Woes of the queer and the well-fed

Subpar advice from the sub-basement

Not a Baby Gay Writes:

I finally came out last year as a lesbian and it took me a long time to make that choice. I was raised in a very conservative home, definitely not the most supportive. Everyone but my close friend Joyce is super accepting. She calls me a “baby gay” and wants me to call myself bisexual “just in case” I fall in love with a man. She also likes to sprinkle around “advice” about not coming out to my parents. What should I do?

Heya NABG,

Joyce sounds like a nightmare of a human being. Her one lesbian friend up and marries a dude and suddenly no lesbians exist anywhere. That must feel really invalidating after having the courage to come out as yourself. I think, more than anything, we certainly need more yous than Joyces in the world. And I think now more than ever is the exact time to start coming out. Harvey Milk was not wrong in what he said.

Are you worried about blowback from alienating Joyce? Is that why you’re still friends? I would’ve dropped her like a hot potato, but it almost sounds like maybe she knows your parents in some capacity and you’re afraid she’ll rat you out. Because that’s a very real worry and a thing that happens, I’m sorry to say.

I’m also sorry to say that there’s no way to convince Joyce that you’re not a baby gay and some sort of misguided binary heterosexual going through a phase. The Joyces of the world are as self-assured as those moms with the a-line haircuts that drive soccer vans and see the manager waaaaay too much while shopping for groceries. The best I can do is to ask you to think about what she brings to your friendship, what she gives to you that another friend does not. If the answer is nothing or is even more negative than that, it’s time to cut the friendship loose—in person. And at that in-person meeting, make it very clear why you’re ending the friendship.

And if she threatens to rat you out to your folks, you may have to come out to them preemptively. I’m sorry to say Joyce is a toxic friend and will most likely become a sharp and vindictive Facebook ex. Not the truth I want to write, but that’s probably the way it is. Maybe she’ll prove me wrong.

Hearts and Stars,
Your Advice Guru

The Only Granddaughter Writes:

My grandma isn’t going to live very much longer. She’s over 90 and it’s probably just a matter of weeks. I’m her only grandkid. While I was in her attic looking for some old photographs last week, I stumbled upon love letters she wrote to another woman when she was in her 20s. It was clear the two women had a very intimate friendship and I often wondered about the cold and unhappy relationship she shared for many years with my grandpa. Should I remind her of who she was before she passes away?

Heya Granddaughter,

So who is this memory sharing for? Is it for you or is it for her? What is the point of dredging up these memories? Are you going to personally track the woman down so they can be reunited and spend the last of grandmother’s moments with your OTP (One True Pairing)?

There’s not much of a good scenario here for you. You’ll get all the warm fuzzies but also possibly risk tainting last memories of grandma—not just because she might be someone who had a homosexual relationship with one very special person, and having that one relationship does not always mean you label yourself as lesbian or bisexual or pansexual, especially if those are labels that you don’t always associate with positive things. Grandma might not be as keen on that trip down memory lane as you are.

You don’t mention whether your grandmother has Alzheimer’s or if she’s asking you to bring these photos/memories to her. What is your angle in all this? Until you can answer that question, I can’t answer yours because that reminder might not be what either of you actually wants or needs.

Maybe try doing a puzzle with old grandma instead. If she wants you to know, she’ll bring it up. And trust me, it won’t be some romanticized version of “find the picture that unlocks my secret sexual past” like you want it to be.

Hearts and Stars,
Your Advice Guru

Well Fed Artist Writes:

So I’ve been a struggling artist for a few years and I’ve never had much success until recently. I was able to get some of my work into a few art shows but it got trashed by online reviewers. Oddly enough, though, I’ve gotten more offers for work because of the bad reviews. I wouldn’t mind except that now I can’t stop thinking about how those bad reviews live online forever. Maybe I shouldn’t put much stock into bloggers and their reviews, but what if real professionals hate me? Should I take it as a sign or just learn to accept the criticism, grow, and keep doing me?

Heya Non-Starving Artist,

You’re a struggling artist who has broken through the romance of the starving artist nonsense that makes society devalue most if not all forms of art! Congrats! Now you start to panic and worry that you’ll be made a fraud, that you’ll be caught up in the glamour. That your art will never lift above the rest of your contemporaries.

Well, take heart in that it most likely won’t. You may be a competent artist, but competency does not necessarily equal extraordinary greatness. And even the extraordinarily great can fall flat sometimes (Hi Joss Whedon! Hi Stephen King!). But that does not mean you should not continue to work and learn in your craft. It just means you can give yourself permission to fail. And fail you should. At least once majorly and a few times with minor bumps.

Failure is okay. It’s how we learn, it’s how we become humble. It’s how we know our craft is the thing we really, truly want and that even if we could we wouldn’t chuck it away for all of anything.

Even if the critics hate you, you are getting hired. Someone saw something they liked or they saw something the critics bristled against, and they said they wanted a steaming, heaping second helping of just that. Celebrate now! You deserve it after your struggles of trying to make it!

And if that doesn’t help, you might actually just not believe you should make it. It happens. Jezebel had this great story about a year or so ago about a woman who dressed up as Cookie from Empire for a new job that she was intellectually qualified for but had trouble believing she could actually achieve in. And guess what? Faking it until she made it worked! Now she’s in charge of herself again and doesn’t have to play act a character’s confidence.

Hey, there are worse ways to get things done.

Hearts and Stars,
Your Advice Guru