Monday, March 18, 2013

Emails from a married guy with some gay characteristics.

About three month ago, I got a fascinating email from a new reader. The reader is successfully married with children, but he has some gay characteristics. He sent me the email because he was interested to ask for my opinion on his sexual orientation. However, apart from saying that human sexuality is a very complicated and fascinating subject, I wasn't sure what else to say! So I agreed with him that I'd post the entire email conversation, so that everyone can read it and give their own views :-). The first email that I got from him was as follows:

Hi GB,

Just discovered your blog by coincidence, started reading some of the posts and I found it interesting reading. I'm not writing you to seek advice but to know your opinion on some aspects of the 'sexual orientation' issue:

First, some information about me: I'm 45, married with children, partner in a law firm. I look straight, I act straight, I feel straight, I am straight. But I have a side order: Sometimes I feel sexually attracted to men. I have gay j/o fantasies, I have gay fetishes (suits, lycra, sports gear etc.), I get aroused when I see a bodybuilding competition or if I happen to shower next to a built man after swimming. Technically you'd probably call me bi, although I don't feel 'bi'. I feel straight plus some percentage gay. (I don't like labels any way). In younger years I was worried about my sexual identity. Was I gay? I didn't want to. Why was I different from what the other guys appeared to me? etc. Much the same as that young French whose e-mail you answered on your blog lately. I was not so much concerned about the others could/would think about me than about my inner balance. Then, at about 24, I met a handsome, intelligent guy, he turned out to be gay and I thought that was my opportunity to find out about me. I went for him and we were together for some 6 months. But I found out that, actually, I wasn't gay at all. And that after I had told my family I had a male lover - what a bloody fiasco! As much as I liked the sex (and still do) I realised I could never think or feel about that guy or any other man more as of a friend. So I terminated the experiment - trying to hurt as little as possible - and returned to make the female world happy again. I got married and fathered children. And luckily my family forgot about my coming out ... The most obvious effects of that experience were, however, that I gained that sexual confidence I was lacking before and that I lost my previously homophobic attitude. My side-order remained unchanged, but I accepted it as given and didn't question it any more. And I care a damn if I fit in a category or not.

To the point: Over the years I realised that there are many straight men with similar 'extras' as me, and that the pattern repeats itself on the other end: There are many gay men with 'extras' to the straight side. Despite that reality of the male nature - I suspect it's a majority of all men - the shades between the poles, the greys between black and white, are largely ignored till openly rejected - on both ends. E.g. I've experienced so called 'open minded' gay men telling me after hearing my story I should seek psychiatric advice. Why is it, do you think, everyone is so desperate to stick labels to everyone else's sexual orientation: Gay, straight, bi, curious (of which the latter two are considered inferior because understood as 'gay but too coward to come out')? This also striked me on your blog. Why is it, the participants in the 'social game' themselves care so much to divide the world in a straight, i.e. we're the normal, side and a gay, i.e. we're even more normal than the straights, side. Why does sexual orientation matter so much anyway? Aren't many of the apparent problems of sexual orientation something completely different? E.g. isn't it much more likely that young French Londoner didn't feel his drinking mates were dull because they were straight but because they were less intelligent or less creative or less ambitious as him? Why on earth should dullness be a question of sexual orientation?

It's Friday afternoon and I'm tired of working and let my thoughts flow. Would be interesting to know your opinion some time, given you seem an intelligent guy and an expert in these matters.


When I first read the email, I wasn't sure what he meant by "… I found out that, actually, I wasn't gay at all". I wondered what happened to make him "find out", and whether it was just that he wasn't prepared to live his life as an openly gay man. So I replied with the following email:

That's a fascinating story :-) . I agree with you that labels like gay or straight can be pretty useless in some situations. Even though you're "straight", the fact that you have an interest in sex between men is obviously a "gay" characteristic. And in fact my boyfriend had 'extras' on the "straight" side, because he sometimes gets turned on by big breasts!

I also agree with you that if one is prepared to label oneself gay, like I do, then it's about much more than the sex. I'd love to know what made you decide that you're straight, after you'd had a male lover for 6 months, and even though you like sex between men? I could tell you what all the extra things beyond the sex are that make me think I'm gay, but I don't want to prejudice your answer.

Hope to hear from you soon, GB xxx

Within a couple of days, he sent me the following reply

Btw: I'm not a native speaker, so my English is sometimes faulty.

As said, I liked the gay sex physically. But emotionally I couldn't really cope with it. The longer the less. I felt more and more like my inside would get turned outside. And started to feel really depressed.

I truly liked and appreciated the guy - still do - but it became very clear to me I would never be capable to feel more for him than friendship, to regard him as my partner. On the contrary, the prospective that I would have to lead a gay life for the rest of my days scared the hell out of me.

Sexually, the episode had been very rewarding. However, on other levels my personality was kind of violated, it was not me. I also realised it was impossible for me to live both sides, the straight as well as the gay, it would have torn me apart. So I felt very much relieved as soon as I had come to terms and decided to stick 'to the old ways'.

I must be boring you by now, so I stop here. Curious to know why you chose to label yourself gay. Wasn't it always clear for you which way you'd have to take?


And then, before I could reply, he'd sent me another email:


Just reread my two previous replies and would like to add the following:

It is true that I have grown up traditionally, i.e. with conservative family values etc. and being gay would not necessarily have been part of the concept. However, it would not have been a disaster either. As I told you, I had come out to my family, back then I felt I had to, and the reaction was sort of "Ok, so be it, if you say it needs to be". Later on in life I stopped telling my parents about my sexual adventures, but as the time went by they forgot about my coming out. At some point I mentioned it again but they didn't remember. Also, while I was together with this guy I didn't mind going out with him publicly or meeting friends or so, though I didn't "officially" come out at work or to a wider circle of friends. That's probably because as a character I don't so much mind what others say and think as long as I am comfortable with what I feel and do.

I tell this because it was not convention that made me choose the label "straight". Although, of course, in many ways it was the easier choice. But had the label "gay" fitted better, I don't think I would have hesitated to walk down that road.

So, it turns out that apparently I have all the same been born straight and despite that 'misweave' I couldn't choose differently. Remains the question - which I have not yet fully answered to this day (and which maybe needs not to be answered), what exactly is that 'misweave'? I don't know, maybe you can tell me?


To answer the reader's question about why I'm happy to label myself gay, it's not only because I enjoy gay sex. While I was growing up, before I even knew what sex was, I always wanted closer friendships with my male friends. And then when I was older and started to understand what being gay meant, although I didn't want to be gay the reality was that I was always craving emotional intimacy (as well as sexual intimacy) with other guys. So perhaps the differences between me and this (mostly) straight reader are that (1) he didn't have the need for emotional intimacy with another man, and (2) he enjoys straight sex as well as gay sex?

Anyway, do any other readers have any thoughts on this reader's story?