I have a gay friend who is in his fifties but still hasn't told his parents he's gay. He says he doesn't want to hurt them. Is it really possible that they don't already know he's gay? R.J.
Improbable but not impossible. They can be in as much denial as some gay people are about themselves, and if their son doesn't conform to any of the usual stereotypes ... I myself have met some older men who are in the closet as far as their parents are concerned, and I confess I think it's a little ridiculous. I mean, most of these guys haven't been on a date with a woman in thirty years, have never had a girlfriend -- most parents aren't stupid. It never occurs to these guys that their parents already suspect they're gay and just want to know that they're happy. If your friend's real problem is that he isn't happy, suggest he get some counseling, or get some Out and Proud friends together to give him a pep talk and realize he can't blame all of his problems -- which everyone has -- on being gay.
The fact is that a lot of these guys don't come out to their parents not because they fear their parents can't take it, or that they'll be "hurt" -- what nonsense -- but because they're dealing with internalized homophobia. It's not about the parents -- it's about them.