I am a 39 year old woman. My parents have been married for 45 years but I recently come across some evidence that makes me strongly believe that my 75-year-old father has been leading a secret lifestyle of bisexuality.
My father does not know what I have discovered, and I do not want my mother to ever find out. I have only talked to my husband about this, but I have three siblings and am dealing with the decision of whether or not I should tell them. Do I live with this secret forever?
Based on the many emails I receive from sons and daughters who accidentally find out about their fathers’ sexuality, it’s safe to assume that what you discovered were photographs, letters, pornography or a combination of those things.
I won’t try to excuse your father’s secret, but I do think it’s important to keep in mind that he married your mother in the late 1950s. When he made that choice to not live openly as a gay or bisexual man, there were no visible examples of same-sex relationships, let alone happy and healthy ones.
It sounds like you want to protect you mother from the truth, but you might be surprised by what your mother already knows. Many wives know for years — some even know it before they get married. Besides, even if he hasn’t told her, considering that you came across this evidence, chances are good that at some point in their 45 years together, your mother has, too.
Before you do anything, figure out what the worst part of this is for you. Is it finding out that your dad is attracted to men? Or is it finding out that he has been hiding a big secret from his family all these years?
If the fact that it is a secret hurts more than the potential details of the actual secret, wait for the initial shock to wear off and ask him about it yourself. It doesn’t sound like you are going to able to “live with this secret forever” without it eroding your relationship with your father. At least give him the opportunity to respond to your questions while he’s alive.
That conversation will not be an easy one, and you will need support from your husband and possibly a therapist before and after. But after you find out the truth from your father, you and your father will have a clearer idea about what to tell your siblings and mother.