THE JUNE THING...
For the past three years in June, I have dedicated my newsletter to the gay husbands/ex-husbands who want to share their stories and perspectives. I do this because I strongly believe we need to understand this situation better in order for us to heal. These newsletters also give courage to men who write to me for help to make the right decision about being honest with their wives.
Several women have written to me angrily over the past three years after they received the June newsletter telling me that I am an apologist for gay husbands. I am not by a long-shot. I do have compassion for the pain that gay men face when they go through their struggle, but I am very clear in telling them that they need to take responsibility for their actions. I think that my writing throughout the years reflects that. However, that doesn't mean I can't acknowledge that there are some wonderful gay men who are ripped up inside because they are living a life that isn't theirs to live.
I believe that almost all gay men marry their wives because they want to be straight. They are confused in many cases not understanding that they are gay because they fall in love with a woman and they can perform with her sexually--at least in the beginning. I believe that almost all of these men believe that if they love us enough, those gay attractions and desires will disappear. But we all know that doesn't happen.
So, before you begin to read, if you think these stories will upset you, delete the newsletter. It's not my intent to upset you, but rather to bring some understanding. I think the brutal honesty of these men will validate all of your feelings. Many of you may NEVER get the truth, but at least you'll be able to appreciate it from these men.
Story #1 James' Story
My name is James. I am twenty-five years old and I am gay. I have one roommate who is also a very good friend of mine. Her name is Corrie and she is twenty-six years old. This year will be the seventh year that we have known one another. In a way, we grew up together, maturing out of our teens and into adulthood together. Many people mistake us for siblings when they first meet us, and in fact, I do consider her my sister. What many people often find strange however, is that Corrie and I were married for four and a half years. This will be the first time I have shared my experience with the public. My hope is that this story might help women and men alike understand, or at least gain a little more insight into a very complex and painful scenario, in which a woman is married to a gay man.
Specifically, I would like to look at things from the husband’s viewpoint. My story may be a rare one, but I think it is important to point out that these situations do not necessarily always end in tragedy, but that happy endings do exist.
Corrie and I were married after about a year of dating, and six months after graduating high school. I was nineteen at the time and she was one year older. From the very beginning of our marriage, things were not quite right. We had good communication and made a good team as we struggled to build a financially stable life. But our relationship was far from what you would expect from newlyweds. Corrie loved me with all of her being and I never once doubted that. But as much as I wanted to reciprocate those feelings, it proved to be a struggle. She wanted me to go places with her. She wanted me to spend time with her. She wanted me to hold her hand. She wanted me to kiss her. She wanted me to make love to her. She wanted me to tell her that I loved her back. These were all things I had no desire to do. I felt like she was asking too much of me. I felt like she was suffocating me.
On the few occasions when I gave in to a date involving just us two, I inevitably turned the excursion into a stressful and negative experience that generally started and ended in conflict. I admit that I acted very selfishly most of the time, and a woman knows when she is loved and when she is not. After the first two years or so, we did very little together anymore. She had her friends and I had mine. We rarely had sex, and when we did, she was the one who initiated it. We would go for weeks, sometimes even months without being intimate. It hurt her tremendously to be so consistently rejected. She would frequently ask me if I thought she was pretty and sexually attractive. She asked me if I loved her. She asked me if I even liked her. She asked me if I was gay. These questions infuriated me.
It got to where nearly every weekend, when we spent the most time together, these questions would surface, I would get angry and distant, we would fight, and there was no resolve. Actually, ‘distant’ perfectly describes my overall predisposition at the time. I was always distant. When she confronted me about my lack feelings for her, I denied her accusations and blamed her for making it all up. I did my best to make her feel stupid, and it worked. She would cry, and I would become cold as ice. Her emotions turned me away. I cannot count how many times she would beg me, in between sobs, to please just give her a hug, but I never did. She did not understand what was wrong with me, and neither did I. I liked her. I thought she was pretty. I had no problem with her body or sexual performance. For some unknown reason, I remained closed off to her. I simply could not bring myself to feel or express feeling. I kept my innermost self off-limits to her, and I actively shied away from any real emotional connection.
Sometimes, she would try to convince me to go to counseling with her, but I was too proud and always declined. I hated myself and it was making her miserable. I did not know what to do. Why did she want sex so much? Why did she want to kiss me during sex…or at all? Holding hands was stupid. Kissing was too intimate (although I never admitted that). I had a severe distain for anything even remotely romantic (I have since realized that I am a complete romantic with men). To be certain, we hardly exhibited the characteristics of a happily married couple. I share these observations in hindsight. At the time, I was not aware of a lack of, or even a need for emotional, psychological or sexual intimacy. In the midst of my personal turmoil, I lost sight of the things that mattered most in life, as well as in my marriage. I downplayed these fundamental problems so much, that I failed to recognize the depth of dysfunction within our relationship. Every part of our relationship was unnatural to me. I became preoccupied, anti-social and increasingly unapproachable. I was so introverted and withdrawn, that I refused even to acknowledge what I was putting my wife through. Corrie has told me that those years spent with me, where the loneliest years of her entire life.
I suppose this would be a good time to mention that during those first few years of our marriage I had no idea that I was gay. I did not “turn gay” at age twenty-three, but rather, I had always been. It was just the first time I had been honest with myself about it. I had previously never let myself imagine it, let alone consider it. It is important to know that I was born to a conservative Baptist couple. Not just any conservative Baptist couple, but a couple who dedicated their entire life (and family) to what they perceived to be God's ultimate will for their lives, which turned out to be pastoral and missionary work abroad. Growing up submersed in theology, I remained ignorant of the truths about human sexuality, knowing only what was written in the bible. Homosexuality was an abomination to the almighty creator whom we worshipped fervently – there was no question there.
Despite harsh indoctrination, it seemed I could not avoid having attractions to the same sex. For as long as I can remember, I have had crushes on other boys. I had sexual fantasies and dreams involving other boys before I even knew that gay sex even existed. I thought that all boys thought about other boys. I thought it was normal – a normal sin that is. When you are taught that every human is born straight, that homosexuality is a sin, and that to sin is always a choice, then there is not much room for debate. I was straight, because god had created all humans straight. Being gay simply was not an option.
Throughout my teenage years, other kids would use the word ‘gay’ or ‘homo’ as a derogative term insinuating weakness and femininity. My perception of gays evolved from a strictly biblical viewpoint, to one that included mainstream stereotypes, to which I did not belong. I was not effeminate, I did not play with dolls and I was not a mommas-boy. The subject held no relevance within my family, and was considered taboo. I grew up sheltered from education that might have helped me understand what ‘gay’ even meant, or what made a gay person different from a straight person. I knew I liked guys, but I had no reason to think anything of it. I never lied to anyone about being gay; I honestly thought I was a straight man, albeit an asexual and emotionless one.
It was not until my late teens that it even crossed my mind that I might be gay. The realization that I liked men shook me to the core, and it took a lot of effort to rationalize my feelings and attractions and to convince myself that I was straight. I developed a secret homophobia, something everyone else seemed to notice at the time but me. My desire to be culturally accepted drove me to conform to a straight image. Even though I hated the mold I had forced myself into, it seemed I had successfully buried my “gay side.” After several years of living in denial coupled with a homophobic sense of self-loathing, I had reduced myself to nothing more than a shell of a person. This state of fear and self-deception kept me from being confident, kept me from enjoying life, kept me from being happy. I became more and more depressed, until I began having frequent anxiety attacks. I finally saw a psychiatrist who prescribed a mild anti-depressant. These drugs gave me more balance and stability, and helped me get my anxiety under control, but they only treated the symptom, not the cause. At this point, something had to change, and for a long time, it appeared as though our marriage would end in disaster.
My inner relief began in an unlikely place: my being laid off from my high-paying job. I was forced to find new employment and took a significant pay cut at my new job. But the new work atmosphere by far made up for the loss of income. My previous job environment was high stress, abusive, degrading, and greatly contributed to my insecurities. My new job was the complete opposite. For the first time in my life, I was surrounded by people who liked me. Over a period of a couple of months, I started to creep out of my shell and made some very surprising discoveries about my personality. As it turned out, I liked people and was a very outgoing person, not solemn and closed-off. For the first time, I felt confident enough to venture outside of my mold. Whereas not one year earlier I generally drove everyone else away, now it seemed I had found a friend in nearly everyone.
I also began taking better care of myself physically and was able to lose a lot of unhealthy bodyweight, which helped contribute to my growing sense of self-worth and self-respect. It was during this period of self-awareness that my “gay side” began to emerge. I had gained a new sense of self-esteem and joy, and it was not long before I started letting out some of the long-buried parts of my person. The change in my demeanor was astounding. People who for years had despised me, now found my company enjoyable, and I started making friends. The more I paid attention to my own behavior, the more I discovered elements I felt needed to be kept secret. But these secrets where too big to keep, and very soon they surfaced. By this time, the porn collection on my phone consisted entirely of gay porn. On multiple occasions while intoxicated, I openly talked about homosexual urges and exhibited flamboyantly gay behavior. Even while sober, I would catch myself “acting gay” and consciously stop myself midsentence. Some of my friends as well as work colleagues discreetly echoed what Corrie had long suspected: was I gay? I told my closer friends that I could imagine being intimate with another man, but that I could not imagine an emotional bond, and that therefore, although I might not be 100% straight, I definitely was not gay.
I was maturing in that I was starting to see things more clearly, and along with my newfound love for people, I began to rediscover my dormant emotional attraction to men. The company I worked for had just hired a new employee, and I was crushing on him hard. It was the first crush I had had since my teen years, and I did not know how to handle it. I became so infatuated with this stranger, that it scared me. This was not some drunken episode involving homoerotic comments about some hot guy on TV, this was every single day at work. This was real.
One night while lying awake in bed lost in deep thought, I finally voiced what was becoming more and more apparent. I turned to Corrie and said, “What if I’m gay?” I told her about the new guy at work and about my gay urges and feelings that seemed to be growing stronger. What followed was a tearful “coming clean session” that lasted most of that night, and the next couple of nights as well. She looked back over our marriage and started seeing the indicators clearly for the first time. She asked me direct questions and I offered direct answers. While she was beginning to connect the dots looking back over our marriage, I was thinking back over my growing up years. I started to remember things I thought I had forgotten, and memories I had suppressed were suddenly staring me in the face. The pieces were starting to fall into place. She had known all along that something was not right in our relationship or with my behavior but since I consistently denied being gay, she felt she had no choice but to believe me.
The more I told her of my childhood experiences and life-long feelings, the more our dysfunctional marriage made sense to her. She painted a picture for me that made me burst into tears: I was gay. It was as if someone flipped on the light in a dark room I had never been in before, but contained all of my things, including the things I thought I had lost. The room was beautiful. Everything was in its place and there was no more darkness, no more cobwebs and no more closed doors. I had finally found the strength to come out of my shell, only to discover that I had simultaneously stepped out of the closet. What lay ahead of me was a rough path of self-acceptance. I was homophobic and did not want to be gay. I craved a loving relationship with another man, but more than anything I just wanted to be “normal.” I had tried to be what everyone else expected me to be, and I was unhappy. Corrie knew me better than anyone. She had loved me for nearly five years. She had been the perfect wife, and I had been a terrible husband. Although I never cheated on her, her pain was not lessened. She had given me years of her life, and lived them in misery and loneliness. She deserved someone who would genuinely love her. Someone who would not only love her sexually, but with all their heart and mind. As much as I cared for Corrie, I could not bond with her on an emotional or psychological level, and would never be the partner she needed and deserved. Even though she loved me dearly, she would never be able to provide the masculinity I needed to establish a healthy sexual and emotional life. She would never be the man I needed at my side. It was obvious that we could not keep pretending that we had any semblance of a marriage. Out of a mutual respect for marriage, and a genuine love and respect for each other, we decided to get a divorce.
Soon after our realization that I was gay, and long before the divorce papers would reach the judge, we went to see a counselor. The counselor was very compassionate and understanding. She told us that our greatest asset in this situation was our intellect. We had been honest and forthcoming with one another about difficult issues, and were seeking professional advice on how to proceed rationally. We were already making great progress in dealing with this multifaceted and seemingly unique problem. Getting through this would require a lot of patience on both of our parts. Patience with our emotions and ourselves. Naturally, we wanted to put everything behind us and move on to the good things that lay ahead. Nevertheless, we would need to give ourselves time to process our emotions. It would take time to adapt to a new reality, time to regain perspective and time to put our lives back in order. We also had to consider how to explain our divorce and the surrounding situation to family and friends. As it turned out, our friends were very loving and supportive and in the end, I believe that we gained a new level of respect from some of the people we associated with.
Sadly, it was our homophobic, conservative-minded and deeply religious family members who expressed devastation and shame at what they considered a family tragedy. As much as it hurt to feel my family’s judgment and disapproval, I know that their reaction was rooted in ignorance as a result of decades of conditioning for which they were not responsible. Even so, they were entitled to their opinion and it was not my obligation to change their minds. I have ultimately had to distance myself from select persons of my immediate family because their presence in my life tends to bring out the worst sides of me such as resentment, bitterness, frustration, and insecurity. The negative repercussions of my decision to be honest with my family about my marriage proved to be a greater obstacle to overcome than the initial problems I was already dealing with. In the wake of one of the most positive life changes I have yet undergone, my family’s silent stigma caused more damage to the recovery process than any other factor. Even though they represented a small minority who disapproved of our situation, and were greatly outweighed by the number of loyal and compassionate friends who supported our efforts, their hateful words slowed the transition and added to the pain. Nevertheless, their grumblings were their own problems to deal with, and in no way stopped our lives from improving dramatically.
If I have learned anything from my marriage, it is that you cannot hide who you are, and you are not doing anyone any favors by doing so. What should have been a personal revelation affecting only myself, turned out to negatively affect another innocent person. To be sure, I was still a kid when I married and did not know who I was or what I wanted at the time. I did share my childhood homosexual tendencies with my wife early on, but neither of us thought it would become a serious issue. That was our second mistake. The first was mine alone, which was to marry someone I liked instead of loved, and lead them to believe otherwise. I did not know what love was when we married, but the intensity of her love for me compared to my meager attempts at love for her should have raised a red flag. I may not have known I was gay, but I knew I did not love her the same way she loved me. Other indicators that we both missed along the way include my disinterest in her sexually and my ever decreasing sex drive. The fact that I required anal stimulation and had little interest in woman parts was yet another sign. My emotional distance towards her, and my closed-off attitude was another indicator of hidden problems. If only we had gone to counseling when Corrie first suggested it, perhaps some heartache could have been avoided. In the end the truth came out (as it always does), and her instincts and gut feelings proved to be correct.
It has been a little over a year since I came out, and I can honestly say that for the first time, I actually like myself. My relationship with Corrie has never been better even though the situation has been much easier for me to overcome than it has been for her. What separates our new relationship from our old one is that our new relationship is built on truth instead of confusion.
Now we sleep in different bedrooms. I have had men spend the night with me, as has she. We are very open about our personal lives, and talk about our individual relationship problems often. She is my best friend, and I know she returns the sentiment. I do not have to lie about loving her anymore. I can tell her that I love her, and mean it this time. We forged a strong friendship that started out as a weak marriage. I have learned that there is no black and white - no cut and dry way of understanding human sexuality. To be specific, I consider myself a gay bisexual, because while I am mildly sexually attracted to members of both sexes, I favor men and more importantly, I favor and mesh with the male psyche. However, I am not the only one in this story who made discoveries about the intricacies of their sexual identity: Corrie has come to terms with the realization that she does not fit the standard norm either because of the fact that she is bisexual. Oftentimes we are more complex than we like to think, but ignoring the parts we do not understand does not make them go away. Corrie and I make excellent friends, but we were not meant to be married. We have strived not to let our failed marriage affect our successful friendship. Only by being honest and patient with ourselves and with each other have we made this possible.
Corrie and I know that in order for each of us to reach our full potentials and to find ultimate fulfillment, we will need to find individual living arrangements. As a married couple, we purchased the house we now live in, and we feel we owe it to one another not to leave the other person with unfair debt. Consequently, we find ourselves in a transitional state in which we will be selling the house and privately settling our collective debts before we part ways. In the meantime, we live as friends, roommates, and siblings.
Story #2 - Kevin's Story
I never dated very much in high school. I was always a little afraid of dates and it simply wasn’t something I was interested in. My only real concern was “why don’t I care?” I do recall in gym class checking out the other guys while changing in the locker rooms. Again, it never occurred to me that this was anything but normal. I figured that everyone else was doing the same thing. When I did date I only dared to kiss my date and nothing else being terrified to try anything more.
High school came and went and in my college years I never even bothered to date at all. In fact my first real sexual experience with a girl was a total DISASTER! I couldn’t even get an erection and was horrified and humiliated. Of course she said it was alright, but it wasn’t.
By this time all my friends either had girlfriends or were already married and preparing for a family. I wanted this too, in the worse way, but was feeling very lonely. I had always wondered and fantasized about sex with men. I was even hit on several times by other men but was too afraid to follow through. I was basically not out to myself and not willing to admit that I couldn’t have it all. I desperately wanted what my parents had, a wife, kids and a happy home with a picket fence. Back in the 60s and 70s wanting this and being gay were just not possible. But, quite honestly and even though it was men that caught my attention, it never even crossed my mind that I might be gay. Sex education was non-existent and people joked about gay uncles and fags and such. Any movies back then that addressed it always showed exaggerated characters with feathers and cigarette holders and a limp wrist and that simply was not me. There were no role models and never knew that I was gay.
I met my future wife and we fell madly in love. In looking back, I now know that I am gay so, when I relate this story, it easy to ask how can a gay man love a woman? But I truly and honestly did. I felt confident that my curiosity in men was a passing thing and that my life would proceed along its merry way. This was the path of least resistance, and I felt relieved that things had seemed to somehow magically work themselves out. We went on to have two wonderful children and our lives seemed like any other normal family, not Norman Rockwell but good enough. We had lots of good times as well as bad. By and by Mary and I began to have trouble. We went to marriage counseling and in therapy it came out that, as a child, she had been sexually abused by her father. We worked out our issues at the time and moved forward.
Approximately fifteen years ago that old monster reared his unwelcomed face again. I felt guilty about my feelings but I justified it since I never actually acted on those feelings. I resorted to visiting adult book stores and watching gay porn. I no longer enjoyed sex with Mary finding that I would rather masturbate and fantasize about sex with men.
Not surprisingly Mary and I started having marital problems again about a year and a half ago. After an argument and out of frustration, I again went to a bookstore and this time I found that I was no longer too afraid to follow through on sex with another man. This scared me at first but I soon began to realize who and what I was. I began to actively seek out other men on the internet and I was able to arrange meetings with them due to the on-the-road nature of my job. As with other men, I met Steve on the internet and I fell in love with him the first time he and I spoke on the phone. The chemistry was instant. Talk about “love at first sight,” this was “love at the first word.” We finally met face to face over soft drinks at a local McDonalds and so began our fateful affair.
Steve and I spoke as often as possible on the phone and met up whenever I could get away. Even then our time on the phone was limited because of the minutes on my cell plan. If I began to go over my minutes then that would raise suspicion. Eventually we switched to the same cell provider as me and so that problem was solved. Our time together was precious and our sex was perfect except that it wasn’t often enough. We resorted to clandestine meetings in Steve’s home and even resorted to the odd date in a cheap motel room. Again, due to the on-the-road nature of my job Steve would frequently take a day off of his job and spend it with me on the road. These days together as a couple were valued and mostly had little to do with sex. We would just spend the day together talking and relating as a couple reveling in the opportunity to express our feelings for each other.
As I mentioned before, Mary and I began to have marital problems again which got more serious about six months into my relationship with Steve. I would lie in bed at night and hope that Mary would just leave me alone. “Please don’t touch me,” I would think to myself. I know she was trying to use sex as a tool to fix our 30+ year relationship not understanding that sex was less the issue than gender. I avoided sex with her as tactfully as I could often pretending to be asleep. When that didn’t work then I would climb on top of her and work at making her happy. I cannot remember the last time I had an orgasm with her. Basically I faked it so that she would leave me alone. Eventually I got up the courage to tell that I no longer enjoyed sex. She panicked seeing that the handwriting was on the wall and having no real understanding of the true reason behind it. She is smart enough to know that my admission of this was possible the beginning of the end of our relationship, and she immediately arranged for marriage counseling.
Counseling began uneventfully enough and our histories came out including Mary’s history of abuse. Eventually I made an appointment with the therapist for a one-on-one session and I came out to her explaining that my goal in therapy was to come out to my wife, and I have to give the therapist credit for how sensitively she handled the whole issue. She must have felt awkward but, as the sessions with Mary and I went on, she gradually and caringly lead my wife to a point where she was as ready as she would ever be to hear the news. After many sleepless nights and countless hours of anticipation I eventually got up the courage to come out to my wife at a session with the therapist.
It was extremely rough, especially at first. Thinking back I feel that the first two weeks after coming out to my wife was harder on me than when my parents died. Mary was enormously traumatized and, as of this writing, continues her struggles to adjust. I know this was the right thing to do no matter how hard it’s been. What were my choices? I could either stay in a lie of a marriage or move forward toward a life that was authentic at last. Steven and Mary actually spoke on a few occasions after I came out. He explained to her that the only thing worse than me telling her the truth would be not to have told her. When he asked her if she would rather continue on not knowing the truth and living a lie she replied, “Yes.” I think that’s true, and I only hope and pray that she can come to see that I had no choice.
Steve and I have lived together now as partners and out to his family and mine for nearly six years. My children, both adults, are beginning to adjust and I strive to maintain my relationships with them. Steve’s children and I are also getting along nicely and I’m grateful that at least my children and his are able to bend and adjust their attitudes towards their fathers. This is especially important recently as the laws in Illinois changed this past January and we plan to get a civil union in a few months. I hope that someday my children, and even Mary, will come to a place where they can fully accept me and my partner for what we truly are. Until then I look forward to spending the rest of my life with someone who knows me and loves me for what I really am.
Story #3 - Nick's Story
I was born in 1967 the year of the Stonewall riots…I guess that should have been the first clue. However, ever since I could remember (perhaps age 8) I knew I looked at other boys differently that everyone around me seemed to, I didn’t know why, but I did know I was not supposed to and to be honest, I don’t even know why I knew that too. It was so confusing! I remember being excited as a teenager if I saw another guy naked in the locker room, or if I picked up a porno magazine with both naked girls and guys & of course I would look at both sexes, although I would always start by looking at the guys first. But I just didn’t know what was wrong with me. Then when a couple of other guys at school got bullied for being “gay,” I just knew that could not be me. They were feminine & dressed funny and listened to alternative music, all things that I didn’t relate to. Heck the only gay people that I’d ever heard of at the time were Boy George, Elton John & Liberace & again nobody that I could relate to. Therefore, I was sure I had to be straight and that these feelings would sort themselves out over time, I was sure everyone else also had to deal with them and this was just a normal thing that nobody talked about. So, I knew that I needed to date girls and put aside any thoughts about guys that would wander in my head and concentrate on being straight.
So that’s what I did & like any other typical type-A overachiever, I did an excellent job of it. I had a few girl friends, experimented a little with sex and then I met an awesome girl, we clicked instantly, became best friends right away and I fell in love. There certainly was plenty of good sex going on as well. During this whole time of our courtship, I barely had any guy feelings left. So I considered myself cured, I really was straight, Hooray!!
Then, as life settled in, houses were purchased, everything steadied to a nice comfortable existence, kids came along, life was good and my relationship with my wife became very easy, truly best friends. So why at this point in life did I allow myself to start looking at men again, which then started the same old urges and feelings to creep back into my head. As the years being married progressed these feelings would continue to get stronger, sometimes I would fight myself and push them back down, other times I would allow the thoughts to roam freely in my head and as every gay married man (in denial) will always experience, the ever increasing sense of doom continues to cloud your thoughts, until eventually you can no longer manage these feelings. You reach a point where you can barely function, you manage to just about get up, get to work, get home, you are carrying around a weight of demonic proportions, you don’t know what to do, but finally you know you just have to tell somebody. Because, the only other alternative is to give up …on life.
I first “out-ed” myself to an acquaintance that I knew was gay. We had struck up a friendship as I knew I’d found a safe person to come out to (it’s much easier to pick off the low hanging fruit as we say). But I told him I was bi-sexual, I had feelings for men, but I also was very much in love with my wife and family. Thus started the slow and agonizing trip out of the closet. My friend's ability to make me be brutally honest about my feelings, to stop denying/lying to myself about just how deeply my feelings for men truly were, took me to the next step. I had to tell the person closest to me, the center of my world, my wife. She had no idea as I started to blow her world apart. Now this did not happen straight away, because I told her I thought I was Bi-sexual and with some help and counseling, we both felt fairly good that we could build something of this into a good relationship and future, albeit different. This was all because, if I was truly “Bi” then I could and thus would still want to be sexually with my wife.
Not so!!!, with the friends involved and much advise from other professionals, they repeatedly and brutally forced me to stop denying and lying to myself. They called me out on my true deep feelings and inner thoughts for men. I know today that I can have a beautiful woman sexually available to me, and while I can certainly have sex with her, that does not make me bi-sexual, because if every man that has an attraction to another man is brutally honest with themselves in this situation, where an attractive man is also available, they will pick being with the man. This is what makes you gay and not bisexual. Until you realize you’re gay, you are still just covering up your deepest of attractions for men with societies programming you received growing up, making you think straight is still what you are. This is because you figure out the attractions you have are not all about sex, but about wanting to truthfully have everything that a normal relationship offers you, but with a man!
When I finally came to terms with the fact that I was gay (about 3 months after initially coming out), my wife and I knew this changed everything. We talked and talked about how to make things work and hold a family together, but avoid the “D” word. But there just was no way around the fact that anything less than divorcing to release the bonds of marriage and allow both of us to pursue relationships with others that where of the sexual orientation we both needed. But how to preserve the family and friendship we had created for 20 years was something we equally felt needed to be done. My wife was adamant that she did not want to emotionally throw away the 20 year relationship we had, because it was good, we produced great kids and a great life, we both have very involved families. We also knew that hatred between us would destroy all of this and forever scar everyone involved. However, this is so much easier said than done. The burden was on me to prove I could be trusted and not abandon everyone, along with the overwhelming weight on my wife to try and heal from the devastation I’d caused, as everything she knew in her world was no longer a reality (or so she thought).
I was not about to abandon any of the responsibilities I’d agreed to in getting married, with my family, kids, job, community, charitable organizations etc. But I was certain nobody would accept me as a gay man, however, I knew if they would just give me a chance to help them understand why I did this, why I’m not choosing to be gay, I’m just finally choosing to no longer deny it. But, I knew I would have to earn back everyone’s trust, starting with my wife. I was very clear although out this timeframe, that I was only choosing to be honest about being gay, and this was not something my wife had caused, I love her (just the same way I always have). This was not about finances and not being willing to support her and my family. My wife had asked that I stay in the house and as a family for a year, to help her deal with everything, to prepare her to deal with the world as a separated family.
We spent a lot of time together, talking together with our counselor and both of our mutual families. We somewhat painfully took every aspect of our lives and very openly and honestly decided how we should separate things, spend time, honor commitments, be supportive of each other, handle finances and properties. All with the goal of preserving the friendship and love we always had for each other. I knew that if we set our goal of “being supportive of each other”, then everyone else in our lives would also adjust and “be alright” with the new relationship. This would start with our two children, if their mum and dad were seen as truly best friends and supportive of each other & not just for the kids sake, but because we do still care about each other, we are still a family with the same strong bonds, just divorced because Dad likes guys.
This means that my wife had to deal with her anger and not focus on bringing hate into the relationship; this was where I had to spend a lot of time during the year of living together to help her with all aspects of her wide ranging emotions. But it was only fair; I’d had years and years to slowly come to terms with this, now my wife was thrust into having to deal with all of the same aspects, but in a much shorter time frame. Also, during this year, we would slowly begin to tell other family members and close friends what was going on and “out” me. I sat with every one of my family, my wife’s family and our close circle of friends and explained my story, and what we were trying to do as a family, also asking for their support. This process meant I was directly and indirectly coming out to several hundred people and I can say other than a couple of friends that disappeared for a few months only, nobody has abandoned either me or my wife. Unfortunately, my father (that I’ve had a very long distance relationship away) is disapproving of my choices, but as a family we have decided our new-style relationship is more important than just one person’s approval.
Today, we are divorced and my wife and kids live in a new family home. She decided for the sake of memories and her future needs to move to a smaller more manageable home. Her father and I have worked a lot on remodeling projects on their home. We are still having some family vacation time away together, I hang out at their house on a weekly basis, and we have family style dinners. It should also be noted, that I was and still run my in-laws family business throughout this whole coming out journey and that my now ex-wife works directly for me in our business. It’s almost the two-year anniversary of my coming out and as I write this piece, I’ve just received a text message from my wife after she left her counselors office today. It said “counselor is proud of us and doesn’t know anyone else that has done what we have….Pat ourselves on the back…Luv Yah” …She’s an amazing woman.
I write this at the request of Bonnie to help closeted married men face the reality of their situation and know that for yourself and for the sake of your wife, you need to come out and be honest. It’s ultimately not about whether you are cheating or messing around even if it’s in plain sight, trying to fulfill a sex need. It’s, also not about your wife wanting to hold together the family and not lose you. The reasons you’re in this situation are no one person’s fault; it’s also not that your being gay was a choice, or that it’s selfish of you to want to live as a gay man. It’s about being honest with yourself, as a man that has attractions to other men. Thereafter, staying in a marriage for any reason (and not coming out) is akin to “playing-house” but with one person at the party not knowing why things are never quite as they seem. I will assure you, as time continues to move, this demon within you, will slowly consume you, it will tear at everything until you can no longer contain it. However, once the demon is out, you will forever wonder why being gay was so scary. Then eventually it becomes your responsibility to help everyone else come to terms & accept that you are still the same person in almost every way. Now you get to live your life with the ultimate sense of “freedom” and to finally feel you have earned the right to be the person you were born to be.
A very special thanks to all three of these men who were willing to share their stories to bring understanding to all of us. If you would like to email any of them through me, just let me know.
Happy Father's Day to the wonderful fathers who are part of our support network. And I would like to send a special thanks to Doug Dittmer who is always there to provide support to men who are struggling. Doug does incredible work, and if any of you would like to write to him or have your husband write to him, let me know and I will send you his contact information.
Love to all of you who are picking up the pieces.