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The Beard's Lament

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I am seeking input from anyone on this forum who might have insight into the relationship between a straight woman and a gay man. I, a straight woman, dated a closeted gay man for several years, and I'm left with questions about the dynamic that existed between us. I realize that each of these relationships must be different, but I would value any insight from a gay man or woman who dated someone of the opposite sex, or from a straight person who had a gay partner.


I'm wondering about some of the reasons he, a professional, politically progressive in a notoriously liberal metropolitan area, might have for dating women. I'm wondering why he chose me. I'm wondering why, when we were best friends, he did not express his real self to me, but rather chose to hint around. It was only in retrospect that I realized he tried to tell me he was gay but I didn't (or couldn't) listen. This subtlety strikes me as almost treacherous -- we were so (platonically) close and I was upset and confused by his weird behavior.


He's made overtures of friendship that I've not accepted because I felt used and hurt that he couldn't trust me with the knowledge of his sexuality. I'm hoping to move towards a greater understanding of this person that was a huge part of my life for a very long time.


Was this about me at all? Is it fair for me to feel he wronged me? I've since moved on to a wonderful relationship (with a straight man, no less), but I would like to move towards forgiveness.


Thanks in advance for your replies.

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Hi swansea,


First off, let me say how sorry I am that this happened to you. One would think that this sort of thing would be increasingly rare today, but it is still not all that uncommon... one only has to think about the closeted senators that were in the news this past year.


I think you have every right to feel angry. However, I think I can offer at least a few explanations that might help you to understand and move towards forgiveness, although his behavior is still inexcusable.


As for myself, I'm a gay man who went on one date with a girl and came out to her after that.


The thing I tell everyone is that being gay is no fun at all. We tend to forget this, especially in more liberal areas, but being gay still carries a huge social stigma with it. We are not allowed to show affection in public, not allowed to marry in almost all states. All of the major religions look down on us, our families tell us that we are weird and different. The politicians, even the liberal ones, largely refuse to acknowledge us, and the ones that do don't do much for us. Even in liberal areas there are stereotypes that go with us- yes we have great fashion taste and tart wits, but we are also thought to be vain, childish, and annoying. Perhaps worst, being gay means we can't have children, at least not in the traditional way.


Nobody expects to be gay when they are a child, we all expect to be straight and "normal." When a preteen first starts to realize they are gay, the reaction is almost always one of horror (this might be changing for modern kids, but it was true for most people in my generation and before). Nearly all preteens react with denial.


For those that realize they are gay, many try to change... I remember many nights in agony praying to God to make me straight. Now, I come from a very liberal family, when I came out to them it was no problem at all, so why would I go through this? Well, I didn't know a single soul who was gay, and I didn't know that it was even possible to date other men. I thought being gay meant I would be lonely and unhappy my whole life, and a lot of gay men do end up being single much longer than straight men.


So, you see that being gay is not desirable, so many gay guys come up with a strategy to become straight, and thereforee, become an accepted part of society, move into the suburbs with a picket fence and children. Their vision of happiness becomes being straight, and by extension, being accepted and loved.


Many gay guys think the reason they can't love a girl is not because it's genetic, but because they aren't trying hard enough. So they punish themselves and force themselves into relationships with women which invariably end unhappily. Some gay guys go to their graves staying in this living hell.


If it consoles you, your friend probably picked you because he loved you very much, in a platonic way of course. He might have confused that platonic love with romantic love, and thought it could have substituted for it or turned into romantic love over time.


This is just one explanation of course, it's possible your friend has an entirely different story. My hunch is that if you probe around you will find that your friend had what he thought were good reasons to try to be straight. Perhaps he was religious and thought God would hate him if he were gay, perhaps his family was not cool with gay people, etc. It's hard to say.


I don't write this to justify what he did. Regardless of how hard it is being gay, if one isn't willing to confront it, one can't hide behind others and hurt them in the process.

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What pianoguy didn't really go that deep into is the internalized homophobia. We usually think of the external homophobia, not being accepted by our religion, work, family, friends etc. Many gay men are homophobes themselves and would like to see themselves in a straight relationship, and believe that that is the only right way to live.

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Thank you for the thoughtful responses. Pianoguy -- If that's your puppy, I might have to kidnap it.


These responses made me acutely aware of something: it's not as "about me" as I initially thought. I've really been operating under the assumption that my ex was somehow spiting me. I guess what I have to wrap my tiny mind around is that he was hiding from himself as well as from others. It's just hard to do.


I should clarify something: he still hasn't come out to me officially (even though he did everything but scream "I'm gay" in my face). We do this dance every time we talk -- he knows I know, but we both have to act like I don't. That's why it's so darn hard for me to be his friend right now -- he's trying to apologize and I'm trying to forgive him for something he won't yet acknowledge.


Anyway, knowing what I know now about self-hatred (something that, in my little liberal enclave, I had NO IDEA still existed), it'll be easier for me to be his friend someday. I just can't do it right now. I think his telling me he's gay would be all I'd need to resume a friendship with him, but it doesn't seem forthcoming. I wonder if there's something I could say the next time he gets in touch that lets him know I'm here when he wants to be straight (pun intended) with me.


At least I know now he didn't set out to hurt me.

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My boyfriend (ex-boyfriend I guess...since that's why I discovered this forum) had been married to a wonderful woman for 27 years. They got married in the late 70s, he became a doctor and they raised a family. He knew all along that his sexual and romantic desires were not being fulfilled but he struggled thru it all those years.


He has described to me the absolute emotional pain that he went through....realizing this life wasn't exactly what he wanted but not wanting to cause his wife the emotional turmoil that would result from a separation. They eventually separated after a few years of counselling and therapy plus going back and forth in regards to their living arrangements...hoping this time it would work. From how he's described it to me, it was a mess....she hates him still and he lives a life full of guilt. There is nothing more that he would like than to be able to chat with her again. Last year, they had their first grandchild and there's another on its way but he isn't able to share this joy with her.


Probably the most difficult part in all of this for him was that he chose a very warm and giving woman...someone who was willing to stand by him through good and bad. It needs to be said that he is a very caring, empathetic as well as progressive-minded man....I wouldn't have chose somebody who wasn't. (I miss him terribly but this isn't about me right now...lol)


Strange request Swansea, but please forgive your friend. He didn't intentionally hurt you...it was likely the furthest thing from his mind.

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