Before anyone thinks this is an imaginative story, let me assure you that I speak from experience--well, sort of. I dated someone who was happily married (perhaps) for the first twenty years of his marriage, having entered into nuptials at the impressionable age of twenty. Along the way, he fathered six children, three girls and three boys. Talk about equations. Then a moment of epiphany developed for him in his early forties. He realized he is gay. And soon divorce arrived.
That was the easy part.
For a newly minted gay man living in New York City that would have been difficult enough. But for a gay man who graduated from Baylor University in Texas (yes, that school), who almost became a Baptist minister, and who went on to raise a family of six, this was hell.
What does a man with a scarring guilt do in this overly "swinging," youth obsessed, still highly single gay community? Do you tell people right away you have six children? Do you tell these twinks and yuppies that nobody knows you are gay? Do you pretend the children do not exist? Or do you just stay at home, alone, every Saturday night and eat popcorn and watch romantic films?
Most gay men tend to run away from such formerly married guys with a train of kids behind them. Did I? No, not initially. But no matter how progressive minded I was, it seems his past haunted our budding relationship. It became a burden. It became shackles.
This was a man unable to throw off the shackles of his internalized homophobia, to the point where no one, save a few platonic girlfriends, knew of his true orientation. Deceit, deception, delusions--these became the raison de'etre of his life. Such is the tragedy of a life mangled by societal demands. And yet it is one that can rise from these demands if he had had the fortitude, the bravado, to see the truth.
After almost ten years of "coming out," does his children and ex-wife know of his true identity? No. And is he a man comfortable in his skin? An emphatic no.