Dear Annie: I am 19 years old and afraid that my brother is gay.
“James” recently made a new friend at work who is gay. He has been going to the library with this new friend and spending the entire day there doing homework. James doesn’t own a phone, so it is hard for my mother to get ahold of him. Sometimes he leaves for work at 6 p.m. and doesn’t come home until 9 the following morning, making excuses that he was at work. My mother knows he’s lying, because she calls his job and they often say he isn’t there. His friend has left messages on our home answering machine that make us all question their relationship.
A few days ago, my mom called me crying hysterically because James hadn’t returned all night after an argument in which she asked if he was gay. He screamed at her to never ask that question again and said that he is not gay.
I try to be open-minded toward everyone and don’t object if James is gay. But my mother was not brought up this way. In her culture, being gay is absolutely unacceptable. If James “came out,” my mother would throw him out of the house and disown him. It would ruin our family name. She even once said she would have to move away from our hometown.
My brother has always had trouble making friends, and I feel this latest friend is someone who just happens to accept him for who he is. I don’t believe James is interested in men. But I am worried for his sake. What do I do? – Unsure
Dear Unsure: Please don’t pressure your brother. Having a gay friend will not change his sexual orientation, and finding someone who “accepts him for who he is” is not to be brushed aside lightly. James needs to navigate this in his own way. You can mention that he seems stressed and let him know that if he needs to talk, you are available. You also can give him the website for PFLAG ( pflag.org) just in case he should find it useful.