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Should she tell her ex-boyfriend's parent's he was gay

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Dear Abby: I am struggling with the question of whether or not to reveal a confidence made more than two years ago. My boyfriend at the time, "Jerry," revealed to me that he was gay. We remained friends, but I moved on and started dating someone else.

Jerry never confided his secret to anyone else and, eventually feeling overcome with depression, took his own life. Jerry told me more than once that he knew how his parents would feel if he told them he was gay. He saw the way they snickered when they saw a gay couple.

His parents are now blaming me for the fact that Jerry took his own life. They say it was because we broke up. Would it be selfish of me to tell them the truth?

- His Best Friend, Rochester, N.Y.

Dear Best Friend: You should reveal that your friend told you he was gay and was worried about how his parents would accept it. However, when you tell them, do not expect them to believe you.

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What a sad story.

I don't often comment on news items, but in this case I feel that the reply given by 'dear Abby' was not well thought-out.

The parents are grieving, and in their grief have blamed the girlfriend for their son's death. She wants to set the record straight, for her own justification.

She doesn't know that the parents unwittingly drove Jerry to suicide; he was worried about their reaction if he told them, but he may have had a lot of other worries as well - workmates, friends, etc. A closeted gay guy has multiple worries like that.

Nothing anyone says now will bring poor Jerry back, so whatever anyone says now should be with the goal of helping the grievers to move on.

If she tells the parents they drove their son to suicide, will that help anyone? Especially since she can't be sure that's why he killed himself?

The girlfriend was his only confidante; was she aware he was sinking into depression? Could she, should she, have done more to help - she was the only one in a position to.

Maybe she could just tell them he was gay and leave the rest to them. It might help them to understand why he died - the only idea they have at present is that he was distraught over the split with the girlfriend.

It is, as Caylor says, a very sad story and there's no happy ending for any of these poor people.

Bruin

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I thought Dear Abby gave friendly advice, but this is hateful. How will it help anyone to do what DA suggests? Seems so mean, so pointless and, honestly, they aren't going to feel an outsider has any right to comment on a family tragedy. Just seems terribly unfeeling, even for someone to ask if they should--much too confrontational, pointless and selfish. Why is this girl even sticking her oar in, thinking of ranting on about her suspicions? What if the parents are right anyhow and she just hasn't a clue, after all, she's not the guy. She has her own reasons for wanting them to think that but it's in no way helpful or respectful. How old is she? Gah...people.

Gosh, I love my cats.

TR

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Friends, Dear Abby questions and answers are the forerunner of the Internet; you can't really be sure that any of what you read is true.

Maybe this story is true, maybe it isn't.

But I remember (~1966) a question posted in by some co-workers to an Australian "Dear Abby" column that was made up during a lunch break.

It was duly answered and published.

I have since viewed such columns with suspicion, even if as in this case my heart goes out to the people in the story.

Having got that off my chest, I agree with TR; there is no earthly good to come of the girl telling the parents of their sons statement that he was gay. The girl presumably has no proof except that he told her.

He may just have been ditching her for whatever reason he had, gay or not.

Forget it and move on. Now that it is published in an open column, I expect the story will soon find its way into a daytime soap opera.

:icon_geek:

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I agree with TR; there is no earthly good to come of the girl telling the parents of their sons statement that he was gay.

Well, look at the other side: if the daughter did reveal that, at least she'd be telling them the truth.

I think if she did it the right way, and didn't assign blame (as in, "your son killed himself because he couldn't bear how you would react if you found out he was gay"), there might be a way to tactfully tell them the truth about their son. At least that way, they wouldn't blame her.

And if they accuse her of lying, she can say, "I have no reason to lie, because I don't care about what you think of me. I just think you deserve to know the truth, because your son would've wanted it that way."

To me, once a person's dead, what's the point in not being truthful about their life?

Still, it's a tragedy -- a total no-win situation. Grieving parents, dead son, upset woman. Very sad.

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I agree, it is disturbing and sad. The writer is obviously being attacked by the parents, but even with that, there is no need to destroy their image of their deceased son. Boyfriend and girlfriend break up all the time, and sometimes one or the other will slide into depression and commit suicide. People, i.e., parents, will seek something or someone else to blame, because to do anything else would be to blame themselves or the image of their child. They don't want to hurt themselves any more than they are already hurting, so the anger is directed outwards. The former girlfriend also doesn't want to take any of the blame for this having happened, and also doesn't want to blame the dead man. The son being gay, or not gay, having other problems, or not having other problems, is of no real value in this. The issue is that everyone is trying to avoid blaming HIM, or admitting their own culpability in that development. Both sides obviously didn't support him as strongly as he needed to be supported, but it is quite possible that they did as much as they could. They should stop blaming themselves for this, and put the real blame on the son. He could have told his parents, if a positive resolution of his distress might have helped his issues. Even if it all went to shit, he could always have THEN killed himself. As it was, his fear of rejection overwhelmed his ability to even talk to them about this. To me, that is the saddest part of this whole scenario. Why, oh why, would one take that final step, and not even TRY to resolve things first. The last step can always be taken later.

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Telling the parents their son was gay just has such a slimy feel to it. It feels like the girl can't wait to reveal a huge, dramatic secret. It feels like she's trying to get off the hook of being accused of being a party to his death. It feels like she's slapping them in the face after they've slapped her. There's an ugliness in it that speaks of the worst parts of human nature.

She should not tell the parents their son had told her he was gay. That statement was made to her as private information. The fact he's now dead does not mitigate her responsiblity to keep it private. If they learn that fact from another source, at that time she might feel free to discuss it with them, but otherwise, it was confidential information and nothing has changed that fact. I've never seen such poor advice from DA.

From the article we have no idea how close the parents and the girl are. If they have very little contact, then my answer to her would have been, simply tell the parents you're sorry for the loss of their son, you're grieving too, you've lost a good friend and that hurts, and that unfortunately no one, not you, not them, knows exactly why he took his life, but as the two of you were still great friends and you both talked a lot after the breakup, you know the ending of your romantic relationship with him had nothing to do with his death. Then walk away from them if they want to argue or castigate.

Cole

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Is it the ex-girlfriend's fault she didn't do more? Honestly, she may not have seen the signs.

Should the ex-girlfriend tell the young man's parents that he was gay? It may be the truth, but they will not be helped to heal by hearing it, and they are likely not to believe her and to think she's trying to hurt them.

She can't know for certain if that is why he killed himself. There are likely too many things that go into that, sad to say. He was hurting so much, he thought the only way to stop hurting was to end his life.

The parents must deal with his death. If they contributed to it in any way, they are paying more than enough price now. No reason to add to the pain they are paying.

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The new Dear Abby (the original's daughter) sucks ass. She's got terribly advice and is just not as good. She uses the term "abuser" so much it has no meaning. Her advice shows no forethought at all. I read her mom's column, and while I did not always agree, I always understood. With her, sometimes I wonder what the fuck she was thinking.

I will not render an opinion as to the veracity of this column or my opinion as the result.

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She should not tell the parents their son had told her he was gay. That statement was made to her as private information. The fact he's now dead does not mitigate her responsiblity to keep it private. If they learn that fact from another source, at that time she might feel free to discuss it with them, but otherwise, it was confidential information and nothing has changed that fact. I've never seen such poor advice from DA.

From the article we have no idea how close the parents and the girl are. If they have very little contact, then my answer to her would have been, simply tell the parents you're sorry for the loss of their son, you're grieving too, you've lost a good friend and that hurts, and that unfortunately no one, not you, not them, knows exactly why he took his life, but as the two of you were still great friends and you both talked a lot after the breakup, you know the ending of your romantic relationship with him had nothing to do with his death. Then walk away from them if they want to argue or castigate.

Cole[/size][/color]

Cole, I agree that telling the parents that their son was gay would be hateful. But I disagree with the last thing you say in your post. What the parents said to this girl, who is grieving over the loss of a very good friend, is equally as hateful. She shouldn't say anything to them, and if friends tell her that they heard that he committed suicide because she left him she should say only that is untrue, that it was a mutual agreement to stop seeing each other. She sure doesn't need any confrontation or discussion with the guy's parents. They hurt her with their accusations. She should just ignore them and get on with her own life.

Colin :icon_geek:

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His parents may have beer reacting out of shock at his death.

Phil, my boyfriend back in the early 80's committed suicide. I called his mother as soon as I could that same evening. Believe me when I say she was very nasty to me over the phone and blamed me. The day of the funeral, she approached me and apologized for her reactions.

I don't think she should tell them. They aren't going to believe her and will most likely think she is trying to get back at them.

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The girl says they remained friends for two years up until he died. The parents have to know that. I may be a stupid kid who knows squat but it seems to me the parents are suffering from guilt and looking for someone, other than themselves to blame. It could be that they already suspected he was gay and were in denial and are continuing in denial to ease their guilt.

I say tell them and then tell them good-bye. It's time parents stopped living in their own world and make it easier for their kids to tell them anything. Acceptnce begins in the family.

Tim

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I may be a stupid kid who knows squat but ...

Stop that. Don't you even begin to think that. Sounds like maybe your own parents, or school mates, are down on you, and you're taking it to heart. Don't. It's quite obvious from your thoughts about this that you are not stupid.

The only catch with telling the parents to rub their noses in it, is that it makes no difference to any other parent and any other gay kid that this been done. Unless these people have another gay child in the immediate family, there is no benefit from telling them. None. It's not even that the female friend will benefit, since she'll just get embroiled in a fight, mud-slinging worse than already there, and frustration. This is truly one of those things one must walk away from. The time to have talked about it was before things were locked in stone, or in this case, dirt, six feet of it.

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The only catch with telling the parents to rub their noses in it, is that it makes no difference to any other parent and any other gay kid that this been done.

It may seem like rubbing their noses in it but more importantly it might serve as a wake up cll to other parents who may suspect they have a gay cchild and how they deal wiith it. Some object lessons have to hurt some for the good of many. Better a gay live child that a dead one.

Tim

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I'm sorry. I wasn't clear at all. What I meant was that there are no other parents who will know about this revelation about this guy, from his female friend, unless someone were to publish it in a paper or get it on TV. Hence, there is no benefit to society as a whole by saying anything.

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I may be a stupid kid who knows squat...

Tim-

Alexander took his throne at 16 and conquered the known world by 26. Karl Fredrich Gauss published Disquisitiones Arithmeticae, a comprehensive textbook on number theory bringing together results from Fermat, Euler, Lagrange and Legendre and adds important new results of his own at the tender age of 21. One of the most successful Confederate brigades of the Civil War were cadets in a military academy who averaged 14 and were led by a grizzeled old veteran of 17.

Young does not necessairly mean dumb despite all the cultural messages to the contrary so don't sell yourself short. Your brain works as well as anybody elses.

One of our societies greatest failings is to tell young people that they are just dumb kids and fail to harness that vitality, energy and imagination.

James

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Guys... The topic's not Tim's intelligence or family/friends' support. He's got both of those in spades. It's cool you want to support him.

The main topic's something we all feel strongly about: Gay suicide and how we deal with it and try to keep it from happening.

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Actually, the main topic is whether or not someone should reveal a secret once the person who swore you to secrecy is dead, in order avoid being falsely accused of responsibility for the suicide.

Personally, I think we've beaten the topic to its own death, and then some.

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Am I the only one that thinks that if I were a parent and my child committed suicide, I would want to know why? I would be beating myself over the head trying to figure it out, and it would come as a great relief to me to know, even if I didn't like the reason.

cheers!

aj

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I think the point though, AJ, is that the parents aren't doing that, as they've already decided on why, and anything done now to change their belief will only cause more turmoil.

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