Dear Margo: To Tell or Not To Tell

With a wedding just around the corner, should I tell my conservative parents about my past, liberal relationships?  Margo Howard’s advice

To Tell or Not To Tell

Dear Margo: My problem, if you could call it that, is that I am a bisexual woman. Not bisexual as in I’ve had the occasional drunken romp with a lady, but bisexual as in I’ve had girlfriends. My family is ultra-conservative, and I have a feeling that if I told them, I would not be allowed to see my nieces. I had to explain to my stepsister that homosexuality is a completely different animal from pedophilia, and I know where she got that idea: my parents. I have let on to my stepsister that I have fooled around with women, but have not told her the extent of it, and she has let it slip that she has done the same thing, as well, although I suspect she’s firmly in the “fooled around” category.

My parents are old and are against gay marriage with the highly refutable logic that “marriage is between a man and a woman.” I am getting married to a man next year and am worried that it may come out at the wedding. I have no problem telling my friends. It is just my family members in another city who don’t know, so the likelihood that it will slip is about 50-50.

My husband-to-be encourages me to tell them, but understands the quandary I am in. My deal is that if I am getting married to a man and intend to spend the rest of my life with him, isn’t it kinder to my parents to let them think their daughter is hetero, or am I letting the entire LGBT community down by not telling them and risking rest-of-my-life outcast status? Despite their views, they are the only family I know. — Not-so-Innocent Bistander

Dear Not: Because you say your parents are “ultra-conservative” and old (and benighted), I would not give them information that, in a way, is none of their business and would also disturb them greatly. There is nothing to gain. You are getting married, and that will give them pleasure — and you’re doing it in the way they understand: a man and a woman! I don’t think you are letting down the LGBT community. Your peers know, and more importantly, your husband-to-be knows, so let’s leave Mom and Dad in the 20th century where they are comfortable. — Margo, contentedly

Waking Up to Weed Whackers? No, Thank You.

Dear Margo: We are an older, retired couple who like to do our yard work in the summer during the cool morning hours. Starting at first light, around 6 a.m., is when we prefer to do our yard work. By 9 a.m., it is much too hot to continue working outside.  Our next-door neighbor, who we really like, has asked us not to do any yard work before 9 a.m. The noise from the weed whacker, edger and lawn mower wakes up their baby. What to do? — Up and at ‘Em

Dear Up: What to do — at 6 in the morning? Be quiet, for one thing. I, personally, would find making any kind of big noise outside “at first light” grounds for calling the police. I can tell you, having lived in southern California, that the sound of weed whackers is an awful, annoying sound at any hour.

I would hope you’d accede to your neighbor’s request, because common courtesy dictates no noisy anything before 9. I don’t know which desert you live in for it to be too hot to be outside at 9 in the morning, but if that is truly the case, I suggest you change your yard work schedule to perhaps 6 in the evening. — Margo, respectfully

* * *

Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via e-mail to dearmargo@creators.com. Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.

COPYRIGHT 2011 MARGO HOWARD
DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

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103 comments so far.

  1. avatar Lorie Bischel says:

    I am really glad I am not your neighbor.  Like margo, I would call the police if you operated power equipment at 6AM.  In my community, Davis, California, it is illegal to make loud noise before 7AM.  Lawn maintenance companies never start before 7AM for that reason.  I suspect  your community has similar laws.  One web site I checked said “Nearly every town has a general noise ordinance,  which designate “quiet hours” from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. on weekdays, and until  9 a.m. on weekends.”  I don’t like exercising or working outside when it is hot, but I would never be rude enough to use power tools before 7:30 AM, and then only when it is going to be over 100 degrees later.   
    I think, in your situation, you should explain to your neighbor that working in the heat is difficult at your age and health, and compromise by waiting until 8 AM before using power equipment– there is plenty of non-power tool yard work you can do at sunrise.  I also suggest you consider buying an electric mower wich is much less noisy than a gas mower.  You still don’t get to use it at 6AM.

  2. avatar Miss Lee says:

    When I moved into my neighborhood, I noticed that there was a gentleman who did yard work at 6 am or so.  It irritated me until I learned that it was the homeowner’s ex-husband who still did her lawn because she had health issues and couldn’t.  He worked nights and would stop by on the way home to mow.  The sound of the lawn mower went from irritating to a sign that there was still true gentlemen in the world.  So I think they should explain the situation and, if the neighbor is a gentleman, perhaps he will offer to do their lawn as well.  Ya just never know.  There is a difference between a neighborhood and a residental district.  Understanding and tollerance is what is needed not the citing of a city ordinance.

  3. avatar Diane Shaw says:

    Ltr. #1 – This is an example of sexuality as THE focal point of our being.  I don’t care who you are, gay, bi, or straight, your sexuality is YOUR business and only your business.  What consensual adults do is up to them.  You can choose to share or not to share and you’re not “fooling” or “letting down” anyone by not telling.  I understand you’re concerned that your family may not know the “real” you, but there’re a lot of facets to us as beings and many of those we keep to ourselves.  In this day of over-sharing, it’s really okay (and refreshing) to keep a little part of what makes us us hidden, regardless of what that might be. 

  4. avatar JCF4612 says:

    LW#1: Why is your marriage being used as a springboard opportunity for broadcasting your entire sexual history, be it gay, straight, or bi?  

    LW#2: Are you talking once a month for this early morning weed-whacker nonsense, or two or three times a week? If it’s the latter, you’re lucky the neighbors were nice in their request rather than calling the cops. Knock it off. 
       

  5. avatar TRF06 says:

    LW2 – I live in southern Florida so I understand heat and humidity – I’m happy that in our neighborhood the lawn maintenance service does not make noise prior to 9AM. 

    However I lived in the SW for many years where we did not have a lawn maintenance service and we “zero-scaped” our yard.  This involved putting in large stones, Yucca, cactus’, etc along with paths, large trees, and swings to make a beautiful southwestern yard that would look nice in all temperatures and required little maintenance.  Not only was it easy to maintain and noise-free, all homeowners who did this received an annual break on their property taxes.  Just a thought that might please all involved.

    • avatar K Coldiron says:

      I really wish more people would do this. My mom lives in Florida and has a zen sand garden instead of a lawn. SO much easier on her, cheaper, and better for the environment.

  6. avatar Violet says:

    If LW1 is marrying a man and preumbly going to be monogamous with him for life, how is the fact that she has been with women remain relevant? It’s not part of her “identity” any more. I don’t see the need to discuss any past lovers with anyone except the husband in any situation and can’t imagine how it might come up in wedding conversation.

    Is one of LW’s friends going to go up to the dad and say, “I like this guy much better than that Mary, who your daughter used to date.”? Not going to happen.

    On LW2, if I had a neighbor using a weed whacked at 6 am, I would have them cited for public nuisance and get a restraining order if they refused to stop. Incredibly rude of them to try to justify that behavior. I have double windows and air conditioning and it’s no match for the leaf blowers I hear all day here in L.A.

  7. avatar Jody says:

    My humble opinion to LW#1 come straight from Dr. Seuss:
    “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”
    As I’ve gotten older (40′s) I realize there are things I just should not share with my parents anymore.  As they get older, it is best for me to not burden them with some things.  I’m not hiding anything.  If they asked, I would offer the goods.  But, some things are mine and mine only.  And, as an adult, I can settle those things for myself to my best ability and accept them.  It’s not my business if anyone else does.  Spare your parents your full experience.  In the end it doesn’t really matter anyway. 
    Congratulations on your nuptials!  Many blessings to you and your family!

  8. avatar flyonthewall says:

    LW#1 I see no reason for you to tell your parents anything.  If something comes out at the wedding, deal with it as it happens.  Chances are strong that no one will say anything and you will have a wonderful time.  I think it is a bad idea to discuss your sex life with parents, in general btw.  Some things are best left unsaid.
    LW#2 If at all possible, try hiring a lawn care service to take care of the loud chores during the day when noise is appropriate.  Otherwise, try working in the evening as the sun goes down.  That is when I get my work done.  The morning is just too humid for me and it is not good on the grass to mow when the dew is out.

    • avatar Jrz Wrld says:

      I’ve only discussed my sex life with my mother when she’s insisted on discussing hers with me. It’s shut her up pretty quickly, though I like to think she picked up a couple of tips.

      • avatar flyonthewall says:

        LOL Jrz Wrld!  I think I should clarify my comment, though.  I was speaking in terms of sexual orientation and past lovers.  Sure, if you are gay and are committed to a same sex partner, tell away, but in the case of the lw, it would create a great deal of unnecessary drama.  In other words, don’t tell parents any more than what you have to.

  9. avatar David Bolton says:

    And by the way, Margo: tell your web designer to put back the counter that said how many comments had been made on the front page, as well as on this one. That was a great, quick way to see if anyone had made a new comment—rather than having to click twice and scroll down to the comment counter on this page.

    • avatar LandofLove says:

      YES!!

    • avatar etiennewestwind says:

      And by the way, Margo: tell your web designer to put back the counter that said how many comments had been made on the front page, as well as on this one. That was a great, quick way to see if anyone had made a new comment—rather than having to click twice and scroll down to the comment counter on this page.
       
      And while you’re at it, can you get the settings to receive e-mails of new comments have a copy of the previous comment/entry so that you can actually tell what people are talking about?  And maybe a way to subscribe to new comments without commenting on a column? 
       
      Or are these requests we need to send directly to Wowowow?

  10. avatar Frau Quink says:

    Ltr.#2: Under no circumstances would I appreciate the yard work noise coming from my neighbours before 8:00AM. And I am an early morning person and have been doing my yard for 33 years. I have no excuse for this letter writer. Some common sense is in order here. Loud noise is all a young mother needs who has probably stayed up half of the night with a teething infant. Even my neighbour who is very compulsive about his yard and property would not dare to start working in the early AM.

  11. avatar Phillip Koons says:

    Really surprised at some of the comments on here on LW1.  

    As a gay male, I’ve got a bit more insight into this.  

    Believe it or not, wanting to tell her parents about her bisexuality has very little to do with talking to her parents about sex.  In fact, I told my parents over 10 years ago (and they are quite supportive) and I’ve never once spoken to them about anything involving sex.  

    It’s more than just part of her sexuality.  It’s part of her identity and extends far beyond the bedroom.  

    Now, would I tell my folks in the situation she was in?  Probably not….for one reason alone.  You’re getting married.  Provided everything works out as the typical ‘all american’ dream, then you won’t have any further girlfriends anyways.  If it doesn’t and you end up in a relationship with another girl, then you can cross that bridge at that time.  Any ‘friend’ that would out you at a wedding is no friend regardless.  

    • avatar Briana Baran says:

      Phillip, as a bisexual woman, I am pleased to have someone else who actually sees that this is not about revealing the details of one’s sexual experiences, or the sexual lifestyle, but is all about the conflict between an individual’s nature and self…and parents who have been kept unaware of that nature because they think of it as an abomination.
       
      I see LW1′s difficulty clearly. She isn’t afraid that someone will say, “O, — used to perform unnatural acts with — in dark alleys on full moon nights”, nor is she interested in discussing preferred positions, best orgasms, and whether males or females have better oral techniques. She’s carefully kept her sexual orientation…bisexuality (which means that gender is not an issue in her attraction to a potential sexual/romantic partner…not that she’s a promiscuous, experimental, likely-to-be-dissatisfied-with-a-monogamous-relationship partner…because she’ll somehow miss the other gender’s genitalia) hidden from her parents because she knows it would deeply upset them, and that it would possibly cause a rift. 
       
      And while it is unlikely that people would discuss her actual sexual history at her wedding (though, my o my, tacky knows no boundaries, from high society to hicksville, from $100,000 extravaganzas to shotguns and the JP…there is always the possibility that some disgruntled individual suffering from a cranial-rectal inversion will have a tale or two to tell)…it is much more plausible that someone might say, “Didn’t she used to date Dianne?” in casual conversation…without any malice aforethought. It could be from a completely accepting person who is delighted that LW1 is getting married, but still…That could certainly throw a spanner in the works if mother and father over-heard. 
       
      I think that her fiance is trying to head off trouble, but, I wouldn’t say a word to the parents. It is unlikely that they’ll register anything that is said casually, they’ll be so delighted that she’s getting married. If her friends are aware of their prejudices, then they’ll be more likely to be cautious with what they say. She owes nothing to the LGBT community on her wedding day…and any member of said community who considers her a “traitor” for marrying a man is as nasty a bigot as those who despise gay, lesbian and bisexual people.
       
      I’m “out”. I am bisexual. My friends, family and husband all know. I’ve been in a monogamous, wonderful marriage with him for 17 years. I’ve also lost friends of both sexes when they’ve found out. Their problem, not mine. My husband is very hetero, and has no issues with gay men or lesbian women at all…completely supportive of equal rights for gay people…same sex marriage, insurance, adoption…you name it, he’s for it. If either of our sons had been gay, he’d have been fully supportive…only worried because the world is so full of ignorant, dogmatic, inhumane, self-righteous morons.
       
      Being gay, lesbian or bisexual is part of a person’s identity. You can’t be cured, or fixed. You don’t catch it, or decide to “be it”. This isn’t about talking about her sex life with her parents. What a close-minded assumption…but, whenever bisexuality is mentioned…everyone sees only the “sex” syllable.
       
      O, and by the by…if more people discussed sex with their parents…maybe we wouldn’t have so many ignorant, misguided, pregnant, disease ridden, screwed up teens and young adults out there. Just saying people, Just saying…

  12. avatar P S says:

    LW1: This is so not your parents’ business, I too have yet to hear of people who gossiped about the happy couple’s sexual pasts at the wedding (or at any gatherings/events surrounding the big day), and as Phillip Koons pointed out, if you’re planning to be monogamous in your marriage, then what’s the problem? Even if there’s a different arrangement between you and your fiance (in which case I’m wondering why you would marry him – sorry but I still believe marriage still is about committing to one person for life, otherwise what’s the point?), that’s still not their business.

    LW2 – The fact that you’re trying to go around your neighbors’ wishes by writing to an advice columnist to try and justify yourself only illustrates how rude and self-centered you are. What were you going to do if Margo agreed with you anyway? Print out her response and wave it in your neighbors’ face saying “Ah ha, ah ha! MARGO says I can make all the noise I want at 6AM, so you can go soak your head!”? Please.

    Not every infant/child is able to sleep through noises. I have a special needs child with sensory issues who’s 7 years old. A moth flapping its wings around in his room is enough to wake him up. Some babies are just sensitive, light sleepers, and there’s not a lot you can do about it.

    Either way your neighbor’s request is not unreasonable. Period.

    As others said you may have been violating a noise ordinance anyhow, and if so your neighbor was actually pretty polite to just make the request instead of outright calling the cops. If you’re savvy enough to get a letter to Dear Margo then you’re savvy enough to research that tidbit.

    If this is reeeeaaaalllly THAT big of a deal to you, then look up a local neighbor mediation service. The mediator will act as a third party to find a solution so you AND your neighbor are happy… repeat, you AND your neighbor. Remember, this isn’t all about you.

    • avatar P S says:

      Quick addendum to LW2: While there are laws in most places about noise prior to a certain time, there’s certainly no law that says you couldn’t hire a gardening service to do the basics such as mowing and weeding in the heat of the day, or ask a starving student to do it for a small fee you can afford. Then you have the heavy lifting take care of for you without breaking the noise ordinance and you can still do planting, watering, pruning, etc. early in the morning. Those activities at least don’t make a lot of noise.

      There, was that so hard? 

  13. avatar vdcthiessen says:

    I can’t believe that anyone would think it was acceptable to turn on power tools at 6 in the morning, our local ordinance is 7 am and that is still too early. If you can’t take the heat, hire someone who can or move North

  14. avatar Paula says:

    LW1 – If you’re accurate in your assessment of your parents’ beliefs, my guess is that, even if they were to hear rumors, they’re unlikely to believe them anyway.  Let it go, your private (and now, PAST) life is none of their business.  You’re marrying a man, presumably for life, so your parents will most likely be pleased with your choices.

    LW2 –  I don’t tolerate heat well myself and have often tried to stay indoors when it’s exceptionally hot outside.

    impska wrote:
    “If the neighbors have that much of a problem with their scheduling, then they should offer to help the older couple out during an hour that works better with their baby’s sleep schedule. 
    Sorry, but “We’re old, and that’s the only time we can manage it without help” is all they need to say. If their neighbor decides to be angry rather than help out, so be it.” 

    I beg to differ, impska.  LW2′s yard work is THEIR responsibility, NOT their neighbor’s!  The neighbor with a baby has her hands full already, simply caring for a baby, and should not be saddled with someone else’s yard work!  

    Being “old” is NOT an automatic entitlement to ignore common courtesy or anything else!!!!!  These individuals who like to do their yard work at the crack of dawn need to, as others have suggested, check their local laws on using noisy equipment at certain hours and abide by them, first of all.  This person said they “like” to do their yard work early; to me, obeying the law and treating their neighbors respectfully should take precedence over what they “like” to do!

     LuckySeven wrote:
    “Being old doesn’t mean you can do anything you want and play the elder card.”

    HEAR, HEAR!!!!!!  Reaching a certain age (which in itself is subjective!  What age?  60? 70? 80?) is NOT an automatic excuse to treat others rudely or anything else!!!!  If these people are “older,” they should also be “mature,” and with maturity should come MORE courtesy toward and concern for others, not less!!!

     Briana Baran wrote:
    “If he must do his yard work at 6 am, go retro. Use a rake, weed cutter and a hoe to get those weeds, and a push broom to clear the drive and sidewalks. A hand edger works nicely on the lawn…and the wire never tangles, you don’t need an electric cord, or, alternatively, to fill it with gasoline. None of these stir up the horrible dust, and emit the fumes and exhaust that the power-driven varieties do, and they are virtually silent. Save mowing for last…and use an electric mower if your lawn isn’t huge, as they are much quieter, lighter, and easier to manage. ”

    EXCELLENT idea!!!!  I get the impression that yard work is a hobby for LW2 and spouse, and if so, they would likely get more enjoyment out of doing more of it by hand.  Sure, it won’t go as fast, but if it’s truly a hobby as I am guessing, the idea isn’t to “hurry up and finish,” but to do something they enjoy while also getting work done.  

    butterfly55 wrote:
    “My solution, let the neighbors do the lawn work when they do their own since they don’t like the time it is done by this couple.”

    “Let” the neighbors do the lawn work???  Excuse me, but the work is the responsibility of the individuals who live in the house, NOT the next-door neighbors!!!!  The neighbors have their hands full already, taking care of a baby!

     Babbalou wrote:
    “Regarding letter 2, while I understand the desire to avoid lawn work in the heat of the day, there is no pass on common courtesy (or exception to noise ordinances) extended to you due to advanced age.  You can do your lawn work in short spurts when it is hot or you can do it without noisy power tools while your neighbors are sleeping.  Alternately you can hire a service.   The fact that your neighbor asked you to stop waking them up early in the mornings with noisy power tools and you respond by writing to Margo asking for advice is rather shocking to me.  I’m glad you’re not MY neighbor!”

    I couldn’t have said it better myself!!!!  Age is NO EXCUSE for rudeness or unkindness!!!!

    kchick28 wrote:
    “Doesn’t it stand to reason that if you live in an atmosphere where it’s hot enough to not do yard work by 9am, that everyone would likely have the windows closed and AC running? If that’s the case, a weed whacker can’t be THAT loud. Perhaps a fan or white noise machine in the baby’s room would be helpful. ”

    Not necessarily!!!  Electric yard tools are extremely noisy and not easily drowned out by air conditioning!

     P S wrote:
    “ The fact that you’re trying to go around your neighbors’ wishes by writing to an advice columnist to try and justify yourself only illustrates how rude and self-centered you are. What were you going to do if Margo agreed with you anyway? Print out her response and wave it in your neighbors’ face saying “Ah ha, ah ha! MARGO says I can make all the noise I want at 6AM, so you can go soak your head!”? Please.
    Not every infant/child is able to sleep through noises. I have a special needs child with sensory issues who’s 7 years old. A moth flapping its wings around in his room is enough to wake him up. Some babies are just sensitive, light sleepers, and there’s not a lot you can do about it.
    Either way your neighbor’s request is not unreasonable. Period.
    As others said you may have been violating a noise ordinance anyhow, and if so your neighbor was actually pretty polite to just make the request instead of outright calling the cops. If you’re savvy enough to get a letter to Dear Margo then you’re savvy enough to research that tidbit.
    If this is reeeeaaaalllly THAT big of a deal to you, then look up a local neighbor mediation service. The mediator will act as a third party to find a solution so you AND your neighbor are happy… repeat, you AND your neighbor. Remember, this isn’t all about you.”

    EXCELLENT response!!!!! 

  15. avatar ashley nicole says:

    Usually I glance over the comments just to see what others have to say. But this time, I have a problem with the comments – not because I think people said anything rude or that I disagree with, but because people keep talking about LW#2 having younger neighbors with a baby. So I scrolled back up and re-read the letter, a baby is never mentioned, so where did everyone get this?

    • avatar Briana Baran says:

      From L#2: “…The noise from the weed whacker, edger and lawn mower wakes up their baby…”
       
      Yup, they have a baby. We’re not all crazy.

    • avatar nikkylee says:

      “The noise from the weed whacker, edger and lawn mower wakes up their baby. What to do?”

  16. avatar reeledge says:

    Last line of the letter mentions the baby.

    • avatar ashley nicole says:

      I saw that after someone else mentioned it. Guess I was just tired and glanced over it too quickly.

  17. avatar amw says:

    LW1: I agree with Margo. I wouldn’t be too concerned about your friends “outing” you at your wedding. That day will be about you and your husband, not your past relationships.

    LW2: While I completely understand your reasoning for getting work done in the early morning hours, many cities and even neighborhoods have strict guidelines regarding their noise ordinance. I would check to make sure you aren’t violating any bylaws because you could be fined.

    If for some reason there isn’t any rule set in place, I would speak to your neighbor and try to come up with a compromise…especially because they have a sleeping baby.

  18. avatar LCMom says:

    LW1 – If you focus on the information getting out, it will follow your thoughts to do so. Stop thinking about it and “know” that everything will run smoothly. Think of it this way, most of the people in the LGBT community would never “out” anyone under any circumstances, even if they are themselves. Most people of open-mindedness won’t either. It’s your business and people know this. If you’ve made enemies, they shouldn’t be at the wedding.

    LW2 – check your local laws about noise and yard-work – they generally will give you at least an idea of what you need to do, what you’re obliged to do, and then whether or not you give in to your “nice” neighbors and keep your relationship running smoothly, is up to you. But also think of it this way, they might not be so nice anymore if you don’t and heaven forbid it, but what if something happened to one of you and your neighbors could help easily. It’s really best to be amiable with the people around you. (even if it’s a leap to do so)

  19. avatar Jennifer juniper says:

    Oh come on.  LW2 is not even up for debate.  If you start using loud mechanical devices before 8 or possibly 9 in the morning on any day you should be shot, drawn and quartered, decapitated, and your head stuck on a pike for all your neighbours to throw rotten food at.  And that’s regardless of whether or not there is a baby involved. 

  20. avatar Katy Dias says:

    for those of you on the side of the noisy neighbor, you do realize its not just a matter of being rude right? Most cities have noise ordinances that say you cannot do work before a certain hour. If I were the neighbor I would only ask once to be polite, after that I’m calling the cops every single time you start yard work at 6am. Maybe the cops can get you to realize how wrong you are. Go to sleep cranky old bitty. If you dont like the heat so much, MOVE!

  21. avatar Nikki Sunset says:

    @LW2
    Everyone seems to agree that early morning gardening is unreasonable. But what no one has mentioned is What Is In It For You.
    What’s in it for you is: as seniors, someday you are going to need your neighbors to help you. Your fire alarm/burglar alarm will go off, or you need a younger stronger person to do something, or one of a thousand other scenarios. Then you’ll be glad you did them this LITTLE favor. It’s not a big deal they’re asking. Just reasonable behavior from one neighbor to another.