"Is my husband gay?" is a question women ask me on a regular basis. This question comes from having either found gay porn on the computer or discovered that he has hooked up with other men.
You would think that the answer is as simple as most people believe, which is that if a man has sex with another man, then he is gay or bisexual, period.
I'm writing a series of blog posts to challenge this notion that simply because a man has sexual contact with another man, he must be gay or bi. This is the first post in the series.
When I try to have meaningful conversations with people about this issue and say that the answer is not so simple, many people don't accept any other possibility. Just because a man has sexual interest in, or engages in sexual activity with, another man doesn't automatically mean he is gay or bisexual.
I wish I could answer this question with one clear answer. I have joked that I would be a wealthy man if I could. But I can't, and this is no laughing matter. In fact, around the world it's a growing concern for women who accidentally come across evidence that their male partner is engaging in sexual fantasy about and/or behavior with other men.
I have tried to answer the question about whether one's husband is gay, straight or bisexual in a Huffington Post blog post I wrote last year, "Why Some Straight Men Are Romantically or Sexually Attracted to Other Men," and now in my forthcoming book, Is My Husband Gay, Straight or Bi? A Guide for Women Concerned About Their Men.
Women are increasingly concerned that their men might be gay. Television and books warn of "gay" husbands who endanger their wives by having unprotected sex with HIV-infected strangers. Politicians and celebrities are forced "out," and their wives tell the press that they "had no idea."
Thanks to the Internet, straight men with same-sex sexual fantasies now easily find partners with whom to act them out. Men who seek more and more purely sexual experiences discover that they can turn to men not because they have a gay or bi orientation but because men are more readily available for casual sex than women are.
A Google search for "gay husband" or "straight men who have sex with men" results in hundreds of thousands of sites, but the information there is often unclear, imprecise, or wrong. Few bloggers are legitimate therapists. Trauma-driven sexual compulsions are commonly confused with a gay or bi orientation, as are many kinks and unconventional sexual behaviors. Is My Husband Gay, Straight or Bi? A Guide for Women Concerned About Their Men will give you clear, concise, and accurate information, unlike what you might get from a Google search.
Marriages may be hastily terminated because men and women (and their therapists) lack the information they need to understand a couple's true options. I hope this blog post and Is My Husband Gay, Straight or Bi? A Guide for Women Concerned About Their Men can provide clarity, describe options, and offer hope for people in relationships and marriages that, in the past, might have been abandoned.
Why Would a Straight Man Be Drawn to Gay Sex?
There are many possible reasons, including sexual opportunism, sex addiction and money, but the most common is a history of childhood sexual abuse at the hands of a male perpetrator, or other assaults on the boy's masculinity. These attacks on the child generate guilt and shame, which carry over into adulthood. In the man's psyche, they become eroticized as sexual fantasies, which the man often feels compelled to act out. It is the mind's way of numbing the pain of the trauma of having been abused.
The sexually abused man returns to the scene of the sexual crime over and over again until it is solved. This is so important to understand that right from the start of my book, I spend two chapters on it!
When a straight male client tells me that he has a history of compulsively and repeatedly acting out specific sexual scenarios with other men, I expect to discover in therapy that he was, for example, sexually abused by a male relative, a teacher or a priest. The repetitive compulsion is caused by my client's need to "overcome" the bad feelings from his abuse.
A man's sexual interests may appear to be "gay sex" without him being gay or bi at all. Many sexual kinks are interpreted as "gay behaviors" by both wives and husbands. This tends to occur because our homophobic society makes people hypervigilant about men who "act gay." The man's kinks may require some therapy, or at least better communication and less secrecy, but he isn't gay or bi just because he has some atypical sexual interests that involve men.
In my next blog post I will talk about specific kinks that seem "gay" but have nothing at all to do with homosexuality or bisexuality.