude and uncalled-for in her critique, which is funny because her work is less than remedial, at best.
This woman is in her 40s. Most of my classmates are in their 20s and 30s. Is she mentally unstable or just socially inept? How should we deal with someone who grates on everyone's nerves? I have tried ignoring her and giving her unsubtle hints that she's being out of line. Some of my classmates have talked to our instructors about her and nothing came of it. I'm at the end of my rope. I dread every class I have with her. Please help. -- DESIGN STUDENT IN SAN FRANCISCO
DEAR DESIGN STUDENT: You have described a person who is sorely lacking in social skills. She appears to be unable to pick up on the normal "cues" that guide most people's social interaction, which is very sad for her, because if she plans a career in interior design, she will have to successfully interact with many different kinds of people.
You and some of the other students should go back to your instructors and explain to them how disruptive and distracting the woman's behavior has been. If nothing is done, complain to the head of the department. However, if the problem can't be remedied, you may have to grit your teeth, remember that these classes are not forever, and keep as far away from her as you can.
Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)
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