Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Godson Dealing With Sexual Identity

DEAR HARRIETTE: I just learned that my godson is gay, and it sounds like he is struggling with his sexual identity. His mom says he is drinking heavily and trying to act “straight” when he’s drunk. He is having a tough time.

He has not told me, and we are not particularly close, but I have talked to other young adults about sexual identity over the years, and I think I might be of help. How can I approach him without seeming like a busybody? -- Coming Out

DEAR COMING OUT: Do not approach your godson. Since his mom is the person who told you what he’s facing, talk to her about your idea. Describe to her some of the conversations you have had with other young people surrounding sexual identity. Ask her if she thinks it might be helpful for you to reach out to her son. Additionally, ask if she would like to have a sense from you of what your discussions have been. If she is open, you may want to share some ideas and insights with her to use at her discretion.

She may, on the other hand, think this is a perfect time for her son’s godparent to step up, step in and be of support. Just know it is not up to you. This is a sensitive topic for their family. Be mindful not to be too pushy. Just offer your support, and see what his mom agrees to allow.

Read more in: Family & Parenting | Sex & Gender | Etiquette & Ethics

Saleswoman Won't Stop Harassing Reader

DEAR HARRIETTE: I know a woman who sells beauty products through a multilevel marketing company. She is aggressive with her pitching, and recently she focused in on me. I must get three calls or emails a week from her, all pushing me to come to a meeting and sample her products and consider becoming a salesperson. I like this woman, but I am not interested in buying or selling beauty products. I have limited time and resources, and I have already committed to what I spend my free time doing.

I get that she is trying to build her business, but I do not want to get sucked in. This woman won’t take no for an answer. Honestly, she is a bit stalkerish. How can I get her to stop? -- Don't Market to Me

DEAR DON’T MARKET TO ME: The woman in question is doing her job -- being a salesperson. Her pushiness is probably something she learned from her multilevel marketing company's training. What you have described is not unique. It is standard practice for some salespeople.

You do not have to succumb to her pushiness. Stop answering this woman’s calls and emails. Stop engaging her. If you don’t begin a conversation, you can’t have one. If you have already told her you are not interested, let that be the end of it. One of the most powerful things I have heard women leaders say is, “‘No’ is a complete sentence.” You can say and mean no by ending the discussion there.

A problem that many of us face is that we feel guilty for not allowing our compassionate side to lead with salespeople. But you must begin and end with no when no is what you mean.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)

Read more in: Friends & Neighbors | Work & School | Etiquette & Ethics