DEAR ABBY: I am an 18-year-old who has lived with a gay man ever since I was 6. I'll call him Harold. My mother got tangled up with drugs and practically abandoned me and my brother (who's now 22).
Abby, for the last 12 years of our lives we never saw Harold do anything but work hard and come home to us. If he has a companion, we've never seen him. My brother is married and has moved out with his wife and new son. I'm still living at home and am in my freshman year of college -- which Harold is paying for.
There's only one problem. Some of my friends from college come to my house to study. They have seen Harold and they ask questions about him. He has never been the flamboyant type or the proud, outgoing kind -- so I tell them he is not gay, even though I know he is.
Harold has never touched me or my brother in any kind of sexual manner. Abby, he has been my mother, father, aunt, uncle, counselor and, most of all, my best friend. I love him as though he were a blood relation and so does my brother. Should I keep lying to my friends about him when they ask questions, or should I move to protect my reputation? They think I should transfer to another college so people won't know about him raising me. I love him, and the last thing I want to do is hurt him. Please help. -- TORN AND CONFUSED BY LOVE AND FRIENDS
DEAR TORN: Harold's sexual preferences are personal, and none of your curious "friends'" business. Since you say he is not "out," I see no reason for you to reveal anything for him. Tell your friends exactly what you told me -- that he is your mother, father, aunt, uncle, counselor and -- most of all -- your best friend. Alternatively, you could call him a confirmed bachelor. (It's certainly the truth!)
Anyone who would imply that you should be ashamed of the way you were raised is speaking out of ignorance, is not your friend, and is not worthy of your time. You have a rare and beautiful relationship. Don't sacrifice it out of fear of what others might say. If you're happy living at home and attending college, you should remain there.