Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Option Four: Start a New Life

If you accept yourself as bisexual or gay and you're committed to a woman, how do you handle your attraction to men and the commitment to your woman?

Believe it or not, you only have four choices.

I have written about three of the choices in recent posts and now I continue with the fourth and final option: starting a new life.


If you've decided to start a new life that means you've decided to end your romantic relationship with your woman. If you're bi, why would you want to do that?

I'm sure some bisexual men have divorced their wives in order to more freely pursue sex with men, but that has to be an uncommon event. If you're bi, you want both men and women, so saying goodbye to your wife doesn't make much sense.

This means that the option to "start a new life" does not often pertain to bi men. It's pretty much something only a gay man would decide to do when he feels ready to come out of the closet.

The reasons TO end your marriage and come out of the closet are pretty obvious. I suppose more than anything it's about being honest with those around you. But it could also be purely selfish; having a wife can really be a drag on your gay sex life. In most cases, elements of both probably play a role.

What's interesting is that, in the abstract, few will condemn a gay man for choosing to begin an honest life. Gay men, straight women and even the Catholic Church all agree that gay men and straight women should not be married. Of course the Catholic Church doesn't think gay men should marry anyone...

I could easily be wrong about this, but I believe that only the Mormon Church disapproves of ending "mixed orientation" marriages. The reason is that Mormon marriages extend into the afterlife so splitting up on Earth is only delaying the inevitable, eternal reunion. The Mormon Church's answer is to stay together - and they'll help the man get over his same sex attractions.

This uniquely Mormon attitude may explain why there are so many married Moho bloggers.

If almost everyone can agree, in theory, that gay men should not remain married to straight women, why do so many gay men and their straight wives resist separating? Is resistance simply part of the grieving process, nothing more than a delay of the inevitable? Or, are there legitimate, sustainable reasons why a gay man and a straight woman should remain married?

There may be other 'legitimate' reasons, but I can only think of two that seem to be common. One is children. The other is age.

I really do feel like something of a freak. When I came out to my wife at age 26 we had been married two and a half years and we didn't have kids. Gabbie often stayed late after work socializing while I was home alone, wondering when I should start dinner. (Some things don't change, even with kids...) I was lonely and so I spent more and more time daydreaming about meeting men, especially the right man.

When I did meet a terrific guy I assumed that my marriage was over. And for about 11 weeks it was. Then Gabbie and I got back together, not because we had kids and not because we were old or sick. It was love!

It wasn't a crazy I-can't-live-another-day-without-you kind of love. It was something more subdued than that; she missed me and I missed her. What convinced me that I was making the right decision was that I wanted to be with her more than I wanted to be with my very perfect boyfriend of ten weeks.

Eighteen years and three kids later, here we are, still fully partnered. What percentage of marriages between two straight people last that long?

So yes, I am not a total cynic, I do believe love can be factor. But mostly I think practical reasons come into play. If you get along well, why risk fucking up the kids by splitting up? If you get along well, why risk starting over at age 60, 65, 70 or 75? Gay culture is so youth-oriented it's not hard to see the logic that staying together for another 20 years might not be so bad considering you've already been married for 40.

There are some who would refute the idea that kids or age are acceptable reasons why a gay man and a straight woman should remain married. I plan a future post about the staying-because-of-the-kids issue.

Because I am so extremely young (I like to tell my kids I'm 26. They get such delight from rolling their eyes and showing me some attitude as they say, "Dad, we know you're not 26! You're 44. Why don't you just admit it?!!!") I don't feel properly informed of all the issues as to why a 70 year old gay man should, or should not, remain married to his wife of 40+ years. But I will say this: I've had a number of gay men comment that they've found love and happiness well after they began receiving Social Security checks. One of the best was very recent. Wharton wrote about how he was pursued (!) by a 27 year old man when he was 65, and how they're still together 7 years later. Wow! That story can give us all hope.

And if not hope, it gives those of us who are seriously considering starting a new life a reason to procrastinate for another year. Or twenty.


What are your thoughts about gay men who decide to remain married to straight women? Feel free to share them below, or, to disagree with anything that I've written above.

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