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KEEP YOUR HANDS TO YOURSELF

Dear Ann Landers: I am a 35-year-old lesbian who has recently come out of the closet. I told my family and close friends about my sexual orientation when I met the love of my life. "Alice" and I are now living together.

My family seemed very supportive when I told them, but things haven't been going as smoothly as I had hoped. My nephew had a birthday party a few weeks ago, and Alice and I were invited. We sat next to each other on the sofa, and I rested my hand on her leg. My sister was appalled. She said I am no longer welcome in her home.

I didn't realize that simple gesture would be so offensive. I have apologized and promised to avoid public displays of affection toward Alice at future family gatherings, but it has made no difference. My entire family is in turmoil, and everyone is fighting. Please help us resolve this.

-- Hurting in Ohio
Dear Ohio: For openers, you should keep your hands off Alice's leg. The public display of affection did not sit well with the family, as you now know only too well. I suggest you reiterate your apology, and I hope for the sake of all involved that it will be accepted.

Tell parents to back off

Dear Ann Landers: Several months ago, I discovered an e-mail correspondence between my husband and another woman. It contained intimate details of their affair.

I was devastated and confronted "Harry." He wanted to work things out and promised not to see the other woman again. He said he truly loves me and the affair was a huge mistake. We began seeing a marriage counselor, and, little by little, our relationship has improved. In fact, it is now better than ever.

The problem is my parents. They say, "Once a cheater, always a cheater." They refuse to forgive Harry and are convinced that he will hurt me again. I want to save my marriage, Ann. How can I get my parents to relent?

-- Carrie in New Hampshire
Dear New Hampshire: Why are your parents in this picture? If you're old enough to be married, you should be old enough to run your own life. Your parents should butt out, and you and Harry should continue with the joint counseling program. I wish you well.

Keep after friend

Dear Ann Landers: I am a 14-year-old girl, and I'm afraid my best friend, "Karen," is anorexic. I spend a lot of time with her, and I've never seen her eat. I know for a fact she misses lunch because she hides in the library during lunch break. Karen has lost at least 10 pounds in the last month. She is always cold and sometimes misses her period. She also uses diet pills. When I asked her about it, she denied there was a problem.

I finally decided an adult needed to be involved, so I told my gym teacher. She agreed that Karen looks a lot thinner. The gym teacher called Karen's mother, but nothing happened. Her mom said she hadn't noticed any weight loss. I called Karen's mother myself, and she admitted she hasn't yet mentioned the anorexia to Karen. I got the impression she wasn't planning to talk about it ever.

Karen is my best friend, and I want to help her. What can I do?

-- Worried in Pittsburgh
Dear Pittsburgh: Karen is lucky to have a friend like you. Call Karen's mother again, and tell her Ann Landers says her daughter needs counseling at once because she has an illness that could be fatal.

Problems? Dump on Ann. Write her at The Buffalo News, P.O. Box 100, Buffalo, N.Y. 14240.

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