Judging by the emails, phone calls and website hits he receives, he estimates that there are thousands more Australians in similar situations.
The straight men dating men and the gay men who fall in love with them
In the end, one way or another, almost all men who reach out to the group end up coming out. In most cases they do this on their own terms, but sometimes they are outed when wives discover emails, internet histories, Grindr use or text conversations. When he got married, Jim knew something was different. He knew he had been attracted to men in adolescence, but it was something he tried not to think about. The path of marrying a high school sweetheart was well-worn among members of his group, especially by older men.
In both Sydney and Boston, the average age of men who come to group meetings has been falling.
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With more awareness, younger men are often quicker to come to terms with their sexuality. A claim to bisexuality is common among married men in the early stages of grappling with their sexuality. But both Jim and Steven say that men who end up identifying as bisexual in the long-term are in the minority — most husbands in their groups eventually come to realise they are predominantly attracted to men. How is it possible for them to fall in love with a woman but still be attracted to men? I gay or am I bi, what am I?
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For men who have already married women, that self-acceptance is often tangled shame, betrayal, guilt and dread. A world of gay cruising opened up to him, he realised there were others like him, and that they were everywhere. Over the next year he had several sexual encounters with other men. He loathed himself for it. He became distracted. It was in one of those fights that he finally ripped off the band-aid and told her.
His wife discovered her high school sweetheart was gay. He was her husband, the father of her children. For men, it can be the climax of a long period of turmoil. Indeed, she never did. The pair kept their family together stayed under the same roof for ten years.
Women often find themselves grappling with shock, betrayal, isolation, shame, and anger. For Jim, life out of the closet has been a radical departure.
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The married father of two suddenly found himself navigating the gay dating world for the first time. Gay friends are often fascinated by his former life. Decades since coming out, Jim still talks to his wife regularly. For support, call or email info gamma.
Gay Dating Advice: Dating a Man Who Isn’t ‘Out’
A relationship with a straight guy can, in a way, reverse that, dragging you back into the closet. Although the gay guy in the relationship will try their best to be sympathetic — they know this struggle better than most, after all — it's understandable that their patience will wear thin. The ability to go public about their relationships is very important to many gay men — even if it attracts negativity. As a fresher at university, Robin, then 18, fell into a relationship with Dom, Says Robin: He absolutely had per cent control over things; the code of conduct imposed on us was coming from him, not me.
Robin decided he would come out, in the hope it would show Dom that it didn't have to be a nightmare. Simon was 17 when his hitherto straight best friend made a move on him. He would always tell me he wasn't like me, and couldn't be, because he 'had his whole future ahead of him'. The idea that my future was irrelevant and that admitting he was with me would ruin his made me feel worthless and I ended up battling depression for years.
Gay men aren't toys to be practised on. Bisexuality was often the only concession to less binary labels, but is and was often a source of derision among straight and gay people alike, characterised by accusations of greed or indecision. The closest anyone got for many years was the advent of metrosexuals — basically straight men who used moisturiser and took longer than five minutes to get ready in the morning — and drunk straight women getting off with each other for a dare.
And even these were very much about straight people play-acting than any serious comment on evolving sexuality. Everybody else had to stay in lane, their labels hanging over them. A sign things could be changing, for the better, are men who are comfortable with their status as a man who sleeps with men, and refuse to be bound by labels.
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Years after his straight-guy experience at uni, Robin somehow once again found himself in the middle of another heterosexual man's coming-out story. At first Robin assumed this was just an ego boost, but when Luke battled depression and none of his female flings were on the scene, Robin found himself as primary source of care and comfort, and feelings grew from there.
And I thought that was adorable, and sensible, and kind of romantic. While some men may both have the strength of character and also the front — and it takes plenty of that, be under no illusion — to reject these labels and still be open, it should be said that labels can sometimes facilitate this.
All the time, and not too far away from us, LGBT people are fighting for the right to call themselves LGBT, but for your right to define yourself however you choose — gay, straight, fluid, curious. Just as out gay men have a duty to protect themselves from others forcing their own will upon them, maybe those refusing to conform should acknowledge their sacrifice and honour them by supporting the gay and bi brothers who keep their secrets.