Sunday, October 04, 2009

Email from a woman with a bisexual ex-boyfriend

Most of the emails that I get asking for advice are from gay men. But last month, a woman sent me the following email:

Dear GB,

Recently, I discovered your blog. I was conducting a search for resources on bisexuality and relationships. I was linked to a post that you wrote about a woman with a bi-curious former lover. From reading your blog and your responses to posts, I sense that you are an open minded and compassionate individual. I hope you don't object if I share my tale of woe with you. Perhaps, you can present an objective, third party perspective about my predicament.

This spring, my ex-boyfriend, who is a politician, propositioned me when I sought his assistance in obtaining services from a state agency for the disabled. He suggested that I become his friend with benefits and then he would consider aiding me with my bureaucratic dilemma. A more vulgar expression was employed by him but I have refrained from invoking it here as a courtesy to you. My ex is single. However, I have been married for four years and he was aware of my marital status when I requested his help. We had been on friendly terms since the dissolution of our romantic relationship several years ago. Needless to say, I was appalled by his indecent proposal.

When I discussed this obscene offer with a mutual friend several days later, the friend stated that the ex had not been faithful during our relationship. When we were a couple, I had lost my virginity to the ex, experienced an unplanned pregnancy, and sustained a miscarriage with him. The friend claimed that the ex had hooked up with random men online and met with them in parks or public restrooms to engage in clandestine sex on a regular basis. Furthermore, the friend assumed that I already knew about the ex's infidelities and assumed it was the reason why I had ended my relationship with him. Undoubtedly, I was astonished by this revelation.

When I broached this allegation during a phone conversation with my ex, he became livid. He stated that the friend was nuts and a compulsive liar. Then, I politely inquired what reason would motivate the friend to fabricate such an outlandish tale considering he works as a photojournalist. The friend's credibility is his livelihood. However, the ex was convicted of a crime involving deception in 2002.

In reply, the ex started shrieking into the phone that he "owed me no responsibility for his actions during our relationship seven years ago." I was crestfallen
and retorted that I would need to be screened for STDs given his response. He threatened to seek a criminal prosecution against me if I pursued testing
and discussed the results. In turn, I disconnected the call.

Unfortunately, this is not the first claim that I have heard about my ex's sexual orientation. When I had dated him, a roommate of one of his friends
admonished me to terminate the relationship asap because he claimed that my ex was cheating on me with another guy. In a state of disbelief and denial, I dismissed the accusation because I thought that the roommate merely disliked my ex since he had a falling out with my ex's friend. At the time, I thought he made the statement out of spite because he was moving out of the apartment. Recently, a colleague of my ex's, another politician, has confirmed off the record that my ex's sexual preference is well known around the state capital.

Since that diatribe from my ex, I have been screened for STDs along with my husband. For the record, my husband is the only other partner that I have been intimate with besides the ex. Fortunately, my husband received a clean bill of health.

However, the physician at the clinic noted an abnormality during my exam. Two weeks later, my gynaecologist performed a biopsy. The result confirmed that I have been infected with the human papillomavirus (HPV). When I relayed the news of this diagnosis to my ex via e-mail out of a legal duty and moral obligation, he threatened to obtain a restraining order against me.

Meanwhile, the state agency has denied me services for "a failure to participate." During the midst of this crisis, I had requested to be placed on medical leave for two months to have an operation performed on my shoulder. Instead, reps for the state agency believe that I fabricated the report and pursued an extramarital affair with my ex, which distracted me from developing my small business plan. Please keep in mind that I was offended not flattered by my ex's indecent proposal. A rep affiliated with the agency insinuated that the recent diagnosis of HPV must be the result of a tryst with my ex. However, I had an abnormal pap smear last year, which my gynaecologist had dismissed as a fluke until I learned of my ex’s sexual history.

In June, my ex visited my home with a male companion while my husband was at work. I was the midst of recuperating from surgery to repair a brachial
plexus (nerve) injury in my dominant shoulder. My ex rang my doorbell. When I did not answer the door, he shouted into one of the downstairs windows that he "was surprised that I was not home" and thought that I was a "f**king b***h." Before I recovered my equilibrium in time to contact the police, he had departed.

At the beginning of August, I consulted with a pain management specialist. He recommended that another MRI be conducted on my cervical spine because he thought that might be the source of my discomfort. Unfortunately, the MRI revealed that I have another herniated cervical disc at C5-6. My physical therapist informed me that this disc is responsible for innervating the shoulder and arm. From my lay person's perspective, this is the reason why my recovery from my brachial plexus surgery has been hampered.

When I was notified of the result of the MRI, I was supposed to participate in a hearing with the state agency a week later. The original hearing had been postponed in July so that I could attend a follow up appointment, out-of-state, with my orthopaedic surgeon. Upon learning of this medical news, I had requested another postponement because I am unable to drive. The hearing is being convened 30 miles away from my home and public transportation does not exist in my state. The week of the hearing, I had a consultation with another specialist out-of-state that I could not reschedule. In addition, my husband had requested time off work to transport me to this consultation but could not be approved again for leave that week for a non-medical appointment. Unfortunately, the state agency and the hearing officer refused to accommodate another postponement.

Due to my exasperation, I contacted the leadership of the state legislature and explained my predicament to them. A female legislator was involved with this matter but she refused to notify the leadership. She explained to me via e-mail that she did not want to inform them that my ex was suffering from "some serious, personal issues." You may have surmised that I disagreed with her position and decided that I had nothing to lose by contacting them.

I must concede that I was impressed by the response that I received. A member of leadership contacted the state agency on my behalf to petition for a deferment of the hearing. I was relieved to learn that her request had been granted. The hearing has now been rescheduled for October.

In addition, I was contacted by another member of leadership. He informed me that my complaint had been referred to the Attorney General's office for investigation. He mentioned that he did not feel comfortable convening the ethics committee given my explosive allegations. As an attorney, he also believed that this might be a criminal matter given the indecent proposition and threats made by my ex.

Three weeks ago, I was contacted by a detective with the AG's office. He requested that I submit a written complaint. Then, we discussed the complaint in further detail over the phone. At the end of the conversation, he recommended that I forward to his attention any e-mail correspondence that I had engaged in with my ex.. Right now, I am awaiting the detective's decision in this matter.

In the meantime, I have been in contact with a member of Congress. I enlisted her assistance in order to reinstate my services with the state agency. While I was informed by a member of her staff that this issue fell under the jurisdiction of the state not the federal government, this member of Congress offered to write a letter of support on my behalf to the Governor. A month has lapsed and I have not yet received a response from the Governor's staff.

I had no intention of outing my ex in this manner. Until the events of this spring, I had held him in high regard. However, I suspect that he may be related to a member of the state agency. If that is the case, then this could explain why I have encountered so much hostility in my interactions with the agency.

I know this message sounds like it could be a plot extracted from a soap opera. From my humble perspective, this situation has evolved into a horror movie. At one point in time, I was in love with my ex and thought that there was a possibility that we would get married. Unfortunately, my ex is still in the closet about his sexual orientation with the majority of his colleagues, family members and associates. He presents the facade to the world that he is a devout Catholic although it would appear that his sexual preference is in conflict with his religious affiliation. Now, I may be responsible for ending his political career which is not a prospect that I relish.

I hope that I have not overwhelmed you with the disclosure of this information. I apologize for inundating you with details about this unpleasant ordeal. If my ex had revealed his sexual orientation to me years ago, I would have been supportive and remained his friend. Now, I'm flabbergasted by his betrayal and deceit. As a man who has come to terms with his homosexuality, I'm interested in soliciting your input about my predicament. Thanks.


Before I received this email I'd never heard of human papillomavirus (HPV) so I looked it up on Wikipedia. I was amazed at what I discovered:
  • HPV is the most prevalent sexually transmitted infection in the USA;
  • By the age of 50 more than 80% of American women will have contracted at least one strain of genital HPV, and over 44% of women in the 20-24 age group are estimated to have the infection;
  • Although it is possible to test for HPV DNA in men, there are no FDA-approved tests for general screening in the United States, since the testing is inconclusive and considered medically unnecessary.
If this information is right, although this virus can cause problems with a woman's health, it doesn't have much effect on men so that testing in men is considered 'medically unnecessary'. Furthermore, according to that web site even in women it's often not a problem, because their own immune systems often eventually end up curing the infection naturally.

In terms of this woman's situation, it strikes me that she could well have contracted such a prevalent virus from either her husband or her bisexual ex-boyfriend. In her husband's case, it could well be that he wasn't tested for it, because there are no FDA-approved tests for it in the United States. Furthermore even if he was tested for it somehow, he could have had the infection at some point, but then his own immune system might have cured it. So if my impressions about HPV are correct, it will be impossible to prove that she contracted it from her ex-boyfriend. Beyond that, even if she did contract it from him, because it's such a common infection people are passing it on all the time. So passing it on to someone else is hardly a major offence, and seems to me to be more like giving someone flu by sneezing on them.

Although I don't see the HPV infection as an issue in connection with this woman's ex-boyfriend, using his influence to get her some help in return for sexual favours is a different matter. However, if he just made the suggestion in a private conversation it will be difficult to prove, because it's just her word against his. None the less, now that she's made a report it may turn out that other people can be found who've got similar allegations. If so their combined voice would carry more weight. Unfortunately the woman's word probably carries less weight than other people because she used to be his girlfriend, and people on jury's will know that failed relationships can sometimes cause people to make untrue allegations against their former partners.

Regarding the ex-boyfriend's homosexuality or bisexuality, to me this issue seems somewhat separate from the woman's grievances with him. It is of course quite common for guys to deny their sexuality, and my experience is that gay guys who were brought up as Catholics can have a harder time accepting their sexuality than guys from other religions. To some extent, politicians deserve as much privacy as the rest of us when it comes to these issues. However, I'd argue that if a politician lies about his sexuality when asked a direct question, or if he's homophobic in public and homosexual in private, then such a politician loses that right to privacy. From this woman's email, I can't tell whether I think that her ex-boyfriend deserves the right to privacy or not.

Ultimately I think that this woman should focus on recovering from her surgery and getting on with her life with her husband, instead of putting her energy into pursuing grievances with her ex-boyfriend. After all, my analysis above suggests that the HPV infection is a relatively minor issue, and in any case it will be hard to prove either of her allegations.

Do any other readers have any thoughts on this woman's situation?


Fit Lad said...

Hi GB,

I don't agree with your analysis that HPV infection is minor. It has been shown to cause around 70%of Cervical cancers.The NHS is currently spending millions immunising pretty much every school girl in the UK against it.

Anonymous said...

HPV is related to cervical cancer in women and genital warts in both sexes. I agree with both you and the first commenter. Statistically, HPV is so prevalent that practically anyone who is sexually active is likely to become a carrier. However, not everyone develops symptoms. That side of things is in the genes. The flip side is that the consequences can be dire if you're one of the unlucky ones.

Condoms offer little or no protection. Transfer is via skin contact, not fluid transmission.

There's now a vaccine for girls but it's only good if taken prior to sexual contact. Once you have HPV you have it for life. Even of you exhibit symtoms initially eg warts, these can be treated using topical creams, freezing or, if internal, by laser surgery. Cervical cancer is different, obviously. With warts, eventually your body learns to combat the physical symptoms.

Realistically, if you're sexually active with more than a few people then you're going to 'get' HPV. The vast majority of people never develop any symptoms, though.

And yes, many people have never heard of it!

John F said...

Wow - that sounds really intense and quite a drag.

My first and foremost piece of advice to the writer is this:

This man is seriously unbalanced and sounds like a very disturbed individual to me. You are not ruining his political career, so please try as hard as you can to absolve yourself of any guilt. If anyone is ruining his career, it is he. You are standing up for yourself and exercising your rights and for this you have no reason to feel ashamed.

Best of luck to you in your recovery.

Jake said...

I haven't got a comment on the blog post, but Fit Lad - when I clicked to view your blog and saw it was not safe for work (only from the warning screen) I went to close it, only for the same window to open up dozens of times.

Not sure if it was just my computer having a fit or if there's an issue there - too scared to try again!

sunshine wallflower said...

i think gaybanker gave very sound advice, and if i were the lady i would take it. im sorry for what happened to her - its unfortunate and nobody should suffer such injustice. but whats past is past and you should move on. God is watching and such people will have their comeuppence. i also wish you better luck in your current relationship.

Anonymous said...

HPV is implicated in the development of many head and neck cancers, in addition to cervical cancer. There seems to be a correlation between increased levels of oral sex in the general population and the alarming parallel increase in head and neck cancers. Additionally, there are studies linking strains of HPV to penile and anal cancers, particularly prevelant in gay communities. So I'm very surprised that you've not heard of it GB. Admirable as it is for the NHS to be vaccinating adolescent females for HPV (even the ones with undetected fatal cancers - big news story last week GB), I think it's a minor scandal that adolescent males aren't being offered HPV vaccination too. Some STD clinics do offer it to gay men but we really need much earlier intervention if we're going to get a cap on it - and as gay guys our cocks, arses, throats, mouths and craniums look like core constituencies for HPV. So why are we being neglected? Doesn't anybody else think that's scandalous?

Anonymous said...

Did I mis-read this, or was this woman asking her ex-boyfriend to use his political influence to improve her options with a state agency?

If so, that is morally questionable. If he acted upon her request it could come back to haunt him. His response of a request for sex puts her into the moral quandary not much different than she put him into, i.e. please compromise your partner/career for me. His response was to ask the same in return.

It doesn't seem unreasonable to think her request for this type of help is in fact a thinly veiled request to re-open their sexual relationship.

That she then takes issue with his sex-life, and goes about involving those in officialdom is just as vile as his personal threats.

I think that the woman is repulsed by the fact that at one point she thought she might marry a man who she now discovers is gay. I think she's confusing her medical issues with her relationship issues, and invoking (official) others to act out the quasi-violence that she can't.

As for the HPV, the virus can't always be detected in those who are carriers, so there's little chance that he intentionally, or knowingly, gave her HPV. Also no way of proving that it didn't come from her now-husband.

Suck it up honey. No sympathy here.

Anonymous said...

Wow. The last poster is incredibly insensitive. This woman has suffered quite the ordeal and deserves sympathy not scorn.

This woman probably approached her ex for help because she knew him and felt comfortable asking him for assistance. Given that she was receiving services from an agency for the disabled, she was probably feeling vulnerable and needed someone that she knew to intervene who would not pass judgment. Furthermore, a constituent should not be expected to exchange a sexual favor in order to obtain aid from a politician. That's considered quid pro quo sexual harassment.

Hedgie said...

I remember reading that HPV is also a factor in throat cancer from oral sex: sorry I can't remember where now.

Anonymous said...

The sexuality of the ex is one of the least important issues in this drama. Sounds to me that the ex has psycopathic tendencies (or he is most likely a psycopath). Psycopaths comprise about 6% of the population, and contrary to what most people think, they are not the tipical criminal that ends up in jail. Psycopaths are very hard to diagnose, but if the description of some of his behaviour here fits in with that of a psycopath. One word of advise: stay away-you will always lose in any confrontation with a psycopath. And by the way, psycopaths are known for becoming involved sexually with people whom they are not primarily attracted to (e.g.: a straight psycopathic man can be involved with another man and think nothing of it, it is just a cheap thrill. The same is true the other way around).