I’m gay. My dad is pretty cool, but he’s in denial. He thinks I’m still straight.
My mom despises my girlfriend and I’m not sure why. My girlfriend is a level-headed woman.
She’s applying for her Master’s degree. She’s had many successful internships and has never treated me badly. I’m scared to tell my mom, let alone the rest of my family, that I’ve found the person I want to spend the rest of my life with.
My mom even told me that if I ever had kids with another woman she would do everything to get them taken away from me because it’s not right. I don’t know how to handle coming out for real, seriously, forever. — Out Forever
Dear Out Forever — I never quite get how once-loving parents can reject a child who is courageous enough to be true to him — or herself. Your parents should be so proud.
As you might be aware, gay denial can last days, weeks, months, years or a lifetime. The secret is to not deny their denial.
Acknowledge it all. Try to understand their motivation.
Find out if there’s a reason other than your partner’s gender for your mom’s hostility.
Explain the choices you’re making and why they work for you.
Connect them to support via Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (www.PFLAG.org) and a spiritual leader who can chat with them. Tell them you love them even if they disagree with your lifestyle (I know, it’s hard).
Sadly, you need to play the role of the adult.
Leave the door open wide enough for them to reenter your life once they realize denial has only denied them the pleasure of being a part of your life.
Dear Harlan — I have a problem with college parties. I never intended to go to this party — which, by the way, happened to be a “wear anything but clothes” party — but when I heard that freshman girls could go and freshman guys couldn’t, I flipped out. I have had a long history of rejection, although I consider myself to be a sensitive guy. When I heard that, my heart was torn.
Why do women my age choose guys that are fun instead of guys who are caring? Usually the men are just using them.
Can’t they see that they are just inviting the girls because they are considered “easy” since they are insecure to their surroundings? — An Ignored Romantic
Dear Ignored Romantic — This isn’t about “easy” girls getting used or guys using girls. It’s about your fighting rejection. Stop fighting it, man. Set yourself free.
Rejection is as normal and natural as breathing. It’s an unavoidable part of life.
The moment you can give people permission to not always invite you, include you and respond to you the way you are is the moment you’ll be free. You’ll no longer be resentful, flip out, or be so angry. You’ll find perspective.
Perspective is seeing that having freshman guys at a clothing-optional party isn’t fun for other guys (with some exceptions).
Perspective is seeing that women who find this kind of party fun are the wrong women for you. Perspective is acknowledging that college parties can be loud, hot, sweaty, dark, smelly and sticky — and not a place to find romance.
Perspective is seeing that an attractive guy like you can find women to romance in classrooms, at work, on campus, in coffee shops, online, on airplanes and in other places on campus.
Dear Harlan — I have been in college only a few weeks, and I can tell already that this is not where I want to spend the next four years of my life.
There’s nothing wrong with the college: It’s beautiful, the people are nice and friendly, the classes are interesting and not too difficult. However, it just doesn’t feel right.
I am thinking about transferring at the end of the year, or possibly the end of the semester. Herein lies the problem: I want to transfer to a community college near my home.
I think a lot of people would see this as a huge step backward, going from a fairly selective, private liberal-arts college to a community college. I feel I should tell you, however, I wouldn’t be going into this without a plan.
I want to study business and entrepreneurship so that I can learn how to start my own business.
Do I go with my instinct and take a step backward for a possibly more fulfilling future, or should I stick with the more accepted path by going to a private college? — A Little Lost
Dear A Little Lost — Give it a full year to get comfortable with the uncomfortable. Stick it out a full year and follow your instincts.
Most transitions (college included) are naturally uncomfortable.
Transitions can be lonely at times and hard at times. But that’s normal.
Take classes that interest you. Get involved in clubs and organizations for entrepreneurs (leadership programs would be perfect).
Find five mentors on campus you can talk to in five different areas of campus life (professors, student leaders, counselors, etc).
Make this a ME year (not me, I mean you). Stick it out a year, and one of two things will happen — you’ll either love it or hate it.
Either way, you’ll leave having learned more about yourself than you could have ever learned in a classroom.
And you’ll leave confident enough in your decision to tune out those who don’t agree with your choices.
Harlan is the author of Dad’s Pregnant Too (Sourcebooks). Write Harlan at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit online: www.helpmeharlan.com. All letters submitted become property of the author. Send paper to Help Me, Harlan! 2506 N. Clark St., Ste. 223, Chicago, IL 60614.