Syndicated advice columnist Dear Abby, long known for common sense answers and support of gays, let a reader signed ‘Unhappy in Tampa’ have it this week for being a homophobe.
A woman explained that she and her husband had relocated to Florida and after being quickly welcomed into the neighborhood social scene, they quickly found themselves on the outside looking in.
‘Two couples in the neighborhood are gay – one male, one female. While they are nice enough, my husband and I did not include them when it was our turn to host because we do not approve of their lifestyle choices,’ the woman wrote.
‘Since then, we have been excluded from neighborhood gatherings, and someone even suggested that we are bigots!’
The reader explained that they had moved from a ‘conservative community’ where ‘if people were "different," they apparently kept it to themselves.’
She wondered who the ‘true bigot’ is and feels ‘we should not have to compromise our values just to win the approval of our neighbors.’
The woman asked Dear Abby: ‘Would you like to weigh in?’
Replied the columnist: ‘I sure would. The first thing I’d like to say is that regardless of what you were told in your previous community, a person’s sexual orientation isn’t a "lifestyle choice." Gay people don’t choose to be gay; they are born that way. They can’t change being gay any more than you can change being heterosexual.’
After the lesson on sexual orientation, Dear Abby offered this observation: ‘I find it interesting that you are unwilling to reciprocate the hospitality of people who welcomed you and opened their homes to you, and yet you complain because you are receiving similar treatment.’
She has this advice for the woman: ‘From where I sit, you may have chosen the wrong place to live because it appears you would be happier in a less integrated neighborhood surrounded by people who think the way you do.’
Dear Abby hopes the couple will not retreat back into their ‘conservative community.’
‘ … If you interact only with people like yourselves, you will have missed a chance for growth, which is what you have been offered here. Please don’t blow it.’
The Dear Abby column 1956 by Pauline Phillips under the pen name Abigail Van Buren and is carried on today by her daughter, Jeanne Phillips.