Family wants friendship with gay man to end

Published 8:32 am Wednesday, November 1, 2023

DEAR ABBY: I live in a rural community in southern Indiana. It’s an “everyone goes to church on Sunday, and everyone knows everyone” kind of place. I was employed at the local health care center here for almost four years before quitting to become a full-time caregiver and homemaker.
During my time at the health care facility, I became acquainted with an elderly gentleman. We became good friends, and remain good friends to this day. I visit with him several times a week, when time allows, and we talk on the telephone.
The problem is, his family doesn’t like that I am a homosexual male and that I have such a close relationship with him. He does not want me to stop visiting, nor do I want to. What can I do to make everyone relax, so he and I can still remain good friends without someone disapproving? — UNAPPRECIATED FRIEND

DEAR FRIEND: I wish I understood exactly what the family’s objection is to your friendship with this person. Are they afraid you are after his money? Or are they incapable of understanding that homosexuals can (and do!) have platonic friendships with straight folks?
If you and that gentleman want to remain friends, you may have to grow a thicker skin. You cannot please everyone, and whether his family “approves” is beside the point. I hope you will keep doing what you have been doing because it is beneficial for that man to have a friend he can count on.
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DEAR ABBY: My sister, who is quite a bit older than me, was married to a man for more than 20 years. He was a part of my family from the time I was 3. When I was a teenager, he made a “move” on me, which was disgusting because I trusted him. My family swept it under the rug and downplays it to this day. If that wasn’t enough, I twice caught him cheating on my sister. They eventually divorced.
As an adult, I want nothing to do with him. However, my sister and mother insist on him being involved in our important gatherings. I feel they completely disregard my feelings, and I have since removed myself from those gatherings. I feel cheated, but they say it’s “necessary” for him to be around their shared children, and they keep trying to make me feel like I am being unreasonable. Am I? – LITTLE SISTER IN TENNESSEE

DEAR SISTER: You are not unreasonable; you are pragmatic. You come from a family that prefers to ignore misbehavior rather than confront and deal with it. I don’t know if you have had psychotherapy, but from what you have written you might have — and with a very competent therapist.
Enforcing boundaries is not unreasonable. While your sister and mother may prefer hiding their heads in the sand “for the sake of the children,” who by now should be pretty close to adulthood, you have every right to keep your distance. From my perspective, what you are doing is healthy.
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Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
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For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more sociable person, order “How to Be Popular.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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