How I found out my partner was gay...

When women find out their male partner is attracted to men, they can struggle with feeling very alone, that this hasn't happened to many, if any, women before. So, we are sharing stories which will, hopefully, raise women's awareness that they are definitely not alone. This article is a follow up to our recently posted  BBC Magazine article about gay married men from the wife’s point of view, July 2015. http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-33382824

'How I found out my partner was gay'

By Sarah BellVictoria Derbyshire programme - 8 July 2015

Many gay men and women end up marrying people of the opposite sex. But what is it like for the spouse who eventually finds their marriage breaking down?

Recently we told the stories of gay men who had married women. It prompted a strong response from readers who had experienced it from the other side - those whose wives and husbands had come out as gay.

"It feels almost homophobic to say anything about them. To me it's not brave to spend 10 or 20 years with someone only to destroy and discard them," says Emma. She found out her husband was gay a year ago.

"They may go on and have a wonderful new life while leaving a crushed wife behind. You just feel like your whole life is wasted and there's no closure."

One of the most difficult things for many spouses is watching their former partner being celebrated as brave for coming out, but knowing the damage they've left behind.

It is an experience to which Carol, 43, can relate. With her former husband now active in gay rights, she received a message calling him an inspiration and a role model.

"I was disgusted by this, that someone actually considered him to be both of these things when he had spent our entire relationship lying to both himself and myself.

"To me, there is nothing to be proud of - he destroyed our family through his failure to admit that he was in fact gay," she explains.

They had married in 2003 and have two children - she says she was "very happy and in love.” But there were signs something wasn't right, including gay dating profiles on his computer, which he explained away. In 2009 he said he was bisexual but wanted to be with her.

Carol admits she was probably in denial but thought they would find a way through it as he was the man with whom she wanted to spend her life.

A year later it came to a head when he came home, said he was gay, and left.

"I thought my whole world had fallen apart but then he came back and said let's stay together for the sake of the kids. I didn't know what to do so we lived a lie for two years. To anyone else we looked like a normal happy couple," she said.

But it didn't work and they divorced.

Carol says the difficulty was the shock - he'd had time to get used to it but for her it happened so quickly. He's now married to a man and she says they get on for the sake of their children.

"It took me a long time to get over it, for me it is a trust issue. How can I trust anyone again? I can't compete with other men, I'm a woman, but he should have been truthful from the start.

"It would have been easier if it had been a woman - at least he would have loved me in the first place. He says he loved me but I don't believe him."

Kevin, 51, had been with his wife for seven years when she asked if he'd mind living in the spare room while she had a female partner. He'd had no idea she was gay. "One day, she came to me and said: 'Is it OK if I had a girlfriend?'

"If a partner has an affair with the opposite sex you can be angry but this is so much more complicated. She'd been feeling like this for two years but said nothing," he says.

She wanted to remain married, but he couldn't live a lie and they divorced. They haven't spoken since and she now has a female partner.

Kevin's life fell apart and he became suicidal.

"I wanted to make a go of my marriage, I had everything invested in it, I didn't want to be a failure. I felt a failure as a man and a husband. It was bad, very, very, bad."

There are all kinds of reasons why people commit to straight relationships when they are gay - they may not have fully realised their feelings, hope they will go away or fear they will suffer prejudice. Some may have been together for years after marrying at a time when society was less accepting of gay people.

Former Welsh rugby player Gareth Thomas has talked about how he doesn't believe he would have reached the top in the sport if he had been openly gay. When he came out in 2009 he said he had been in denial about his true feelings and had genuinely been in love with his wife.

Both Carol and Kevin have a clear message for those who are in straight marriages but think they may be gay."You have to be honest with yourself and your partner, especially when kids are involved. Not knowing your own sexuality and taking time to decide hurts everyone involved. Be true to who you are," says Carol.

Kevin adds: "The sooner you come out the better for everyone concerned. It might be difficult, it might end a marriage, but the fact is you can't start to repair while they're in the closet but you're nailed to the outside and don't even know it."

Six years on, he describes his life as "brilliant" and now supports people going through the same experience. He says people in his position should contact the support group Straight Partners Anonymous.

"It will get better. It's been difficult, my life has now taken a completely different path, but is better than I could have ever hoped," he says.

 


We're taking names for a new support group...

If you're in a relationship with a man who's attracted to men, you might be interested in joining the next support group. We're currently accepting names for the next group, which will start as soon as we have six or eight women. Contact us for more information.


Sharing stories...

wpbmarticleapril15Every month for the next while we'll be sharing other women's stories on this blog, starting with some articles we've found on the internet.

In this article, a British man talks about being gay and married in BBC Magazine, June 2015: http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-33189628

Video of the same magazine article can be viewed at: http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2015/06/22/watch-these-gay-men-talk-about-being-married-to-women/

'I'm a gay man but married a woman'

By Victoria Derbyshire & Megan Bramall Victoria Derbyshire programme

22 June 2015

Decades ago when gay people faced ostracism and the threat of prosecution in the UK and other Western nations, many chose to marry and disguise their sexuality. But even with increased tolerance now some choose to take the same path.

Nick, who is in his 50s, has been married to his wife for 30 years. He is also gay.

He thinks his wife had suspicions about his sexuality for years, but things came to a head when he had an affair with a man.

"She asked if I wanted to leave and I didn't. She's my best friend really above all else, so we've decided we would like to remain together as best friends," he says.

Nick isn't his real name - many of the couple's friends and family don't know he's gay and he wants to remain anonymous to protect his wife.

From the beginning, there was unhappiness in the marriage, with doubts about whether they had made the right decision. He'd always felt uncertain about his sexual orientation and this troubled him more and more as he got older.

Like many men in his situation, Nick, a nurse, found himself living a double life. On the surface he was a happily married man, but he was also using gay pornography. He'd get drunk with a gay friend and, he says, "events took their course".

His wife was angry and upset when she found out about six years ago, and Nick knew there was no point denying the truth any longer.

"I felt it was the right opportunity to be honest and tell her what she'd already suspected of me, but there'd been an understanding that if I didn't do anything we wouldn't talk about it - and when I did we had to talk about it."

Nick acknowledges it would have been better for her if he had admitted sooner that he was gay and needed to act upon it. She told him she was disappointed that he hadn't been able to trust her enough to be honest with her, and that if she had known she would have accepted it.

"I still feel inordinately grateful to her each day that she was so tolerant after that," Nick says. The couple chose to stay together not for the sake of children - they don't have any - but because of their feelings for each other.

"Things couldn't have gone better with my wife that, you know, we still love each other and we're still together but it could have been so very different."

While the couple have stayed together, they no longer have a physical relationship and sleep separately.

Nick has promised his wife that he will never again have sex or a relationship with a man - he says he owes it to her.

But can he stick to that promise? He says: "I'm hoping so, it's my intention to. It didn't feel like a choice in the past, it felt like it was enforced on me. I'm now making that choice that I would like to, in a sense, remain celibate."

Nick is a member of a support group called Gay Married Men, based in Manchester and founded 10 years ago. Men travel from around the country to attend meetings.

Group founder John says most of the men are older - they married women in the 1970s and 80s when society was more hostile to gay people.

Now society is more tolerant, they are more comfortable with coming out as gay. But why did they get married in the first place? Nick says many men who contact the website say they did so to try to "sort themselves out".

Andy, 56, a student, adds: "At times you think you're going through a phase and as you've once or twice heard people say, 'You find the right woman and she'll turn you and you'll be a real man.'

"Unfortunately society, at the time when I got married nearly 30 years ago, you were either straight or queer and queer was a really vindictive word."

John, a lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University who was married for seven years, says it took him a long time to realise he was gay. He knew his sexuality was ambiguous but he didn't have the vocabulary to define it.

"I didn't know what a gay man was. Truthfully, I thought a gay man lived in London. Which people laugh at and it is funny now, it's really strange but I had this kind of naivety.

"I knew gay men were like Larry Grayson, John Inman and, you know, they were camp and effeminate. Well, I didn't feel like camp or effeminate so I couldn't be gay, could I?"

Group members are at different stages - some just suspect they may be gay, others are living with unknowing wives, some are separated or divorced and some have re-married to men. John is now married to a man who has been his partner for 23 years, but says he still finds parts of his life raw and upsetting.

Andy is divorcing his wife after 30 years and four children - she has a new partner. He says: "I still love her, I'm very close to her, in fact we describe each other as best friends - which may sound odd, but when we've got children together…"

Some remain married because of the expectations of friends and family, or because they have children and don't want to break up a family.

John says the men are often quite desperate and struggling to cope with no support - many are suffering from quite severe depression.

"We've had bursts of tears when people have come because they're so upset and also so relieved to find out there are other people that are just like themselves. Because that's part of the problem, because we're a myth, we don't exist.

"We don't exist in [the] gay world - we're on the cusp of [the] gay world because we're married men. We don't exist in [the] straight world. So we seem invisible."

The group members say they don't judge anyone and Nick, who helps run the site, says his main message is that people don't have to struggle alone.

"There are people who are successfully managing their sexuality with their family. You still have connection with your children and you don't have to be cut off, out in the cold. I'm definitely happier, a weight has lifted and I can be honest with my wife."

ends

For women wanting support, contact us. Men wanting support can contact GAMMA (the Gay and Married Men's Association) http://www.gamma.org.au/ or Tel 1800 804 617