As I work with men, I am constantly honored by their trust in me, as well as by their courageous life stories. Every one of them is like a bright facet, shining a new perspective on the vast variety of manhood.
I met another courageous man this weekend. Tim worked for many years as a jet aircraft mechanic and is now retired, living with his male partner of 18 years. Tim had been married previously for 19 years. He fell in love with a wonderful woman and settled down shortly after leaving college. They have two handsome grown sons. Both have a great deal in common with their father. One is married with children. The other is gay.
A large percentage of gay men in Tim’s baby-boomer age group have similar stories. They did what they were expected to do after school or military: marry a nice girl, settle down and have kids. They did this despite the fact that they felt primarily attracted to men, and thought that marriage would “cure” them.
According to Alfred Kinsey’s studies, and a lot of anecdotal evidence, sexuality is on a continuum. Aside from the two extremes of people being totally heterosexual or homosexual, the majority have varying degrees of sexual attraction to either gender. Many men like Tim were totally in love with their wives, loved having children and grandchildren, but the pressure of being predominantly attracted to men was something they could no longer hide without doing further psychological damage to themselves. Others simply keep it quiet, lead a double life, or try to deny it. The same is similar for women who have come out later in life as lesbians.
These are not mere impulses of the body or of the heart. These are human beings who, in a society that did not understand them, finally decided that they simply to be themselves. Not a modern phenomenon, there is evidence throughout history of similar circumstances for many others like Tim. When we are aware of these courageous men and women, and of those who need empathic help to talk about their choices, we have taken a big step toward a healthier society.
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