DEAR ABBY: Gay man wishes he had straight male friends

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DEAR ABBY: I am a 47-year-old gay man. I’m well-educated, but there’s something I can’t figure out.

Why do straight guys not want to be friends? I never hit on them, I enjoy a lot of the same pastimes like games, working on cars, etc. I want to be transparent, but when I tell them upfront, they disappear. Sometimes it gets back to me that they thought I was asking them on a date if I invited someone to go to a ballgame, for example. I have plenty of female friends, but what I really want is a male best friend or, hell, just a male friend, period.

Of course, everyone has their own opinions on what I should do — “join a meeting, a group, social activities and blah blah.” I have done all of those things, and I can’t figure out what’s wrong. I have now learned to just keep my mouth shut and not invite anyone to do anything. Any suggestions would be welcomed, but I have pretty much tried everything, including seeing a counselor. — CURIOUS IN OKLAHOMA

DEAR CURIOUS: The problem you’re having with straight men may be that they are nervous about being perceived as “gay by association” if they are friendly with you. Some may also find the concept of being friends with a gay man to be threatening.

Taking part in group activities and outings is certainly a way to connect with others regardless of sexual orientation. Eventually, you’ll meet people and form friendships. In the meantime, appreciate those female friends of yours and ask them for some input, too.

DEAR ABBY: This has been a rough pandemic for all of us. We have all experienced the constant fear of disease, job loss and the pressure to react to those stresses in prescribed ways that aren’t always easy. For those of us who deal with mental health issues on the best of days, it has become a real struggle.

I have a group of friends who have not managed to do well through it all. Previous issues multiplied, and their lives have become pitiable messes. Early on in the pandemic, we attempted to keep moods up with weekly Zoom hangouts. It helped a little, but because my mental status has always been a little better than theirs, I was never a focus of support.

As the world has begun to open up, we have been able to see each other in person, and it has become obvious to me that I need to distance myself from them to protect what I have worked so hard to maintain. Do I owe them an explanation about why I cannot be with them? I worry that pointing out that things are not good would drag them down further.

These are people I have known for decades, but I don’t have the energy to act as emotional support for them anymore. I’d like to leave them in the best shape I can. What should I say to them? — CARING FRIEND IN THE EAST

DEAR CARING FRIEND: Be less available when you are contacted. When you do, your excuse should be truthful. Say you need time to yourself to work on your own mental health issues and therefore will be less available. You do not have to apologize for it, nor should you feel guilty for taking care of yourself.

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