DEAR ABBY: I am hoping that you will be able to answer a question that has been bothering me for years. What is a "gay lifestyle"?
I am a 40-year-old gay male and don't have a clue as to what a gay lifestyle is. My life partner, David, and I have been together 15 years and have jointly adopted three special-needs children. We live in the suburbs in a middle-class neighborhood, at the end of a cul-de-sac. Like most of our gay and lesbian friends, we don't smoke, drink alcohol or go to bars. Our children go to public school with the rest of the children in the neighborhood.
Once a friend told me what he thought was a gay lifestyle, but by the sound of it, he was describing a single's lifestyle, gay or straight. Is that what some people mean, that is, a gay lifestyle is synonymous with a single lifestyle?
If there is such a thing as a gay lifestyle, doesn't that automatically mean that there is a "heterosexual lifestyle"? And if this is true, what is a heterosexual lifestyle? I have sincerely been asking people and no one has been able to give me an answer. -- MICHAEL SERKIN-POOLE, BELLEVUE, WASH.
DEAR MICHAEL: Fair questions. In Eric Marcus' informative book "Is It a Choice?" (HarperSanFrancisco), he answers this way: "After watching countless news reports and occasional documentaries over the years about gay people -- gay men, mostly -- the most popular image of gay life that has been seared into the minds of most Americans is the urban, single nightlife led by some gay men -- and plenty of straight people as well -- during the 1970s.
"As hard as it might be to believe, there is no such thing as a 'gay lifestyle,' just as there is no such thing as a heterosexual lifestyle. Gay and lesbian people, like heterosexual people, live in a variety of ways, from poor to middle-class to nouveau riche, from urban to rural."