A daughter thinks her 75-year-old father is bisexual.

Q:

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?

A:

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.

7 thoughts on “A daughter thinks her 75-year-old father is bisexual.”

  1. I am a 61 year old man who came out to my wife two years ago. Your suggestion to this person that when her 75 year old father married in the late 1950s, there were no visible examples of same-sex relationships, let alone happy and healthy ones, is so true. I attest to that.

    When I thought I might be gay, the only thing I had heard were viscious names that have now been coopted by the gays themselves – “Queer!,” “Fag,” “Faggot,” “Cocksucker,” “Fairy,” — each said with sneers and vehemence. No respectable gay was ever identified in public. Besides I knew fulll well that a gay man was an abomination to God. I thus refused to be gay. I denied to myself that I was gay. Yet my gayness would not be squelched. I begged God to make me straight. I pressed [or suppressed or repressed] my gayness
    down deep inside of me and refused to acknowledge it. I acted on the promises that God would answer my prayers and accepted that I was straight.

    I dated, fell in love, and married on this premise and on these assumptions. But as I grew older, the suppressed gay man within me refused to stay put. I went through agonizing decades of denial of who I am. I poured myself into the church, into my job, and eventualy into being a father. As a father I doted on my son and was the best father around. With the empty nest, a stressful work situation, a biopsy, and meeting a young man who I fell head over heels in love with, I went into a deep depression. I came out to my wife. It was painful and agonizing. I hated myself. I hated being a gay man. With some medication for the epression, a neagtive report on my biopsy, a bity of time off, a discussion with my doctor, tellign my wife, and telling my boss, I quickly came to the point where for the first time in 60 years I could actually say the word “queer.” I could say to myself that “I am gay.” Besides, my wife still loved me and acepted that I am gay.

    I joined a help site — SOTTS [Spouses Out to Their Spouses] — and learned that a large number of people are in the same boat. Our society has forced them to choose to be straight when they are indeed NOT straight. The present political climate wil force many young people in homes that hate homosexuality and are obsessed with it to deny their own being and “choose” to be straight, thus continuing the cycle, one more charade that will involve not only them but their wives or husbands, their parents, their in-laws, their children.

    I’d suggest that the daughter learn more about homosexuality — that it is not a choice, not is it a disease, that her father was placed in a no-win position in his youth, etc. Then she can approach him in a loving way and ask him about what he has been through and not approach him in a blaming way.

  2. Hi

    I have to say that whilst therapy may be helpful for the daughter, that at 75 years of age her father is not answerable to anyone, let alone to his children, on the matter of his sexuality, which is intensely private. I agree that it is very possible that by this stage of life the mother is aware and that the two have a private understanding. If you don’t put your nose where it doesn’t belong, you don’t generally discover things which are none of your business.

    It is not our right to know something about a parent merely because we think we need to. Neither is it our right to tell our parents how to run their marriage, or what kind of communication they should have about what. Another scenario might be that the mother doesn’t know. What is this daughter’s “carry-on” going to do to her parents at this late stage of their lives!

  3. Can you e-mail this woman and see if it is ok for you to give me her e-mail address or can you give her mine? I have the same dilemma. Thanks so much for letting us know we are not alone.

  4. I am bisexual and my wife is the only one that knows. In many cases, it is the wife who wishes to keep the husband’s bisexuality a secret.

  5. My husband is bi, and I accidentally found out, but now know, and I don’t mind. I’m turned on by it, however, I do think that it’s best to keep it private, mostly for his privacy, and also because many of his friends are homophobic. I don’t have a problem with it though, I’m actually turned on by his bisexuality. To me it’s totally normal.

  6. Some men are gay and get married to women especially in that era. Other men are actually really bisexual and passionately love their wives or female companions. The difficult aspect for bisexual men is we often feel out of place in both gay and straight environments because who we really are is denied by society. Thank god for bisexual women I dated a lot of then including my current partner.

  7. I find some people who know or not know they are actually bisexual. But they get support from their partner. It will not impact your normal life, you can also marry and have children.

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