For the 90% of us in the U.S. who still are employed and have been relatively unaffected by the economic downturn, 2010 was still a bitch of a year because there was so much misery around us. And of course some of us had our own personal tragedies to deal with that were not the result of the economy, but just the normal pitfalls of living.
For those of us who are married bisexual or homosexual men, another layer of complexity is added to our lives both in the good times and the bad times. For most of us, our sexuality is such a huge issue that it colors every other aspect of our lives in both good times and bad. And the complexity is heightened because most of us have to deal with the issue of our sexuality pretty much alone in the privacy of our own thoughts, feelings and emotions. We can't talk to even our best friends about it. We can't talk to our colleagues at work about it and we can't talk to our wives about it. It is a raging bull elephant in every room we enter, yet only we can see it.
What does one wish for guys that are dealing with such a complex issue for the coming year? Any wish one makes for such a guy has consequences. Any wish one makes for such a guy will necessarily touch upon the lives of others in his life if the wish is fulfilled.
Recently in a thread in my BisexualBuddies Group, http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BisexualBuddies/ , myself and others were accused of over intellectualizing a matter under discussion. I don't consider myself an intellectual by any stretch of the imagination. To me, intellectuals have Ivy League educations and live and work in a world where they never have to interact with the rest of us other than to allow us to provide some service to them. Intelletuals spend a great deal of time thinking about things and discussing and writing about things, but they don't really ever accomplish much that is worth while. Americans really don't like or trust intellecutuals. They see them, at some level they don't quite understand as perhaps a necessary thing, but they see them as self absorbed and even ethically dishonest. I think to be told one is over intellectualizing is meant as a put down. It certainly is not meant as a compliment.
Yet, I hasten to admit that though I do not consider myself to be an intellectual, I am no doubt guilty as charged by that accuser of over intellectualizing much of the time. The fact that I choose to write this blog is perhaps proof of my over intellectualizing though I don't see what I write as rising to the level of true intellectual thought. However, given the choice of over intellectualizing or choosing to live in the moment and never thinking at all about tomorrow and never thinking at all about anyone but myself, I'd choose over intellecualizing every time.
I interact with a heck of a lot of guys through the internet and face to face. Without fail, the guys that are truly happy, truly satisfied with their situation are guys that have spent a great deal of time thinking about their situation. The guys who refuse to think about their situation are the guys who paper over their unhappiness, their shallowness, and the empty feeling they have in their heart and soul with as much anonymous sex as they can find. And frankly, they're the guys that sew the seeds of disgust and mistrust and pain that the rest of us have to deal with in their wake.
In this country, most married bisexual guys or married homosexual guys are Christians. The United States has the highest concentration of Christians in the world. To some extent, because of the overreaching of some Christian groups, there is a backlash developing in this country which causes a number of people not to want to identify themselves as Christian. Many of these people now refer to themselves as "spiritual'. They have a personal belief in a higher power, but they are no longer associated with an organized religious group. A 2009 study found that less that 2% of the U.S. population identify as atheists though about 15% idetify themselves as non-religious. But whether a guy thinks of himself as Christian, spiritual, non-religious or atheist, he is likely to have a personal set of ethics and moral behavioral codes by which he endeavors to live. A married bisexual or a married homosexual man is likely, highly likely, to brush up against his own sense of ethics and behavioral norms and he will certainly brush up against the ethical norms of most Christian denominations.
The question then becomes what is such a guy to do in this situation. Young men often think they can change. They can become straight. Fundamental Christian groups often share that thinking and they even provide restorative therapy opportunities for men who are trying to return to the straight and narrow (pun intended).
Older guys know that nothing is going to change except that the desires are going to get stronger and stronger and more and more compelling over time. They will never go away. Men who have been to restorative therapy find out that such therapy is just snake oil. It doesn't work, though more than one guy who has undergone such therapy has told me it is in some ways a positive experience. It is one of few places one can meet with a group of men and KNOW that every man there is interested in male/male sex. There's a benefit to that, and coffee sessions after the group meetings often make the benefits obvious.
Within Christianity the actual proscription concerning homosexual behavior varies widely, even within the same denomination at times. The radicals take the position that "God hates Fags and so do we." More middle of the road denominations take the positoin that "We hate the sin but love the sinner." The more liberal denominations and some individual churches inside the middle of the road groups take the position that "we are all sinners loved and redeemed by the love of God." These groups see homosexuality itself as a non-issue. Like married bisexual and homosexual men, they try to deal with the issues that surround the bisexual or homosexual person as he tries to live his life in a society in which his sexuality is not considered to be within the mainstream. They offer not condemnation, but a true concern, support and social connection to these men.
As a Christian, I am a member of a middle of the road religious group. Within my denomination there are churches which hold themselves out to the bisexual and homosexual community as churches where they will be accepted as they are and supported as they are. Its a good fit for me because, of course, as a married bisexual man and a Christian, I have come to understand the liberal Christian position, "we are all sinners loved and redeemed by the love of God." My bisexuality does not separate me from God, but it does raise ethical issues with which I have to come to grips.
Those who are non believers are in much the same position. They do not see their sexuality so much as a moral issue but they are caught within the ethical issues that arise out of their marriage vows and their pledge to sexual and emotional fidelity with one woman. They are also faced with the imposition of socital norms into their lives just like every other guy.
Having been very much involved with the married bisexual and married homosexual community over the last 15 years, I have come to know there are a number of individuals and a number of groups that exist to serve (or exploit) these men who are very free with advice and very compelling in their arguments concerning what they have come to see as the "right" way for the situation to be handled.
For some the "right" way is to quietly, discretely and as safely as possible do what one has to do while maintaining his obligations to his wife and family. For others the only "right" way is to make one's wife aware of her situation (that she is married to a bisexual or homosexual man) and see what she chooses to do.
Statistically speaking, what most women decide to do is clear. Most marriages in which the husband admits to bisexuality or homosexuality end within two years. All too often the man looses not only his wife, but his community standing, his friends, sometimes his job and most importantly, often his children. The results of telling can be catastrophic. In a few cases the outcome of telling can actually work to one degree or the other and the marriage survives in one form or the other.
Because I have observed and been personally involved with both of these options over my entire adult lifetime, I have come to believe that the only real option for one wishing to be helpful is to lay out alternatives, help guys think through their unique situation and then let them carefully make the decision that is best for them. I have seen times where not telling and doing what you have to do has worked well. I have seen instances in which telling was tragic for everyone concerned.
My own thinking tells me my sexuality is "my problem." It has taken years for me to work through that problem and come to understand it in a way in which I can live with it in peace. Most women are simply not equipped to understand male sexuality. Female sexuality is different from male sexuality and is much more apt to be wrapped up in a package that also includes love and emotion. Women simply cannot understand that for men, sex can be wrapped up in love and emotion alright; but it can also be completely separated from love and emotion and mean nothing more than play and the foraging of a bond with a buddy. A bond that only a man can understand. A bond that is totally different from that which binds girlfriends together.
If one had to sum up the teachings of Christ in a single wish for the New Year, that wish would be, "I wish you peace."
If one had to sum up the teachings of Buddha in a single wish for the New Year, that wish would be, "I wish you harmony."
Two of the worlds great religions which between them take in the overwhelming majority of the worlds population can be summed up in those two words, peace and harmony.
Contemporary fundamental Christian churches have reacted to a fast changing world by radicalizing themselves against perceived threats and they have perverted the Gospel of Christ to support this radicalization of faith. They yell at the top of their lungs and they put their fingers in peoples faces and demand that the Bible be considered the literal word of God, yet they dismiss and rationalize the parts of it that do not fit their agenda.
The Book of Romans says very clearly that "nothing" can come between us and the love of God. Not only "nothing" on earth but also "nothing" in heaven. We now know scientifically that the heavens stretch into infinity. We cannot imagine the vastness of the universe. And the Bible tells us "
The Buddha sought and obtained enlightenment. And he came to see everything humans do as a quest to avoid suffering. He told his followers that the way to avoid suffering was to be in harmony with the physical and metaphysical world around them. Enlightenment came from such harmony. Such harmony could bring an end to ones suffering.
Both Buddha and Christ served a God who had nothing but love and good will towards His creatures. They did not serve a wrathful old man that was taking numbers and kicking ass!
For those who are non-believers, to the extent that I have come to know a few of them, they see the world around them as all that there is. There is the here and now. There is nothing after. Thus, one does not try to be good in hope of a reward in a future life; instead one tries to be good in the here and now because being a good member of society and contributing all one can to the betterment of mankind serves the interests of oneself while at the same time serving the universal interests of mankind. We make our world a better place by making the world of others a better place.
One of the most difficult concepts to get modern parents to understand is that the interests of themselves as marriage partners must come first in their lives. Ask the average woman what she lives for and she will say without a thought, "my kids." And it shows. The divorce rate in America is what, 80%? One cannot serve the best interests of his or her children without providing a strong foundation to provide for their love and care. It is not that a single mother or a single father cannot raise a kid. They can most certainly. Millions are doing it. But a kid has the best of circumstances when he has a strong, secure, loving Mom and a strong, self assured Dad who loves him yet is willing to teach him that the world is tough and battles will have to be fought and won on his own long after Mom and Dad are dead and gone. Marriage is one of the ways to provide that foundation and it worked well for a long time. This new era parents who to be their childrens's best friends and try to protect them from the slightest adversity does not seem to be working as well. Too many kids are being raised my a single Mom or Dad or even worse by a Grandmother. Such kids, no matter what their eventual outcome in life will suffer from the lack of two parents in their life.
For the married bisexual or married homosexual man, the situation is the same. He cannot be all he needs to be for his family until he is all he needs to be for himself. He has to be safe and secure and at peace with himself before he can impart the things he needs to impart to his kids in the most effective way. There is no ONE way to achieve that. There is not "a" correct way. There are only choices. Each choice has an upside. Each choice has a downside. In the end I see it as "my" problem. It is not my wife's problem although it affects her certainly. But my job is to shield her from as much as I can, to protect her and my family. I don't do that best by telling her something she cannot understand, will not understand, and cannot change. I cannot do that by destroying everything she holds dear while destroying everything we have worked for over many years.
Instead, I have to secure my sense of myself and a sense of peace with myself by quietly, discretely and safely doing what is demanded of me by who and what I am and cannot change. Is it cheating? Most women would say, "yes." Most bisexual men who have come to understand it themselves would say, "no." Most of these men tell me, "I love my wife, I love our life, I love our home. I am simply compelled to need a bond with a man just as much as I am compelled to breath."
For married homosexual men, the situation is a little harder. Homosexuality is not a point on a range of behavior. It is a length of space upon a range of behavior. Some homosexual men can function normally for all outward intents and purposes in a marriage. Some simply cannot bear the thought of sexual intimacy with their wives and they cannot relate to or meet the emotional needs of their wives. The married homosexual men I have known personally in my life, have, for the most part, made the decision, usually a painful decision, that the best option in their own interests, the interests of their children and their wives, is divorce. Divorce, while tragic, gives the homosexual man a chance to establish a relationship in which he can function lovingly and emotionally. It also often tells a woman who has always known something was missing in her marriage and who often has thought it was her fault somehow that the fault was not one sided. Part of what was missing in her marriage was beyond both her control and her husbands control to provide. Most of the men I have personally known who exercise the option to divorce do so not only hoping for their own second chance but also hoping for the second chance of their wife with a straight man who can provide the emotional support she desires and needs. At the very least these women come to see they were not alone in responsibility for all that troubled their marriage. The wise woman in this position, does not try to punish her husband for the lost years, and she certainly does not try to use her children as a weapon against her husband. To do so only trades the tragedy she has already suffered for an even greater tragedy.
What do I wish for you as a married bisexual or married homosexual guy for 2011? I wish you introspection. I wish you thougtfullness. I wish you peace and harmony. I wish you the courage to think candidly, within your own mind at least, about your sexuality and the situation in which it uniquely places you. I wish you the courage to quit denying the reality of who and what you are. But most of all, I guess, I wish you the knowledge that you are not alone. There are millions and millions just like you. You are not a monster. You did not choose this thing. I wish you the knowldege that this painful thing you would get rid of in an instant if you could, can become a treasured thing, a positive thing, a thing you would not give up, even if you could. I wish you the resolve to find that knowledge in your own life as many many many of us have in our lives.