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Annie's Mailbox®, February 6


Dear Annie: I am a male in my early 40s. My mother died a few years ago, and my grandmother shortly after, so life has been difficult lately.

Here is my problem: I'm gay and still in the closet to friends and family. At my age, single and never having dated, people have pretty much put two and two together, but I was raised to think this is not an acceptable lifestyle. If I were to come out publicly, I believe I would be made an outcast by my family and church.

The church I attend (which I love attending) does not accept gays. The official outlook is "hate the sin but love the sinner," which means I'd have to stop being gay to be accepted. It makes me feel I'm losing my connection to God and that breaks my heart. Annie, I didn't wake up one morning, decide I was tired of being heterosexual and switch over. This is all I've ever known. To make matters worse, I was recently diagnosed as HIV-positive. I have found a man I would like to spend my life with and he has been extremely accepting of my positive diagnosis. His family has accepted his sexual orientation, but he doesn't attend church.

I know counseling would help, but I can't afford it. Who can I talk to confidentially about being a closeted, HIV-positive gay man who doesn't want to lose his faith or family? — Lost and Confused

Dear Lost: You didn't specify your church's denomination, so we recommend Dignity ( at 1-800-877-8797 for Catholics; the Gay Christian Network (, P.O. Box 17504, Raleigh, NC 27619; Integrity ( at 1-800-462-9498 for Episcopalians; Seventh Day Adventist Kinship (, P.O. Box 69, Tillamook, OR 97141-0069; Metropolitan Community Churches (, P.O. Box 1374, Abilene, TX 79604; and of course, PFLAG (, 1726 M Street, NW, Suite 400, Washington, D.C. 20036.

Good luck.

Dear Annie: I am going to fashion school in New York and I absolutely love it here. The problem is, I never feel safe because of what happened on 9/11. Every time a plane flies overhead, I freak out. A lot of my friends make fun of me for it, even though they say they are scared, too. Any suggestions? — Nicole in N.Y.

Dear Nicole: It's perfectly natural to be afraid and it can take a long time for that fear to dissipate. What you need to be concerned about is whether or not the fear affects your ability to attend school, socialize with friends and generally get on with your life. If you are having difficulty functioning, counseling can help. However, you sound perfectly functional to us, so the next time a plane flies overhead, we suggest you simply acknowledge the fear and just keep on going.

Dear Annie: I have frequently heard the lament of single mothers who are unable to attract suitors because men are scared off by the prospect of taking on the responsibility of their children. I have found that the shoe fits equally well on the other foot.

I am a 52-year-old single dad with a 17-year-old daughter and a 13-year-old son who is autistic and bipolar. Most of the women I've dated have grown children, and once they become aware of my responsibilities and time constraints, they quickly lose interest in exploring a relationship with me. I haven't necessarily consigned myself to a solitary life, but I am now aware that wanting a relationship unfettered by child responsibilities is not exclusively a male trait. — Wilmington, N.C.

Dear N.C.: Of course you are right. But you must be realistic about your particular situation. It will take a special woman to accept the challenge of helping raise a teenage boy who is autistic and bipolar. We hope you find her.

Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611. To find out more about Annie's Mailbox, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at



12 Comments | Post Comment
I have a niece who is in her late 30's and, as far as our family knows, she has never dated anyone seriously. As you might expect, almost everyone suspects that she is gay. If she is, in fact, gay, then I know that I, for one, would be honored if she were to trust me enough to tell me as much, and I would welcome her and her partner into my home. But how to broach such a subject? I feel that ball is in her court.
I hope this man can find a way to be honest with his family about his lifestyle, and is able to find acceptance. Nothing is worse than living a lie your whole life.
Comment: #1
Posted by:
Wed Feb 6, 2008 5:42 AM
"Lost and Confused" wrote about his problem of being gay and being afraid to come out of the closet for fear of his church's rejection of him. A church's rejection of gays is called "spiritual violence," a term coined by Soulforce ( which is led by Mel White, author of "Stranger at the Gate" and "Religion Gone Bad." I have been a Christian all my life, but when I "came out" at age 60, my church began treating me differently--letting me know I could no longer hold leadership positions in the church. I even had my check returned when I wanted to participate in a church family campout. A preacher (in another town) told me to my face that I couldn't possibly be a Christian if I was gay. This is true spiritual violence and Christians everywhere should be ashamed to let this continue. Jesus never said "Believe in me and be straight and you shall be saved."
Comment: #2
Posted by: Lou Anne Smoot
Wed Feb 6, 2008 8:33 AM
I would suggest that "Lost and Confused" read carefully Robert Louis Stevenson's statement: "To know what you prefer instead of humbly saying, 'Amen' to what the world tells you you ought to prefer, is to have kept your soul alive." Another good quote is "Are you willing to be a sacrificial lamb on the altar of intolerance?" And still another thought to keep in mind: "Pain isn't the worst thing. Being hated isn't the worst thing. Death isn't the worst thing. The worst thing is failing to deal with reality and becoming disconnected from what is actual." That quote came from Eugene Peterson's book, "Leap Over a Wall."
To those of you who remain neutral in the issue of the way churches treat their gay members, remind yourselves of what Elie Wiesel (who endured the Holocaust) said: "We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfer."
Comment: #3
Posted by: Lou Anne Smoot
Wed Feb 6, 2008 8:49 AM
IMHO, it is always very troubling to see these types of letters handled from a pro-gay perspective.
This man is HIV-positive and is actually being directed towards "more of the same."
His grief over the loss of his mother and grandmother with no mention of a father could be indicative of something psychological that has been going on for a while.
I wonder if "Lost & Confused" knows about Exodus International ( ) and NARTH ( www.narth. com ).
He could preserve his faith, his family and his life by taking advantage of their services.
Comment: #4
Posted by: Linda Cebrian
Wed Feb 6, 2008 6:57 PM
I really hate the "Exodus" group was mentioned because three former leaders of Exodus International, often described as the nation's largest ex-gay ministry, publicly apologized in June, 2007 for the harm they said their efforts had caused many gays and lesbians who believed the group's message that sexual orientation could be changed through prayer. They were speaking at a news conference in Hollywood and said they had acted sincerely in their years of work with Exodus. But they said they had all, over time, become disillusioned with the group's ideas and concerned about what they described as the wrenching human toll of such gay conversion efforts. These former leaders of Exodus cast its work in grim terms. "Some who heard our message were compelled to try to change an integral part of themselves, bringing harm to themselves and their families. Although we acted in good faith, we have since witnessed the isolation, shame, fear and loss of faith that this message creates." Now a licensed family therapist in Riverside, Bussee (a former co-founder of Exodus) who left Exodus in 1979 stated "God's love and forgiveness does indeed change people. It changed me. It just didn't make me straight." All three men who spoke at the news conference said they had known people who had tried to change their sexual orientation with the help of the group but had failed, often becoming depressed or even suicidal as a result. "We are committed Christians, but we're still gay," said Marks, who heads Courage UK, a gay-affirming evangelical ministry based in England.
Let's quit steering gays into an organization which cannot deliver on its promises and only drives gays into deeper depression because they can't change their sexual orientation. Let's reach the point where we can recognize it as a special gift from God and quit trying to change people. Thank goodness we finally gave up on trying to change left-handed people into right-handed people. Some of us are simply different. Let's rejoice in that difference.
Comment: #5
Posted by: Lou Anne Smoot
Wed Feb 6, 2008 7:17 PM
The thing is, when churches speak out against it, it's not about intolerance, it's a belief that the lifestyle is sinful. The Bible clearly states that gay relationships are wrong. I'm not referring to the Leviticus passage; Christians believe that the Mosaic law was superseeded to to speak by Jesus. But the new testament clearly states as well that it's a sin and a perversion of what God created marriage to be. He created marriage as a covenant between a man and a woman, and that's the only true marriage, period. The belief isn't that the gay urges are wrong, but that the behavior, the acting on them is. The urges themselves are a part of man's fallen sinful nature, and just like other negative impulses, having them doesn't mean they should be acted on. People have impulses to steal and kill and other things but unless they're a criminal, they don't act on them. They know they're wrong and don't give into them. Christians who experience them seek God's help and can find the stregnth to fight them. This young man should get counseling from the church and seek healing. It's true that programs like Exodus don't work for everyone, no one's saying they do. But it can't be ignored that there are numerous people out there who have left the lifestyle and are perfectly happy.
Comment: #6
Posted by: chimel23
Wed Feb 6, 2008 8:57 PM
I have a little problem, Chimel23, with your "perfectly happy" comment. Yes, we can deny who we are and live a life of pretense. I tried that and can say that the "happiness" eluded me. In fact, I wanted so badly to be a good Christian that I stayed married for 37 years, pretending to be straight. I simply do not believe God was happy with my choice--because I truly DID make a choice. I made a choice to be straight. It wasn't until I became so depressed with my situation that I became suicidal that I began to seriously question the choice I had made. I felt at that time that if I didn't kill myself to escape the lifestyle I had chosen, I would end up in a mental hospital. The only other choice was divorce, which I abhored, but finally chose. After I "came out" and admitted the truth about myself to family and friends, I felt the closeness and love of God. Even after I chose a life partner, I felt God smiling down on me with love and delight that I was finally accepting of the person He had made me to be. I realized I had become more usable to Him now that I was my true self.
Yes, I know there are troubling scriptures, but none talk about a loving, committed gay relationship. They refer to idolatry and are used in other contexts. Christians try to twist the scriptures to prove their own prejudice and have done so since ancient times. Scriptures were used to imprison Galileo. They were certainly used to approve of slavery. Even today you can find scriptures that tell us women should be silent in church. One of the scriptures we really tend to ignore today is where Jesus himself spoke out against divorce. Let's quit using the Bible as a stick to beat up on people who are different. Use it for what it is intended--to teach God's love for us and how we are to love our fellow "neighbors."
Comment: #7
Posted by: Lou Anne Smoot
Thu Feb 7, 2008 5:37 AM
As a Christian I have no problem accepting gays & lesbians, but I have this weakness: I can't tolerate idiots.

Does the church also reject people who are single, widowed, or divorced? I doubt it. Just because the church teaches that people who are single, widowed, divorced, gay, lesbian, (or any other condition of marital staus or sexual orientation) should abstain from having sex does not mean the church does not welcome them as members.

If church membership were restricted to only those people who are in primary, heterosexual marriages, and excluded everybody else, there wouldn't be many churches left.

The church doesn't care who turns you on, as long as you practice abstinence. If you're too stupid to understand that, maybe you should pray for brains.
Comment: #8
Posted by: Annie too
Thu Feb 7, 2008 8:09 AM
As chaplain and co-convener of the Integrity chapter in Fort Worth, TX, I want to say thank you to the ladies who answer the letters. I understand this article has led many to call the offices of IntegrityUSA to be reassured of God's love for them. It blesses my spirit that God used this letter to direct many LGBT people and their families to Integrity. I am hoping that the other organizations had the same impact.

The Rev. Thomas Squiers
Integrity Fort Worth
Comment: #9
Posted by: Rev. Thomas Squiers
Thu Feb 7, 2008 3:54 PM
Recommended reading:
A Strong Delusion: Confronting the "Gay Christian" movement by Joe Dallas
Comment: #10
Posted by: Linda Cebrian
Thu Feb 7, 2008 9:01 PM
Linda, I realize you mean well, but the "reparative therapy" you are recommending is a terribly damaging and destructive force. There is a reason that the American Medical Association, American Psychiatric Association, and American Psychological Association all reject the validity of such "therapies." If you talk to an ex-"ex-gay" man with an open mind, he will tell you how hard he worked and prayed to become straight, and how inadequate and evil it made him feel, and how he found no peace. Then he will tell you that he finally prayed for acceptance for who he is and God finally answered his prayers. Or talk to the wife of a gay man about the misery of her existence and how hollow she feels knowing her husband does not desire her the way she deserves.

Reparative therapy is eerily reminiscent of the retraining left handed children received in the early part of the twentienth century. Read up on it. It left severe psychological scars.
Comment: #11
Posted by: Carla
Fri Jan 21, 2011 9:26 AM
LW1: The problem here is the desire for approval from others. If something is a sin then it is against God. He should worry more about God. Regarding the debate whether gays have God's approval or not in my opinion God had ample time and opportunity to create humans so that mating of two sperms or two eggs could create a child but He did not do so. This should be enough of an indication of His desires. Sex has a purpose other than pleasure.
Though I am against any kind of hatred against anyone.
Comment: #12
Posted by: surefoot
Sun Oct 16, 2011 11:47 AM
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