Dear Annie: Recently, our beautiful, intelligent, kind, responsible 20-year-old daughter told us she is a lesbian. "Sharon" has been sorting this out alone for the past two years, which breaks my heart. She told us that she has prayed not to be this way, tried dating men and even came up with a plan to move out of the country. Sharon's father, siblings and I were surprised, but have assured her that we are thankful she told us so she can truly be herself and be happy. We love her just the same.
However, Sharon has not told the rest of our family. Other relatives have made it clear that they believe gays and lesbians are disturbed and disgusting individuals who are going to hell. They have, in fact, recently stated these vile opinions to Sharon when she was last visiting. She told me it felt as if she had been punched in the stomach. Ironically, Sharon's grandparents think the sun rises and sets on her. They have no idea that their divisive, hateful, dehumanizing comments apply to someone they cherish.
Sharon loves her grandparents, aunts and uncles and is terrified of how they will respond when they find out. We worry that their rejection will push her back into depression. According to PFLAG, suicide is the leading cause of death among gay and lesbian youth. More than 30 percent of all reported teen suicides each year are committed by gay and lesbian youth. Fifty percent report that their parents reject them due to their sexual orientation, and 26 percent are forced to leave home because of conflicts over their sexual orientation.
These are the children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews we love. We will stand with Sharon and pray for the judgmental, ignorant, bigoted souls to find enlightenment on this issue. — Worried in Wyoming
Dear Worried: Thank you for your compassionate understanding. Sharon does not need to come out to her relatives any sooner than she is comfortable, and it helps enormously that you are so supportive. In many instances, families become more accepting when they realize the gay person is someone they know and love. We hope that is how it works out for your family.
Dear Annie: My band performs at a lot of wedding receptions. We usually make plans with the family regarding what music they want. We cannot alter our music in the middle of a set just because a guest who has had too much to drink comes up to us with a song request. If the bride and groom took the time to specify the songs they do and don't want to hear, they probably are not going to be happy if we suddenly start playing "The Chicken Dance."
One other tip: Talking to us while we are in the middle of a song is not a good idea. Please wait until we are on a break. — Frustrated Bandleader
Dear Frustrated: Excellent suggestions, and here's one from us: Can you please not set the amplifiers to 11? We can hear you just fine without going deaf.
Dear Annie: I read the thoughtful letter from "Concerned Grandma," who is caring for her biracial 4-year-old grandson. Your response left out one of the best role models this child could have: President Barack Obama. Perhaps reading "Dreams from My Father" will give this dear grandmother more insight into the struggles her grandson might face as a fatherless child, as well as hope and inspiration. A photo of our biracial president might be a sweet thing for this little boy to have.
In addition, the grandmother might want to seek out someone who can help reinforce and strengthen her as she stands alongside this child in a lifelong learning adventure. — A Daily Reader
This Classic Annie's Mailbox column was originally published in 2013. To find out more about Classic Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Creators Syndicate at www.creators.com.