Dear Abby, the renowned advice columnist, laid into a Florida couple this week after they wrote in and complained about their gay neighbors.
In the letter signed "Unhappy in Tampa," the husband and wife wrote about moving to Florida from a conservative community last year. They said they quickly made friends with their new neighbors and were soon welcomed into their social circle, which included two gay couples.
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But when it came time for "Unhappy" to host their own party, they did not invite the same-sex couples because they don't "approve of their lifestyle choices."
"Since then, we have been excluded from neighborhood gatherings, and someone even suggested that we are bigots!" the letter, posted by Yahoo News, read
. "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?"
Dear Abby lashed back, saying that "a person's sexual orientation isn't a 'lifestyle choice.'"
"Gay people don't choose to be gay; they are born that way," Jeanne Phillips, the current author of the syndicated advice column, wrote. "They 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," the response continued. "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."
The Dear Abby column became a forum for the public discussion of private problems when Pauline Phillips launched it in 1956. Under the pen name Abigail Van Buren, Phillips offered up smart, tart-tongued advice that rang true for millions of people in hundreds of newspapers around the world. Her daughter, Jeanne Phillips, took over the column unofficially in 1987 and officially in 2000. Pauline Phillips died last January.
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