Integrity and Ethics - what constitutes it for a gay man?

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    Mar 02, 2007 10:01 PM GMT

    In light of the other forum I posted, I pose another question:

    If a man marries, not realizing or accepting that he is gay, then after 26 years discovers that he is and always has been, what constitutes integrity and what is the ethical thing to do? Don't answer this lightly -- Think about it long and hard (Gees -- no pun intended) before you post. Does he stay with his wife because he promised, or does he leave to satisfy his own sexual desires?

    I'm interested in seeing what you have to say. Your answer will say much about your character in the eyes of others.

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    Mar 03, 2007 1:36 AM GMT
    I have to be brutality honest. The guy should stay married. Family is awesome. Why break it up for a few flings here and there, because that is all he'll get out of coming out. If the guy has been married 26 years I'm assuming he's in his 50s or close to it. Gay life is tough even for young guys. It's rare to find true commitment. I had it for 15 years, but it probably won't come about again. My advise would be stick with the loyalty of a wife and kids, and use the Internet to jerk off. Sorry, but I'm being frank.
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    Mar 03, 2007 2:15 AM GMT
    Gay men are part of the "human species" that function best (just as anyone else) when living by the "natural laws" of ethics.

    I believe that most anything can be resolved when approached from a "loving" perspective.

    There is no definitive answer to this question; however, if activity takes place that require special attention for someone that may be hurt in the process, the situation should be approached with respect for all parties involved.

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    Mar 03, 2007 3:18 AM GMT
    I am in no position to give advice or guidance on this issue. This is an incredibly personal situation and only you can do what is right for you. But in some ways my experience is similar to yours.

    My father is a minister and I am one of seven kids (all of whom are religious to one degree or another). When I came out to my family it caused a huge rift between them and myself. It was an intensely painful process and my relationship with my family is still very distant at best.

    Yet, today I live my life being 100% true to myself and I would have it no other way. I share relationships, both romantic and friendships, that are fulfilling way beyond anything I had with my family. In some ways I’ve established a new family of friends with whom I am able to express myself and be who I am.

    In my view there is no substitute for being true to who I am in every aspect of my life.
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    Mar 03, 2007 9:02 AM GMT
    I have to agree with Paradigm_Shift.
    Many guys I meet on the net are newly "out" after being married for a short or long time.
    Coming out doesn't HAVE to mean leaving the wife but generally it works best. Of course when you have children, that adds to the mix considerable and I think that requires some very long and hard soul searching to decide on the individual case what is best for ALL involved.

    Bottom line; ALL people involved need to be considered when deciding what to do.
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    Mar 03, 2007 10:03 AM GMT
    I think the decision has to include what does the wife want? Divorce may help the guy find "flings", but that's not the only outcome. Would the wife be happier or less happy? Would she want to leave a gay man in order to live a new family life with a straight man?

    I think the promise you made to your wife implies that you ask for her opinion now for this kind of major life changes. Also how would the kids be affected should definitely go into consideration, unless they're already adults.
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    Mar 03, 2007 3:08 PM GMT
    If being "gay" is just about the gender of your sexual partners, it's pretty hard to imagine leaving a wife. I was married briefly and had occasional sex with men. I regarded it as about as consequential as, um, eating a candy bar now and then.

    Then I fell in love with a man and that was a whole different ballgame. All sorts of things I had not understood when other people talked about sex and love suddenly made sense to me.

    Also, like it or not, if you choose to identify as gay, you're taking on a new social role -- that of the outlaw. To me, this was not a problem. I enjoyed assuming the status of an outlaw, but my work has always been to challenge conventional norms. The way gay people are perceived is changing, but we are still comparatively marginalized. This can be a huge adjustment for many men.

    The other thing to think about is the effect of your sexuality on your wife. I've seen a lot of married gay men in my therapy practice and it's almost as if the wife is a continual, invisible presence. I can't think of a single client whose wife didn't suspect, and all of them were pretty tormented. So there is a real ethical dilemma in choosing to have regular sex with men and not informing your wife.

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    Mar 04, 2007 3:31 AM GMT
    I think you have to talk to your wife about it. After 26 years you have built a family and a partnership and you are far from the only thing that matters. And so I think you have to discuss whats going to be best for the both of you and for your family and work from there. The answer isn't always going to be the same.
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    Mar 04, 2007 4:07 AM GMT
    I think honesty is the key here. There are several factors to think of:
    1) Your children. As a product of a broken home, I firmly believe that honesty would have helped the split in my family. Be honest with who you are to them, they'll only get hurt of they find out from someone besides you. Deception only hurts all those involved.
    2) Honesty with your wife. She has after all spent 26 of her years with you and at the very least she deserves your honesty and respect.
    3) Honesty with yourself. I agree that love is a very important ingredient in any relationship, gay or straight. If you've found a guy that you can see yourself building something solid with then honesty with all involved will help ease the transition and allow you to blom and grow as a person. If you're only gonna want flings and easy sex, then I think it's not worth it.

    Just my 2 cents worth, hope it helps.

  • Mar 04, 2007 5:17 AM GMT
    Well put, firearmband, I couldn't agree more. Steve, I have seen and commented on your postings and I am concerned for you. I am also a product of a broken home, but a very happy broken home because my parents were honest with each other (after 25 years of marriage) and remain friends after being divorced for 20 years. There were 4 children and I am the youngest of the four. I can tell you that I am actually grateful for the relationship that our family has~my father remarried and we still spend all holidays and birthdays together as a family. I do however admit that my situation is very uncommon and I would never encourage you to leave your wife and family for sexual flings~if your relationship with your wife is as strong as you say, then you are probably not going to find anything stronger. BUT, you also have to understand that perhaps you are being selfish by not being honest~your wife was honest with you about her affair with your best friend. Which brings me back to the honesty issue, if your marriage is as solid as you lead us to believe, would your wife have slept with your best friend? I know I am being harsh and perhaps it is not my place to say, but, you posted these questions which means to me that you are open to criticism as well as support.
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    Mar 04, 2007 2:27 PM GMT

    You asked about integrity. I think truthfulness is a key component of integrity.

    Marriage vows usually include more than just physically staying together. It is about staying true to each other. How true can it be when there is a lie every time you say to her that she turns you on?

    Do you plan to convince yourself that sex is not important? Are you being truthful about how unimportant sex feels to you? If you are going to rationalize away the importance of sex, maybe one day a fling might be as consequential to you as a white lie? Why did you mention your wife's past infidelity in the other thread?

    Yes, what about the children? They are going to find out someday unless you plan to take the secret to the grave, assuming you don't suffer a meltdown later in your life because of the loneliness you put yourself through.

    We can all give you our thoughts and suggestions, but the choice and responsibility can only be yours. This is still an excellent forum for you to seek comfort and commiserate and feed your fantasies. But I hope you also value the reality check every now and then, even if it sometimes comes worded harshly.

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    Mar 04, 2007 3:45 PM GMT
    The married man's first responsibility is to uphold the promise of fidelity he made to his wife when they married. "Discovering" one's gayness after decades of marriage is like "discovering" a strong attraction to large breasts if you have a small breasted wife - it doesn't matter. If you don't agree then you should not be married or be advocating for gay marriage because you do not take the institution seriously. It's not intended to be disposable. Now, our friend who has discovered his gayness after 26 years of marriage needs ask himself some serious questions about the quality of his marriage, his wife, his AND her happiness, and his mind. I contend that men don't simply "turn" gay. This man appears to be suffering from other complicating psychological factors and needs help. The help he needs will not be found in fleeting gay sexual relations. The odds of finding true love (and the needed help) with another gay man, especially at his age, are remote. In a strong marriage he should be able to work this out with his wife.
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    Mar 04, 2007 7:05 PM GMT
    Gosh, you guys are great! It's wonderful to read so many differing points of view, and so many that are in agreement. Graffix, you said that there are complicating factors at work. Oh, yeah, baby!

    The other part of this is that I'm a Mormon. Wanna talk about repression?

    It's really difficult when one's spiritual self (and the values which go with it) is in diametric opposition to one's biological self.

    We're talking about ethics in one of my classes, and one thing that was mentioned is that there are different codes of ethics based on different things (eg. religion based, etc.). It's true that I am closely examining my place in the scheme of things, I'm questioning the validity of my religion and my testimony of that religion, and so on.

    Don't worry guys, I'm not jumping off into the deep end. It's more like trying to get my bearings and figure out who I really am.

    Thanks again,

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    Mar 05, 2007 8:17 AM GMT
    This is specifically in response to CuteJockMasc's reply...

    How does one define "Family" and "Happiness?"

    Family can come in all flavors: A married pair of parents with kids, divorced parents with kids, non married couples with kids, single men & women who adopt kids, couples with no kids, singles with very close friends, borthers and sisters, father and son, or in my case, becoming so close with an ex patient of mine that he became my surrogate father whom I supported for over a year before he died (my biological father is not very close to me.) Family does not depend on blood line/gene pool or a marriage license. Family, like home, is where heart is, where unconditional love is nutured, where trust is sacred, where the other person's well being is on par with your own well being. Yes, family is great.

    Happiness is a bit more insideous and tricky... If there is unconditional love and trust, there must be no deception, no matter how difficult and unpleasant the subject matter is. Many life events in are unpleasant, that is just life. Family work it through. When there is deception on the part of even one family member, none of the other family members are truly happy. The one deceiving is unhappy living a lie, the deceived one is getting a rotten deal and his or her true emotional well being is not being valued by the one doing the deceiving, and trust is violated, in the open or under a lie. With the presence of deception, unconditional love, trust, and "family" all become more of an appearance only. Truth hurts, but hurt can heal with time and love. What about deception? What you don't know may not hurt you right now, but it will ALWAYS come back to destroy all, irreversibly. The postman always rings twice...

    So if a guy who is gay and is married to a woman with kids, if he be truthful and files for a divorce, how are they all the sudden not family? Family is not dependent on a divorce document or if you live under the same house. If he keeps up the deception, he is not give his wife the chance of making an accurate decision for her own life if she was presented with the truth. She could choose to meet someone new, she can choose to be in solitude for the rest of her life, she can choose to stay with him, but that is a decision for HEr to make without false influence, not to be cheated by deception. If he deceives her, he is not valuing her well being. That is not love. That is guilt, fear, insecurity, and selfishness with an apearance of love. Family with no love is no family.

    So what if she knows and "allows" sexual encounters outside their marriage? If that is the case, it is her right. But Is she limiting both herself and her husband? There are enough temptations that a traditionally married couple face during the entier life of the relationship. Who is to say, that this type of arrangement would one day lead the abandment of one of the partner, maybe not always in terms of a divorce paper, but in terms of growing emotionally appart, becoming distant, falling out of "love?" That would certainly destroy trust, love, and sense of family (many gay couples tend to practice this cuople for comfort and apperance sake.) And yes, being gay is difficult to find a fitting life partner, esepcially if youare older (our gay bubble culture is rather dysfunctional and self destructive.) But how can anyone be "happier" living in a compromised situation or worse, under a lie? Being comfortable and letting fear and guilt run your life is not that much better than living alone with a family you create and nuture for yourself. This applies to both gay and straight people.

    My friends who came from divorced families usually tell me either of these 2 things: They are mushc better off divorced and now we are all much happier, or I was more upset becasue I thought things were going well between them (deception, apperance) and it was somehow my fault. Deception hurst everyone.

    What I want to say is, what is for real, and what is for appearance sake?

  • Mar 06, 2007 1:23 PM GMT
    NYC, you said what I was trying to say. You especially hit the nail on the head when you asked how a divorce can make you stop being a family. There is no longer a definition of a family. Family can be your friends, your partner..even your dog. I have an amazing family by blood, I have been truly blessed in that way. However, I also have family all over the world....who are not related by blood but have loved me and taken care of me as my real family has done. I apologise for getting off topic, but, the fact long as you love each other and care about each other, it will always be a family. However, honesty is, in my opinion, the cornerstone of any real relationship. If you don't have that, what do you have?
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    Mar 07, 2007 11:43 PM GMT
    If you lead your life with integrity, grace, honesty and kindness, you should tell her. She is owed that. It's about respecting HER, not being a coward yourself, and running from perceived rejection and damage to yourself. I would imagine that a wife may know, suspect or even endure a lousy sex life. If you love and care for someone shouldn't you offer them a chance at happiness. She may well find a great straight man that can offer her a complete relationship in all respects, free from duplicity. As a conflicetd male, you've had support from wife and family, and all the perks. "cake and eat it too" It's time to have back-bone, character and decency and fess up, and who wouldn't respect that.

    Children are very resilliant. It would be better to grow up with a loving honest gay dad/role model I would think, than to find out later, their family was a sham and Dad deceitful. Kids today have grown up being aware of a gay alternative life and for the mostpart, todays teens see it as a normal, natural thing. This latest generation of gay men, for the most part in the 1st world(not withstanding the USA) have grown up, with normal adolescence complete with crushes, feeling more secure with their place in the world, with unlimited options, and less internalized homophobia, and would probably never enter into a "closet" marriage in the 1st place.

    From another perspective, in the several marriages I have seen break up over this issue, the wife is intially angry/hurt that she was lied to, but eventually see's it not as a personal rejection, but more of an issue of "plumbing parts". In most instances there was a reconcilliation, to become good intimate loving friends, with a common bond of the children they both love. I've also seen the new male partner and Ex wife develop a great bond. After all, they share something in common, the love of a good honest man.

    Integrity, honesty, respect
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    Mar 08, 2007 12:49 AM GMT

    GREAT posts allstarrccl2005, NYCMusc4Musc, mygsdlog and canuckdave.

    I really agree with you guys.
    Having personal integrity and not living the lie is better for ALL parties in this mix and although causing problems initially, moving out, breaking up ARE the best solutions.

    I have seen BOTH situations; where the guy stays married and has sex on the side... BAD idea always an everybody loses affair!

    OR that he comes clean, works it out and eventually becomes even closer to the now EX wife and kids.
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    Mar 08, 2007 3:25 AM GMT
    Interesting, and very valid questions.

    From my own perspective, I never understood how someone could suddenly become aware of their sexual orientation that far into a relationship. Some people live their lives the way they feel obligated to live due to external pressures, but I have trouble grasping how they could have honestly had no idea that they harbored non-heterosexual desires for years on end.

    That said, I think sexual orientation isn't really the issue in a situation like this. If you loved a person enough to marry them, and for whatever reason, you find there is an incompatibility of that scale, then I think you have an obligation to tell them what you are feeling. It may make things really unpleasant in the short term, but certainly that's a better alternative to living a lie.
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    Mar 08, 2007 3:39 AM GMT
    This is the first time that I've replied to a topic. I am pleased that each contributor articulated their "point of view" with such inteligence, sensitivity and overall "ethics".

    This type of dialogue is needed in order to lead our current and next generation into making healthy, productive lives, and create lasting positive influences.

    The revolution is upon us, and may we all bathe in it's glory. I am happy to be part of a gay community that continues to evolve into mainstream.

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    Mar 10, 2007 1:36 PM GMT
    Ok, so I'm talking about myself in initially posting this forum...

    I didn't just "discover" that I'm gay, I've always known that I was attracted to men. I lied to myself for all those years, for the sake of religious conviction and social pressure (as well as family pressure).

    It has been only recently that I've had the courage to admit to myself that I'm gay. My wife knows that I'm attracted to men.
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    Mar 16, 2007 7:43 AM GMT
    Your wife knows that you are attracted to men sexually, what is her stance on this matter...? What is her TRUE expectation from this relationship? Does she deceive herself that you may change your sexual perferences? Does she deceive herslef that she can be truly happy about this situation as a married couple or the arrangement you have with her presently?

    Honesty and integrity are required on all members of the immediate family: you, your wife, and your kids.
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    Mar 18, 2007 9:38 AM GMT

    If you got a good partner, wife that is - count your blessings and make the best of it. Give 100% to the relationship. Some advise would be to stay off gay porn sites because they will come back to haunt you. Get yourself a dildo and have some fun with it. Also, screwing around on your wife is not the answer and not wise either. It only takes "one" time to pick up a Sexually Transmitted Infection and you don't want to give that to your wife. Learn to be grateful for what you have and give it your all. My heart really goes out to you, I've been there twice! LOL

    Good Luck! AND a big Canadian hug!
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    Mar 18, 2007 9:43 AM GMT
    Sorry Steve, I did not read your last post! So how does she feel about you being attracted to men and her reaction?

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    Mar 18, 2007 2:30 PM GMT
    Above all others, be true to yourself for if you can't be true to yourself, then you can't be true to anyone else.

    i've had this debate in various flavors for many years with many guys. it's an "argument" i've never lost. it may be many years before coming back to me after finally admitting to themselves that they were attracted to men and the above was true, but they always come to accept this simple statement.

    i've already made my opinion about breaking the vows of marriage in the other thread. it is my strong opinion that you need to be right with yourself before you make such a commitment. living a lie is nothing but a slow poison eating away from the inside. accept who and what you are before you make a lifelong commitment and the choices you make will fit as seamlessly and solidly as a perfectly crafted object.

    everyone knows how quickly and easily things break when they aren't done right the first time.

    i don't think that accepting who you are is the knell of death for a relationship. rather, it is the deceit and infidelity that follows should a man get into another's bed without his wife's approval. your lifelong partner, wife or boyfriend, is supposed to be the person to whom you can entrust everything about you.

    if the bounds of your relationship don't permit all your gratifications, then tough luck. keep your dick where it belongs and find a way to satisfy yourself within your realm. a relationship is generally a commitment far more than just someone to get your nuts off with.

    don't necessarily take my words as preaching nor as high-handed moral enforcement. these are reflections of my moral and ethical values. if they don't match yours then take them as calmly expressed opinions in response to a question.

    in the end i wish you the best of luck in happily resolving your desires within your commitments.
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    Mar 18, 2007 6:53 PM GMT

    My wife doesn't like it, of course, but she loves me, is supporting me through school, and says that the difference between me and my ex-brother in law (her sister's husband had a gay affair, she found out and there was a bitter and messy divorce) is that I'm true to the commitment which I made to her and the children. I told her once, that what I had told her would eat away at her until she couldn't take it anymore and finally divorced me, but she insisted that was not true, and has never really brought it up again.

    I really love her so much, but I'm totally impotent with her. I know that it's psychological. I just can't bear to tell her.

    My observation from this forum is that there are two camps - integrity is shown being true to my wife, and integrity is shown by being true to myself and helping her understand it. I see the reasoning of both arguments. Doesn't make it any easier for me, but it does show me that ultimately, I have to figure out what my own values are and live by them.

    Thank you everyone, for your support.