DEAR ABBY: My brother and I recently found out my father, who has been married for more than 30 years, is having sexual relations with other men. This man accused my brother of being gay (he’s not), claims to be religious and sleeps next to my mother every night. I am not sure how to approach this because, honestly, I’m still in shock. My brother is furious.
We found a secret email address of Dad’s along with messages to men he has been meeting. Some of them describe him bringing men over while our mother is at work. He tells us he is going to a store, to visit a friend in the hospital, etc., but we found out that he’s really been sneaking around with other men.
Our mother doesn’t know any of this, and it was an accident that my brother and I found out. (We were ridding his computer of a virus.) Should I say something to my father? How do I approach it? How do I forgive him for accusing my brother of being gay when it’s him all along? Should I say something to my mother? How do I get my brother to stop being so angry at him?
I feel like I could go on forever with a million questions, but more than anything, I’m heartbroken, confused and angry. Our community and culture frown upon gays. I have nothing against the LGBTQ community because my generation is different and I have some close friends who are gay, although I don’t tell my father because he says he thinks it’s “disgusting.” I am not sure how to approach this. Please help! — HOLDING DAD’S SECRET
DEAR HOLDING: If attitudes were less judgmental, I am sure many more LGBTQ individuals would be more open about it. From your description of your father and the community you live in, he must be filled with disgust and self-hatred. It’s not your job to assuage your brother’s anger at the father who projected shame of his own sexual orientation onto his straight son.
I do think you should have a conversation with your father about what you discovered, and the sooner, the better. If your father has been doing more than “sleeping” next to your mother, she needs to be checked for STDs — just as she would if her husband were sleeping with other women. Give your father a deadline by which he has to come clean with her (if she doesn’t already know), or you will. Then follow through.
DEAR ABBY: I was recently married, and I didn’t invite several of my cousins, some of whom are quite dramatic. While I care about them, we aren’t close, and I rarely hear from them. I don’t regard a wedding as an excuse for a family reunion, so I chose to invite friends who are like family and who have demonstrated they wanted to be a part of my life. I’m now getting backlash from those who were not invited. Was it wrong to invite only the people I knew were genuinely happy for me and my new husband? — NEW BRIDE IN TEXAS
DEAR BRIDE: If inviting emotionally distant relatives would have meant you couldn’t invite close friends, you did the right thing. However, if you think the cousins who were excluded were distant before, you will likely find they may not only be distant but also absent in the future. Everything has a price.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.