Thursday, June 17, 2010

Why Be Gay and Lonely?

This post and others that may follow are meant to be provocative and somewhat tongue in cheek. I am taking this approach in order to encourage an interesting discussion of the issues I raise.

That said, I hope no one takes what I say too seriously. As a general rule I believe that every gay man, lesbian, bisexual and transgender person should be "out and proud." Where my opinion my differ from others is whether there are exceptions to that rule or not.

If I were to make exceptions, the group I would most puzzle about are married men and women who are in their middle years or older. Quite frankly, there are a lot of societal and practical advantages to being married. Is coming out of the closet over 40 always the best decision? I'm not so sure...



Single Guy at Single in the City recently posted about "how very appealing the concept and strength of family is."

He says, "you can always (usually) count on your family. At least I can…ultimately they are the ones who are there for me when boyfriends, partners and friends have moved on. I wonder what will happen when I get older.

"Who will look after me in my old age? ... I fear being alone but nothing scares me more than being old and alone. I get many phone calls from older gay men through the counseling line. Their parents have passed away, friends passed away and they are left all alone."

Unlike many (most?) gay men I haven't been single since days after my 20th birthday. That's nearly 24 years. I probably have no idea what "alone" truly feels like anymore.

But even so (or more so?) I absolutely, positively, without any doubt know that I do not ever want to be one of the MANY older gay men calling a single guy on a counseling line because I'm completely alone. I'd much rather be deeply in the closet than be that lonely.

When a married man (or woman; using male pronouns generically for both genders from now on) comes out of the closet over the age of 40, he does not do so with the expectation that he will be alone. In fact, often the only reason some married men come out at all is because they've found a lover who will provide emotional support during the split. If they didn't have a partner, they'd stay married forever.

How many of those support-me-while-I-divorce relationships survive very long? Some. Not many. And once the old married guy is single, does he have an guarantees that he'll ever be partnered again? None. Generally speaking gays are not known for valuing long-term relationships.

In theory, a married man will never be alone because he has children. Therefore, if a closet married man with kids comes out, he will never be lonely.

But this may not always be true.

Perhaps coming out will alienate him from his kids. Or, maybe he'll move away from the kids so he can live in a more gay-friendly city. Or, maybe when he gets older the kids will be so busy with their lives that they won't have much time for their old fag father. Bottom line: kids are a great hedge against loneliness, but they are certainly no guarantee.

If you think about it, the single best chance for a closeted gay man to never be lonely is to stay with the old bag he's been married to for decades. The truth is, as the two of them get older and uglier, no one else will want them.

So, all things considered, when it comes to never being lonely, closeted gay men should stay in the closet.



  1. Wrong (I'm referring to your last statement).

    I came out and decided to end my marriage of 10 years with no prospective companion. I didn't come out so I could spend the rest of my years antiquing with some guy. I wanted to live my life as the person I am - not the person everyone wants me to be.

    Do I crave a long term relationship with a man? Sure. Do I think it will happen? Probably not. But that's fine.

    I'm not afraid of being alone. Maybe it's easy for me to say that now - and 20 years from now I'll be kicking myself.

    So what about friendships? If your children can keep you from getting too lonely - then why not have a circle of friends? Some people who share common interests. This is what I see happening in my parents lives right now. Well - in my mom's life. My dad is alone by choice. But my mom has a group of female friends - most of whom are widowed now - and they go to lunch and do regular "girl" things. Why can't older gay men do the same thing. I'm sure some of them do.

    Plus - you can't assume that being over 40 means you will never meet a partner. There's a few older gay men in the gay dad's group I belong to. One couple in particular - they're in their 60's - but one of they guys came out in his 40's and left his wife. He is a handsome man - so he did have that going for him. But I'm sure you're handsome, too.

    Sure - we all have our reasons for staying or leaving. But for me - I'd rather live the rest of my years hoping for that perfect companion to come along, rather than becoming more bitter about my life in a straight marriage (which I was doing). For me - I'm happier now than I've been in years. And my wife is starting to move on now - so I think we're both in a better place than we were a year or two ago.


  2. You can be very lonely in a marriage that is not good. And several men who have commented on my site about ending ones that were not terrible, but that could not be reconciled with their true gay identity, have found wonderful, fulfilling lives (and men to love) after ending the marriages - because they were happy to be who they really were and now also able to attract men who loved what they were. Don't cling to a marriage just to avoid an imagined lonely old age...yes it is terrifying sometimes to face the idea of being alone, but you are already alone in your marriage from all you have told us. Look, almost 1 in 3 marriages end for lots of reasons other than sexual orientation issues, many for people in their 40's and 50's. And most of them become much more happy and many find a new love or remarry. Nice try Cameron, but you know the fear of the unknown is preventing you from making a better and truer life and you have spent 20 years avoiding the fact you have let others shape your future so of course breaking out of this pattern and finding your own self and own future is so much harder and rationalizing what has evolved as acceptable is safer - stop trying to Do the Right Thing for everyone else but yourself. Sorry to be so blunt but you have made us care so much about you and you need a big push and assurances from others to break the cycle.

  3. Cameron, No one wants to be lonely. There aren't any guarantees against it, gay men don't have any monopoloy on it, and I don't buy that gay men don't value relationships and family. That all sounds like the Yes on 8 propagandists talking. What NewLeafe and Jayson said -- keep rereading those comments, because they said it best.

  4. I have to admit that what you say has a kernel of truth in it and that this, in part, is what keeps me from taking the "dive" of suggesting separation/divorce to my wife.

  5. hey mate,

    Great blog! Everyone has a journey...with no right or wrong path. The grass is always greener on the other side. We all fear different things....I sometimes do wish I would be sraight!