DEAR ABBY: I have a couple of issues with the answer you gave "Dumbfounded in San Jose" (8/16), the woman who discovered that her husband had a homosexual relationship in college 20 years ago. Had she discovered the relationship was with a woman, would you have advised her similarly?
You implied that, because he was bisexual, he is more inclined to be adulterous and unsafe. Being bi does not mean you necessarily have relationships with men and women, but that you can be attracted to and possibly have relationships with both sexes. You have perpetrated a stigma that homosexuals and bisexuals are unfaithful and unsafe. He has chosen to spend his life with her, so it's possible he has been faithful to that commitment. -- PHILADELPHIA READER
DEAR PHILADELPHIA READER: Let me refresh your memory. The man was overheard discussing the four-year affair he had with his college roommate when the man came to visit. They were overheard by his 16-year-old son. The wife would like to discuss it with her son and her husband "to control the damage" -- but the son "refuses and is now pretending it's not important."
I advised her that if her son didn't think it was important, he wouldn't have told her. I also said she needed to find out if her husband's bisexual activity had continued after college, and that she should be tested for STDs. That is, by the way, the same advice I have given in the past to spouses of both sexes who suspect their partner has had heterosexual affairs.
In addition, I urged family counseling because the writer was unaware of her husband's prior sexual history and the news is bound to have an effect on their marriage -- and because their son may need reassurance and help working through this. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: I was appalled by your response to "Dumbfounded in San Jose." For many people, attraction is not necessarily about gender. It's about the other person. It's entirely possible that this homosexual affair was a one-time thing, based on a special attraction, and that the husband is not skulking around back alleys with other men. If so, he is not automatically an AIDS risk.
You should be fair and give this man, and his marriage, the benefit of the doubt before rushing to the emergency room. (And yes, I live "there," and maybe have been brainwashed by the evil homosexual underground into thinking there's more than one way to approach sexual orientation.) -- APPALLED IN SAN FRANCISCO
DEAR APPALLED: Although it is possible that the four-year affair in college was a "one-time" thing, in my opinion "experimentation" is taking a nibble of the cake, not consuming the entire thing. And remember, this man kept it a secret from the woman he married. If there were no men carrying on clandestine affairs with other men while pretending to be strictly heterosexual, I wouldn't be concerned.
What I find extremely worrisome -- and it goes beyond the facts of this letter -- is that sexually transmitted diseases that could be prevented are rampant in this country because of ignorance. Sexually active seniors are getting AIDS because they think they're somehow exempt from having to take the same precautions young people do. Parents are refusing to have their daughters vaccinated against a virus that's linked to cervical cancer because they're afraid it will give them permission to have sex before marriage. (Has it not occurred to them that these girls can cross the altar as virgins and be infected by their husbands?) Men have unprotected sex with other men and call it something else.
Sometimes I ask myself if we're living in the United States or a State of Denial. My advice was the prudent thing to do.