Wednesday, November 23, 2016


June 2015     Volume 16, Issue 165


Many of you have asked me my opinion about Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner's transition into transgender. The last few months have consumed many of our waking moments with him becoming her including sexy feminine pictures featured--well--everywhere you look.
People praised Bruce/Caitlyn for the bravery of publicly transitioning in front of the world after having his fair share of relationships and marriages to straight women which produced a number of children and families.

Across the board, I heard the word "HERO" when referring to this news that shocked many of us. After all, Bruce Jenner had been our macho athletic hero for so many years. He had been highly visible as a devoted father since his marriage into the "K" family (no, not my "K"). He was never out of the public eye for the past four decades. And now a champion among men is being hailed as a "hero" because he took such a brave step in stepping up the transitioning at this age of his life. He said he waited until now in order to spare more pain to his children. I think that's why he waited or said he waited.

Anyway, I looked up the definition of hero. Here is what I found:

Hero: a man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities.

Allow me to set my personal opinion " straight."  A few months ago, Joel Grey was being hailed as a hero when at 73, he came out to the public. People thought he was so brave for him to be true to himself after spending his "happiest years" (according to him) being married to a woman. I wrote in my February newsletter that the real hero wasn't Joel Grey, but rather his wife who spent those years in a marriage based on dishonesty.

So now I will make a comment that will no doubt have some hecklers, but it is how I feel after spending a great amount of time processing these situations.

I work with 100 - 200 gay men each year who ask for help in coming out to their wives. In most cases, it's because they have met a man and want to leave their marriage. However, there is a handful of men who wrote to me for guidance because they haven't acted on it yet, but they can't keep living in the hell they have created for themselves being married to a woman knowing they aren't "straight."

Honestly, I do understand the pain that these men face.  And yes, I do have compassion for their struggle. They really are caught between the compartment walls of compartmentalization. They live with guilt, frustration, sorrow, anger, depression and all other kinds of emotional turmoil. And it's all true. My heart goes out to anyone who is so deeply suffering. I will commend them and praise them when they have the courage to do the right thing even if the motivation is skewed, but I will never call them "heroes."

Why not?

Since I started my support network in 1983, I have had thousands of gay married men try to explain to me why they felt pressured to get married. I do understand how family, religion, and society in general pressured gay men for so many years to make this choice at the cost of being vilified, punished, condemned, and in many cases, ex-communicated from their families and community. To some it seemed like the "best way" out. I won't say the "easiest way," because living a lie on a daily basis pretending you are something you are not is never easy.

Both husband and wife went into their marriage with great hopes for the future. We--the wives--hoped that we had found our soulmate to spend our lives with--someone to build a family and grow old with. They--the husbands--hoped that loving us enough would magically turn them "straight." After all, if they could love a woman and MAKE LOVE to a woman--even if it was fleeting or irregular--that would count. Then they could convince themselves that they were not gay. After all, someone who is "really" gay would never want to be with a woman. Right?

We know these stories don't end happily ever after. How can they? How can any man be happy living a life he wasn't destined for, and how can any woman be happy living with a man who isn't happy because he feels like a prisoner and looks at her as the prison warden? We all know in time those feelings of love turn to feelings or resentment on his part, and you--the loving wife--become his enemy.

Okay, you already know my feelings on this subject after reading them for over 14 years. But here is the real issue. Why don't I believe these men are heroes?

Because they aren't heroes. They are men who made a mistake. Fixing a mistake doesn't make you a hero. It does make you brave to fix it--but not a hero.

I know many of our women may not agree with me that this takes courage, but think about it. How many of you are stuck in horrible marriages with husbands who will continue living with you forever and never tell you the reason why you are so unhappy in your marriage? 

How many will deny the truth even when you confront them with proof? Those selfish men who stay because their convenience is far more importance than your happiness will drain you emotionally every day of your life. You will never find the happiness you deserve or hoped for because they won't allow you. After all, if they can live a lie and be miserable with you, you can be miserable too.  Far too many of you give your lives away to selfish gay men who won't let go.

Giving you that missing jigsaw puzzle part to complete the picture of why your marriage is failing  is a gift. It's not the "gift" you wanted, but at least it's the gift that will explain the problems in your marriage weren't you--they were your husband's problems all wrapped up into a box called "gay." When you are married to a gay man, it doesn't take two to screw up the marriage. Both of you can't be held responsible for living in a marriage that wasn't meant to be. As a gay man, he needs to take that responsibility.

But there are real heroes in this story. According to the gay stats I have read throughout the years, it is estimated that approximately 10 - 20% of gay men marry straight women. Even if it is 20%, that means 80% do NOT marry women. Does this mean that the 80% are not under the same pressures that the 20% are under? I think not. I think across the board no matter where you grew up, gay was a "doom sentence."  Not a death sentence--but a "doom sentence" meaning that those closing doors in family, church/synagogue/mosque, employment, and community were quick to slam shut if the truth was known. Often gay people were singled out to be "gay bashed" physically and mentally and discriminated against by ignorant people.

I grew up in the 1960's, and I lived in California in 1968 - 1969. In the years of the "sexual revolution" of the 1960's, gay was common and accepted. Gay couples would stroll the streets of Santa Monica arm-in-arm and no one yelled "deviants" or threw rocks at them. It was a sign of the time--the age of Aquarius.  Gay was looking up and when I returned here to the East Coast, it was kind of more accepted as well. What changed the progress of gay acceptance was the horrific disease of AIDS that sent its shadow of death around the country and the world.

The AIDS panic was real. It wasn't a perception. Medical personnel did not even want to treat the patients. I lost two good friends to this death sentence, and their lives back then were so painful and isolating. AIDS became known as the "gay disease," and all gays were viewed as potential "killers" of mankind. I remember that horror in 1986 when a mother at my son's nursery school found out his father was gay. She petitioned the school to expel him or she would take her child out of the school immediately. The school stood by me. But several parents did pull their kids out of school. Neither my son nor my ex-husband had AIDS, but the scare was enough to create terrible chaos and  for me.

I know that many men during that era--yes, some of the men you are/were married to--worked so much harder to be straight even if they had those nagging male attractions. They truly were "scared straight" in their own minds. And understandably. No one likes to be persecuted for being different during a witch hunt like AIDS produced in the 1980's and 1990's. And even more so, many of these men didn't want to die a horrible death for having sex with a man. The religious leadership in the country was quick to show these "lost sheep" a way to a happy life by promising them health and happiness (maybe not in that order) if they would see the errors of their ways of thinking gay. With thousands of people dying because they were "gay," marrying straight sounded like the logical answer. I even remember seeing religious freaks claiming that AIDS was the way that God was punishing gay people. Yes, life was very painful for many people back then. I am just laying out the background of the climate back then that I vividly recall.

That being said--don't you think that every gay man faced the same ignorance and threats? Don't you think that many of them had to take a step back into the closet rather than being labeled as a killer? Every gay man was a target for hatred back then by someone, but 80% of them still chose not to get married. Many of them could have. played the straight game--but they chose not to. They may not have shouted out that they were "proud and gay" like in the 60's and 70's, and may have kept their sexuality quiet--but they didn't get married.

Let me be very clear. I am not wagging fingers or calling names. None of us know what we would do if we were faced with such horrific choices in life. How many of us would stand up and fight for ourselves if we knew what the consequences would be? So trust me, I'm not trying to shame or embarrass any gay husband/ex-husband here for making the choice he did. But at the same time, the point I'm making is simply this. If I had to give an award to someone who is gay for being a hero, it would be the 80% of gay men who never got married to a woman. It would be the man who had the strength to fight the pressure by not allowing himself to take a road that would entwine some hopeful, loving woman with him for the ride through hell.

There is a small percentage of gay men who married knowing full well they had no intention of changing but wanted a "cover" or as they call it, a "beard." These were men who were in roles like the clergy, servicemen, doctors, and company executives who needed that "family" image to find success in their careers. They were not loving their wives; they were using their wives.

But I know that the overwhelming majority of gay men loved their wives to the best of their ability when they got married believing their kind of love would be "good enough." When a gay man tells me that he "loves his wife," he truly believes that because he does love her--but his love is like that for a sister or a cousin. He doesn't realize that the love of a gay man is not the love of a straight man no matter how he tries to believe that it is. It's empty and hollow no matter how much of an effort he makes, how many gifts he buys, or how many times he says, "I love you." Something is always missing. It's not his fault--he is gay. Gay men are not straight no matter how much they think they are doing a good imitation. We know something is wrong. Maybe not in the beginning, but soon enough.

Getting back to my point, yes--there are gay heroes. They are not Joel Grey or Trans Bruce Jenner. They are the millions of unsung heroes who realized that even if gay or transgender wasn't okay by society's standards, they weren't going to marry a woman that they couldn't love in the "straight" way--which is the right way. No one is giving them an award or calling them heroes, so allow me to do it.

To all of the gay men who never went into a relationship or married a woman, let me applaud you for being a hero which means you had the courage to say NO when the tide turned against you. This was truly the noble quality that make a hero.
As I tell the gay men who approach me with doubts prior to getting married, if you have one doubt about your sexuality--don't even think about marriage. Spend that time learning about self-acceptance. I tell them you don't choose gay--it chooses you. Trust me when I tell you that if gay men had a choice, they would choose to be straight, not gay. I tell them to learn to accept it and love themselves for who they are which is easier than pretending that they are someone that they are not or will never be.

On this June Straight Talk edition, I like to give thanks and credit to the gay men who are part of my support network, I thank you for having the courage to do the right thing after you made the mistake of getting married under the best of intentions. Thank you for helping other gay men come to understand that they need to do the right thing as you did. A special thank you to Doug Dittmer who did most of the writing of our book, "Over the Cliff: Gay Husbands in Straight Marriages." Doug is wonderful at peer counseling with men who need to make the right decisions as well as our women who go to him for support. Another special thanks to my friend Chuck who challenges me in some of my thoughts, but appreciates our common bonds more than our few differences. Chuck is also there to help others.

I would also like to thank my in-house doctor, Dr. Brian Hooper, who co-hosts my radio show the last Monday of each month. Dr. Hooper, a gay therapist who works with men going through the process of coming out and divorce, helps all of us untangle it all of the time! Hopefully, through all of our efforts, the future will seem clearer and better for many.
Hopefully in the future, the times they will be a-changing!

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