As archaic as it might sound, even with all the media hype, touting celebratory strides forward for LGBTQ rights, there's still a dirty little societal secret getting brushed under the rug... gay men, in droves, are still being forced, shamed, and belief-poisoned to do the right thing -- marry heterosexual women even though they (the men) know they're gay.
Now, before you glass house dwellers start throwing your vicious verbal and judgmental assaults, I invite you to swear on a stack of Bible's that you've stood in a gay man's shoes, pummeled emotionally and intellectually by family, church, and society's pressure to be the heterosexual marrying kind. Yes, stand in his shoes and make sure they fit perfectly like Cinderella's glass slipper, before you open your condescending, wicked stepsister, sneering mouth.
If you haven't lived and breathed sexual orientation confusion, felt gay shame, or laid awake at night wishing that you really could pray the gay away, then honestly, you've nothing to contribute to this discussion and everything to learn from reading further as to why some gay men take the road of heterosexual matrimony instead of embracing the truth of who they are -- gay men!
Quite honestly, all the inside scoop that I'm about to dispense into your grey matter, if you choose to open your minds to a reality check, can be found in my recently released book -- Frankly My Dear I'm Gay: A Late Bloomers Guide To Coming Out. Yet again, for those of you who believe you know better than those of us who've lived the journey, just taking my word for it would fan the flames of my world against yours.
Instead, I've decided to not only share excerpts from my book about the journey, but to first, provide personal experiences from a sampling of fellow travelers who chose to say "I do" for all the wrong reasons.
The Sampling: Men, ages 30 to 60. Baby boomers and Gen X'ers. Most tied the knot with their wives between the ages of 21 - 35, and between the years of 1973 - 2002. Their marriages lasted from 8 - 38 years.
Reasons They Chose To Get Married (Here's where you're invited to open your minds and listen carefully!)
• I had great parents that I loved very much and I didn't want to disappoint them so I thought I could overcome by gay feelings by getting married and having kids.
• I truly believed that if I did all the right things, God would honor my obedience and 'make it work.'
• I married my best friend. I wanted to create a life and a family with her. I did what I wanted to do, not so much what society said I should do, and I don't regret that. I thought it would take away the thoughts and feelings I had for men.
• I got married because I wanted to achieve an ideal of normalcy that was based on convictions that were thrust upon me by my family and religion, not on the convictions that I ever carved out on my own. I obediently did what was expected of me because I thought I had no other choice.
• I wanted to do anything that might make me straight.
• I believed that IF I didn't get married everyone would know or somehow find out that I was GAY!
• I married because I wasn't strong enough to stand up to family, religion, and society. I was born and raised by homophobic people and structures, and I was persuaded to be a homophobic gay man.
• In very conservative Christian circles, it was just expected that marriage and having kids was the way. If I came out back then, I would have gotten kicked out of the church. I just thought it was the right thing to do -- deep down inside. I suppose, I thought it would fix me. I was too afraid of letting the real me out -- it was safer to hide in a marriage.
• I wanted the suspicions of "he's gotta be gay" to stop. I wanted to honor my faith. I wanted to have sex. I was certain that sex with a woman would make the gay feelings go away. It did for about 5 years. I wanted to be normal.
• I was anxious about it but had hope that someday I could be fully attracted to her. If I did the right things, was faithful, and continued in my commitment to her that God would honor that and allow me to achieve my goals.
• I thought that marriage would cause me to fit in and be like everyone else. I had never fit in...I was picked on and bullied my entire life and I wanted to be in society.
• I wanted to be "normal" and "straight." I truly loved my wife. She was my best friend. I wanted a family and to have the "American Dream" I felt I could never have as a gay man. I wanted to deny the gay in me and live a straight life.
As you can see/hear, if you're willing to observe/listen to these men's beautiful and painful stories, it's not as black and white as one might think, to honor one's self and be all the colors of the gay rainbow. But let's also look deeper at the commonalities of reasoning -- religion, family expectations, societal shame, decades of the '70s, '80s, and '90s when gay anything was a dirty word, even if it was becoming more mainstream to talk about.
For me and my experience, I echo each man's words, their experiences, their approximate age when they married, the length of their marriages (mine was 13 years), and the bubbles of beliefs and pressures that cause me to clamp down the lid on the pressure cooker that would become my hidden gay life. This excerpt from Frankly My Dear I'm Gay gives you a pretty good indication of where my head was throughout all of this.
"Coming out late in life wasn't easy, fun, joyful, a cakewalk, or a mind-blowing orgasm. Well, actually, it was all of those things and then some. My experience was more like a drag queen; I played a straight guy, who was really a gay guy, pretending not to be gay, all without makeup, or costumes to make the illusion work for a long, long, time. Precisely, the reason IT finally unraveled, IT being my less than Oscar winning performance of living the heterosexual life. Like many of you who are brave enough to have purchased this book (make sure you have a good hiding place for it, or get the Kindle version), I couldn't keep track of whether I was coming, or going. Wasn't sure I'd covered my tracks, kept my stories in order, or even slipped up. Stress, worry, lying, pretending, and sleepless nights were all tightly packed into the Louis Vuitton luggage of my life. Those bags had become so damn heavy and there wasn't a hot bellboy in sight to carry them. Well, there were a few bellboys, but I'm not one to kiss and tell."
Frankly My Dear I'm Gay, book excerpt, Page 9
All tongue and cheek aside, one's decision to enter into a heteronormative marriage, all in the name of "doing the right thing" based on someone else's "normal," is still an annoying, pebble in societies shoe. Each and every day, mixed orientation marriages sprout to life from misguided attempts at self-preservation to "fit-in." This blatant, consciously unconscious denial of self leads to years of habitual inauthentic living, as if there is no other choice.
In reality, regardless of your sexual orientation, here's some truth for you to consider.
"Parents, society, and even friends are telling us "who we should be," and "what we are to believe," which is setting a ridiculously fast pace for buying into bullshit on a regular basis! If that works for you, then great, it works for you. Please take no offense, none intended. Rarer than finding delicious fruitcake, it's hard to be human, let alone gay, and then to be stung by the "Should Bee's" of life put upon us by others. Don't roll your eyes and look away, or jump in with a fake hand to chest shriek of, "Not me!" I'm not buying it honey! Admit, you've been stung more than once by the "Should Bee's!" If you don't, I'll just have to bitch slap you. And, I'm really not in the mood for that, given we've only just met!"
Frankly My Dear I'm Gay, book excerpt, Page 37
So the burning question that some of you may still be asking is, "Why do gay men marry straight women?" Frankly My Dear because, sometimes it takes time to live the life your meant to live; to experience, experiences not yet experienced; and to embrace people your meant to embrace, so that one day you'll finally have the courage, maturity, and confidence to accept that the truth of who you are is more important than the false truth of pretending to be someone you're not. That's also the day you'll discover that true freedom comes from trusting yourself enough to be yourself.
Part memoir, part self-help book, Frankly My Dear, I'm Gay takes readers on a light-hearted, poignant, humorous, and multi-faceted journey out of the closet, with nationally known author, blogger, podcaster, speaker, and Coming Out Coach, Rick Clemons. Embracing the trips, falls, and triumphs of learning to walk in a new set of heels, Clemons brings a fresh perspective on how to be uniquely you as a flag-waving, or quietly standing on the sidelines, member of the LGBT Community. Calling upon his own, and client's experiences, Clemons doles out amusing yet sincere insights and advice for navigating a mutually respectful divorce, raising children as a gay parent, and tips for learning how to date, mate, and be in a healthy same-sex relationship. Learn more at www.RickClemons.com or www.FranklyMyDearImGay.com.