Dear Margo: Straight Cred

How should I respond when people tell me that homosexuality is a choice? Margo Howard’s advice

Straight Cred

Dear Margo: I belong to an LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) group at my university. I understand that kids my age have it a lot easier than homosexuals did, say, 20 years ago. I do, however, have a problem — still — with people who take it upon themselves to try to “change” me, as if changing me were necessary or even possible. I’ve been told there are therapists who could “turn things around,” and even that praying could make me straight. Well, I am happy the way I am and, of course, do not believe anyone or anything can change the proclivities with which you are born.

If I wanted to be rude, I could cite for these people the number of clergymen and politicians who are not out, who support homophobia and who are then caught publicly in a same-sex encounter. I have tried very hard not to do this. Is there something I might say when people (uninvited) tell me that my sexuality is all a matter of my choosing and deciding? — Michelangelo

Dear Mike: I, like you, have about had it with people who have “decided” that homosexuality is a choice or an “alternative lifestyle.” This thinking is flat-out ignorant of both science and human nature. I think a fairly gentle way to make your point would be to ask, “So tell me. How old were you when you decided to be straight?” Or: “Can you imagine there’s anything that could turn you into a homosexual?” If either of those responses does not settle their hash (for you young ‘uns, that’s an old expression meaning “close them down”), then I don’t think these people are worth dealing with. –Margo, realistically

Just Cluck No

Dear Margo: My husband is the youngest of six, and two of his sisters rule the roost in the family. They take over planning every holiday, every party, every shower. I don’t mind this, but my husband and I are expected to help pay for these parties, showers, etc. We are told when to show up, what to bring and how much we owe for helping to host … even though we have no input about what parties get planned, dates or times, and sometimes we haven’t even been able to attend. Part of me sees this as “taxation without representation,” and part of me is just glad someone else does the work. We have always given the money because it seemed best to keep the peace.

However, his family is now demanding that we host Christmas, since they have all done it for many years. Since I am an introvert, not a planner or an entertainer, the thought alone brings me to tears. But the reality is this: We live in a 1,200 square-foot townhouse, and the family is 25 people. While I appreciate that his sisters have hosted holidays for a long time, his sisters do not work and have wealthy husbands. We are the least financially equipped to do this. In fact, having this type of gathering would mean forgoing gifts for other family and friends. We explained the situation and bowed out this year, but I fear at some point we will be expected to host. How do I impress upon these people that unless our circumstances change drastically, we will never be hosting Christmas? — Exhausted in Advance

Dear Ex: Tell the hens, I mean the sisters-in-law who rule the roost, that it has become such a tradition that they handle the family events that it would be a shame to lose their golden touch. Tell them of your tiny house, your introversion, your lack of expertise, the stress of your job, your temperamental oven and anything else you can think of. In other words, just say no. Happy hols. –Margo, defensively


Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via e-mail to Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.


Every Thursday and Friday, you can find “Dear Margo” and her latest words of wisdom on wowOwow

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104 comments so far.

  1. avatar Catherine Gallagher says:

    LW#2 doesn’t want to host because she doesn’t want to be troubled with the incredible time, work, and expense of hosting. And believe me, hosting is an incredible amount of time, work, and expense. On the other hand, she resents her two SIL, who for years put in the incredible amount of time and work to host a multitude of parties for every occasion—not just Christmas. The only thing the SIL’s asked is all in the family share the cost of these very large and very expense gatherings. Frankly, I think it’s quite generous of the two sister to do all the darn work and front the costs for the family. Twenty-five people are a lot of people to provide for year after year. And do the sisters really need to consult everyone over party details—I mean really, too many planners lead to disputes and family feuds. Besides, LW#2 has a mouth; if she really wanted to be involved, all she had to do was assert herself.
    Maybe, just maybe, the two SIL’s have been hosting all these years because LW#2 was more than happy riding the gravy train. Maybe, just maybe these two sisters are sick and tired of doing all the hard work; and maybe the entire family is now seeing how baby brother and wifey poo have contributed no labor over the years. Thus the entire family is now “demanding” they host this year because not only are the sisters sick and tired of doing Christmas and every other special occasion and would like a break—just this once, but the entire family has grown weary of baby brother and wifey poo’s lack of contribution to the family gatherings. I find it interesting that wifey poo feigns introvertedness as an excuse to get out of hosting Christmas. Give me a break. How introverted can she be—she goes to all that darn family parties for crying outloud. I mean really, who’s buying that load of crap?

    • avatar R Scott says:

      Wow. Calm down. If it’s all that much work and such a chore and the SIL’s are exhausted, etc., etc… then quit having the damn parties. How about everyone just stays home and relaxes.  Throwing a party is not up there with oxygen, water and food and if baby brother and wifey poo (that was pretty petty by the way) don’t want to host a party they don’t have to.

    • avatar Briana Baran says:

      Ms. Gallagher, did you actually read L#2? She does not attend all of the parties, nor does her husband…and even when not attending they are still expected to pony up whatever is demanded of them by the two family entertainment mavens. Nor did she say she wanted to be involved, but when one is asked to contribute to any sort of family event, one is usually given choice of items (if this involves food, drinks, flowers, etc.) or is asked how much of a monetary contribution one can make. It is considered the nadir of bad manners to demand a set amount of money (not everyone can always afford the same amount), or that the guest have no options as to physical contributions…especially in family situations.
      Also, if the sisters insist on not inquiring as to dates and times that people are available, and set these completely unadvised, and the LW and her husband cannot attend, they are in no way obligated to donate a thing…nor should the sisters have nerve to even ask.
      If the poor, enervated, misused, over-worked, slave-sisters are tired of playing hostess, they should stop doing so. Period, end of story. To put the situation in its more probable perspective, consider that these two females are the type who put on a quite a show of “Look at all of this effort I go through every year for the holidays (all of them, including any obscure days no one else would possibly remember), showers, birthdays, anniversaries, etc., etc., etc., with no help, and how gorgeous they are, and the food! And what thanks do I get? None for my effort!” (with eye roll…and perhaps a little chest beating. And a hair shirt, or some sackcloth and ashes). Because not only do they thoroughly enjoy having absolute power over the family gatherings, putting on the show, and watching people enjoy…but they also perversely delight in the guilt they inspire in most (not all), and the accolades they receive, and the pats on the back, and the, “O, you poor things, you must be exhausted!”, to which they can bravely reply, “Ah, it’s no trouble”. Feh.
      O, and Ms. Gallagher, introversion is real, but you are obviously ignorant on the subject. Allow me to enlighten you, please. I am an “introvert”. I engage in many activities which range from tolerable to excrutiatingly miserable (ie: my husband’s company Christmas parties through attending both religiously biased Cub Scout meetings and my older son’s Church services…only once. The latter proved too much for this woman). However, I most emphatically feel that my home is my castle, my sanctuary, and my zone of peace and comfort and tranquility…and I am in no way inclined to have in packed with people, especially those who make me uncomfortable, and who have forced me to attend to them. I can leave a party at some venue, or another person’s home. At my own home, I would be trapped, and suffering. Does that help?
      LW2 never said that she and her husband did not contribute to parties and events that they attended. You pulled that one from…the ether. You do seem to have a personal stake in the situation, are you one of the Party Spetsnaz Sisters?

  2. avatar Rita@ Goldivas says:

    LW1, you might ask your friends to curb their voyeurism.

    • avatar R Scott says:

      This reminded me of a diversity workshop I participated in years ago. We discussed many diverse groups and activities, etc. One afternoon when we started a discussion about Gay issues one on the participants exclaimed that just thinking about what two men did with each other in bed made her sick. Without the missing a beat the facilitator said, “Knowing that you sit around thinking about what other adults do in bed disturbs me”.  I loved it!

  3. avatar Nancy Pea says:

    LW#2: if you ever decide to do any festivities, just make it a pot luck. i have done this many a time. my bridal shower was a pot luck affair. everybody brought a dish. if they wanted and could afford it, they could bring a present. i get a nice bit. but it was the friendship and fun that was important to me and my new husband.
    the christmas season shouldn’t be a hard time for you. but also if they are going to charge you for their parties, you should damn well charge them back and make sure they pay or their invites will get lost in the mail. lol! pot lucks also work well for christmas dinner. we used to go to thanksgiving dinner and christmas dinner at my in-laws before we moved out of state. we always brought a dish. usually a desert or side dish. even deviled eggs (omg, i love those). the point is, that if you do ever decide to do it (and it’s a good way to get to know more of the family in YOUR setting) make it a pot luck. you make the main dish. everybody else brings something. no money is required.
    entertainment is really easy. cards, board games and movies. (ugh, sports to for the men and some women). never had a bad get together and i’m about as poor as they come. so don’t totally give up on hosting your own holiday. just don’t let a controlling hen spoil your nest!!!

  4. avatar R Scott says:

    Baby Snooks, Briana Baran, and chuck alien  – I loved reading your posts. You’re all very smart, very passionate and very good with the written word.  I always learn something. Thanks!

    • avatar Baby Snooks says:

      I don’t know that I’m smart given I’ve been stalked four times in my life but I am passionate. But I keep that part of my life behind closed doors.  I like to kiss and not tell.

  5. avatar Leajmom says:

    LW1:  I would recommend the response advocated by another advice columnist.  A stone-faced, “Wow.”
    LW2:  I love MessyONE’s idea, and suggest a specific caterer:  Pizza Hut.