Last January, I resumed my weekly podcasts on Blog Talk Radio. I want to thank the wonderful members of my support group who have been kind and generous in being a guest on the show—and some of you more than once. Our women need to hear you to feel inspired and supported in their own recovery process. I have received some beautiful feedback from women all over the world about your interviews that is so rewarding to me. Since January, we have had over 17,200 listens to the show on every continent of this world. You can listen live to the podcasts on Sunday evenings at 8 p.m. EST or anytime afterwards at this link: https://www.blogtalkradio.com/bonnielkaye If you would like to be a guest on my show—anonymously—just drop me a note at Bonkaye@aol.com. We all need to learn from each other how to balance this life changing experience.
UPCOMING INFORMATION FROM THE NEW STRAIGHT WIVES #3 BOOK
I am in the process of collecting stories for my new Straight Wives: Shattered Lives III book which I hope to have published this fall. I have some wonderful stories from some of the women in this support network, but I would like to have three more if you are interested. You can email me at Bonkaye@aol.com for the guidelines.
People wonder why this book is necessary. The last volume, STSW: 2, was published TEN years ago. In our changing current society where homosexuality is celebrated rather than hidden, people can’t conceive that this is still going on. But it is. Gay men are way ahead of where they were, but many of them are still confused. They don’t understand why they can still have feelings and attractions to women but still be gay. It doesn’t equate for them in their late teens, twenties, and sometime thirties. They can fall in love with a woman, have sexual relations with her for a number of years, produce children, lead a straight life—so how can this be gay? Okay, so they find men sexually appealing. But that’s just sex—not emotions. Sex is not a big deal in marriage after a while, so what’s the difference. Yes, they think they can go through life like that, but it all changes later. Those attractions to men intensify in time. Their desire to be with men sexually is overwhelming, and the need to act on it is their new reality
Okay, we all know that story. We’ve all lived it in one form or another. But I have found is that attitudes about this situation from outside our world have changed, and we need to acknowledge this. In the introduction to my new book, I state why we need to keep this momentum going. This is a portion of it for you to read. I lead into it by talking about how I believe that things are worse for straight wives now in 2020.
So what’s the “worse” part? That is the part that our straight wives have to endure when their husbands come out and become the new heroes. Now society sings praises to these men who have the courage to live their new “authentic lives.” They cheer them on. They feel saddened over the years of torture they had to endure by pretending they were “straight men.” They want to pin a big round badge of COURAGE on their shirts. In the past, women would at least get some sympathy from their friends and acquaintances. Not now—now our gay husbands are getting that misplaced sympathy. Society sees them as the victims—rather than us. That has changed—and it doesn’t help us.
In the past, we’d get some snickers from people with the usual, “You didn’t know he was gay when you married him? It’s so obvious,” or “Was he gay when you married him?” Yes, those were the usual passive-aggressive comments we would hear as if we had missed the boat. Or they thought maybe we did know—but we were desperate. Sadly, that’s how ignorance thinks.
But back then—after the little slap down of accusation, we would be lifted up like a wine glass with some words of comfort including, “That’s so terrible. How could he do that to you?” Yep, those words would take away the sting of the initial slap in the face with a few soothing words.
Well, I don’t hear those words very much anymore. People don’t sympathize with us—the true victims of this situation. And that is what has changed the most. They are so impressed with these gay men who spent 20, 30, 40, and more years of their lives living their lies with us—their loving (although confused) wives giving up what these men claim were the “best years of their lives to their families.” So now that their dues have been paid, it is time for them treat themselves to authenticity in a world where they always belonged. Yep, they are the new heroes for their bravery. People applaud them for staying in their marriages until the children were grown and on their own.
So, in other words, these men spent a few decades living a daily lie with their family. They were gay men playing the role of straight husbands. And yes, I mean playing a role. Gay men are not straight. They learn to “imitate” the actions of straight men. They study their body action, walk, arm motions, their speech, and heterosexual interests the same way that an actor prepares for a role. They usually have a lot of material to draw from via their family and friends. I always use the example of the comedian Lily Tomlin who is in the sitcom Frankie and Grace. Tomlin plays the role of a straight wife who in later life learns her husband is gay. She plays the role very well—because that’s what it is—a role. Tomlin is a lesbian who is honest about her sexuality. And yet, she is also an excellent actress who can portray a straight wife. That is different than being in a relationship with a partner. Then she would be in the same position as our gay husbands trying to figure out how not to get caught.
When most of our husbands were growing up, gay was taboo. Being straight was a requirement. “Practicing straight” was a daily job—and these guys learned how to imitate and play the role. In fact in many cases, they went beyond normal “straight behaviors.” Self-loathing or throwing us off-track often translated into anti-gay sentiments that these guys dropped in their conversations with straight people. My ex-husband would mock gay men who were effeminate calling them insulting names. He wasn’t “that kind of gay” as if it would make him less gay.
When people ask our women, “Didn’t you know he was gay when you married him,” the answer is a resounding NO. How would we know? My gay husband was a kung-Fu teacher who was tall, handsome, and muscular. Women fell for him fast and easy. He was the epitome of a macho athlete. Why would gay even enter into my mind? Gay men wanted men, not women, right? Why would a gay man romance me, claim to fall in love with me, make love to me (rather have sex with me) and want to marry me? That’s not what a gay man is supposed to do. But who knew? Not me. Not us.
This is where I find that times are different now. It’s a different “feeling” than it used to be. People don’t look at us as being on the losing side. They listen to these men’s words’ of, “I had a great marriage for 30 years. They were the happiest years of my life.” They assume because these men were so “happy,” we, their wives, must have been happy too. Wouldn’t that make sense? Our exes aren’t complaining about us—they are saying how wonderful the years were—at least in public. No doubt they were happy years—FOR THEM. Why not? They controlled the marriage. Most of us were slowly broken down step by step through emotional and sexual rejection. There was no intimacy for years or a sense of romance with our husbands. We worked harder and harder running in circles trying to make the man we loved happy because he never seemed happy. And although he didn’t blame us all of the time, he did blame us enough of the time for feeling “TRAPPED.” I love that word in a marriage—TRAPPED. My ex-husband used it daily. I couldn’t understand why he felt trapped, but it seems to be a common expression that gay married men use according to the women who are part of my support network.
They feel trapped because they ARE trapped in a marriage they don’t belong in—through their own doing. Yes, they trapped themselves—WE DID NOT TRAP THEM. No one told them they HAD to get married to us nor did we hold a gun to their head—that was their choice. But once they got into the marriage, it started unraveling for them. Things started to fall apart—and MOSTLY in the bedroom. These men believed that marriage would solve those sexual naggings and attractions to men—but it didn’t. If anything, they started intensifying within a short amount of time. This is when they start feeling “trapped.”
Getting back to my initial point, people assume we were the lucky ones to have such great guys for our husbands—even if they are gay in the end. After all, they are telling the world about how wonderful their marriages were. So, people ASSUME we must have been happy too. After all, if our husbands are saying it was great—why would we feel differently?
It’s so funny. These men who neglected us in every possible way and made us feel worthless are now saying publicly what a wonderful marriage they had. So who comes out the winner here? They do. No one ever thinks to interview their wives for a reaction. No one has any interest in finding out how we think.
Truth be told—I haven’t been able to find an interview with any wife of a famous gay man who came out from a wonderful marriage. Most likely, it’s because there are none. What was good for these men wasn’t good for us women. But that’s the point. No one is asking us. They are assuming we’re fine with everything just because our voices are silent.
There have been numerous actresses who have been married to gay men through the years. Some of the more famous ones include Judy Garland, her daughter, Liza Minelli, Amanda Blake, (who died from AIDS after her gay husband died), Vanessa Redgrave, Charlotte Rae, Angela Lansbury, Carrie Fisher, and Fran Drescher. I never hear anything negative about their after-lives together. Heck, Fran Drescher was double dating with her gay husband and did a television comedy about it.
And that’s the other problem. Our marriages became comedy series shows on television. Fran Drescher had a show for a couple of seasons called “Happily Divorced.” She and her husband loved each other so much they became best friends and double dated on the show. Ha, ha. Very funny. Well, people thought it was funny because they never lived this nightmare. This show did more to distort our cause than any progress we made over the years. I complained to the station with no response. And then there is Frankie and Grace. Another comedy that is more realistic about older women in long-term marriages to gay men, but again, it’s a comedy.
When the movie Brokeback Mountain was popular many years ago, I went to see it. Again, the reviews were rooting for these two men who had to hide their sexuality. Their wives were portrayed as totally unsympathetic. One was a passive woman who couldn’t stand up for herself, and the other was an aggressive bitchy like woman who didn’t care about her husband being gay. Neither one of these women represents the women I know and have worked with whose lives were devastated once they found out the truth.
My point is this. Our realities have never been presented realistically on the big screen or the little screen. We are either hysterically funny or pathetic women, so no one is looking to acknowledge our pain. We can be laughed at or minimized which is where we now stand today. As it wasn’t hard enough to live with this during our marriage with our gay husbands, now our life is viewed the same way by the public. Uggggh.
Unless we start standing up and yelling our feelings to people, nothing will change. That’s why our voices must be heard—whether it is in books or on radio shows. We can only hope that people will read and learn to understand so we have a fighting chance of being recognized and understood one day.