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Section: sexuality, relationships 
 

Dear Ann Landers,
I recently decided to "come out" to my friends and family and let them know I am gay. I am not an in-your-face kind of person and wanted it to be a slow process, with me choosing the time and place. I have only told a few close friends so far. Here's the problem, Ann. I was denied the opportunity to choose the time and place by a clerk at the hardware store. He noticed my new checkbook and asked if the rainbow design was intended to represent the "rainbow gay-pride colors." I answered honestly and told him yes, it did. My mother was with me and heard every word. I hadn't yet told her about my sexual orientation and could see that she was taken by surprise. I realize that the clerk should not have inquired about something so personal, but I don't think he did it maliciously. Since that time, things have been strained between my mother and me. I am not going to force her acceptance, but I would like to regain the comfortable relationship we had for so many years. Ann, should I have lied when the clerk asked me about the checkbook? I want to maintain my honesty about this, but I hate what it has done to my relationship with my mother. Do you have any advice for me? -- Outed in Savannah, Ga.

Dear Savannah,
Have a frank talk with your mother. Let her know you have sensed the coolness and it has made you unhappy. Explain to her that your sexual orientation is not something you chose -- it's the way God made you. There is an excellent organization that will help you educate your mother on this subject. Write to: PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), 1101 14th St., N.W., Suite 1030, Washington, D.C. 20005 (www.pflag.org).