DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: I am thinking about coming clean about my sexuality. I'm almost 30 and have spent half my life in jail. I was just in a long-term relationship with a woman I wasn't attracted to. I'm attracted to men. I don't know how to say it and I don't know how to approach men I'm attracted to. I'm afraid to be teased or harassed about my sexuality.
I think some people know and now they don't make wisecracks anymore. We had a gay male here and people got along with him. Will it change with me? Will they treat me like an outcast? I don't act gay, but some people are disrespectful and I don't want to cause problems. What do I do: stay quiet or come clean? Please help. -- Afraid to Come Out, No Address
Dear Afraid to Come Out: You know your social situation in jail now, but there are always new people coming in, and it's a gamble how they will treat you if you are openly gay. If you can get out of jail and stay out, you would have a much better chance of finding a relationship with a man without a big hassle or fear of being attacked by others. If you can manage to get yourself into a position through counselling and support services where you can handle living on the outside, you could start a new private life with relatively little problem. But, in prison, you don't have that privacy or freedom.
When you do come out and stop living a lie, you'll feel a mixture of many emotions such as relief and fear. You may also find that living honestly as a gay man unties the knots inside and helps you to relax and behave in a way that keeps you out of jail for good. It certainly helps a lot of people to stop abusing drugs and alcohol when they're not so confused and messed up inside. Only you can be the judge of your safety in your particular jail. I think it would be best not to rock the boat in a jail, but you know better about the crowd around you.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: There is not enough definition of bullying in the workplace. It has become reverse sexism. In certain places females don't train the males properly and don't care. At some places females have banded together to lie about a man. I thought this was the age of equality! The guilty people don't see what they do as wrong. They harm families and relationships and sometimes a person's health with the stress they cause. Some managers make assumptions based on who has been there longer. Sometimes facts have been hidden or people just don't care. How can those flaws be corrected? Is anybody willing? -- Disgusted and Confused, Rural Manitoba
Dear Disgusted: I understand, having experienced the reverse of this as a woman in the 1960s and '70s. It is no less noxious when women form their own tightly knit organizations within a workplace and marginalize the male workers, especially the trainees. Men must also complain about injustices done to them, even though they may be ridiculed at first (as early feminists were).
Our best society will be a truly equal society, but people have been slacking off. Both men and woman have to continue to work for equal opportunities and equal pay for equal work. This banding together to keep the opposite sex untrained, un-included, neglected in office politics and badly paid, is disgusting. We should be way past that by now, but we are not. Continue to stand up, speak and write when you see this kind of injustice happening to men, and I encourage women to keep doing it as well.
Please send your questions or comments c/o firstname.lastname@example.org or mail letters to Miss Lonelyhearts c/o Winnipeg Free Press, 1355 Mountain Ave., Winnipeg, MB, R2X 3B6