BONNIE KAYE'S STRAIGHT TALK
WAITING FOR HIS CONFESSION THAT WILL NEVER COME…AND WHY
Okay, I finally, finally get it. Although I’ve alluded to it numerous times in my writing, I had to really get this clear in my mind. Some of your husbands will never admit they are gay to you. You are standing around waiting for a confession so you can feel better about the void and lack of intimacy in your marriage. If only you could get a confession…if only you could hear him say those magic words…if only you found the proof you need…if only, if only….
Guest what? It is not going to happen. I wrote about this ten years ago when I described the Straight-Gay man. Since it has been a while since some of you have read it, I am going to repeat it here because I believe it helps you understand these men who won’t tell you they are gay because they don’t believe they are gay. This article is from my newsletter dated January, 2002.
I have coined a new term for another classification of gay husbands. It is “Straight Gay Husbands.” I hope you like it. It is my new reference to gay men who are permanently living the straight life, sort of like wolves in sheep’s clothing. They are the husbands who will not acknowledge their homosexuality privately or publicly--ever. Some of them know that you know, but try to confuse you enough to put enough doubt in your mind to make you think that you are the crazy one. It’s the best defense to your “offensive” questions. These are the men that shut you up or shut you down the moment you think about making mention of the possibility of homosexuality. They know what they are, and they know what you suspect, but keep your mouth shut because they don’t want to hear about it--especially from you.
These men are different than the gay husbands that admit they are gay/bisexual but promise not to act on those needs while they remain married to you. (Like we really believe that story!) They are also different than the gay husbands who are leading very secret lives and not leaving a trail of crumbs for you to follow. They are not even quite like the Limbo Men I have described who are caught in between two worlds. These are men who are definitely not stuck. They are identifying strictly as straight. There is no way they are entering the gay world through the front or back door, or even through the closet. They detest the gay world and what it stands for which gives them even greater reassurance, at least to themselves, that they are not gay.
The Straight Gay Men are the ones who have to remain in total control of all of their physical motions lest someone should suspect they are not quite as straight as they claim. It’s funny how many women tell me how their husbands’ physical appearances, gestures, and movements change once they come out. I can’t even fathom how difficult it must be to have to go through life calculating every breath and step you take. It’s sort of like walking down a sidewalk and having to make sure that you “don’t step on a crack or you’ll break your mother’s back” as the game use to say. My balance and coordination never let me win that game.
These husbands are quick to use you and the children as their proof that they are not gay to the outside world just in case they let their guard down and anyone might accuse them of the “unthinkable.” They honestly don’t identify as gay even though they have sex with men. They don’t get themselves involved emotionally with men, just sexually. That helps them justify the fact that they are straight, not gay.
Some women can’t understand this. If you look like a duck, walk like a duck, act like a duck, but have sex with a goose, are you still a duck or are you a goose? I say you’re a goose. I don’t care what you act like to the outside world; I only look at who satisfies you sexually. And if you’re a duck making love to a goose, your feathers have to ruffle in a different direction when you stand up and straighten them out. But this does make things that much more confusing and complicated. So, to simplify your confusion, let me say this—STRAIGHT MEN DON’T HAVE GAY SEX. You can call it whatever makes you feel better, but I still call it gay—all the way.
Women who live with Straight Gay Men and Limbo Men are often the most commonly emotionally abused women. They would have to be. Their husbands are truly living in a complex world that makes little or any sense. They are living unfilled lives because they don’t have any emotional connections. They don’t connect emotionally with their wives because they aren’t really straight. They don’t connect emotionally with men because they refuse to be gay. And so they function but don’t connect. This lack of emotional connection creates a sense of insensitivity when it comes to your feelings and your emotions.
It also closes them up as human beings. They are unable to connect with a wife because they are living an internal--and what seems like an eternal--lie. This lie keeps overtaking any sense of good feelings towards the person whom they believe is responsible for this state of living—namely you. Now we know it is ridiculous to think that you should be their reason for living this lie, but subconsciously, this is how they feel.
As much as they love to have you as their “cover” is as much as they hate to have you sharing under their covers. They resent your nagging demands for sexual intimacy because it “isn’t their thing.” It’s your thing. And why do you have to try to make them feel inadequate just because they are? Even when you stop asking for it, you are still thinking about it and they can tell. It means they have to come up with a continuous string of stories to account for their lack of sexual behavior with you. This puts pressure on these guys who feel you are being unreasonable. Why do you have to make such a big deal out of sex?
They feel that in all other ways, they are ideal husbands. They are there raising the family with you. They are helping to support your financial needs or at least sharing in them. They are taking part in the social activities that you have decided are important. They are doing lots for you—and how do you show your appreciation? By badgering them with little innuendos and questioning looks. This really shows a lack of appreciation on your part and so they get pissed.
The Straight Gay Men think they are Supermen. And to a degree, they are. They juggle, manipulate, calculate, and carefully plan out all of their actions. It takes a lot of energy to do this, and they marvel at their ability to pull it off. It gives them an air of smugness that shows in their personality. I’m not quite sure what they think they’re pulling off because they know that you are doubtful of their explanations. There are only so many headaches, backaches, depressions, and side effects from medication that you can keep relying on. But they feel confident if they use these excuses enough, you’ll give up. Most women do. As I’ve said before numerous times, no woman wants to feel like she has to beg her husband to make love to her. It’s degrading and demeaning. We get the hint after enough sexual rejection and stop asking. But it doesn’t mean that we stop thinking—and wanting.
Every time we see other couples holding and caressing lovingly together, this is a reminder. It’s a reminder of what we thought we should have had but never were able to achieve. It’s a reminder of what our hopes and dreams were for married life when we took that life-altering step and said, “I do.” We are momentarily reminded of what marriage was supposed to be, but never became. And this sadness shows in our faces, in our eyes, and in our hearts. When our husbands glimpse at us, they know what we are thinking. They know what we are wishing. They know that the words they don’t want to hear may possibly be coming out of our mouths at any moment. Rather than take a chance and have to come up with one more excuse, they find some way to knock us down and put us back into the non-assertive mental state that they so easily know how to do.
We are women who have been conditioned. Remember, Straight Gay Men remain in the marriages indefinitely and have years to erode your sense of self-worth. They are not going anywhere, and they want to make sure that you feel inadequate enough so that you won’t go anywhere either. I don’t know who could have taught these men about the facts of life and marriage, but obviously, they weren’t listening or didn’t have a teacher. Didn’t anyone ever tell them that sex is part of marriage? Didn’t they ever hear that intimacy grows from making love to the person who loves you? Do they really believe that they can sit for years in a marriage and overlook that little detail? Yes, they do. And we become their silent partners because we have been silenced on the issue of sex.
The irony is that even if you leave these men, as some women do, they will remarry again. Yes, they will remarry another woman. They will still do their occasional gay sex thing to satisfy their sexual need, but that goes with the territory. It is amazing to me how these men can live such a delusional existence until the day they die. And they will drag other women into their web of deceit. The next victim (and men who do this more than once are victimizers) will fall for it just like you did—but even better. Your Straight Gay Husband has a track record. He will still use you as his shield by telling his next conquest that he was married before, ergo, he is straight. And the woman who is in a subsequent marriage with this man has no reason to question his sexuality at all. He married before; he’s marrying again. Chances are his next wife will feel even more inadequate than you feel. He’ll make sure to tell her that the two of you never had problems in the bedroom before. And if she does meet you, she’ll be too embarrassed to ask you the truth. And you’ll probably keep protecting him.
So if you are in a long-term marriage to a Straight Gay Man, don’t plan on things ever getting better. There may be temporary second honeymoon periods, only to prove to you once again that you are crazy for even suspecting there is something wrong with your wonder man. But it’s guaranteed that things will resort back to the “normal” pattern of digs, harsh words, and put-downs. Count on it. Then decide if this is the most that you want out of life because as long as you are in this marriage, this is all you can expect.
Looking back over these words from ten years ago, I must say these words were right-on. The only difference is today I understand the concept better because there is a word that describes what these husbands do: COMPARTMENTALIZE.
For those of you who are not familiar with this phrase, let me give you a good definition:
Compartmentalization is an unconscious psychological defense mechanism used to avoid cognitive dissonance, or the mental discomfort and anxiety caused by a person having conflicting values, cognitions, emotions, beliefs, etc. within themselves. Compartmentalization allows these conflicting ideas to co-exist by inhibiting direct or explicit acknowledgement and interaction between separate compartmentalized self states.
The Straight Gay Men live their lives this way. They are able to separate their need for sexual dabbling with a man from their “straight lives” as straight husbands. I do tell our women that as long as you allow your husband to live in his “compartmentalized closet,” he will remain there forever. The fact that you remain in the marriage to him allows him to justify even more that he is straight—especially in his own mind. After all, his wife isn’t going anywhere, right? This convinces him even more.
So if your happiness is waiting for a confession that won’t be coming, do yourself a favor and stop waiting for it. Take control of your life and GET OUT before you allow yourself to totally lose who you are. Remember—if your husband can’t admit he is gay to himself, he will never admit it to you. In his own warped sense of reality, he is a straight man.
AND SPEAKING ABOUT LIVING IN THE WORLD OF DENIAL…
I know that the news that your husband is gay is last thing you want to hear from your husband. Your whole world as you know it has fallen apart by those few little words that can never be taken back. I also know there are some women who are so in love with their husbands and so desperate to hang on to their marriages that they believe it won’t matter if their mates are gay or not. After all, they’ve been happy in their marriages up until now, and surely there’s a way to work around the “gay” thing. You can find these women in groups all over the Internet exchanging ideas on how to emotionally manipulate their husbands into staying instead of leaving. In fact, they could have their own pathetic sit-com television show right after Fran Dresher’s show and call it “Desperate Straight Wives.”
To these women, I say, “How long do you want to play the guilt card, ladies? Isn’t there something wrong with women who have to make a man feel guilty in order to keep him from leaving?” Boy, I thought my self-esteem was low when I was 21 and hanging on to the leg of an ex-lover and crying hysterically while begging him not to leave because I was so in love with him. Yep, at 21, that was my lowest point of life that thankfully, I never repeated this with a man again. I won’t say I had “low self-esteem” at that point; rather I had “no self-esteem.” I was pitiful for sure. And trust me, I know I’m not the only one out there who was in that position at one time or another. I learned to become stronger because I didn’t like that pathetic woman who lived inside of me. But that’s what life is—a learning and growing experience for most of us. I wish these women would learn sooner than later that emotional blackmail doesn’t make for a healthy marriage. Like I said--tough love. That’s the new me! And you thought I was tough before?
I know that the thought of ending a marriage is overwhelming, devastating, fear-producing, emotionally breaking, and bunches of more adjectives that we all can describe. But the fear of staying married to a gay man should be even worse. Imagine living with a man for another 10 or 20 years who only—at best—wants to be your friend. Imagine worrying every time he walks out the door that he’s going to meet a “hook up” that may turn out to be his true soulmate in life. I lived like that for a while, but it was very mentally wearing on me.
I know many of us play the game called “how much can I live with?” First we think, “If it’s only some gay pictures on the computer, I can live with that.” Then it’s, “If it’s just meeting some other gay people in his situation, I can live with that.” Then it’s, “If he has to go out and do his thing every six months and I don’t have to know, I can live with that.” You know how the story goes. And trust me, while you are “living with that,” whatever that may be, it is very debilitating. I used to say when I offered my ex-husband an inch, he looked at it as an invitation to take a foot.
The problem is that a lot of these men can’t live with just that—especially the ones who are coming out to you and being honest for the first time in their lives. They know that they can’t keep living life as a straight husband. Why? Because they are gay. And although these on-line groups will teach you how to come up with every manipulative trick to keep your man at home, you are only deluding yourself by believing this will work itself out. It doesn’t—it can’t. You can delay his departure by using all the guilt you choose to use, but it is going to backfire in your face. He will grow to resent you for trying to keep him where he doesn’t belong. He will feel more trapped in a cage than an animal. And he will respond by running harder and faster leaving you behind in the dust.
By the time a man comes out to his wife—it’s not about just sex. These guys are not the Straight Gay Men or even Limbo Men or Bisexuals. They are gay. They have accepted who they are and need to re-create their destiny. Sure, it hurts like hell, but you will survive. You can still stay a family unit at times when the willingness is there on both of your parts. There are some decent divorces that continue on with the friendship and even love as a family member—just not as a husband. But holding on to something that you can never really have is destructive to you and your children. Listening to others who teach women ways to “hang on” to their gay husbands is not going to ever result in the happiness you deserve to have.
A RECOMMENDED BLOGI was so lucky to meet my wonderful friend Debbie when I went to Texas. Debbie is like an angel--kind, beautiful, caring, and compassionate. Debbie has been working through her own terrible times, and yet, she always has time to help other women. She has a wonderful blog that you can visit and join. She writes about feelings that affect all of us.
Take a moment a pay it a visit. Here is the link:
FRAN DRESCHER UPDATE
Several weeks ago, I posted this note on my blog.
This week, there were numerous advertisements announcing the return of Fran Drescher’s sit-com Happily Divorced. I could not believe it. Do you mean to tell me that there are enough people watching this comedy series about the painful marriages of over 4 million straight women to renew it for another season? Who would believe it?
As a counseling authority in the field of straight-gay marriages for nearly 30 years, I find it so offensive that Fran Drescher cannot see the lack of humor that over 4 million women in this country suffer from when they find themselves in a doomed marriage of distortion for 10, 20, 30, and 40 plus years of their lives because of their husbands' lies. None of them are making jokes about their marriages or the years that follow as Fran does in her show. They have suffered humiliation for years that were stolen and can never be returned. When a woman of 60 plus years writes to me to tell me that the only sex she had in her life for forty years was the dozen or so times with her gay husband who found numerous reasons to say “no” to her requests because she now discovered he is a gay man—it really makes me ill. What gives a gay man the right to do this to a woman? How selfish can a husband be to withhold this truth from the woman he vowed in front of God to love and cherish? Is this love? I don’t think so.
I have worked with over 75,000 women through the years. These are women who have lost all sense of who they are because they are living in a marriage to a gay man—but the joke is on them because their husbands hardly ever tell them the truth. Their marriages lack the real ingredients that marriage is about—trust, honesty, passion, making love, showing devoted love to the woman who is devotes her life to a man who can never treat her like a straight husband would. Let’s not even get into the tens of thousands of women who are now suffering with STD’s like AIDS/HIV, herpes, syphilis, and gonorrhea because their gay husbands were having unprotected sex with anonymous sex partners.
In an interview with Fran in the Huffington Post this week about her support for gay marriages, she reminded people that she was raped in 2002 in her home as well as her best girl friend by a black man. Her point of bringing up the race issue was that she doesn’t hold it against black people that she was raped; therefore, she doesn’t hold it against gay people that her ex-husband is gay. That gave me a new idea. Maybe Fran should consider doing a comedy about her rape for a next show. Since she does such an excellent job at making jokes at her misfortunes, maybe she can try that angle for her next show. She can call it “Unhappily Raped.”
Straight Wives don’t feel the same impact as a rape victim which is a heinous crime—but they do feel extremely violated and betrayed. Some of them are physically abused throughout this ordeal and the vast majority of women are emotionally abused by men who feel caught in their own web of deceit of marriage. This leads to continual mental abuse on a daily basis because the gay husband feels he is stuck in the marriage muck when in fact, he chooses to remain there because he is too much of a coward to get out. It’s easier to beat his wife down blaming her for his unhappiness than to take responsibility for his actions by telling her the truth. And please don’t tell me he’s staying there because he “loves” her. Most of these men have such contempt for their wives that love isn’t a factor by the point they realize they can’t get rid of those nagging attractions to men.
In my book “The Gay Husband Checklist for Women Who Wonder,” I have a chapter on the prototype of a woman that a gay man marries—and in Fran’s case—stays with even though the marriage is off kilter. One of those categories is about women who were victims of sexual abuse. When women have been sexually abused or raped, their desire for a healthy sexual relationship with a man is often damaged. Perhaps that is why Fran felt relieved when her husband stopped having regular relations with her. She may have been just as relieved as her husband was when she backed away. And maybe this is also why she can be so forgiving to her ex-husband who didn’t tell her that he was gay until after the marriage was over.
The problem with Fran passing off her life with a gay husband as “funny” while she continues to make a joke out of the struggles of those whose lives have been shattered is the public will never be able to understand the reality of how our lives have broken us mentally, emotionally, and sexually. The public will continue to view us as unsympathetic whiners when we should be double-dating with our husbands’ new boyfriends. After all, Fran thinks it is a laugh. When are we going to learn to lighten up a bit and make fun at our own misfortune? I say never. I don’t believe in laughing at the pain of others. But that’s me.
I am writing you to thank you for the ongoing support you continue to give thousands of women each month through your newsletters and radio show. I live in Montana—home of the Brokeback Mountain gay men—and there is very little support for women who learn their husbands are gay.
My story is so similar to the stories I have been reading about in your newsletters for the past two years. I married at a young age, I was sexually inexperienced, and I came from a family where there was abuse by my father. Actually, I didn’t expect very much for myself except not to be as unhappy as my mother was.
When I was in my last year of high school, I met a guy, Don (not his real name), who was a year older than me. He paid a lot of attention to me and made me feel really special. I didn’t feel very special in my own house where my drunken father would often degrade me and my siblings making us feel worthless. My mother was so beaten down from living like this for years that she didn’t have the strength to stand up and stop my dad.
On my 18th birthday, Don proposed to me. He was 19 and about to join the military. He promised me that he could give me a better life—and that he loved me. I believed he did love me. He never pressured me for sex, and I thought that proved he really cared. We were married in a private ceremony three weeks later. Don was due to leave any day, and at least this way I could move into an apartment away from the chaos I knew.
Our honeymoon was a 3-day trip to Las Vegas. We didn’t really consummate our marriage until we returned home. Don admitted he was also a virgin, and he wanted the moment that we had sex to be perfect. I will say that our first time wasn’t good, but I wrote that off to the fact that neither one of us had any previous experience. I would tell you about our second time, but it didn’t happen before Don went overseas about two weeks later.
Don was deployed overseas for a year. I heard from him every few days. I felt so bad that he was taken away from me before the marriage even began, but I understood this was for our future. When he did return from overseas, he spent a second year in the military, so we were separated throughout most of that time as well.
When he returned, it was a hard adjustment period. After all, we had been married for two years but only been together for about three weeks. Don was having “adjustment” problems, but he said that is normal after men come home from a tour of duty. Part of that adjustment problem involved making love to me. He did hold me and snuggle with me, but to get much more out of him was really difficult. Amazingly, I got pregnant the first year he was home—amazingly because we were only together a half a dozen times. And those times were always a struggle.
Don was working on a ranch in our area. He was a very manly kind of man which always appealed to me. He wore a cowboy hat and boots for his job, and in my mind, I was so lucky to have someone who loved me so much. I know our relationship wasn’t “blazing with fire,” but I also knew I felt safe and secure. In our third year of marriage, I was pregnant again. Our sex life had been reduced to three times that year, so I really felt lucky that one of those three times produced my precious second child.
After that, we really didn’t have sex anymore. It was okay with me, because when we did have it, it wasn’t that exciting for me. There was no foreplay or passion—it was just kind of “obligatory” sex—or at least it felt that way.
I suppose I didn’t complain because my life was so happy with the children and Don.
He still held me at night when we went to bed, and he always told me he loved me. He was a good father to the children who loved playing with him. It was so different than living at home with my parents which was always chaotic and nerve-wracking never knowing when my drunken father would target us. My children would NEVER grow up in a home like mine.
About nine years into the marriage, Don said he was switching jobs from one ranch to another one. He explained he would make an additional $200.00 a week which would really help our bills. The only problem was that sometimes he would be required to stay there overnight in case the boss had to go away on a business trip or short vacation. I wasn’t happy about that, but I did know the extra money would help since I was a stay-at-home mom.
From the beginning of that new job, Don was away once or twice a week a night sleeping over at the ranch. He would tell me ahead of time and pack an overnight bag. This went on for the first year at the job, but then he seemed like he was changing. He wasn’t holding me anymore when we slept, and he didn’t even want to sleep in the same bed. I became extremely frustrated and didn’t know why he was emotionally distancing himself from me. He came up with reasons like he was “depressed” or going through “post traumatic stress” from the service.
One day he came home and said he had to talk to me. He told me we had been married for ten years and that he didn’t feel it was working. He didn’t blame me—he told me that I was a very good wife—but he had gotten married too soon, had a family too soon, and that he felt like he was “missing out in life.” I was devastated and had no clue what he was talking about. Maybe our life wasn’t perfect, but it was good. I always tried to make him happy and put his needs before my own. I never brought up the fact that we didn’t have any intimacy left in our relationship. Maybe that was bothering him so I asked him if I failed him in that way. He swore to me this had nothing to do with his problem.
Don said he wanted to take a “break” from the family, and he asked me to please be patient. He would send me money each week to keep the household going, and he would call me a few times a week to check on me and the kids. I admit it—I didn’t get it. I was reeling from the hurt and felt so alone.
Then something very bizarre happened shortly after his “break” began. I received a phone call from a man named Cliff (also not his real name.) He told me that Don and he were lovers and that I should not stand in their way of finding true happiness. I was so shocked and started yelling at this man asking him why he was playing such a horrible joke on me. He told me that Don and him were supposed to live together, but because of my constant “threatening” him, he wasn’t able to do it. He then asked why I was trying to hold on to someone who didn’t want me anymore.
When I hung up on Cliff, I was crying hysterically. I called Don who explained that the man was mentally imbalanced and a “homo” who had a crush on him. He constantly rejected the man because he didn’t want to be friends with a gay man. It made him ill to think about it.
I felt as if my world was falling down around me. First Don needs “space” to think about his happiness, and now this man is calling and accusing me of stopping Don from finding his happiness in the arms of another man. What was going on?
Sadly, I had no family support. My family was such a dysfunctional mess that I had no one there to turn to. That is when I wrote to you and you made me feel that I wasn’t alone—anymore—as you said. After reading all of your information, I realized that I was married to a gay man. I saved the number from the caller ID of Cliff’s phone call and called him back after reading your words. He was very happy to talk to me and explain how they had been seeing each other for the past three years. They were supposed to move in together, but Don kept explaining that I would never let him go. He was quite shocked when he found out that Don was gone.
The story ends with a twist—Don was gone, but he had met another man. Cliff didn’t lose him to me—he lost him to a new gay lover. It has been just over two years since he left our family. He still sends money every week, but he rarely sees the children. He refuses to discuss his private life with me telling me that it is none of my business what he does. There is no real remorse—no truth—and no apology. This has definitely made me stronger. At least I understand why my marriage was filled with a void and why sex was never what it should be. I am now going to school part-time so I can become financially independent. The dream of a stable home that I promised to give my children has had to be “redesigned” not to include a father. I am still hopeful that someday I may meet a man who can love me for me and not feel used. I am sure if Don would ever do the right thing and tell me the truth, I would feel differently than I feel now. He knows I know the truth from Cliff, but he still won’t admit it to me.
Bonnie, thank you for being there during my darkest days, and thank you to all of the women who tell their stories so courageously here. I hope my story will help some woman realize that she doesn’t have to do this alone. There is always support.
Elizabeth (this IS my real name!)
Thank you, Elizabeth for sharing your heart-felt story.
Until next month—
With love and hope,