DEAR ABBY: I have tried to have cordial relations with my neighbors, but do not have particularly close friendships with any of them.
A little over a year ago, a young man started coming to my home on a regular basis whenever my wife was out of town. After a while, he began spending the night with me when she was away.
Evidently, some of my neighbors noticed these visits and started gossiping about it, spreading the rumor that I am gay and that this young guy is my lover. More recently, however, he has spent the night when my wife is present, so now my neighbors think something kinky is going on.
At times I am puzzled by this. At other times I am angry at their arrogance and gall. The explanation is simple: The young man is my son from a previous relationship. Because we were prevented from having contact when he was a child, we are now trying to establish a relationship -- and we are making progress. My wife and other children have been wonderfully supportive in all this.
I really don't want to tell my neighbors what's going on because it will inevitably lead to a disclosure of some things that are really none of their business. But I am troubled by the rumor that I have a young male lover. What do you think I should do? -- I'M HIS DAD IN VIRGINIA
DEAR DAD: If you don't want to let your neighbors know the truth, then you will have to tolerate the fact that they have active imaginations and have drawn their own (mistaken) conclusions. If I were in your shoes, however, I think I'd come "out of the closet" on the paternity issue and put the gossip to rest by having your wife introduce your son around as exactly who he is.