Pauline Phillips, the original “Abigail Van Buren,” died last year at the age of 94. Here is today’s advice from her daughter Jeanne Phillips, who has written the column since 2002.
DEAR ABBY: My husband and I relocated to Florida a little over a year ago and were quickly welcomed into our new neighbors’ social whirl. 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. Since then, we have been excluded from neighborhood gatherings, and someone even suggested that we are bigots! Abby, we moved here from a conservative community where people were pretty much the same. If people were “different,” they apparently kept it to themselves. I don’t feel we should have to compromise our values just to win the approval of our neighbors. But really, who is the true bigot here? Would you like to weigh in? — Unhappy in Tampa
DEAR UNHAPPY: 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 can’t change being gay any more than you can change being heterosexual. 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. But 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.
More than 30 years ago, Pauline said the same thing, but a bit more succinctly.