What’s In A Name?

Being involved in a support group for the spouses of gay and trans individuals, I have heard dozens of stories about being married to a gay person without knowing it. In the case of gay men, I’ve heard many a spouse say that their husband said “he didn’t know he was gay.” In some cases, even after being found out, they still insist they are not “gay.”

It’s impossible to know where the truth is, especially second hand. But what puzzled me was how a man can claim not to be gay when he is having sex with other men and no longer having sex with his wife (or any other women for that matter). Some of the wives say they believe their spouse when he says he didn’t know he was gay. I guess we can quibble over the meaning of the word “know,” but I think men feel their attractions very early on. (And I believe there is a difference between males and females when it comes to this.)

A therapist once told me that the litmus test for knowing if you are a homosexual is who/what you fantasized about when you masturbated. Most males start masturbating when puberty starts. By the time they are dating, and marrying, even if they are virgins, they have been having sexual fantasies for many, many years. And, for gay men, those fantasies have been of men. I am pretty sure they know this about themselves. Most men know what turns them on…and what doesn’t.

If a man says he never considered himself “gay” even though he always fantasized about other men, I believe it. I believe it is possible that the word “gay” denotes a different kind of person than he is. Maybe he pictures drag queens marching in a parade, or effeminate men with lifted pinkies. He cannot relate to these men. But whatever the word “gay” means to him, he knows he gets off on other men. So, when a gay man marries a woman, it really doesn’t matter if he relates to the word “gay.” What matters is that he has withheld from his fiancée the vital fact that he is attracted to men. Call it what you will, his attraction to men is something he is required to tell his fiancé.

A person who knows that they are really the opposite sex from their physical body also owes it to their fiancé to tell them. They may not know there is a word for this feeling, (transsexual), but what they do know is that they have felt this their entire lives and they are completely sure of this feeling. If they present as male when they know they are really female (or vice versa) then they owe it to their fiancé to disclose this fact.

So when I hear gay or trans people say, as an excuse for why they deceived their spouse, that they didn’t know they were gay/trans, I have to wonder why they didn’t just tell their loved one what they felt. Because by the time we get married we know what we feel about sex and the people we are attracted to and our own gender.

Which leads to the question of what we should tell our potential mates. And do we have the right to withhold information because we think it won’t ever matter?

Should you tell your fiancé if…

you are a diabetic
you are a cancer survivor
you were ever raped or molested
you are a recovering alcoholic who has not had a drink in ten years
you have an auto-immune disease that is in remission
you were ever in a mental hospital
you are/are not a virgin
you fantasize about killing people
you cannot get aroused without being hit
you were once in jail

I would say absolutely yes to all of the above. What would you say?

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