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Tender, loving care

The Learning Channel (TLC) will be airing a new show called "My Husband's Not Gay".  The first episode is on tonight at 10:00.  Having heard so much opinion about the show being thrown about, I wanted to add my own thoughts.  I do recommend that my readers read through the post Ty Mansfield made about the show, as well as Carol Lynn Pearson's.

My biggest concern is that no one should feel they ey has the right or the duty to dictate to other people how to live their lives.  What makes one person happy doesn't necessarily make another person happy.  Things that one person may consider completely repulsive another person may consider entirely appealing.  I do not like grilled mushrooms.  I think they're slimy and gross.  My little brother loves them and would eat an enormous bowl of them.  Is it fair for me to say that he cannot eat them because I think they're disgusting?  Or for him to say that I must eat them because he thinks they're delectable?

The show is about men who are homosexual (they apparently get rather defensive if you use the word "gay" to describe them, but are nevertheless men who are attracted to other men) but are married to women.  Obviously these women know of their husband's sexuality (since they're on TV because of it).  I believe that it may be difficult for people to understand the feelings these men and their wives go through.  I think that I have a better understanding because I was once in that situation myself.  As many of my readers know, I was married to a woman for 3 years.  The marriage ended with her passing away after having survived years of Hodgkin's lymphoma.

When I was a believing Mormon, I believed--just as the men in this TV show do--that it was God's will that I marry a woman in the temple and start an eternal family with her.  Eternal family meaning that we would continue to live with our posterity and other relatives beyond the grave as immortal beings.  I always wanted this.  As a child, I wanted to do what was right.  I wanted to obey my parents. I wanted to obey the teachings of my church.  I wanted to make God proud of me.  So I did (or tried to do) all of the things that God asked of me.  And marrying a woman was part of that narrative.  So I dated women.  I liked guys, but I ignored that and dated women because it was what I was meant to do.  It took a while, but I wooed my wife.  She fell in love with me, we married, and we were happy together for the years that we had.

These men seem to feel much the same way I did at the time.  They love their God.  They want to obey him.  They want to do what will maximize their eternal happiness, which they believe includes marrying a woman and rearing children with her.  They may have doubts or regrets.  There may be times when they feel a desire to explore or experiment with other men.  Perhaps some of them have.  Perhaps some of them do regularly.  Honestly, that's none of my business and it isn't anyone's business but the parties involved.  But I believe that they are sincere in their desires.  I believe that they really do think that being in a heterosexual relationship is what is best for them.

Ty Mansfield points out that there has been a lot of vitriol coming at this show and mixed-orientation marriages (typically a gay man with a straight woman) from the gay community.  I have seen that.  I have seen people saying that the show should not air and should be boycotted.  I do not believe in censorship.  I believe that the show should air--if there's an audience base for it.  Any idea that anyone wants to share should be shared.  If someone wishes to make a counterpoint, they should.  But I do not believe that anyone should be silenced.

Carol Lynn Pearson is also very qualified to talk about the issue because she was in a mixed-orientation marriage.  She makes the very apt point that mixed-orientation marriages are, statistically speaking, three times as likely to fail as "normal" marriages.  This should be no surprise, since it is likely for the homosexual partner to realize that ey is not fulfilled by eir opposite-sex partner.  Conversely, the heterosexual partner may very easily feel unloved by eir homosexual partner, perceiving a lack of interest in sex or passion.

I believe that anyone who wishes to enter such a relationship should feel free to do so.  The only thing that I would personally recommend is to go into it with eyes wide open.  I was unfair to my wife.  I did not disclose to her that I was homosexual until after we were married.  In fact, it was at least a year after the marriage.  If I had it to do over, that's one thing I would change.  I do not believe it is fair for a person to unknowingly enter into a mixed-orientation relationship.  If a gay man wishes to date women, that's fine.  But he should at some reasonable point (well before engagement) inform her that he is attracted to men sexually.

I also think that the couple should take time to talk about all of the complications that could arise because of the mixed orientation.  I think that they should read about it--and not just from like-minded people, but from people who have been in such marriages.  Don't just read blog posts from Ty Mansfield, but also read Carol Lynn Pearson's Goodbye, I Love You.  Talk to people who have tried and succeeded and to people who have tried and failed.  Learn all you can.

One point that Ty makes that I must agree with is that the LGBT community seems to be hypocritical on this point.  On the one hand, the community asserts that queer people should be free to marry the person of their choice.  On the other hand, it seems to make the point that gay men should not marry straight women.  Of course they should, if that's the person of their choice.  If two people wish to marry each other, they should.  End of story.  It's really no one else's business why they want to marry each other.  Maybe a sexy young woman wants to marry an ugly old rich man.  Perhaps he wants her for her body and she wants him for his money.  So what?  If the two of them wish to enter a relationship, they should.  Another point of irony is that the LGBT community is quick to assert that "it's not about sex", meaning that we queer people are capable of loving someone beyond just a sexual lust, and yet sex is the primary argument used for attacking mixed-orientation marriages.  "The sex won't be good, so you shouldn't get married."  Marriage doesn't have to be based on sex.  It doesn't have to be based on love.  I think it should be based on both, but that's my own opinion and I shan't impose it on others.

Finally, I will add my own opinion on the matter itself.  I believe, most fundamentally, that all people should do what they feel will make them happiest--or will be most likely to make them happy.  I believe that what will make most people happiest is to be with a person that ey love passionately--on an intimate and sexual level.  Of course, I don't subscribe to strict monogamy.  I believe that most people need to feel love from and are capable of loving more than just one person for life.  But that's a topic for another day.  I think that all people should pursue the (mutually consenting, of course) relationships that they wish to pursue.  I believe that a gay man will be happier with another man than with a woman.  If a gay Mormon friend were to ask me for advice, I would assert that.  I have been married to a woman and I've been with a man.  I prefer being with a man.  I loved Karen, but I feel more natural being with Conrad.  I believe that a relationship can be richer and fuller when there is physical attraction as well as other types of attraction that a mixed-orientation might feel.  I believe that a marriage should be full of tender, loving care.

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