On this blog and my Spanish blog I have highlighted the stories of straight women married to gay men. In some cases the woman knew in advance that the man she was going to marry “struggled with homosexuality.” The marriage may have been a direct product of the Ex-Gay Movement, which offered all sorts of promises of change to men who exclusively fancied men.
The union may have come about as an outgrowth of religious institutions that placed a high premium on marriage and family. Or both. Add to the mix the pressure from family and society to marry. Many gay men I have met have desired to be parents and 20 years ago and even less than that felt their only means was through heterosexual marriage. In many cases the woman has no clue that her husband likes men and may be exclusively orientated that way. (I recognize there are bisexual people out there who have been successful in marriage. I also do not write here about mixed orientation marriages between a lesbian woman and a straight man. I don’t have much firsthand knowledge of these, so I will stick with what I know and seen.)
Very rarely do these marriages between a gay man and a straight woman “work.” What success looks like is not at all be what gets advertised by ex-gay proponents. A mixed-orientation marriage at minimum requires transparency, honesty, realism, maturity and communication, sadly qualities that I have seen sorely lacking in religious-based mixed orientation marriages. Most often these marriages end in flames bringing down with them many victims–straight spouses, children, extended family as well as the gay spouse. Painful and tragic stuff.
Carol Boltz knows firsthand about the complications and the difficulties of marriage with a gay man. She writes poignantly about the pain that arises from so many good memories, hopes and dreams mixed in with the anger, hurt and disappointment. On her blog My Heart Goes Out, she has shared a lot of herself and her personal journey of healing as well the challenges of loving the man who is no longer her husband, particularly in a climate where some church folks expected her to be ugly and hateful towards him. It has not been easy balancing her own needs and hurt with those of her husband and the many feelings that have swirled around through the whole coming out/separation/divorce/post-marriage process. She also has spent time analyzing the many forces at work that encourage and enable these mixed-orientations to occur in the first place. In her post from Saturday, January 31, 2009 EX-GAY THERAPY….THEY MAKE YOU STRAIGHT ENOUGH TO SLEEP WITH A WOMAN, LONG ENOUGH TO BREAK HER HEART, she writes about Ted Haggard, a Evangelical minister who was discovered in a relationship with a male prostitute and urges gay men to refrain from marrying straight women.
When I was an active member of the Yahoo group, “Wives of gay/bi husbands,” it was heartbreaking for me to see so many, many wives who were hurt continually by their gay husbands. These good women (or who knows, they could have been regular women) wanted in every way to believe that their husbands were never, ever again going to act on their sex drives with other men. Unfortunately, it was a rare man who didn’t go to the computer or video store for porn, visit a park for anonymous sex, or keep a boyfriend on the side. The actions of these men left their families at risk for disease. They disrespected their wives by lying. They harmed the women they had once loved by use of drugs and alcohol. But more than anything else, in their wake they had hurt everyone, and they many times did all this while telling their wives “I’m not really gay.” Yeah, right.
I am not trying to have a self-fulfilling prophecy that the ones who claim to be “not-gay” will eventually act on their feelings. I am not trying to say that their love is not real, nor would I encourage others in this situation to leave one another or abandon their families. But as I’ve stated before, it is a travesty to tell a young person that the “feelings will change,” if they marry someone of the opposite sex. It is wrong to tell them, like Ted Haggard is doing, that “the ideal is to marry.” That makes other relationships inferior, and they are not.
Yesterday I received a comment on my blog post Four Former Wives of Gay Husbands Speak Out. The comment is written by a man whose sister married a man who after eight years of marriage, came out gay. His comment is thick with anger, the sort of anger that I imagine I would feel if someone harmed my own sister. I also imagine that for gay men who were once in heterosexual marriages, reading his words will be painful. The raw hurt he expresses at the injustice of the situation comes through powerfully.
I post his comment in full because I believe it is important for men who like men (gay/ex-gay/”former homosexuals”) to hear these words and let them soak in and to get past all of the religious language and hopes and promises that make it seem reasonable to consider marriage with a straight woman. Also, I have reflected on some recent comments by Sheria of SA who encourages us to consider the many family members negatively affected by mix-orientation marriages.
My EX-brother-in-law decided to let my sister know he was gay after 8 years of marriage & 2 children. I have to agree w/JennyT., & the “I don’t get it” comment. This guy could have stayed single and lived any life he wanted to. But instead, (for whatever reason) decided to get married to a hetrosexual woman while knowing he was gay since childhood (his own admission). As for the “Sorry” line from one of the commenters and from my EX BROTHER IN LAW; well you should BE. You have completely F*ck.. over a innocent person, who enetred into a relationship with you in good faith. You had the right to be confused or whatever; but to go into a marriage based on lies, knowing full well you could never truly love this person; and/or give them what they need; I don’t understand this, unbelievably self-centered and selfish. FRAUDALENT. If you’re truly “Sorry” then before you go do anything for yourself, aid your wife (OR HUSBAND WHATEVER THE CASE) in getting her what she needs. MOVE AWAY. Get out of thier life. Support her & any children finanacially, pay for whatever counseling she will certainly need, and do your best to get her in a condition where she might be able to have the relationship she should of had, and probably would have had, had it not been for you. And just in case that sounds like to much; just as an FYI to everyone as well, your EX can sue you in most states for fraud, in which case you wold be liable for the things I mentioned above, in addition to monetary damages for pain and suffering, anguish, an allotment for every year the fraud continued. There are MANY choices you made before you got married to a hetro, if you knew you were gay, or suspected you were gay, while you were doing this, it is not O.K. “Sorry” doesn’t cover it. You commited FRAUD.