DEAR ABBY: I am an openly gay man, out of the closet at work, at college and with friends. I'm out to everyone except my family, who have made it clear that being gay is unacceptable.
I spent years trying to change my sexual orientation, which I now know to be about as achievable as changing the color of my eyes.
I don't know how to come out to my family, or if I even should. The only family member who knows said, "They'll only hear what they want to hear, and they don't want to hear this."
A friend recently asked me what would happen if I was in a relationship. Would I hide forever or come out by saying, "Folks, meet my boyfriend!" He said I should come out for ME, not for them.
Right now I'm confused. One of my family members is disabled and I don't know if the news would kill him. What's the wisest thing to do? -- ALMOST OUT IN CANTON, OHIO
DEAR ALMOST OUT: In all the time I have been associated with this column -- and it's decades -- I have never heard of anyone "dying" from being told that a family member is gay. In fact, the family usually has had some inkling by the time the person chooses to say it.
In your case, the "wisest thing to do" would be to contact Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) and request information about how to come out to your family. At the same time, ask for literature that will help your family understand that sexual orientation isn't something a person "chooses" on a lark, nor is it something for which a person should be punished. PFLAG can be reached at: www.pflag.org; or by e-mail: info(at)pflag.org; or at 1726 M St. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036.
I hope your family is willing to broaden their perspective. If not, the loss will be theirs, because it appears you already have other sources of emotional support. Good for you, because people who are happy and involved with others live fuller, more productive lives than those who stay locked in emotional isolation.