Will straight friends understand?
Q: How in the world do we explain to our straight friends what it is like to be gay without being seen as a whiner? I have a lot of straight friends who seem to accept my partner and me, unconditionally. I feel very grateful for this because many times in my life this is has not been true, and I really love my friends. I wouldn’t for the world want to hurt them or have them reject me.
My problem is when I try to tell them the things that I see as unfair in the world, the group just gets kind of quiet, and then moves on to something else. I don’t think I am a complainer, but maybe that is the way they see me. I usually go away feeling like they wish I would just be happy with how much better things are for gays and not bother them with the fact there is still a lot of prejudice around.
Then, I feel like maybe there is something wrong with me because I am not satisfied, and I should just be grateful. I don’t complain about big things, but about little things, like: My partner and I can’t go dancing whenever we want because we would not be accepted at most bars, or we can’t take advantage of cheap cruises because we wouldn’t feel good about just being open and holding hands or kissing in public on the cruise, or we have to pay more for insurance because we are not covered under our partner’s plan. These may all seem like little things, but for me it is the daily things that tend to drive me crazy. Do you think they are right, and I should just be quiet and be grateful that things are better? How do I know if I am just and whiner?
Darin in Detroit
A: I never believe that one should ignore prejudice and be happy things are better. Our society would never advance, if we all did that. Do I think you are just a whiner? I didn’t hear anything to suggest that you are. Do you get feedback in other areas of your life that you are a whiner? If not, I wouldn’t believe you are. Next, your friends may not be wanting you to be quiet and be grateful; they may not know what to say and may feel powerless to change things. It sounds like you have a good group of friends who are really important to you. Why not tell them what you have told me and see what they say? Their silence may be for something entirely different than what you are thinking. It also gives your friends an opportunity to find out what you need from them when you are telling them about your experience.
Terrorized by TV news
Q: I’m writing to you knowing that you can’t really help me, but hoping that at least by writing I’ll somehow feel better – for today, anyway. My problem is all the crap that is going on in the world, all the war and terrorist stuff. I can’t turn off the TV or put down a newspaper or not get on the Internet to read stuff because I am so worried about what is happening next. It’s all I can think of all day long.
I had a chance to go with a friend to France last weekend, and I didn’t go. The ticket price was great! It would have been such a great spontaneous thing to do -something that I would have done before 9-11 and all this talk of war. Now, I feel so anxious and frozen in my tracks. I worry even going to the grocery store. I’ve become a real homebody. I hate what’s going on, it feels like my world has fallen apart.
Just Needed to Vent
A: Venting can help, but there are some other things you could do (or not do) that will help, too. For starters, stop being such a news junkie. You are keeping all the war/terrorist information right up there in front of your moment-to-moment daily life. No wonder you are anxious! Ration yourself on how much news you can have in a week. Better yet, you could quit the news for a while and ask a friend to call you if there is really any good reason to panic, or take precautions. To fill the hole that you have been stuffing news down, go back to or get new things to focus on – likedancing, working out, or reading novels and going to a movies – ones without violence!
In absence of clearly defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily acts of trivia. Unknown
Have a problem? Send your letters to: “Dear Jody,” C/O Between the Lines, 20793 Farmington Road, Suite 25, Farmington, MI 48336. Or, e-mail: DearJodyValley@hotmail.com