I participate in a support group for gay and bisexual men who are or have been married or are in relation to a woman. In a recent meeting, I was struck by something one man said. This is a man who is married, living with his wife, but not out to her. When he thinks about a future life with a man, he wants “the normality of it.”
For men who have a same-sex attraction, but have married women, you often hear a warped perspective on what it means to be gay. The same man I mentioned repeatedly used the term, “the gay lifestyle” when describing his possible future life. “What is a gay lifestyle?”, I asked him. I went on to say that I live a quiet life in the suburbs in a quiet middle-class neighborhood. I’m not swinging from chandeliers.
For so many years I wondered if a man could love another man in the same way that a man loves a woman. Is there something fundamentally different about gay love versus straight love. Even as I began to come out in my early 50s with the hope of finding love, I wondered if my goal would prove elusive.
The perspective of a gay or bisexual man, hidden in a straight marriage, often looks out at gay life as something other, different, warped. The ordinariness of life is not seen but any wild and crazy story about gay culture lands squarely to confirm the man’s preconceived bias. This bias and prejudice are supported by the church and the religious right that attempts to transform love between two men into something ugly and different.
What does, “the normality of it” mean? It means finding in a same sex relationship all the love, closeness, physical touching, partnership, friendship, and sharing everyday life that one can find in a different sex relationship.
The man in the support group was right to dream about the normality of it, of love and everyday life between two men. It is real. It is available. It is nice.