Couple asks Abby, “Why won’t the neighbors tolerate our intolerance?”

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In the February 19 Dear Abby column, a couple referred to as “Unhappy in Tampa” writes that they had recently moved to Florida about a year previous and had been welcomed into the new neighborhood. However, when it was their turn to host, the new couple excluded both of the gay couples in the area “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!”

They conclude, “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?”

In her response, Abby immediately points out that although they may have heard otherwise, “sexual orientation isn’t a ‘lifestyle choice.’” She also calls the couple out on complaining about being excluded from gatherings, when the reason for it is because they did exactly that to others.

Abby adds, “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.”

Many advice columnists today are known for their LGBT-inclusive, sensible advice; another response of note came from Ask Amy in November 2013, when a mother begged, “Please help [my son]make the right choice in life by not being gay.”

Amy replied, “You could teach your son an important lesson by changing your own sexuality to show him how easy it is. Try it for the next year or so: Stop being a heterosexual to demonstrate to your son that a person’s sexuality is a matter of choice—to be dictated by one’s parents, the parents’ church and social pressure.”

The original Abby, Pauline Phillips (the column is now written by her daughter) once had a similar letter regarding clashes between neighbors; “Up In Arms” wrote about two new residents, “an older man about 50 and a young fellow about 24,” and complained, “They have all sorts of strange-looking company. Men who look like women, women who look like men…Abby, these weirdos are wrecking our property values! How can we improve the quality of this once-respectable neighborhood?”

Abby replied simply, “You could move.”

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