We had sex on our first date.
My ex-boyfriend was the first person to make it into my pants after only a nice dinner and a few cocktails. He was also able to convince me to have anal sex that night, but that's another story for a different column.
Having just graduated from college and ended an abusive, four-year relationship, rather than taking a time-out break, I simply jumped right into a new relationship. I fell in love with my ex-boyfriend hard and fast. He was an adventuresome, agnostic European unburdened by traditional American sexual neuroses.
As I had done with all my previous boyfriends, I told him that I was attracted to women. However, unlike everyone else, he said, "OK, great! You should totally explore that. I'll help you."
We had a few sexually experimental years together, including many threesomes, swinging, and a bit of an open relationship. We were on-again-off-again when I met my first girlfriend. After I came out of the closet, I broke the news to him, and he didn't believe me. My mother reacted very badly to my coming out, and I was devastated. As a result of my mother's rejection, I broke up with my girlfriend and asked my ex-boyfriend to take me back, which he did.
At the time I thought that I could marry him and just sleep with women on the side. It was doomed thinking, because even though it was confusing at the time, I was gay, I am gay, and I will always be gay. Lying to myself and to him would not have fixed our relationship. My love and admiration for him as a person was not enough.
I decided a few weeks ago to interview him and ask him for his perspective on my coming out. We always hear what it's like for the gay person and the difficulty that comes from revealing the truth. However, I know that there are countless ex-girlfriends, ex-boyfriends, ex-spouses, and ex-lovers who are left reeling from the shock of the lies.
This is his side of the story.
Thank you for doing this. When we met, you always encouraged me to be sexually open and explore my feelings for women. Did you ever regret telling me that?
On a conscious level, I don't regret it. You always said that sooner or later you would end up a lesbian and figure out that it's women that you desire. You say that it's better that you realized your sexuality early on, before we got married. However, subconsciously, I guess I do blame myself a bit, thinking that you may have lived a "normal" life had I not introduced you to, let's say, sexual freedom, had I not showed you how it is not to care what other people say and just to be yourself, etc. Who knows: Maybe with someone else -- a traditional dude -- these feelings would have never emerged? Would they? On the other hand, there is no point blaming myself. Being who I am, there was no choice but to be sexual, to explore and to expand my sexuality and sexual experiences, and of course since you were a willing partner, to do this with you. My character is my fate; there is no need to torture myself with what-ifs, which are outside of my character.
Did you ever feel threatened by the women I slept with?
Not initially. Women were different. I just couldn't feel threatened or be jealous about a woman. The fact that you'd prefer them over me, or that you would actually love them the same way as you loved me, was unimaginable. Stupid, I guess. Besides, I really felt that deep down you did love me a lot, and so I didn't mind if it was just sex. I guess at some point, though, I felt jealous that I had to share your time and affection with them, or when you would show preference to them. Nevertheless, I always had the impression that it was not between women and men, or women and me, but it was whether we two could be together and make it work. I felt it was the problems in our relationship that drove you to other people, men or women, not their gender. Maybe I was wrong.
You said that you felt I was not right for you. You were correct about that, by the way. Did you have any inkling about my sexuality?
Not really. As I said, the fact that you would love women more than me, or at all, was inconceivable, not to mention you made every effort to convince me that you enjoyed sex with me a great deal and that you loved me a lot. Well, it worked. I felt you were not right because of your unstable personality. I would tell you my fears of you acting erratic and not sticking with me or not trying hard enough -- and instead of calming my fears and promise to change, you'd answer that it would be better to find some other man that is stronger than me who would accept you as you are. Not comforting at all.
How did you feel when I finally came out of the closet?
I didn't really know what to think or feel. At first I thought it's just one of your crazy reactions to things and after a while you'd return to "normal." I thought you were doing it to spite me. Let's not forget that that was the era when you would try all sort of things in your life and change your mind every few seconds about everything. When it finally settled, it was just weird to me. I tried to convince myself: I was the last man in your life, no one could live up to my standards, so you'd switched to women. The alternative was to believe that I screwed up so much that you never wanted to see another man. In any case, I never felt, right or wrong, that you left me for women. I felt you'd left because we couldn't make it work.
But what did hurt a great deal was all the things you've said to invalidate our relationship, what we had together, our love, our experiences. That you were pretending, that none of what we lived was real. That hurt a lot. Couldn't you just go and be merry with some women? Did you have to do it like this? Did you really mean all that? Why try to hurt me? That's what I couldn't understand.
Did you have trouble with trusting women after I came out of the closet?
Hell yeah. I was not very trusting with women to begin with. I never trusted women in general, in terms of their integrity, reliability, reason, consistency -- and driving ability, but that's irrelevant, I guess. But after you, I didn't even trust that women actually liked me, that they enjoyed sex with me, that are honest and not pretending. Thank God for my natural, chauvinistic, male-pig instincts, skin-thickness, and insensitivity that gave me the strength to carry on. This situation would totally demolish a lesser (i.e., a more sensitive) man and send him to the therapist's couch for an eternity with premature ejaculation problems.
Looking back on everything now, do you feel differently?
Well, the wounds have healed, I don't blame you anymore, and I always think of you fondly and with warm feelings. I still think you are bipolar and unstable, though, and that things wouldn't work between us. I do miss you; I miss our conversations, our jokes, our experiences, our movie-review exchanges, your enthusiasm, and your youthful disposition. Most of all I miss that you accepted me for the person I am. Let's face it: We wouldn't have stayed together for that long if had we not been different than the norm.
And I am still a bit fucked-up by you ending up a lesbian ,and by you hurting me with what you said, and I am still hiding behind my chauvinistic male-pig shield. I am too poor and busy for a therapist.
Do you think our relationship and my coming out affects your relationships now, or will it in the future?
Absolutely. For a while afterwards, I was destroyed, depressed -- a living-dead, borderline catatonic. But even after years have passed, there is always the suspicion, the distrust, and the fear that my partner is deceiving me, that she is pretending, and that deep down she is also a lesbian. I think, "Of course she is a lesbian, of course she likes women. Who wouldn't? I like women. Who likes a hairy, heavy dude on top them?"
It is now inconceivable that there are women who are not lesbians.
* * * * *
I greatly appreciate my ex-boyfriend's courage in allowing me to conduct a post-mortem on our relationship. I find his honesty refreshing, and while I don't agree with his opinions about women, I do feel badly for hurting him. I managed my life as best I could, even if I didn't always do a great job. If the world had been different, or if I had had a different upbringing, perhaps I would not have felt the need to conceal my sexual identity.
Coming out is a difficult and often painful process, because there is still so much stigma associated with being gay. Having been through my own struggles, it's not fair for me to judge another person for keeping quiet about who they really are. My hope is that this interview highlights the high emotional stakes at risk -- the psychological consequences of the lies we tell.
Ever been curious about sex clubs? Next week I'll share some funny stories about my experiences in the "swinger lifestyle" and pass on some etiquette for the sexually curious.