Gay Husbands and Sweet Potato Fries

Last night I performed at Ramapo College in New Jersey. GREAT turn out including a large contingent of guys from a fraternity. This particular fraternity has a relationship with the very progressive women’s center. Mandy from the women’s center expertly developed this contact. Very cool.

After the show a bunch of us grabbed a bite at a dinner (NJ is famous for it many diners). To my great pleasure they served sweet potato fries. I not only had these with my veggie wrap, but had an order for desert. 🙂 We had fun talking and even Marvin showed up! (He is doing fine and looks good) I met and remet lovely folks I hope to see again soon. (Hey Kerry and Maya! and the rest of the gang–Chris, Will, gosh so many)

I also met up with Susanne, who recently contributed to my blog with My Gay Husband–A Spouse Speaks Out. In the hotel lobby we spoke until 1:00 AM about gay husbands, straight spouses and her story in particular. One of the greatest gifts we can give each other is our attention, particularly as active listeners.

As Susanne shared her story about discovering her homosexual husband who lived a double life with lie upon lie upon lie, I felt moved, sad, angry even overwhelmed. I hear so many vibrant joyful coming out stories of gay men who finally find a new life, one that fits. But I so rarely hear the wives’ stories, their pain, how they get left holding the bag and often blamed for how things turned out.

It got me thinking about how many gay men like me who have at times conveniently blamed the demise of our marriages on our gayness.

I was gay so the marriage fell apart.

But for many of us that is only partially true. Yes, the marriage was most likely destined to fail and should never had begun, but often the marriage ended because of infidelity, lies, recklessness and selfishness.

Sure it gets bundled up with what the world and the church told us we should do to be “normal” people. But if we never take responsibility for our actions, if we always blame our same-sex attractions and never own up to our disloyalty, we can never truly be free. And our ex-spouses, who we profess to love still, cannot find full freedom.

Seems one of the hardest things in the world for us, for me to say is, I messed up. I wronged you. I felt shame about being gay which then got compounded with behavior inappropriate for a person in a committed relationship. I cried a lot, said how sorry I was, but it has taken me a long time to begin to own up to what I did wrong.

Separating the harmful, dare I say sinful, actions from the normal neutral gay identity takes time and skill. But regardless of how coerced I felt by society to marry, how trapped in a situation that I could not fix, how inadequate I felt in a heterosexual marriage, my actions were wrong, dishonest and hurtful. That is hard to say but essential.

So is your husband gay? Do you suspect he might be? Or are you a married man secretly having sex with other men or looking at gay porn and meeting up with men on-line without your wife suspecting? Have you fallen in love with another man or another woman and found a soul mate? Or perhaps you have same-sex attractions that terrify you, attractions that you never acted upon, but you feel paralyzed to do anything about it? Can your marriage survive?

Hard questions all around.

Fox News NY did a piece on November 6 entitled Is My Husband Gay? Although it is evening news quality, they do give wives and husbands a chance to tell their stories. They even provide a Gay Husband Checklist.

This post has 8 Comments

  1. Elliot on December 1, 2006 at 6:50 pm

    Hard questions, indeed. But it’s not like gay men who marry straight women can help their same-sex attractions. Asking them to do that to save a marriage would be terrible, in my opinion. It’s like in “Fish Can’t Fly”, when that psychologist near the end of the film said that the ex-Gay programs are, in essence, committing sexual abuse on the people they claim to be trying to help. Even if a gay man marries a straight woman on his own accord, that doesn’t mean that he won’t or couldn’t be traumatized to some extent by having the sexuality of his wife forced on him at one time or another…..Right? Am I kind of understanding this, or putting it in the right context?

  2. Elliot on December 1, 2006 at 6:54 pm

    I just took a look at that checklist, and I don’t quite know what to make of it. Not all gay men do that when they’re married to women. Some gay men are too afraid to do any of that. If I were married to a woman and I was a gay man (who was born with male genitalia), I don’t think I would.

  3. Peterson Toscano on December 1, 2006 at 7:20 pm

    elliot, yep I totally agree. There are all types of gay men who marry straight women. Some never have had sex with a man and respect their marriage vows. They may just stuff their desires, grin and bear it, or they may be honest and tell their spouse one day. And it goes from there depending on the relationship and the people in it.

    The checklist does look at specific behaviors, behaviors that if a husband did, a wife needs to note.

    I have not mentioned anything about lesbians and other women with same-sex attractions married to straight men. I imagine their stories are also very different.

    Yeah, a marriage between someone with same-sex attractions and someone heterosexual, most often ends tragically for all involved.

    You raise a good question about potential trauma by feeling coerced or obligated to have sex. I somehow imagine many more women have experienced this than men. But I don’t know that for a fact.

    Bottom line, society needs to change to enable lesbians and gays to marry each other instead of dragging themselves and a straight person into a marriage that will most likely end with lots of heartache all around.

  4. Liadan on December 1, 2006 at 9:16 pm

    I was most iffy about “Your husband reveals he’s bisexual.”

    Last time I checked, bisexual != gay. Granted, there are those who come out as bisexual before they come out as gay (I was one), but it’s hardly a cut-and-dry rule that if your husband tells you he swings both ways, it really means he’s going to run off with the pool boy.

  5. Steve Boese on December 2, 2006 at 2:58 am

    The thing I had to own in the process of coming out to my wife was that I had not been fair to her during our engagement. In that time when I had committed to making myself open and vulnerable to her, I made a conscious decision to omit that I was attracted to guys.

    Being actively involved in self-deception didn’t change the fact that I was also deceiving the person I claimed to love most, and not trusting her with a simple fact which was very relevant to our trust-building process as we prepared for marriage.

    It took me a while to accept this.

    I was tempted to congratulate myself for starting the coming-out process openly with my wife, prior to having any relationship or sexual encounter with a guy. But even though that fidelity was meaningful to me, it didn’t fix anything.

    Like any relationship, ours was complex. The orientation issue played heavily, but wasn’t the only one which moved it from being nominally functional to toxic. I resisted the idea that divorce was necessary, prepared to work at life as a predominantly gay and monogamously married guy who loved his family.

    That option invites a level of complexity which few relationships can embrace, needless to say, and it ended up not being within our reach.

    To me, this just points out the incredible diversity among marriages in which one person comes out.

    I don’t like the checklist at all. It feeds erroneous stereotypes about bisexuality as a transitional state on the way to being openly gay and bi folks as incapable of monogamy. I’ve known enough ever-straight guys who are comfortable hanging out with gay friends, also, that I just can’t imagine that it is a predictor that an ostensibly straight husband might come out later.

    So, P, have you looked up Amity Buxton’s Straight Spouse Network (apparently one of its face-to-face groups meets in W. Hartford) or her book?

  6. SteveSchalchlin on December 2, 2006 at 4:36 am

    Peterson, that was a very compassionate and honest post. And you’re right, we are usually so intent upon celebrating one’s self-discovery that we frequently forget that there are other lives involved, people really hurting and who feel betrayed.

  7. Anonymous on May 9, 2007 at 4:22 am

    “A society bent on the heterosexual male myth.”

    This is what I have just read in a site about homosexuality.

  8. Anonymous on May 14, 2007 at 1:07 am

    “A society bent on the heterosexual male myth.”


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