I'm a 57-year-old man. Fat. Bald. I have a wife I like. And a boyfriend I love.
I've been "happily" married for over 37 years. Yet I've been leading a secret double life since I turned 50.
In the age of Lady Gaga and her mainstream kink videos, a married man in love and having sex with another man is one of the final taboos. I used to think that myself. Nobody talks about it. There aren't books or movies about it. It's the ultimate closet.
What I've learned in these past few years is that men, even married men, can fall in love with men. A "bromance" can naturally involve touching and it's completely normal. This is what men have been doing since the start of time, and what men are made to do.
I'm not going to feel bad about who I am -- I did that for long enough. In the immortal words of Popeye, "I yam what I yam." In the mortal words of Lady Gaga, "I was born this way."
My boyfriend knows about my wife. She doesn't know about him. Yes, it's a problem that I'm married. It's sad. I care for my wife and I don't want to hurt her, which is one of the reasons why I've kept it secret for so long. I'm not putting her at physical risk, but the emotional risk is very real. I'm truly sorry about that.
But we've had almost four decades with each other -- more than most people spend with the same person. We married when we were 20 (people said we shouldn't, we ignored them -- those people were right).
You're not the same person at 50 you were at 20 (if you are you haven't grown). So we are different people, stuck in the same institution.
I had been "curious" as a teenager and had one encounter with a friend. It wasn't a good experience, I didn't like it, so I convinced myself I never needed to do it again. Then I spent almost 30 years being faithful (the last 10 of those being celibate).
But if you're curious, or at least not totally afraid of the idea of being with another man, those feelings never go away. Never. There are online support groups for married men who are curious, and that's a constant. Once you have that urge, you always have that urge.
When I turned 50, I had a powerful dream -- in it I learned I couldn't do anything in the next life that I hadn't already done in this one. I knew something I was sorry I hadn't done was be with a man. I knew it was time to try it.
I started therapy. One of the dangers of many long marriages is that the couples become a unit and lose their individuality. It can look sweet from the outside, and maybe it's good for some people, but after a while I was suffocating. I had no life of my own.
After so many decades of a co-dependent relationship, I needed to "individuate" -- stand on my own feet -- and learn to accept and like myself for who I am. I remember my first session clearly -- I was totally honest with my therapist, a kind man I still see who has always been supportive. He wasn't shocked, appalled, or even surprised. That made it easier, as do the regular weekly therapy sessions I still have with him.
Chat rooms gave me a place to fantasize with other men. Then came Craigslist. Say what you will about our friend Craig -- I will be forever grateful because he gave me a place to say what I wanted and needed, and get to know a man online before meeting in person.
My first encounter was terrifying. I'd emailed and chatted with a man for months. He was another married guy. Nice. With kids. We met in a park and talked while his kids played. Then we went back to his place, put his kids down for a nap, and touched me. It was literally electric -- that's no exaggeration -- I felt like I'd been plugged in. I hadn't been touched in such a long time. My therapist called it "skin hunger"-- a basic human need for contact.
I was also surprised at how normal it felt -- how right. Why had I thought this was such a big deal? It wasn't. It was just two men connecting.
That's the part that's hard to explain, and probably even harder to understand. I still love my wife. Men can do that -- love their wife yet want sex with someone else. It doesn't mean they love her any less.
But to be honest, I'd reached the point where I did love her less. She was disconnected, she never talked about emotions, just about things she saw on TV or read online. Our unspoken agreement was that nothing would ever change -- she would do nothing and I would let her because if I didn't challenge her, she didn't challenge me. We were roommates in our protective cave -- away from the world. Not changing was part of the deal -- and I was changing.
The only women I've ever had sex with is my wife. We were both virgins when we met. We had sex and I enjoyed it -- but I never stopped being scared that I was doing it wrong. I'd never liked my body and had always thought my penis was too small (it's normal, but guys always think that), and mostly I just felt lost and inept.
Men think they'll just know how to do it -- and maybe some guys do, but I didn't. So we had a sex life, just never a very active or imaginative one -- or any one in the past decade (not uncommon on long marriages, though married people are too embarrassed to talk about it).
Despite the constant way sex is sold in this country, most people are still afraid of it. For society and religion, controlling your sex life is the ultimate influence -- if you can be made to feel guilty about your body, and bad about sharing it naturally with another person, then your body as well as your mind are enslaved.
What they don't want you to know is that sex is completely natural and normal for every creature on this planet -- even sex among males. Sex feels good for a reason, and that reason isn't solely so that we'll procreate within the bounds of a marriage.
I didn't know this for 50 years. Then it became obvious. As soon as I started to feel the simple joy of touching another person -- all that guilt nonsense went away. All that fear of sex as something strange and dirty was gone.
Sex is normal. Sex is natural. Sex is good.
Love is even better.
Even so, I wasn't looking for love, I was looking for real male-bonding, friendship, a physical connection, and acceptance.
For me, being accepted by another man was an important and heady new thing to me. Hey, buddy, you're OK and I'll prove it. (OK, so it's fun, too).
So I went to find a "FwB" (friend with benefits). A real friend I could be intimate with.
Once I was absolutely clear about that, I put a very specific ad on Craigslist and met another man looking for the same thing. I'll go into details about this handsome, sweet, smart, funny, creative, kind, beautiful man soon.
Neither of us planned on falling in love. It wasn't a decision or choice, it was a spiritual connection on the very deepest level. And for the first time in my life, it's a complete love, spiritual, emotional and physical -- and it's completely honest, with no lies or omissions.
Love is a beautiful thing. And while I know that our love will hurt my wife, I also know it's right. I know it with all my heart. And then maybe she can find real love, too.
In these blogs, I'm going to tell you a true and painfully honest story few men have been able tell, but a surprisingly large number of men have dared to do.
I'm writing this as a positive statement for others like me who are confused, scared, and need to know they are OK.
If you're curious -- as either a man or woman, husband or wife, I hope that in reading my story, you will see you're not sick or a sinner. And you're not alone. You are simply you -- at a point in your life where you know it's time to stop being who others think you should be, and start being who you know you are.