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Ask Lisi: Mom seems embarrassed to have gay son

Advice: I’m sorry that your mom is struggling with accepting who you are. But that is NOT a reflection on you. It’s her issue

Dear Lisi: My mother is an interior designer and very good at her job. When I was a little boy, I thought I wanted to be a firefighter. When I hit puberty, my interests changed drastically and I became very involved in art and design at school. I worked on all the sets for the theatre and loved being a part of that world.

In college, I studied textile design, thinking I was going to go into dressmaking and couture. But I realized my true calling is home décor and design. I thought my mom would be thrilled.

She’s not. I actually think she’s embarrassed to have a son in this field. I think she believes it’s a woman’s area of interest, though there are many, many successful male designers. And, if I’m being truly honest, I think she’s embarrassed to have a gay son.

How do I show her that this is who I am? I’m happy and I’m good at what I do. I’d love to partner with her, but she’s just not interested.

Shamed Son

You need to be proud of you. You have grown into a self-confident person who knows what he likes, who he wants to be, and how he wants to live and love in our world. That takes courage and strength, no matter what your choices.

I’m sorry that your mom is struggling with accepting who you are. But that is NOT a reflection on you. It’s her issue. She could talk through her issues with a professional in hope that you and she can move forward and continue your loving mother-son relationship.

If you have the strength and fortitude, you could say all of that to her. If you don’t think it’ll land coming from you, get help from someone who you trust and is accepting.

Dear Lisi: My friend’s girlfriend is Italian, born and raised in Italy, and moved here just for my friend. They have a seemingly good relationship and his Italian language skills are improving quickly. But he is far from fluent.

We all met when he and I were on an exchange program in Italy one semester a few years ago. He had a girlfriend back home and the Italian woman was dating someone at the time. We all just became friends and she was a fabulous tour guide while we were there.

COVID-19 hit the planet and we kept up our friendship through social media, getting together on Zoom with a few other friends from that semester every two months or so.

This past summer, my friend went back to Italy for an internship in his field. He literally bumped into his now-girlfriend in a café, and as they say, the rest is history.

The problem is that she isn’t trying at all to learn English, or get to know his friends. She’s fine with me because she knows me and I speak Italian enough. But our other friends, and especially his sister, are getting upset at her lack of trying, lack of friendliness.

How can I explain to her that she’s creating a rift that’s going to cause deeper problems down the road? And how can I help him see the damage she could potentially cause?

Amico preoccupato

You’ve definitely zoned in on the problem at hand, and you’re a good friend to be concerned. You’re right — if the Italian girlfriend (or any girlfriend, for that matter) doesn’t at least try to get to know your friend’s friends and family, she’ll alienate him. That never ends well.

You two sound very close. Go out with him alone and discuss your concerns. You’re not saying anything negative so he shouldn’t take offence. Tell him you want to help and together come up with strategies to help ease his girlfriend into the gang.

FEEDBACK regarding the married woman wondering how to deal with her past (Jan. 18):

Reader — “Never suggest to a happily married woman to tell her husband about any sexual activity she had prior to marriage (unless it was with him). Give your head a shake!

“If she needs to explore why she did this, she should speak in confidence to a registered therapist during one or more sessions.

“Everyone wonders about some of the things one did in our younger years.”

Lisi — I respectfully disagree with you. That’s an outdated way of thinking, in my opinion. Unless you told your husband you were an inexperienced virgin, he’s not going to be surprised you had sexual experiences before marriage. Share what you want, don’t share what you don’t want – sexual or otherwise.

Ellie Tesher and Lisi Tesher are advice columnists for the Star and based in Toronto. Send your relationship questions via email: or

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